Streaming Services - Jacob & Isaac - Last Saturdays' Sermon
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and it counts as saying Kaddish.

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This week's topic for discussion: "What do we owe our parents? - When have we had to say 'no"?"
Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28-9) 
Jacob is in something of a bind: Rebecca (his mother) has overheard Isaac (his father) instructing Esav (his older brother) to hunt up some meat so that a blessing can be given from father to firstborn son. Rebecca had once had a vision from God that she interpreted as meaning that Jacob would be the son to carry on the Covenant promised to Isaac's father Abraham to be a force of blessing in the world, and she is worried that Isaac is going to confer that covenant on the incorrect child.

So she hatches a scheme for Jacob to impersonate Esav and usurp his place by deceiving Isaac, a scheme that succeeds despite Isaac's suspicions regarding the child standing in front of him:

He went to his father and said, "Father." And he said, "Yes, which of my sons are you?" Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau, your first-born; I have done as you told me. Pray sit up and eat of my game, that you may give me your innermost blessing."  
 
Isaac said to his son, "How did you succeed so quickly, my son?" And he said, "Because the Lord
your God granted me good fortune."  
 
Isaac said to Jacob, "Come closer that I may feel you, my son-whether you are really my son Esau or not." So Jacob drew close to his father Isaac, who felt him and wondered. "The voice is the voice of Jacob, yet the hands are the hands of Esau." He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; and so he blessed him.  
 
He asked, "Are you really my son Esau?" And when he said, "I am," he said, "Serve me and let me eat of my son's game that I may give you my innermost blessing." So he served him and he ate, and he brought him wine and he drank.  
 
Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come close and kiss me, my son"; and he went up and kissed him. And he smelled his clothes and he blessed him, saying, "Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of the fields that the Lord has blessed" (Genesis 27:18-27).

 
So Isaac gives Jacob his blessing, thinking that he is Esav, at the cost of Jacob's deception of his father: to honor his mother, he has deceived his father. The question is, was this really necessary?

The blessing that Jacob receives, and the consolation blessing given to Esav when the ruse is discovered are almost identical: the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth; no mention is made of the Abrahamic Covenant (that comes later, in a separate conversation at 28:3-4). Had Jacob refused to obey his mother's instructions, there is no indication that her goal would have been thwarted: I wonder what would have happened had she been patient and trusted in her husband's discretion and God's intentions.
Last Saturday's Sermon
The haftarah for Chayei Sarah tells the beginning of the story of the end of King David's days and the rise of Solomon. His son Adonijah is the heir presumptive, and when it becomes known to the nation that his father's body is beginning to shut down he decides to throw a celebratory party, declaring "I will be king!" (1 Kings 1:5).
 
Noticing this, Nathan the prophet orchestrates a coup - he instructs Solomon's mother Bathsheba to plant a recollection into David's mind, that David had promised Bathsheba that Solomon would be his heir. The exercise in psychological manipulation is successful, and Solomon is crowned king in Jerusalem.  
 
In the Bible, the story continues: As Adonijah is crowing that he will be king, he is informed that Solomon is king and flees to take hold of the corners of the altar in the Temple, seeking sanctuary.
 
It was reported to Solomon: "Adonijah is in fear of King Solomon and has grasped the horns of the altar, saying, 'Let King Solomon first swear to me that he will not put his servant to the sword.' " Solomon said, "If he behaves worthily, not a hair of his head shall fall to the ground; but if he is caught in any offense, he shall die." So King Solomon sent and had him taken down from the altar. He came and bowed before King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, "Go home" (1 Kings 1:51-53). 
 
There seem to be three lessons to draw from the story of Adonijah and Solomon:
  1. Do not declare victory before the deal is done as it might goad others to take action to thwart your expectations.
  2. Once the decision has been finalized the best course of action may be to accept defeat.
 For the third lesson, I invite you to read the second chapter of 1 Kings. 
There is good news regarding a vaccine: continue to have hope! 

David
 
Rabbi David Cantor
Temple Beth Shalom
3635 Elm Ave
Long Beach, CA 90807
direct line:  (562) 726-4116
email: rabbi@tbslb.org