Friday, December 09, 2005

Esav's Questionable Shechita

Rashi, commenting on Bereishis 26:34, states that Esav snatched women from their husbands and raped them for the first forty years of his life. In the next verse (26:35), Rashi comments that Esav and his wives worshiped idols; a source of great distress to Yitzchak and Rivka.

In Bereishis 27:3, Yitzchak instructs Esav to sharpen his sword and go out to the field to catch game for him to eat. Bereishis Rabbah 65:13 notes that the reason why Yitzchak asked Esav to sharpen his sword was because a blade with an imperfection is unfit to use for slaughter.

While Yitzchak did not eat the food that Esav slaughtered on this occurrence, the Torah tells us that on an earlier occasion (Bereishis 25:28) that Yitzchak loved Esav "because his game was in his [Yitzchak's] mouth". - thus seemingly implying that Yitzchak ate the meat Esav slaughtered.

Since we know that Yitzchak Avinu was a man of great spiritual sensitivity, how could he eat meat slaughtered by someone like Esav?


At December 9, 2005 at 10:39:00 AM EST, Blogger Reb Nesanel Levi said...

Because of his love for his first born son, he allowed himself to be taken in by Esav, who was the great pretender. Similarly and in an identical example, we see that Yitzchok was going to give the brachot to Esav, and it was only the binah of Rochel that protected against this.

Yitchok, being focused on Gevurah, he nullified his attribute of stern judgement in favor of Chesed when it came to Esav, being a father. He closed his eyes to many things to avoid having to move to din.

At December 9, 2005 at 10:46:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

R. Nati: Thank you for your comment. I always enjoy reading your postings on the Mystical Paths blog. If I remeber correctly, you are a Breslover, right?

While Yitzchak could overlook many things, could he nullify all the klippos that must have been in the meat that Esav slaughtered?

At December 9, 2005 at 10:54:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Esav is a somewhat complicated character, but we know a few things about him:
1. He has greater spiritual potential than Yaakov, which Yitzchok was trying to actualize.
2. Yitzchok would have been able to tell if it wasn't done properly.
3. At home Eisav always displayed impeccable middos, and wanted to be thought of as a Tzaddik - he probably wouldn't jeopardize the image he wanted to create.
4. His Kibud Av was exceptional.
5. We also know that ultimately he did as you say... he couldn't get a kosher animal and eventually prepared an unkosher one - a dog, if I’m not mistaken...

Yitzchok was not really fooled, he knew Eisav well. I'm sure Yitzchok only ate food that was properly prepared - I wouldn't eat from Eisav's shechita myself, but then again, I don't have Ruach Hakodesh to know if it was properly geshochten - which Yitzchok certainly did. I also don't think we can minimize Eisav to the level of a simple low-life... he was a son of Yitzchok, and was surely not a simple person by any stretch of the imagination.

I could get into a conversation about Tzaddikim being able to uplift things that a regular Jew cannot – but I will stay away from such a controversial topic.

A good Shabbos to all!

At December 9, 2005 at 11:09:00 AM EST, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Chabakuk Elisha:

2. Yitzchok would have been able to tell if it wasn't done properly.

Really? So how did he not recognize Yaakov when he came in dressed as Eisav?

Or was that also a sham, and he really knew it was Yaakov all along...

At December 9, 2005 at 12:04:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That can be debated.I could go either way on that question:
1. Maybe he knew but it was essential to maintain the charade.
2. Or it could also be said that the beged of Eisav that Yaakov wore is referring to a spiritual beged, which may have indeed made Yaakov Eisav-like.
3. Or it could be said that in an isolated event like that he may have lost his Ruach Hakaodesh.

But that specific incident is not the point I was trying to make - I am saying that Yitzchok was not tricked, even slightly, about Eisav's character. To the contrary, he had a much deeper appreciation for Eisav than we do:
He knew that the potential for Eisav was incredible - and he had the hope that he could actualize it. Rivka understood that it was not possible, and she was right.

Nevertheless, Yitzchok didn't let his parenthood blind him from Eisav's ways - Yitzchok knew that if Eisav's capabilities were actualized it would have been profound, and he had hope that he could make it happen.

At December 10, 2005 at 7:53:00 PM EST, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear ASJ,

Indeed, a very provocative question posed! I also have several questions that I'd like to ask:

1) How is it that we can even be remotely certain that Eisav (ha Rasha) knew of (no less put into practice) the distinction between the halachic schechting of an animal and the mere act of killing an animal on the hunt-the latter rendering it unfit in any case? Was not Eisav a hunter, the rugged outdoorsman rather than the pious Jew that a shochet is supposed to be?

2)In what fashion could the halachos of shechita have been known to even an Yitzchak Avinu at this point in time before matan Torah?

3)And even if known to him by ruach ha kodesh would he still then have been obligated to keep this mitzvah ... again prior to matan Torah?

4)Or would his observance have been voluntary in any case which might have meant that he'd eat meat by Eisav in one instance but not in another?

I am,

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

At December 12, 2005 at 2:37:00 AM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...


Eisav was meticulous in kibud av, and it was always my understanding that any mitzvot that involved his father were kept by Eisav. Eisav had tremendous spiritual potential, and Yitzchak did not realize just how much of a rasha his osn was until he went to bless him. When Yitzchak shuddered is when he realized...

At December 12, 2005 at 7:19:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks for the insight, MCAryeh

At November 21, 2006 at 3:24:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great question and discussion between such inquiring minds.
I learned that since they were twins, they did look alike, only one appeared on the outside more rugged while the other was more smooth skinned (but their features as twins were strikingly similar) , while underneath the differences (behavior) raged.

In the home, they could have seemed more similar because of Eisav's kibud av, where Rivka (with her Bina) was able to discern those subtle discrepancies. Since Eisav was so smart, he could have knowingly shechted differently for his father out of kibud av - and that's what Yitzchak realized and loved him more for.

A possible scenario of today: if you take two bochurim, twins, dressed alike, with loving parents, but as the years go on that knawing feeling in the youth of one grows with the years into one being a talmid chacham, and possibly the other drawn into the glitz of worldly affairs (a bit wild and less than the tzadik his parents called him) - not unknown and uncommon for today's times.

I think this is the pull between the kedusha and the tuma at odds in our world. (On this subject, there is an extremely interesting letter written by a yid that discusses this very topic to be found at //

Wishing everyone greater kashrus awareness,

At November 26, 2008 at 9:51:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

G-d bless you and yours.
as a believing gentile i am not knowledgeable or can comment on the laws of slaughtering and such matters.
A person approached the BaalShemtov regarding his problematic child, to which the Baalshemtov replied: love him even more, as then perhaps he will return.
Perhaps Yitzchok had this in mind too. Just my very humble thought.


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