No Two People are the Same
Finding a mate is no simple matter. The rabbis characterized its difficulty
as being on the scale of splitting the Yam Suf. But finding that mate and
building a successful and satisfying marriage thereafter are two different
tasks. From this week’s parsha it is obvious that Yitzchok and Rivka are at
cross purposes regarding the treatment due to Eisav. Yitzchok is willing to
give him almost everything in order to attempt to save him from his own evil
nature and negative course in life.
Rivka feels that Eisav is irredeemable and that the entire investment of
parental energy should be concentrated on Yaakov. Her policy of very tough
love contradicts that of Yitzchok towards Eisav. Thus she does not inform
Yitzchak of her plans to grant Yaakov the blessings by dressing him up as
Eisav. She demands that Yaakov now flee the country to escape Eisav’s wrath
and death threats.
Yitzchak acquiesces in her wishes though not from the same motives that
impelled Rivka to send Yaakov away. In short for much of the parsha Yitzchak
and Rivka do not appear to be on the same page as far as the future of their
sons is concerned. This naturally leads to complications and problems that
will again reflect themselves in the family of Yaakov and his wives and
The rift between Yitzchak and Rivka is not discussed further in the Torah
and even Midrash and the commentators do not dwell on it. Yet it appears to
be a major influence on the lives of both Yaakov and Eisav and on the
tortured relationship between the two brothers.
The saga of favoritism by parents regarding one of their children will be
repeated by Yaakov in the story of Yosef and his brothers. That dispute will
haunt Jewish life throughout its history. Everyone strives to achieve a
harmonious home and family. But the goal is an elusive one for many.
Differing circumstances, personal preferences, human error, and societal
influences all play a part in the problem of creating a harmonious and
That is what the rabbis meant when they stated that Yaakov wanted to dwell
in peace and serenity – he wanted to achieve that household of goodness and
peace. Instead, the disaster of Yosef and his brothers impressed itself upon
him and his family. A great sage once said that life and especially family
life can be likened to ships that traverse the ocean. Each one fabricates
its own wake but the wake soon disappears and the next ship has to find its
way across the ocean by itself.
No two family situations are the same nor are two children in the same
family identical – even identical twins. The Torah informs us of the
difficulties inherent in family situations and differing personalities and
opinions. It offers no magic solution to these situations for there is no
one-size fits all that can be advanced. Wisdom, patience, good will and
common sense are the ingredients for family success and achievement.
Rabbi Berel Wein