This week’s parshah takes us through the story of Yitzchak and straight into the story of Yaakov and Esav. There is a very famous pasuk close to the beginning of the parshah which says, “וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת עֵשָׂו כִּי צַיִד בְּפִיו וְרִבְקָה אֹהֶבֶת אֶת יַעֲקֹב” “And Yitzchak loved Esav since his game was in his mouth, and Rivka loved Yaakov” (Bereishis 25:28). This pasuk brings up a few questions. How could Yitzchak love the rasha, Esav, more than the tzaddik, Yaakov? How could he be so blinded? And how did Rivka not fall for the same tricks? Why did she not tell Yitzchak what was really going on? And most importantly, what is the Torah trying to tell us?
The answers given by the various commentaries go in a number of different directions. I would like to give one answer for Yitzchak’s love of Esav and one answer for Rivka’s love of Yaakov. The Kli Yakar explains that the pasuk is being very specific. It is telling us that the reason Yitzchak loved Esav was because of the bountiful amount of meat he would bring back from hunting. Says the Kli Yakar, this was the reason why Yitzchak really loved Esav, but in terms of their deeds, Yitzchak knew that Yaakov was more righteous and appreciated him for it.
The Ohr HaChaim explains why Rivka was particularly attached to Yaakov. The commentaries mention several times that one of the signs of Rivka’s greatness was the fact that she grew up with both a wicked father and a wicked brother and was still able to resist their influence and grow up righteously. This scrutiny of her background did not cease even after many years. The Ohr HaChaim explains that when people saw how Esav was sinning, they suspected that Rivka might embrace these qualities of Esav since she recognized them from her past. In order to dispel these thoughts, Rivka openly showed how she approved of Yaakov’s actions and showed how her only “background” consisted of activities that followed the Torah. This is also why the pasuk identifies Yaakov several times as “her son”, seemingly superfluously. It’s showing us that Rivka was just as responsible as Yitzchak for Yaakov’s greatness and did not approve of Esav’s actions at all.
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