by Rabbi David Malca
This week we read about the twin brothers, Jacob and Esav. Each one left their path, their legacy.
The most pivotal moment though, is when Jacob, upon advice from his mother Rebecca, chooses to trick his blind father, Isaac.
Why would Jacob do such a thing?
Isaac was the sole recipient of the most potent blessing ever bestowed upon any man. G-d Almighty, having blessed Abraham, in turn blesses Isaac. The blessing was two-fold. First, it was a real and tangible blessing for material and spiritual wealth. Moreover, Isaac was given the power to transfer that blessing to the person of his choosing. Unfortunately, Isaac fell for Esav’s ruse and decidedly chose him. Rebecca, blessed with an “extra measure of understanding”, knew what Esav was up to and decided that she must do whatever it takes to redirect the blessings to Jacob.
The story is well known. Jacob dresses up In Esav’s clothing, takes the delicious meal prepared by his mother, and approaches his father.
At a certain point, Isaac becomes suspicious. Jacob uttered a prayer of thanks to G-d. Esav certainly would never have done that.
“Come over here, son. I want to touch you and see if you are my son Esav or not.”
Jacob slowly approaches his father. His father touches him, and utters these eternal words, words that have set humanity on its course:
“The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esav.”
Jacob took the sweet voice of prayer and study, while Esav grabbed the hands—and the knife.
The hands seem to have played the greater role in the history of humanity and its failings; Bloodshed, conquest, genocide, terrorism, pogroms, and all the synonyms of hatred. The hands seem more popular than the voice.
But the day will come when G-d will replay the story of mankind, from His perspective. What a tale that will be! What will we see? What will we learn? How a grandmother silently reciting Tehillim took down a dictator. How a simple Jew’s sincere “Baruch Hashem” pierced through the heavens and saved countless lives. How the pure and melodious Torah study of our young children carried the infant state of Israel to one of the greatest victories in the history of warfare. How an act of forgiveness, a gentle word, or a single encouraging smile, brought the world closer to Messianic era.
And until that day comes, we will continue to use our voice to pray for our dedicated military and security forces who watch us with their hands of Jacob in Esav’s clothing.
The story of Toldot, the story of all the generations to come, teaches us that there are times when we cannot be afraid to use our hands. But we should never be fooled. Our strength is our voice, the voice of Jacob. The voice of prayer, the voice of Torah, the voice that proclaims “the G-d of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps”, the voice of true peace, and most importantly, the voice of unity and love.