The Torah Aura Double-Dare

by Joel Lurie Grishaver

Torah Aura dares any Torah curriculum, new, renewed, or classic to match the wisdom and commitment found in this letter from the Richmond Jewish Day School. We believe that Being Torah remains unmatched in its ability to get students to think, to get them involved, and to get them to love the process of Torah study. Other people can put out newer books (even though the new edition of Being Torah is only one year old) but can they put out books that will do more for your students. Here are the results. Can your school match them?

Dear Friends at Being Torah,

I am writing you on behalf of my grade four students at the Richmond Jewish Day School. We are having a wonderful year studying Torah. Your book has influenced us to come up with our own biblical interpretations. It turns out that we are a scholarly bunch! When we were studying the story of Jacob’s blessing, we noticed that other schoolchildren questioned the details of the story just as we did. Most of us believe that Isaac knew very well that he was giving Esau’s blessing to Jacob. On the other hand, there are a couple of students who think the opposite. Whatever the truth may be, the Torah tells us a story of trickery and betrayal If Isaac knew what he was doing, we wonder why the Torah tells us otherwise? The following comments are outcomes of this question.

The students who argued that Isaac was not fooled by Jacob said that the Torah does tell us, we just need to read between the lines.

When Isaac questioned Esau’s (really Jacob’s) speedy return from hunting, he responded politely and told him that G-d helped him. From what we understand of Esau’s character, he would not have been so polite, nor would he have mentioned Hashem. This sentence alone may have told Isaac who was standing before him. As well, the fact that “Esau” returned from hunting so quickly could have made Isaac suspicious.

When “Esau” went to his father to receive the blessing, Isaac asked him quite a few questions. One of these questions was “which son are you”? The Torah tells us that Isaac heard the voice of Jacob. We know that when a human being loses one sense, other senses are heightened. The Torah does not mention that Isaac’s hearing had deteriorated, only his sight. Also, the Torah does not say that Isaac was completely blind. We think that he could have still seen the difference between his two sons. Isaac smelled and felt the goatskin that Jacob had put on to fool him. We think that Isaac’s sense of smell and touch would have known the difference between goatskin and the skin of his own son. We also believe that Isaac would have been able to tell that it was Jacob when he kissed him. Jacob had smooth skin on his face, while Esau was hairy. These facts led us to believe that Isaac was making sure that the son who stood before him was in fact Jacob, not Esau.

We know that Rebecca loved Jacob more than Esau. We considered the fact that Isaac was deeply in love with Rebecca and respected her too. Perhaps Isaac was just trying to please his wife. We know that our fathers often let our mothers influence them when it comes to important decisions, even if they don’t admit it!

One or two students argue that Isaac was fooled, but in a good way. Maybe the Torah is trying to tell us about the power women possessed between the lines of the scripture. The fact that Esau was Isaac’s favorite seemed to be a strong argument for these students. However, it is the line where Isaac says to the real Esau “but I have already given you your blessing”, that tells these students that Isaac really didn’t know that he had blessed the wrong child.

The majority of the class thinks that Isaac said this as a cover up so that Esau wouldn’t think that he betrayed him.

The Torah is a tricky text because it makes you search for answers. You can’t take any line at face value, yet every word is so valuable. When we have our next big debate we will write you again. If you have any comments about our findings, we would love to hear back from you

All the best, Grade Four