“Yitzchak was caused to love [VAYE’EHAV] Esav for he hunted/ensnared with his mouth, and Rivka loves [OHEVETH] Ya’akov” (25:28).
Rashi, citing the Medrash, explains to us how Esav would cunningly ensnare his father Yitzchak with his mouth. He would ask many complicated Halachic questions to his pious father Yitzchak, fooling his father to believe that he, Esav, was righteous and pious!
- Nathan Ordman notes that when the Torah describes the love that Yitzchak had towards Esav, the causative form of the verb “VAYE’EHAV” is used. This fits in beautifully with the Medrashic explanation of the continuation of our verse “for he [Esav] ensnared [his father Ya’akov] with his mouth”. By pretending to be pious even under the most challenging surroundings as a hunter, adhering so firmly to the Halacha even under the most rigorous of environments, Esav succeeded in purchasing his father’s love, persuading his father that he was the one truly deserving of blessing. Little did Yitzchak realise, Esav was a cunning falsifier – it was Ya’akov who was the truly pious son. Rivka however was armed with the female sixth sense of reading behind Esav’s pious deception. She realized immediately that Esav was a false front, and always loved Ya’akov, her truly pious son. The constant ongoing love that Rivka had towards Ya’akov is hinted to in our verse by expressing her love towards Ya’akov in the present tense “OHEVETH”.
From this episode emerges for us a number of significant guiding principles. Even if one may find himself in the worst of environments, one must bravely and confidently combat the negative influences surrounding him, and adhere firmly to Torah Study and Mitzvoth. This is the only possible way to overcome the many persuasive challenges of his surroundings. One who does so is indeed deserving of reward. However to willingly place oneself in a challenging environment, inviting upon himself a temptation to sin is most definitely an approach to be discarded. Although once already in danger man must endeavor to do all he can to escape, he must not willingly place himself in jeopardy! Doing so will inevitably result in a fall!
Ya’akov, the truly pious son of Yitzchak preferred to “sit secluded in tents” studying Torah, rather than actively place himself in spiritual danger. We don’t look for challenges – indeed, we pray that G-d doesn’t put us to the challenge, as, more often than not, we unfortunately easily succumb to temptation. However, when G-d does place us through challenge and trial, and life is full of them, it is because G-d knows that if we truly want and make the effort, we are capable to combat temptation and thereby earn for ourselves eternal reward. This is the purpose of life, to withstand temptation and combat our ego, serving G-d diligently via Torah Study and Mitzvoth. Life is full of decisions, both in quality and quantity – every moment has its trial, every second of life must be filled up wisely!
In Ethics of the Fathers (Chapter 5) we are taught that “love dependant on something doesn’t endure, love independent on anything external endures!” We see this principle apparent in our episode. Yitzchak’s love for Esav was dependant, “because Esav ensnared him with his mouth”, and did not endure. Rivka’s love for Ya’akov was truly constant and pure, this love endured!