Last week’s and this week’s Torah portions, cover the wrestling for power between Jacob and Easu, and Jacob’s attempt to fool their father, to get the coveted blessing.
I’m neither a biblical scholar nor a biblical student. However, I have become a student of Torah study, which peaked my interest about 15 years ago, because I’ve always been a student of life. And the Torah portions have always proven to be amazing lessons symbolizing emotional challenges and growth when the latter fork in the road is chosen.
As a small child, and since, I have often wrestled with those challenges and the growth that make an examined life worth living. I move into the ring of wrestling matches, when necessary, because I believe that, with each inner struggle, I’m blessed with more inner knowledge to achieve a greater sense of inner peace.
I’ve read and studied, with a few partners, on and about this portion many times; yet it is only this week -after a major personal crisis- that I saw the struggle and the blessing in an emotional light, as a beacon within.
I understand that the portion holds many different interpretations/meanings for as many different people who study it. As I study it, I see validity in each interpretation and to those I humbly suggests another that might be relevant to some.
The crisis led me to an insight – not to be imposed upon anyone else or to overshadow any other interpretation- that the twins may symbolize a struggle within: openness to change with impulsiveness that impedes growth. If we’re too impulsive, we will sell our right (our birthright) to that inner peace for something that’s immediate and worthless (a bowl of stew) in comparison.Too much softness or too much harshness leads to an imbalance within. A healthy balance leads to inner peace.
Hashem knows that we can be dressed up (or dress ourselves up) so that we look like adults but that inside, if we’re still in pain from childhood wounds that remain unheralded, and thus unhealed, until we move through our own birth canal, we’re not entitled to the blessing. We can’t get the blessing until we can show that we’re always wrestling, always in the process of challenges -some small and some huge, born out of crisis – to become, to feel (as Issac felt) out of his blindness, that we’re an integrated whole.
And if we’re not fully emotionally balanced in a situation, then we’re tenuously-albeit tenaciously- holding on (holding on to the heel), reaching for the balance, feelings healthy inner peace, but unable to make it happen, unless and until we understand what’s holding us back.
The portion suggests that only when Issac (a metaphor for ourselves) can “see” (gain insight from hard work within – only when we can create our own insight, out of our own blindness) can we achieve that blessing. When Isaac says to Jacob that he feels the softness of Jacob’s voice (the child within) and the roughness of Esau’s exterior (the adult), it can also be a metaphor for what Hashem can see about us, as we wrestle with our wanting to maintain an inner softness,a vulnerability, a willingness to stop and be self reflective, our ability to keep in a state of becoming, and the harshness, the rough exterior, our resistance to becoming more than we already are, our struggling to show ourselves as full fledged adults when we’re really at our best if we hunt for inner peace.
Although we can dress/act as adults (Easu) we need to maintain an inner softness (Jacob). With the two parts well integrated (with an emphasis on the word well, as in being well), we can achieve the blessing we seek.
The growth lesson also seems to be that, when we seek blessings (love and acceptance) from others, we think they want to know us as an adult with a hard exterior but they are drawn to an inner softness as well.
Isaac wanted to believe that the two differences he felt were one whole person. He wanted Jacob to have the strength of Easu, the ability to go out in the world and make it through rough patches and he wanted Easu to be as soft, loving and kind as Jacob. Isaac “saw” the two sides and wanting both in one person, he gave the blessing (the love and acceptance that we are whole which we crave to hear and feel from Hashem ).
If we choose one, a lesson might be that we can hold onto the heel of one or the other part of ourselves, but we’ll only be worthy of love and acceptance to gain the blessing of inner peace, when we can let go in order to integrate the hard exterior of a competent adult with the softness of a child’s heart.