Parshas Toldos: Do The Ends Justify The Means?

ויאמר יצחק אל יעקב גשה נא ואמשך בני האתה זה בני עשו אם לא

Yitzchok said to Yaakov, Come close, if you please, and let me touch you, my son. Are you my son Esav or not? (27:21)

Rashi writes: אמר יצחק בלבו אין דרך עשו להיות שם שמים שגור בפיו, וזה אמר כי הקרה ה' אלקיך- Yitzchak said to himself, “It is not Esav’s way to mention the name of Hashem so readily, and this one says etc.

The plan was simple. Yaakov needed to disguise himself as Esav, and the brochos would be his. Following his mother’s advice, he took his brother’s goat skins which were hairy like his brother. Yitzchok never questioned the sound of his voice, only the content, so apparently, they were similar; all was set and ready to go. It was only because Yakov mentioned the name of Hashem which was atypical of Esav that Yitzchok began to suspect that the person standing in front of him was not Esav.

If from the outset Yakov was worried about being caught, why did he talk like Yaakov? Did he really need to mention Hashem’s name? Furthermore, since Yitzchok himself saw or noticed a contradiction, why did he decide to give him the brochos?

The Beis Halevi answers that Esav was worried that Yaakov would steal the brochos utilizing great chochma in tricking Yitzchak; he would mimic the way Esav speaks. So, Esav said to Yitzchok “in that case, I shall speak like Yaakov and in that manner, you will know that it is me, Esav.” Realizing this, Yaakov spoke like Yaakov so that Yitzchok would think it is Esav (as Rashi state, Yakov came with chochma). So, when he showed up, with a physical feel of Esav and sounding like Yakov, Yitzchok was convinced that this was indeed Esav. So, he gave him the brochos.

There is a great lesson to learn from this, רבות מחשבות בלב איש. Esav had it all figured out; he planned on acting in a manner that would cause Yaakov to lose out on the brachos, but ועצת ה' היא תקום-in the end, it was this very plan that convinced Yitzchok.

The Ralbag writes: כי לא תועיל לו בזולת זה שום תחבולה להמלט ממה שגזר הש"י עליו, אבל ימצא שכל מה שחשב להתרחק מהדבר ההוא ימציא הסבות המקרבות אותו אליו- No matter what a person does to circumvent this that Hashem has decreed, it will not help him at all. Rather, he will find that whatever he has done to distance himself, will actually be used to bring him closer to the fulfillment of Hashem’s decree.

We can explain Yaakov’s mention of Hashem’s name in another manner. Although on the outside Yaakov was prepared to wear a disguise in order to receive the brachos, he still was unwilling to alter his pnimiyus which very much relates to the way a person talks. “Ay, by mentioning Hashem you may blow it,” Yaakov wasn’t worried that he would be penalized by Hashem for that.

Why did he even want these brachos? His mother revealed to him that it was ratzon Hashem to receive them. With these brachos, he would establish the shevatim and Am Yisroel. Specifically, now of all times, whilst securing the future of Klal Yisroel, he was not about to conceal the pnimiyus of a yid which has the name of Hashem on the lips at all times.

This lesson holds true with anything that we do which is ratzon Hashem. This means that in business we must be honest and follow the laws of Choshen Mishpat. It also means that one does not need skip minyan for the mitzvah of earning parnassah. Furthermore, there are times that a person is faced with an opportunity to do an important mitzvah, perhaps even considered by many as pikuach nefesh. If the means of accomplishment are not in harmony with the torah’s outlook, Yaakov Avinu teaches us that we do not say, “but the ends justify the means.” Hashem will bring about whatever needs to happen without compromising on our hashkafos.

Good Shabbos, מרדכי אפפעל