Posted on March 23, 2011
by Jennifer Krueger
Toldot is a parsha filled with many mysteries and wonders. I want to focus on the incident where Yaakov steals Esau’s blessing from Yitzchak. When Yaakov attempts to steal the blessing from Esav, he attempts to disguise himself as Esau. However because he is not as hairy and has a different voice than Esau, Yitzchak notices this and asks, “Who are you my son?” (Breishit 27: 18). Yaakov responds, “It is I Esau your first born,” (Breishit 27: 19). The commentaries ask how Yaakov can respond in such an untruthful manner to his father.
Rashi explains that Yaakov’s response means, “It is I who brings this to you”; Esau however is your first born. The Ibn Ezra explains Yaakov’s response a different way. He says that Yaakov said “I” underneath his breath and “Esau is your first born” loudly. So according to the explanations of the commentaries, Yaakov was not lying in his response but was simply avoiding the truth.
I would like to offer a different explanation. When Yaakov said “I am Esau, your first born,” he knows exactly what he is saying. He is able to lie because at this point in history, Yaakov did not know who he was. He thought he was his brother Esau. He had no way to distinguish his identity. This is proven by the fact that Yaakov sold his bowl of stew to Esau in return for Esau’s birthright. If Yaakov had known who he was, he would not have done this. Esau was favored by Yitzchak, Esau was the first born and Yaakov wanted to be Easu. So, when his father asked him who he was, he had no problem replying that he was Esau.
After Yaakov steals the blessing, Esau attempts to kill him. Yaakov is forced to run away. I see this as journey for Yaakov to find himself and to distinguish himself from his twin Esau. On this journey, Yaakov is given the wrong wife and is forced to work seven more years for the correct one. He has a vision of himself climbing a ladder, creates his own family, and finally wrestles with God. This wrestling marks the point in which Yaakov finally discovers who he is. He is told that a great nation will come from him and his name is changed to Yisrael-one who wrestles with God. Yaakov no longer sees himself as Esau but establishes his own identity. Because of this, he is finally able to return back to his family and to make ammends with his brother.
USYers, we often times find ourselves lost in this World. We don’t know who we are and where our life is leading. Just like Yaakov, it is not hard for us to say that we are someone else because we do not know who we are. Just like Yaakov had to wrestle with God to discover who he was, we too must wrestle with Hashem to discover who we are. We must question our faith and our beliefs and dig deep down to discover who we truly are as individuals. Only when we do this will we able to be ourselves and to succeed in life. Shabbat Shalom.