Yaakov, on the other hand, is described in somewhat mysterious terms: "an innocent man, dwelling in tents," (ibid 25:27). "Innocent," naive, perhaps, even simple. All qualities which may serve him well in life, but evincing no outward inclination to leadership.
There were, however, qualities that Esau possessed that Yitzchak didn't see, but were crystal clear to Rivkah: "And Esau said to Yaakov, "Pour into [me] some of this red, red [pottage], for I am faint"; he was therefore named Edom." (ibid 25:30) Yes, Esau possessed great social skills and leadership qualities, but, even at the height of his worldly powers, he professed a great life weariness. Skills he had, but vision to inspire and drive and direct those skills were sorely lacking in him. Most crucially, the "Avrahamic" grasp of
Yaakov, however, despite his handicaps vis-a-vis his talented brother Esau, readily grasped from the start what was at stake, and why it was imperative for him to not relent, but to gain possession, first of the birthright, and later of their father's blessing. For with the birthright and the blessing Yaakov knew that he could father and shape the great nation that
What was so clear to Rivkah, eventually becomes clear to all. Whereas Esau grew faint, and as a result "scorned" and sold his birthright, Yaakov, later in his dramatic life, would lay down his head to sleep, and dream an awesome vision of heaven and earth united at the place of the Holy Temple.
The nation of Israel today faces the very same leadership challenge that vexed Yitzchak and Rivkah. The younger generation has served up the same two candidates. One the one hand, Israel has produced many young men and women whose worldly skills are unassailable: international finance, diplomacy, global relations, popular culture are all being impacted by up-and-coming Israelis. But do these young people of ambition and accomplishment possess the vision and the faith necessary to lead their own people, let alone the world?
On the other hand, there is a generation in the land of Israel that, like their forefather Yaakov, literally "dwell in tents:" In tents, in makeshift plywood shacks, and even in caves. These are the determined young men and women who make the very stones of the land of Israel their pillows, who are taking possession of the land, and whose vision for their people soars from the earth to the heavens, just like their father Yaakov. And like their father Yaakov, they do, indeed, lack the acceptance and worldly connections of Esau. But like their father Yaakov, they will not grow faint nor despise their birthright. A new generation is rising to the challenge.
Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK as Yitzchak Reuven and special guest host Yosef Adest, (filling in for Rabbi Chaim Richman who has just returned from the USA), discuss the uncanny resemblance that Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov each bear to Adam HaRishon, Yaakov playing his part in rectifying Adam's mistake of eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and Yitzchak, the consummate keeper of the land of Israel. Modern day similarities to the the jealous Plishtim of Gerar, and Yosef reveals behind-the-scenes secrets of a soon-to-be released Temple Institute video all about the manufacture of the bigdei kehuna - priestly garments.