Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

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Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Parshat Toldot

Yitschak's Vision

"It came to pass when Yitschak was old, and his eyes were too dim to see" (Bereshit 27:1).

Yitschak was blind. Therefore, Yaakov was able to deceive him by announcing that he was Esav, thereby gaining the blessing that Yitschak had intended to give Esav.

Many seem to think Yitschak blindness was not just limited to his vision, he was also blind to Esav's true personality. Had he been aware of who Esav really was, he would never have intended to give him the blessing.

However, upon closer examination we will see that Yitschak was indeed aware of his son's abilities and personality. He was aware that Yaakov was to be the inheritor of the blessings God had given Avraham and had passed down to him. However, he also wanted to ensure that Esav had a future; that he wouldn't be left out.

This is clear from Esav's moving plea to Yitschak immediately after Yaakov's deception was revealed.

"When Esav heard his father's words, he cried out a great and bitter cry, and he said to his father, 'Bless me too, O my father!...Have you not reserved a blessing for me?'… Yitschak answered and said to Esau, 'Behold, I made him a master over you,' …Esav said to his father, 'Have you [but] one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father.' Esav raised his voice and wept" (ibid 34-35).

Three times Esav asks his father for a blessing and each time Yitschak responds that he does not have one. However, this is not true.

When Yitschak sends Yaakov to Padan Aram to find a wife, immediately after this incident, the Yitschak again blesses Yaakov saying: "May the Almighty God bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and you shall become an assembly of peoples. May He give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your seed with you, that you may inherit the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Avraham" (ibid 28:3-4).

Yitschak blesses Yaakov that he will be Avraham's inheritor, that he will receive the Land of Canaan and that God'ds blessings to Avraham would continue through him.

This is not the blessing that Yitschak intended to give Esav. That (ibid 27:28-29). That was a blessing about material wealth and power, it was not about Avraham's destiny.

Yitschak always intended to pass that onto Yaakov, he was aware that only Yaakov and not Esav, was worthy of it. However, he loved Esav, and just like Avraham with Yishmael, he did not want to leave him empty handed; he wanted to secure his future knowing fully well that Esav was not his inheritor.

However, this was not to be because of Rivka's interference.

The real question therefore, remains, whether Rivka knew that her husband did understand his children. Did she know which blessing Yitschak had intended to give Esav? Would she have reacted differently had she known that Yitschak did not intend to give Esav the inheritance of Avraham?

Last year's Sedra Short for Parshat Toldot, entitled: "Yitchack Avinu – Action Man” appears at

Another Sedra Short for Parshat Toldot, entitled: "Twins in Her Womb" can be found at

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