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עקב אשר שמע אברהם בקלי וישמר משמרתי מצותי חקתי ותורתי

Because Avraham obeyed My voice and observed My safeguards, My commandments, My decrees, and My Torahs. (26:5)

Hashem gifted the Holy Land to Avraham Avinu due to his fidelity in obeying Hashem’s word. The Torah speaks of four categories of commandments which cover the entire corpus of Biblical and Oral Law, including Rabbinic enactments that were established to safeguard the Torah from incursion. Avraham did all this without Hashem commanding him to do so. He was able to perceive the entire Torah through Ruach HaKodesh, Divine Inspiration, and he observed it voluntarily (Ramban). Chazal teach that Avraham even adhered to the law of Eiruv Tavshilin, joining two cooked foods, in order to prepare on Yom Tov for…

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הנה אנכי הולך למות ולמה זה לי בכרה

“Look, I am going to die, of what use to me is a birthright?” (25:32)

Eisav’s negative position vis-à-vis the bechorah, birthright, is clear: He was not interested in it. His reason: “I am going to die, of what use to me is a birthright?” Rashi explains Eisav’s rationale. He was likely to die as a result of performing the sacrificial service improperly. A deeper understanding of this may be that a life of relinquishment, or spiritual life as he knew it, was tantamount to death. Eisav viewed spirituality, with its various demands and strictures, as an imposition on his desired lifestyle. He was on earth to live – not die. A sincere person understands…

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ויאמר עשו אל יעקב הלעיטני נא מן האדם האדום הזה... על כן קרא שמו אדום

Eisav said to Yaakov, “Pour into me, now, some of the very red stuff… (He therefore called his name Edom).” (25:30)

Avraham Avinu fathered Yishmael about whom we read in the previous parsha. The other symbol of evil born from a Patriarch was Eisav ha’rasha, Yaakov Avinu’s twin. The Torah makes a point to enumerate the alufim, heads of the tribes, of both Yishmael and Eisav, more so than other pagan nations. This is because these two individuals/nations represent the root source of the evil of all the other pagan nations. Horav Moshe Shapiro, zl (Mimaamakim), explains that Yishmael and Eisav represent the two primary categories of the seventy nations of the world, with each individual nation drawing its source of…

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אברהם הוליד את יצחק

Avraham begot Yitzchak. (25:19)

The Torah underscores that Avraham and Yitzchak were father and son. One would think this is a confirmed verity and does not require the Torah’s reinforcement. Apparently, as Midrash Tanchuma (quoted by Rashi) posits, the leitzanei ha’dor, cynics of the generation, intimated that Sarah Imeinu actually had become pregnant during her short captivity in the home of Avimelech, so that Avraham Avinu had not fathered Yitzchak, but actually, Avimelech had fathered him. Therefore, Hashem made Yitzchak’s features so undeniably similar to Avraham’s that no one could doubt Avraham’s status. Two questions glare at us: Why were these scoffers referred to…

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הקל קול יעקב והידים ידי עשו

The voice is Yaakov’s voice, but the hands are Eisav’s hands. (27:22)

Yitzchak Avinu sensed a contradiction. The manner in which the “son” who stood before him spoke was gentle, pleasant and respectful. Hence, he assumed that it was Yaakov who stood before him. On the other hand, once he felt his hairy arms, he thought it was Eisav. Alternatively, the power of Yaakov’s voice was in his ability to plead with Hashem through the medium of prayer. Eisav was a “hands on” man; he lived with his hands – plundering and murdering. Nothing stood in the way of his hands. One question that weighs heavily on the reader: If Yitzchak questioned…

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הקל קול יעקב והידים ידי עשו

The voice is Yaakov’s voice, but the hands are Eisav’s hands. (27:22)

Chazal derive from the above pasuk that when the voice of Yaakov Avinu prevails – when Torah is studied and his descendants are engaged in prayer – the murderous hands of Eisav have no power against us. When we slack off and weaken our vocal power, Eisav and his minions are strengthened.  When we read the pasuk, however, the implication is different. It almost appears as if Yaakov lives by his voice and Eisav by his hands – and there is no counterbalance, such that one rises and the other falls. Furthermore, the word kol (ha’kol) the voice, is written…

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עקב אשר שמע אברהם בקלי וישמר משמרתי מצותי חקתי ותורתי

Because Avraham hearkened My voice and safeguarded My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws. (26:5)

In his commentary to the above pasuk, Sforno makes an important point. He notes that Hashem promised Yitzchak Avinu to multiply his offspring, grant his descendants the Land and bless them – all because of His oath to Avraham Avinu. We see here (explains Sforno) that z’chus Avos, merit of others (his father, Avraham Avinu) is invoked when Hashem speaks to Yitzchak. Not so with Avraham (who did not have z’chus Avos) or Yaakov. This is because, before Yitzchak was inspired to call upon the Name of Hashem (after Gerar), when Avimelech came to him and said, “We saw that…

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ויאהב יצחק את עשו כי ציד בפיו

Yitzchak loved Eisav, for game was in his mouth. (25:27)

Yitzchak Avinu’s love for Eisav has been the topic of many a commentator’s pen. The Patriarch achieved an extraordinary level of spirituality. He was a Navi, Prophet, having reached a level of yiraah, awe of Hashem, that was unparalleled. As the Olah Temimah, perfect sacrifice, his devotion to the Almighty was without peer. He was the Amud ha’Gevurah, Pillar of spiritual strength. Taking all of this into consideration, we wonder how such a holy, perceptive tzaddik could possibly have been blind to Eisav’s corruption. Moshe Rabbeinu did not kill the Egyptian until he saw that no righteous person would ever…

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ויעקב איש תם יושב אהלים

Yaakov was a wholesome man, abiding in tents. (25:27)

Onkeles interprets ish tam as g’var shlim, perfect/whole man; and yosheiv ohalim as meshamesh bais ulfana, served/studied in the house of Torah study. Yaakov Avinu achieved perfection in that his neshamah, soul, filled his entire body; he essentially became a totally spiritual (spiritually-oriented) person. Yaakov expunged whatever negative spiritual forces that might have existed within him, to the point that his pure soul was in complete control of his being. Chazal teach (Bava Basra 16a) that Eisav kofar b’Ikar, denied the Ikar, Hashem; he was a heretic who had no regard for anything spiritual. He believed in nothing. He demonstrated…

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והיה כאשר תריד ופרקת עולו מעל צוארך

Yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from your neck. (27:40)

The Chozeh, zl, m’Lublin observes (in a homiletic interpretation of this pasuk) that in some instances, one must close his Gemorah and engage in commerce or whatever endeavor is necessary in order for him to earn a livelihood. No one said it was going to be easy, but he should not be happy that he must do this. He would much rather continue learning, but he has to put bread on the table. If, however, his attitude is one of, “Great! I got out of learning. I can finally leave the bais hamedrash,” if it is one of v’hayah (the…

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