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Friday, Kislev 4, 5781 / November 20, 2020


This week’s Parsha, Toldot, is famous for the special blessings which Yitzchak wanted to give to his son, Esau, who was the oldest of the twins. Only through his wife, Rivkah’s, intervention, did he give the blessings to their son Yaakov (Jacob) instead. Here is how the Torah describes the story.


Yitzchak had now advanced in age, and he became blind. As a result of Yitzchak’s blindness, Esau was able to fool his father into thinking that he was a very righteous person. When Yitzchak became old, he summoned his son, Esau, and told him that he wished to bless him before he dies, but first he should go to the field and hunt some game for him to eat.


Rivkah (Rebecca), who knew the true character of the two sons, heard this conversation and advised Yaakov to don Esau's clothing and trick his father into blessing him instead. She knew that Yaakov was the one worthy of the blessings and had her husband not been blind, he too, would have wanted to bless Yaakov.


Rivkah prepared a meal and gave it to Yaakov to bring to his father. She also took hairy goatskin and put it on Yaakov’s smooth arms and neck, so his skin would feel like Esau’s. Yaakov approached his father and presented himself as Esau, and Yitzchak ate from the meal Rivkah had prepared.


Yitzchak then blessed Yaakov with the following blessing, “May G-d continuously give you from the dew of the heaven and the fatness of the earth, an abundance of grain and wine. Nations will serve you; kingdoms will bow down to you. You will be a mater over your brothers, and your mother’s sons will bow down to you. Those who curse you will be cursed, and those who bless you will be blessed.


As a result of this, his brother Esau, hated Yaakov and wanted to kill him. With blessings and encouragement of his parents, Yaakov fled to his uncle Lavan in Charan, where he later married his daughters, Leah and Rachel. He also married Bilha and Zilpa and as a result, the twelve tribes of Israel were born.


The above blessing to Yaakov is recited on Shabbat night, at the Havdalah service, as we conclude the Shabbat. This is to invoke G-d’s blessings to the Jewish people at the start of the new week.  


Q. How old were Yitzchak and Yaakov at the time of the blessings?


A. Yitzchak was 123 and Yaakov was 63. After receiving the blessings, Yaakov fled and stayed 14 years with Ever (Noach’s great great grandson), where he studied Torah (although the Torah was not formally given yet).


Q. Rivkah should have told Yitzchak the truth, that Esau was the wicked one. Why did she have to use trickery? Why didn’t G-d Himself reveal the truth to Yitzchak?


A. The Lubavitcher Rebbe says, “From this story we learn that it is prohibited to slander and speak bad about another Jew, even on one who is a sinner as Esau. As a result, they couldn’t tell Yitzchak the truth. They had to resort to trickery for Yaakov to receive the blessings, knowing that Yitzchak wanted to bless the pious one.  




Montrealcandle lighting time: 4:01 / Shabbat ends: 5:06