This week, our Parshat HaShevua Toldos is being sponsored by Ben and Gina Fishman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for the birth of their Granddaughter Ruchama Shayna to Rivka and Nadav Levine. To the Fishman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
In previous years, we’ve discussed insights as to how the atmosphere of wickedness surrounding Rivka’s upbringing later served her well — that she knew how and when to be kind, and when cunning was called for, thus insuring that the righteous child — Yaakov, who learned and was nurtured with the attributes of his Mother, would receive the Brachot that Am Yisrael would descend from him and that the nations would serve his descendants.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, in “Unlocking the Torah Text” on Parshat Chayei Sarah (page 110) opines that:
Rivka emerges as the more perceptive parent. She alone sees their two children, Yaakov and Esav, for who they really are, and she alone acts with strength to perpetuate Avraham’s legacy through Yaakov. (Rav Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t , Perek 27, posukim 1-46)
For context, Rabbi Goldin, in “Unlocking the Torah Text” on our Parshat summarizes Sefer Breish’t, Pereh 27, posuk 1 through Perek 28. posuk 5 (page 136) the run-up to Yaakov receiving what was thought to be Yitzchak’s Bracha intended for Esav:
As Yitzchak ages and develops blindness, he arranges to bless his older and favored son, Esav. Rivka, upon overhearing her husband’s plans, instructs her favorite, Yaakov, to masquerade as his older brother in order to receive his father’s blessing.
Yaakov complies with his mother’s instructions and is successful in deceiving his father and obtaining the blessing.
When Esav returns and discovers his brother’s actions, he threatens Yaakov’s life. In response, Rivka instructs Yaakov to return to her homeland, both for his own protection and to find a wife. Yaakov leaves for Padan Aram with his father’s agreement and further blessings.
Against this background, Rabbi Goldin cites various authorities and commentaries, too numerous for this vort, regarding Rivka’s proctoring Yaakov to approach Yitzchak for the Bracha that Yitzchak had intended for Eisev and whether or not Yaakov could be seen as deceitful.
Rabbi Goldin (ibid, Sefer Breish’t, pages 144-145) provides a few such citings here:
Rabbi Yitzchak Arama, in his work, the Akeidat Yitzchak, maintains that Yaakov was obligated to use all means at his disposal to prevent Eisev from receiving the blessing, Under no circumstances could Eisev be allowed to attain the spiritual role normally associated with the birthright. (Rabbi Goldin citing Akeidat Yitzchak Breish’t, sha’ar 23)
Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm goes so far as to say that one who uses subterfuge to save the truth shall be blessed. (Rabbi Goldin citing a quote in Yehudah Nachshoni’s Hagot B’parshiot HaTorah)
…Rabbi Yehudah Nachshoni essentially states that “all is fair in love and war.” If we are obligated to kill on the battlefield in order to defeat evil, he says, it stands to reason that we are obligated to use subterfuge, when necessary, to accomplish the same goal. ((Rabbi Goldin again citing a quote in Yehudah Nachshoni’s Hagot B’parshiot HaTorah)
It seems that we have seen the actualization of this last citing on the field of battle throughout history through to contemporary times, as well as in the field of sports, i.e. the “Philly Special” in a recent Superbowl.
Rabbi Goldin continues (ibid, Sefer Breish’t, pages 145-147):
The Torah text contains its own response to Yaakov’s “deceit.” As… [Yaakov’s] life unfolds, the clear message emerges that “what goes around, comes around.” Whatever the explanation or excuse for Yaakov’s subterfuge, he is, nonetheless, paid back, time after time, as he becomes the victim of deceit perpetrated by those closest to him.
1/ Yaakov is deceived by his father-in-law, Lavan. When Yaakov falls in love with Lavan’s younger daughter Rachel. Lavan promises him her hand in marriage. On the wedding night, however, Lavan secretly substitutes his older daughter Leah for her younger sister. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t Perek 29, posukim 18-24) Lavan defends his actions the next morning in… telling fashion: “We don’t do things like that in our place, to give the younger before the older.” (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t Perek 29, posuk 26)
2/ Yaakov is deceived by Leah and Rachel [via] Leah’s wedding night ruse… (Rabbi Goldin citing Midrash Tanchuma Breish’t Vayeitzei 11)
3/ Yaakov is again deceived by Lavan. Over the course of twenty years of service to his father-in-law, Yaakov is cheated on numerous occasions as Lavan attempts to avoid paying him his due. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t, Perek 32, posukim 6-7)
4/ Yaakov is deceived by his sons Shimon and Levi… chronicled in Parshat Vayishlach… [where they] exact revenge upon the inhabitants of Shechem for the abduction of their sister Dina. Their successful plan includes the elaborate subterfuge by which they convince the enemies to undergo ritual circumcision. Shimon and Levi then take advantage of the Shechemites’ weakened state and kill all of the male inhabitants of the city.
In the course of this episode, Shimon and Levi also deceive their father. Yaakov learns the truth, to his chagrin, only after the massacre has taken place. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t, Perek 34, posukim 1-31)
5/ Yaakov is deceived by ten of his twelve sons. In the latest and most painful deceit of all, Yaakov’s sons kidnap and sell their
brother, Yosef, into slavery. They do not reveal the truth to their father but instead lead him to believe that Yosef was killed by a wild beast. Yaakov mourns the presumed death of his beloved son for twenty-two years, until Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers and orchestrates the descent of his entire family into Egypt [Mitzrayim]. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 18 – Perek 45, posuk 27)
It would seem that life exacts more than measure for measure from Yaakov in response to his act of “deceit” concerning the blessing…. The Torah makes it clear…. that no action is committed with impunity. Once Yaakov introduces “deceit” into his story, Pandora’s box is opened and subterfuge will continue to mark his entire life.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — which can only occur when he is home in Israel and carrying for his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.