Guard Your Lips II
...And Lavan returned to his place; and Yaakov went on his way...
(Bereshith 31:55, 32:1)
The previous essay related that if people are forced into situations in
which they must deceive someone else, they should immediately try to do
something to counteract the negative repercussions of their act. Yaakov
himself acted in accordance with this principle, as can be seen from the
following scenario: When Yitzchak asked Yaakov if he was Esav, Yaakov
replied Anochi, Esav Bechorechah, literally "It is I, Esav your
first-born." The question begs to be asked: since Yaakov was interested in
avoiding even the slightest trace of falsehood, why didn't he leave out the
word "I" and answer "Esav, your first born," a seemingly equally effective
answer to Yitzchak's question?
Yaakov's intention in using the word "Anochi" was very specific. He meant
to imply, "It is I who will eventually accept the Ten Commandments." Since
the prohibition of idol worship, the first of the Ten Commandments, starts
with the word Anochi, Yaakov's use of the word Anochi alluded to this.1 Yet
the question remains: at this auspicious moment why did Yaakov feel it
necessary to hint at the fact that he would eventually accept the Ten
Commandments, specifically the prohibition against idolatry?
Our Sages tell us that the transgression of deceiving someone is on par
with that of idol worship.2 Although Yaakov was Divinely commanded to take
the blessings from Esav, since he had to use means that seemed crooked, he
felt it necessary, on the spot, to strengthen his recognition of the
seriousness of falsehood by referring to the prohibition against idolatry.3
In addition to this, immediately after Yaakov deceived Esav he ran to the
Yeshivah of Shem and Ever. His time spent studying there enabled him to
overcome any adverse effects that might have lodged in his soul as a result
of his misrepresentation of the truth. At the same time, it bolstered him
so that he would be able to deal with Lavan while remaining true to
himself. Both Shem and Ever had lived through generations when the entire
world was marked by corruption. They were eminently qualified to give
Yaakov the tools he would require to deal with the crooked society in which
he was destined to live.4
1 Bereshith Rabbah 65:18.
2 Sanhedrin 92a.
3 According to Rashi's commentary, which does not quote this Midrash, it
must be assumed that Yaakov felt that in order to insure with one hundred
percent certainty that Yitzchak would give him the blessings, it was
neccesary to add the word "I" to his statement.
4 Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky: Titein Emeth L'Yaakov.
Priceless Integrity, Copyright © 2001 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org.
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