Sign In Forgot Password

Blessing, Blessing, Whose Got the Blessing?

12/01/12 17:09:12


R Pesach Siegel

Parshas VaYishlach 5773

Yaakov Avenu feared for his life. He left the home of his father-in-law Lavan and was on the way back to Eretz Yisroel. His wicked brother Eisav vowed to kill him.

He sent angels bearing gifts and words of placation to his brother, Eisav. He said, “You are my master, I am your servant. Im Lavan garti” – I lived temporarily with Lavan (perek 32, posuk 5). Rashi points out, he was informing Eisav, although he lived in Aram Naharayim for twenty years, he did not become important. He was not a member of the nobility. He was only a temporary resident. Rashi also notes that the gematria of the word “garti” is 613. Yaakov was conveying, in a hidden fashion that he kept the 613 mitzvos of the Torah.

He informs Eisav that he has not amassed wealth from the dew of the heavens or the fat of the land, as was conveyed by the blessing that he took surreptitiously from Yitzchok Avenu. Rather, his possessions are from the animal kingdom, oxen and donkeys. Seemingly Yitzchok’s blessing did not come true for him (perek 32, posuk 6).

Yaakov said, “Seeing your countenance is like viewing elohim,” as he bows down repeatedly to Eisav (perek 33, posuk 10). The Kli Yakar explains that he was calling Eisav by the name elohim to denote his status of royalty.

“Please take my bracha,” Yaakov says (perek 33, posuk 11). The Kli Yakar explains that this refers not to the gift he sent Eisav. It refers to the blessing of Yitzchok Avenu. Yaakov is giving it to Eisav. It is truly Eisav’s because it was Eisav that Yitzchok Avenu had in mind when Yaakov stood in disguise before him.

Eisav responds, “Yesh li rav.” – I have no need of your gifts. I have plenty. The Kli Yakar points out a deeper meaning to Eisav’s words. “Yesh li Rav” – I have a Rav (a master). You, Yaakov are my master. The brachos are yours. Yaakov pressed Eisav, “”No, you are the master, you are royalty.” Eisav acquiesced, and took the blessings that Yaakov offered him.

Yaakov Avenu clashed with the angel of Eisav. We know nothing of what it means to clash with an angel, but the Torah tells us that Yaakov emerged victorious. As he held a grip on the angel, he refused to let him go. The angel begged him, he beseeched him. Yaakov told the angel, “I will not let you loose until you bless me. Here you will remain unless you admit that the blessings that I received from my father, Yitzchok are truly mine and not gained through trickery.“

Having no choice, the angel relented. He said, “Your name will be changed from Yaakov to Yisroel. Yisroel means “yashar”. Yashar means straight, without trickery.


Did Yaakov take the brachos through trickery or did he not take the brachos through trickery?

Was he lying during the entire series of interchanges he had with Eisav?

Why would Yaakov insist that Eisav is his master? That Eisav is nobility? Isn’t it sufficient to convince Eisav that the blessings did not come true for him?

If Yaakov was intent on keeping up the façade that Eisav is the true possessor of the blessings, why did he insist that Eisav’s angel admit that the blessings belong to Yaakov?


The Avos HaKedoshim exist on two levels. The feet of Yaakov Avenu are firmly planted on terra firma and his head is in the heavens (Sulam mutzav artzah verosho magiya hashamayma).

This world is the world of “Might is right”, Honesty is not always the best policy. The good die young, the wicked prosper. It is a world of free choice, and one may profit from his free choices, even the evil ones.

It is the world of Eisav. He appeared first on the scene. Yaakov was a latecomer. Yaakov is a tagalong. In order to succeed in this physical world one must act as Eisav does. Eisav earns his own keep. He takes what is coming to him. He has a sense of entitlement, as if he were the one who created himself. He is a self made man, as his name denotes – Eisav means “made”.

In the heavens it is not one who overpowers who is deserving. One must be truly worthy. In truth, one can never be truly deserving. We are the recipients of our Creator’s loving kindness. Our debt of responsibility towards our Creator is endless.


In Olam HaZeh, Eisav is the one who is the recipient of Yitzchok Avenu’s blessings. He is the ruler. He is the master. In the view of one in this world, Yitzchok had Eisav in mind when he blessed Yaakov Avenu. That is the way it appeared. And Eisav, indeed, does rule.

Yaakov Avenu is only a temporary resident of this world. His true identity is 613 mitzvos.

But beneath the surface, the blessings go only to the one who deserves them.

It certainly appeared as if Yitzchjok Avenu had Eisav in mind when he mistakenly blessed Yaakov. But deep in the recesses of Yiitzchok’s mind, he knew. He knew that Yaakov is the true recipient of the brachos and it was Yaakov who he blessed. (Michtav Me’Eliyahu).

And so Yitzchok blessed both of them. He blessed Eisav superficially and he blessed Yaakov with the blessing of eternity.

Yaakov, in his humility believes that he has no claim to the blessings. He doesn’t deserve nobility. His avodas Hashem falls so short of what is required of man. He is the true recipient of the blessings. Hashem grants from his loving kindness to one who sees reality in its true light, to the one who sees himself as undeserving.

In this world Yaakov pays obeisance to Eisav. In the world of the angels, it is the other way around.

Fri, January 24 2020 27 Teves 5780