Amira Tankel, YC 2016-17, delivered this D'var Torah at the start of her Year Course Seminar with Encounter.
In this week’s parsha Isaac intends on blessing his first born son Esav as the leader of the nations, stating they
“shall serve you and kingdoms shall bow down to you”
Isaac’s wife, Rebecca, overhears this however and commands Jacob to
“Go now to the flock, and take … two choice kids, and I will make them tasty foods for your father … And you shall bring [them] to your father … in order that he bless you before his death.”
When Jacob enters his father’s bedroom to give him the food he convinces him he is his older brother by proclaiming
“I am Esav your firstborn. I have done as you have spoken to me. Please rise, sit down and eat of my game, so that your soul will bless me.”
From this parsha, I personally extracted a tale of treachery, secrets and playing tricks in order to one up someone else to achieve a noble position of leadership. Usually Dvar Torah’s use the parsha to parallel an important moral message that we can all take great inspiration from with actions we can all emulate however I would use this weeks’ parsha as one that highlights to us the traits we should be specifically avoiding.
We have all voluntarily chosen to be here today and I think that says a lot already about our mentalities. We aren’t here, spending our gap years in Israel purely for the fun of being, well for me anyway as a Brit, in a hotter country, nor are we here to blindly support Israel. Rather we’re here to develop our knowledge and understanding of the conflict in which Israel is founded and to enhance our support of Israel by first understanding all the contributing narratives.
We’re not trying to deceive people to make them think as a nation we’re great by pretending Israel is flawless nor are we trying to trick Palestinians so we are in a better position than them. We’re being frank and honest with ourselves and those around us that there is a problem in our homeland and we are taking it upon ourselves to become better educated in that conflict. We’re respecting and listening to those that feel unheard and we’re making sure we’re giving everyone a level playing field so no one is one up on the other. And in doing all this we’re practising traits opposite to those shown in this week’s parsha. Instead of relying on someone else to grant us that position of leadership like Jacob relied on Isaac, we’re relying on ourselves to exercise those traits to make us the leading advocates for our nation.
So let’s ask questions, respect everyone (whether your friend asking a question or the speaker speaking) and develop our understandings to ensure we make ourselves the best leaders of tomorrow.