That Was Awkward

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Toldot Peace Bridge v2

“Build a bridge of peace to create love.”

I always found it a bit weird that after Rebecca conspires against Isaac and Jacob has successfully landed the blessing of Isaac, Rebecca makes a strange request of Isaac.

“And Rebecca said to Isaac: ‘I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these, of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?'”

Then Isaac has to tell Jacob these instructions:

“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him: ‘Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother.”

Why does Rebecca want Isaac to tell Jacob these instructions? Tell him yourself! Jacob clearly listens to Rebecca’s direction. Why does it have to be Isaac who tells Jacob how to find a wife.

Think about the situation. Jacob just fooled his father Isaac. Isaac was just fooled by his son Jacob. Now Jacob has to run away because Esau wants to kill him. Imagine Jacob flees immediately. Imagine Jacob and Isaac never speak again. Imagine the last thing Jacob and Isaac experienced was subterfuge, lies, and trickery. Imagine how Jacob feels about his relationship with his father right now at this moment.

It must have been completely and totally awkward. If nothing was done to fix the awkwardness, it could have deteriorated into something far worse and even more uncomfortable.

Rebecca wanted to salvage the relationship between Isaac and Jacob so she forces them to have a conversation about something entirely unrelated to the awkwardness between them. They had to build a bridge and reconnect over a new project. It was actually a brilliant move by Rebecca. It created a space to undo the awkwardness and allow Jacob to leave on good terms with his father, instead of thinking the worst and assuming their relationship was over.

We ought to follow Rebecca’s advice as well. Don’t marry Hittite women! Just kidding. We ought to defuse awkwardness in our lives too. Her suggestion is a good one. Find common ground, build a bridge, and create a space for a new, more fruitful relationship.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink is the founder of
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