Finally Yaakov has received his special brachah (blessing), but at what cost? We spent several days unpacking the situation around the giving of this brachah and then we analyzed the content of the brachah itself. We discovered there was lots of room for mixed feelings and mixed messages amid the trickery and tension.
Rivkah had a plan to make sure that her favorite son, Yaakov, got Yitzchak’s blessing over his elder brother Eisav. She cooked a meal for Yitzchak and dressed Yaakov up in goat skins and Eisav’s clothes to disguise his smell and the feel of his skin. Then, Yaakov took the meal into Yitzchak’s room and convinced him that it was really Eisav, ready to be blessed.
The Garinim (preK and K kiddos) reflected on times when they or someone they know played a trick on someone else. How did everyone feel about it afterwards?
- One of my friends at school made the water hot on purpose to make the next person in line get burned by the water when they want to wash their hands. But I was next, so I knew it was coming. It was a common trick to play until my teacher said he would call our parents. I thought it was fun and playful. It wasn’t to actually hurt anyone. That’s why it got popular, because it was playful.
- My trick that I did to my brother was that I hid under my blankets or behind the door to make him think that I disappeared. He felt mad and frustrated. I felt sad afterwards, even though I love hiding to trick him.
- When Minnie was ice skating one of her friends played a trick on her by giving her a present but it was actually a bunch of snakes to make her go away so her friend would be the best ice skater, even though Minnie was.
- My sister tricked my mom that I disappeared. Also I tricked Abby that I was an astronaut. My mom felt scared. My sister and I thought it was hilarious.
The Shorashim (1st and 2nd graders) have generally sympathized with mild, homebody Yaakov. Even when Yaakov takes part in Rivkah’s plan, they place the moral blame on her. Kids saw this as Rivkah’s project, something that Yaakov wasn’t necessarily interested in, but felt forced into. They noted the challenging situation Yaakov was in.
- He probably feels somewhere in the middle about the plan, he wants the blessing but doesn’t want to be mean to his father right before he dies.
- I think he doesn’t really like the plan, he doesn’t want to steal the blessing from his brother. They might be two nations but they aren’t fully separated. They have one thing that’s alike, they are both human beings.
- At the end of the day they are brothers.
- Not two separate nations, the nations can form trust and be two like real brothers.
- I think Yaakov is worried about getting in trouble with Rivkah.
- If I were Yaakov, I would lie to the parent to get out of it saying, “Yo, I’ll go get the blessing” and go and say “hi I don’t want the blessing bye.”
The Garinim also reflected on both Yaakov and Yitzchak’s feelings during their interaction. How do you think Yaakov is feeling during this interaction? Why?
- Nervous that he would get caught.
- Sorry to Yitzchak for tricking him.
- Angry at Rivkah for setting him up to play the trick.
How do you think Yitzchak feels during this interaction? Why?
- Weird because he’s getting mixed signals about which kid is there.
- Surprised at how quickly Eisav came back with food.
- Suspicious about who was really there.
After digging into all those feelings around the tricky situation, the Nitzanim (3rd and 4th graders) took a deep look at the brachah that Yitzchak gives Yaakov (Genesis 27:28-29). In a story with so much conflict, we wondered if this blessing would help solve that conflict, or make it worse.
On our outdoor day, we broke down the blessing into 7 parts:
- May God give you the dew of heaven
- May God give you the fat of the earth
- May God give you more than enough new grain and wine
- May nations bow to you
- May you be master over your brothers
- Cursed be they who curse you
- Blessed be they who bless you
For each element of the brachah, we ran to one side of Ionic Street if we believed it promoted peace, and the other side if we thought it would make a conflict worse. The Nitzanim had some interesting thoughts!
- I think that giving someone the dew of heaven is more peaceful than giving them the fat of the earth. The fat of the earth might be animals, and killing them isn’t peaceful.
- Being a master over your brothers isn’t peaceful, you should all be equal.
- Giving someone enough new grain and wine is only peaceful if they share.
- Cursing someone because they cursed you isn’t peaceful, they should just say they’re sorry.
- Blessing someone who blesses you is peaceful, but they have to do it because they want to, not because they think they’re going to be blessed.
What brachot do you wish for your children, your family, your community? We’d like to send you into this upcoming with a blessing and a wish for peace.