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Rabbi Jonathan Ganger
by Published on November 20, 2020

Isaac called over his eldest son Esav and told him, ‘grab your hunting gear, your sword and bow and go to the field and trap me a hunt.’  There are many strange things about this. We have known for quite some time that Esau was a capable hunter- he spent his youth in the field trapping. Why did his father need to remind him to grab his hunting gear and then spell out the weapons?  But even stranger, why ask Esav to hunt at all? Isaac is a wealthy man and has his own flock that could be eaten.  We know that because that is exactly what Yakov does. His mother told him to grab a couple of sheep from the flock in the back yard and feed it to his father.   And finally, wouldn’t Isaac taste the difference between some domesticated goat meats as opposed to hunted venison meat? 


                The answer goes back to a bigger problem. How did Isaac miss it?  Esav, the blood thirsty murderer, was right under his nose the whole time and Isaac didn’t see that he was evil.  Luckily, Rivka could see past Esav’s charades and corrected the situation.  What did Isaac respect in Esav and why did he send him on a hunt? 


                A hunt denotes that one animal has conquered another; it is an expression of might, an expression that in the face of struggle I can come out on top.  That aspect of Esav is what Isaac appreciated so much- the ability to overcome obstacles, to conquer adversity.  Struggle allows a person to tap into a level that he didn’t know existed inside of him. On a metaphysical level, Yakov had to demonstrate this same quality to get the blessing from Esav.  It is great to be righteous, but are you willing to struggle to stay righteous?  He risked everything to get the blessing having to bend the truth in front of his father- he showed real grit.  That is the taste that Yitzak was looking for in the animal he was about to eat. It didn’t matter what animal it was, only that the animal was conquered through struggle.