Parshas Toldos

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

הנה אנכי הולך למות ולמה זה לי בכורה (פרק כה פסוק לב)

Eisav, exhausted from his day in the field, asks his brother Yaakov for a bowl of עדשים. Yaakov agrees in
exchange for the בכורה, the firstborn rights, which Rashi explains would entitle Eisav to serve in the בית
המקדש. Rashi further explains Eisav’s justification for getting rid of the בכורה. He was concerned that
there are too many laws involved in the עבודה and he wouldn’t be capable of strictly following all of
them, which would result in his being punished. At the end he is criticized for having belittled and
disgraced the בכורה. R’ Moshe Feinstein raises the question that Eisav seemingly had righteous
intentions in selling the בכורה- it was only because he held the עבודה in such high esteem that he didn’t
want to transgress any of its laws. Why was this considered a disgrace? R’ Moshe answers that a
person’s job is to bring honor and glory to Hashem’s name. This is his only goal, and he must be willing
to endure anything to achieve it. Even if serving Hashem properly will be a huge responsibility for him
and he may err and get punished for his imperfections, the desire to bring honor to Hashem must
outweigh his concern for his own well-being. The fact that Eisav was unwilling to accept upon himself
such a tremendous yoke which would result in more כבוד שמים, was itself a tremendous disgrace. R’
Moshe learns from here that when someone is given the capabilities to serve Hashem in specific ways
they should not allow the fear of responsibility to deter them from achieving כבוד שמים.

ויברכהו ויאמר ראה ריח בני כריח השדה אשר ברכו ה’ (פרק כז פסוק כז)

Yaakov was sent by his mother to obtain the ברכות that Yitzchok had intended for Eisav. When Yaakov
enters the room and declares his false identity, Yitzchok blesses him and the פסוק says, “he said, see
that the scent of my son is like the scent of the field blessed by Hashem”. The משך חכמה is bothered,
who was he talking to when he said this? Additionally, how could he say to see the scent of his son-
scent is not detected by sight? The משך חכמה explains based on the מדרש that the reason for Yitzchok
becoming blind in his old age was so that he should not recognize Eisav’s evil ways. He also quotes a
זוהר that comments on the aforementioned פסוק that it is not clear who was speaking- Yitzchok, or
Hashem. The משך חכמה explains, truly Hashem was speaking and the declaration to “see” was actually
Hashem removing Yitzchok’s “blindness” and allowing him to clearly perceive the evil character of Eisav.
Hashem then describes what he was allowing Yitzchok to become aware of Yaakov’s beautiful scent, and
it was actually Hashem referring to Yaakov as “my son”- as we know that the Jewish nation is referred to
as Hashem’s son- בני בכורי ישראל.

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