I am writing this on Halloween, as the Torah portion involves costumes, and tricks and perhaps a treat.
“Listen to my voice” whispers the mother of twins to her youngest, Yaakov. She is talking to a son she loves without qualifications. “Dad is blind, you are the one that must be blessed by him. You are the one prophesied to carry on in this family and rule” “But Dad will know it’s not me, and he will curse me…” And so Momma Rivka gives her son a costume: Hairy arms, and her other twin’s best robe, and a meal to ply Dad with. Father Isaac hears: The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the Hands are the hands of Esau. Who are you, my son?! Jacob lies, “It’s me, Dad, your oldest son, the one you love. and Isaac ignores the voice of truth, of Jacob and is tricked. And so is Big Brother Esav “Don’t you have a blessing for me too father?!!! “Your brother stole your blessing, and he’ll stay blessed” Seriously? I will kill him, vows big brother Esav. (This is a vow the very first brother, Cain kept). Always grabbing, pretending to be what we are not. And it wasn’t even Halloween! Isn’t honesty best – this could easily have led to murder! And yet in spite of their parents’ mistakes, in spite of lies and tricks, Brothers do not kill each other. To whose voice do we listen. Only to the voice of love.
A story: A farmer raised two sons in the way of the field – plowing and planting and harvesting – always together, and of supporting one another. The boys grew to men, and the oldest married and had a family, and the younger remained single. Sadly, the father died, but he left the farm to both sons equally. The older son lived in the house with his family, and the younger in a cabin on the far side of the farm. They did all the farm work together: plowing, weeding and harvesting. And they always split each harvest exactly in even halves. One night the younger could not sleep: It’s really not fair to my brother to share the harvest equally,he thought, he has a family to feed, he needs so much more. So, in the black of night, he carried bundles of grain across the field, as much as his arms to carry, and sneaked them into his big brother’s silo. On that same night, big brother could not sleep either. I have so much, I’m blessed! he thought. A family to help me and take care of me when I grow old. My little brother has nobody! It’s not fair that we divide the harvest equally. And so, can you guess? He also sneaked out and carried as much as his arms could to place precious harvest in his brother’s silo. Each brother, the next morning was shocked and confused to find their stores still full. And so the next night this sneaking around at night was repeated. And the third night. And on the fourth night, somehow, in the dark they ran into one another. What are you doing here! each asked, but then light dawned on them, and not just from their lanterns! When each realized that his brother had been doing the same as he, they dropped their bundles, embraced and cried tears of love and gratefulness! And the legends of our people say that it is on that hill, in the place that would one day become Jerusalem, that God instructed Solomon to construct the Temple, so that rules of love and kindness could spread through the world. Because of the love of two brothers. Going back to our trickster, Esav will not kill his brat kid brother, love will triumph, that’s the treat.