Thursday, November 23, 2006

self-sacrifice and risk

Parshat Toldos

Rivka overhears Yitzhak telling Esau to bring him food so he will bless him. She hatches a plan to have Yaakov act as Esau and fool Yitzhak into blessing him. She tells Yaakov her plan and what he needs to do. Yaakov recoils in horror and comes up with reasons why the plan will not work. And the worst of it is that the risk is so great - Yitzhak might realize and then curse me!! The risk is too great. Can't do it.

Rivka's response is that do not worry - any curse he throws at you is on my back. I will take the curse. You just go ahead and do what I told you.

I find two aspects of this story fascinating:
  1. The level of self-sacrifice Rivka had on behalf of the future nation of Israel. She knew it was crucial for the future of Israel that Yaakov get those blessings and not Esau. She was willing to take the curses on her own head, just as long as it would effect the stewardship of the blessings be in Yaakov's hands.
  2. Yaakov was a naysayer. He was not an aggressive risk-taker. Rivka hatched this great plan, albeit risky. Yaakov found every excuse why it would not work and is not a good idea. We often find ourselves at a juncture where we could take a risk and end up with great success or avoid the risk and settle for less. Most of the time we are too cowardly to take the risk. Yaakov, the "איש תם יושב אוהלים" was the same way. If it was up to him, he would not have taken the risk, Esau would have been blessed by Yitzhak, and who knows how history would have turned out. The most successful people are usually the people who take the risk. Rivka told Yaakov not to worry about the risk. He followed her advice and it paid off.

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