“Who are you?” Isaac asks of his son, Jacob. The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands…. But then Isaac doesn’t listen to the voice, doesn’t hear his son. Who are we? do we listen to our own voice, to the voice of others, really listen? what defines us? In this Torah portion a mother commands her son to listen to my voice
and her son does listen, dressing in his brother’s clothes. Sense of smell and touch combine to conquer the sound of a voice, and deception results.
So often it is the sound of something that moves us most – of melody, harmony and rhythm of music, or the primal, intense cry of a voice in pain or awe or fear or love, that can speak most powerfully to us. The Torah is chanted, not read because the voice of melody speaks louder than words. There are many interesting voices and melodies for characters in the drama of Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Esav in musical notation symbolized near each word of the drama. In the introduction to this portion, both mother Rebecca and Esav, the hunter-child are sung in the lonely chant of 5 descending notes -perhaps indicating a stand-alone leader. Isaac, whose name means laughter, finally laughs, or plays, in this portion (with his wife!) His tune is a linking, circular melody. Jacob’s melodies are a mix, but gains the leadership melody after trickery helps him to gain the birthright. Esav is attuned to his hunger and fatigue, sacrificing to those passions, unable to hear what he’s giving away. We hear his voice of anguish when his blessing’s been stolen. Listen to my voice, says Mother Rivka, I will take your curse upon myself , but perhaps it is Jacob that bears the curses, the karma of the deception in his life. Why is this my life- lama zeh anochi? cries out the voice of Rivka to God, when the pain in her pregnancy cues her in to the battling of her twins in the womb. So many voices for us to listen to here, and in our own lives. They will help us to figure out the answer to Isaac’s question: who are you, my son? A beautiful song about listening to who we really are by Todd Herzog toddherzog.com is called Listen Close It links listening to finding who you really are.
Listen close to the whispers, they will help you to remember, who you are and who you came here to be.
Listen close and you will hear Me, in your heart I’m always with you,
In the silence I’m the only voice you’ll hear.