Money Should Never Talk
As children we learn that Eisav had Yitzchok Aveinu fooled. We think that he was so good at pretending to care about halachah, as well as at honoring his father, that Yitzchok actually thought him to be righteous. This was the reason Yitzchok loved Eisav more than Yaakov, and even initially desired to shower the Divine blessings upon him. But a closer look at the chain of events running through our parashah tells a different story. When Yitzchok informed Eisav that it was time to receive his blessings, he was careful to instruct him to slaughter the animal properly, which leads us to believe that this was commonly not the case for Eisav. Furthermore, Yitzchok told Eisav to make sure to hunt an animal that was ownerless; a very clear hint not to steal one. These are seemingly basic things that he should not have needed to mention at all if he was speaking to a decent person! Rather, Yitzchok Aveinu knew very well of Eisav and his wicked ways.
The difference of opinion between Yitzchok and Rivka Imeinu when it came to Eisav was more intricate. Yitzchok also knew that Eisav was not careful in his performance of mitzvos, and that when he looked involved, he was merely putting on a show. But when he heard Eisav ask his question about salt, he thought and hoped this was the real Eisav shining through and showing a desire to be connected to Torah. Yitzchok reasoned that maybe Eisav pretended to be so meticulous in the laws of maaser because he wanted to hide his embarrassment, and all his wickedness was only due to his inability to fight his base desires. Maybe, thought Yitzchok, with the right coaching and introspection, the righteous Eisav could shine forth. The Midrash gives the example we have been discussing - when Eisav asked how to tithe salt - and Yitzchok’s response to it. He would ask, “Is one required to take maaser from salt”, and Yitzchok would be happy and exclaim, “How careful my son is in his performance of mitzvos”. In truth, adding extra stringencies to the Torah that have no basis is not a good thing. Rather, it was the intention behind the question that Yitzchok saw as good; he felt it was something to build on.
The question remains though, that if Yitchok really knew how terrible Eisav was, why did he want to give the blessings to him and not to Yaakov? True Eisav had potential, but Yaakov was clearly the one who was going to carry on the legacy of his fathers and build a nation of Torah?
The answer is that if you look at the blessings, they are not blessings of righteousness and the like, but blessings of bounty and tranquility. Yitzchok wanted Eisav and Yaakov to engage in a Yissachar-Zevulan arrangement, where one partner supports the other with half his money in exchange for half of the learning done by the second partner. It was Yitzchok’s vision that Eisav would be the business partner, while Yaakov would spend his time completely engrossed in Torah, with no need to be busy with the monetary aspects of the world. Yitzchok thought this to be the ideal plan for both his sons, and was ready to give Eisav the blessings of physical wealth. But Hashem did not want it to be so.
When a person with morals defined by his own choices is the sole patron of an institution, there is a great risk that his twisted hashkafos will be welcomed in exchange for his support. The spiritual leaders of that institution will have no choice but to extend boundaries past where they would have, or else to agree to a less stringent outlook on one subject or another, even if, in truth, they believe it to be incorrect to some degree. Eisav was so evil, that even should he pledge to support Yaakov for all time, it would have come with a terrible price. The dependance that Torah would have on people unaffiliated with and uninterested in its intricacies would no doubt lead to them perverting its guidelines and chv”sh, a changed Torah.
Only daas Torah knows how to properly fight the yetzer hara and exactly how to construct an environment where Torah can flourish. This is why Yaakov needed his own blessing of bounty and to be totally reliant on his own merits, so that the foreign influence of Eisav’s hashkafos would not automatically affect Klal Yisroel because of his support.
A gut Shabbos!
A Project of the YSI Alumni Association
Written by R’ Moshe Weiss