Torah Fax
Wednesday, November 22 , 2006 - 1 Kislev, 5767

Torah Reading  Toldot (Genesis 25:19 - 28:9)
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 4:18PM
Shabbat ends : 5:20PM

Blinded By The Light
Our Parshah tells us the fascinating account of Jacob receiving his father Isaac's blessings. The blessings, which were key to guaranteeing the ultimate success of Jacob's heirs, the Jewish people, did not come easily. Isaac originally wished to bless the wicked Esau. Rebecca felt that Jacob deserved to receive the blessings. She commanded Jacob to pretend he was Esau and go to his father to receive the blessings instead of his elder brother. Isaac, whose vision had been impaired, was not able to discern whether it was Jacob or Esau and conferred his blessings on Jacob.
Commentators deal with the issue of Jacob "deceiving" his father to receive the blessings at great length. We will just mention a few points here. The commentaries note that Esau was in fact the real deceiver. He had sold his birthright to Jacob for a pot of lentils and, since Isaac wanted to bestow the blessings upon the firstborn, Esau had no legal right to them. Esau spent his entire life deceiving Isaac, acting like a loyal son and - our sages note - he even put on the facade of a Torah scholar. All the while he spurned all things spiritual and was far from being the spiritual heir to Abraham's legacy. Esau was the ultimate deceptive hypocrite and Jacob was rightfully the firstborn both from a legal standpoint as well as from a spiritual one. 
What is noteworthy, however, is that Jacob's receiving the blessings hinged on the fact that Isaac's eyesight had dimmed. Had Isaac been able to see, he would have known it wasn't Esau and he would not have blessed him. Why does blindness seem to play such a pivotal role in Jacob's receiving of his father's blessings?
Let us take a step back and see how Isaac originally lost his sight. According to one opinion, when Abraham had put Isaac on the altar and was about to sacrifice him, as G‑d had commanded, the heavens opened up and myriads of angels wept at the sight. Some of their tears feel into Isaac's eyes and blinded him. According to another opinion, Isaac inability to see was a result of the smoke from the incense that Esau's idolatrous wives burned to their pagan deities.
Clearly, the effect the smoke had on Isaac was not due to the physical irritation; if that were the case, any smoke would have caused the loss of sight, yet the sages note it was specifically the smoke from the idolatrous incense. His blindness came rather from the utter disgust and rejection he had of Esau's wives' evil practices. In addition, one might wonder how the angel's tears, which were not physical in nature, could eventually cause a loss of sight. Upon deeper reflection, we will see that these two events are related and both contributed to Isaac's loss of sight.
Isaac, more than any other Patriarch, was spiritually sensitive to any form of evil. It is for this reason that Isaac was not allowed to leave Israel. Thus, we read in last week's Parshah how Eliezer, Abraham's servant, was sent to find Isaac a wife in Aram though Jacob, in a subsequent Parshah, travelled himself to Aram in search of a wife. Similarly, in this week's Parshah, when famine strikes, G‑d tells Isaac that he must not go down to Egypt as his father had done in an earlier famine. When Isaac was ready to be brought as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, his spiritual sensitivity was heightened even more. The tears of the angels symbolize the angelic purity that was instilled in him at that time. As he matured, his intolerance for anything negative grew to the extent that he literally could not see evil. His physical blindness was a reflection of the fact that he was blind to spiritual shortcomings - evil was outside his world. Thus, he could not tolerate to see his daughters in law burning incense to idols, and his sight was lost entirely.
Isaac thus had no problem giving Esau the blessing because he was "blind" to Esau's evil nature. It was indicative of Isaac's own spiritual greatness - his inability to relate to evil - that put him in a position where he could not discern between Jacob and Esau. This left Jacob no choice but to take the blessings through subterfuge.
In the Messianic Age, when "the spirit of impurity will be removed from the land," we will be able to lay claim to the greatest blessings without the need for subterfuge or deception. Then it will be clear to all that Jacob, meaning the Jewish people, are truly deserving of all great blessings.

Moshiach Matters
Our sages tell us that preparing for the redemption, looking forward to it and working towards its materialization, actually hastens Moshiach’s arrival. When he comes, each and every one of us will want to feel that we have participated and done our part in bringing about that great revelation. (From

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