Thursday, September 25, 2008


The story of Jacob taking Isaac’s blessing (rather than Esau taking Isaac’s blessing) poses a problem for the modern reader – Jacob comes off looking none too attractive – he is more than a little a shark.  The midrash in 1:3:65 directly deals with the problem.  When Jacob says “Because the Lord they God sent me good speed” (Breishis 27:20), Isaac is shocked – he knows that Esau is not one to invoke Hashem.  The midrash explains that Isaac is in on the story – he figures out that it is Jacob who is taking his blessing.  And when Isaac touches Jacob, fearful Jacob loses control of his bladder.  But, Hashem sends two angels to support Jacob.

Sometimes things happen that seem to us wildly unfair.  We often bemoan those times that events turn against us.  But it takes a more sophisticated soul be also be troubled when events – without apparent external reason, favor us.  This midrash witnesses Jacob’s advanced nature in being afraid at the awesome blessing he was receiving.  But just as we cannot always explain fate when it turns against us, we cannot always explain it when it turns toward us.  But fate it must have been, because rather than let Jacob fail, Hashem sent two angels to save him.

For me, this midrash adds a deep layer of meaning to the story.  Without the guidance of the Oral Torah, Isaac’s blessing seems to be a cruelly amoral story.  But with this midrash, we get an insight into both Jacob and Isaac’s character.

Here is my blessing to you:  May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

1 comment:

Howard said...

What is the basis for assuming that Yaacov was "afraid at the awesome blessing he was receiving" and not of being caught by Yitchak while impersonating Esav. Genesis 27:21 reads:"Isaac said to Jacob, Come closer that I may feel you, my son--whether you are really my son Esau or not."

Perhaps the message is that G1d is involved in the events of the world to support us when we are doing the right thing, even if we don't realize it or even think we are doing wrong.