וַֽיִּגְדְּלוּ֙ הַנְּעָרִ֔ים וַיְהִ֣י עֵשָׂ֗ו אִ֛ישׁ יֹדֵ֥עַ צַ֖יִד אִ֣ישׁ שָׂדֶ֑ה וְיַעֲקֹב֙ אִ֣ישׁ תָּ֔ם יֹשֵׁ֖ב אֹהָלִֽים׃ וַיֶּאֱהַ֥ב יִצְחָ֛ק אֶת־עֵשָׂ֖ו כִּי־צַ֣יִד בְּפִ֑יו וְרִבְקָ֖ה אֹהֶ֥בֶת אֶֽת־יַעֲקֹֽב׃
“When the boys grew up, Esav became a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors; but Yaakov became a mild man, raising livestock. And Yitzchak, who was very fond of savoring game, loved Esav; and Rivka loved Yaakov.”
One always wonders how it is possible that a father or mother loves one child more than another... is it possible?
The truth is that in this section of the parashah we do not understand why Yitzchak loved Esav so much. Perhaps because of their common taste for hunting and food? The expression “ki tzaid bepiv” could be translated as “Esav had his father with the product of his hunt in his mouth,” as if he had conquered his father’s will with the game that he brought home and prepared him as delicacies.
On the other hand, it is clear from the text that Rivka had a special attachment to Yaacov, maybe due to the promise she had received when she became pregnant:
“Two nations are in your womb, two separate peoples shall issue from your body; one people shall be mightier than the other and the older shall serve the younger.”
Despite these preferences, we can clearly see that Yitzhak makes an effort as a father to overcome the different troubles to which Esav had exposed him: marrying two Hittite women, not assuming his place as the one who would inherit the role of guide of the people that Yitzhak himself had inherited from his father Avraham—The People of Israel.
And yet there was unconditional love.
You will tell me that there is ALWAYS that kind of love between a parent and a child, but our Torah shows us that it is not really so. Sometimes it happens that parents do not feel that way towards one or more of their children.
The midrash tells that there was clearly a break between Yitzhak and Avraham after the episode of the Akedah, the binding and almost sacrifice of Yitzchak. According to this story, it was Yshmael who still maintained the bond with his father—and even with his brother! It says that, at the request of Yitzhak himself, Avraham went out one day to look for his other son, who had been thrown out of his house with his mother Hagar. The midrash says that there was indeed a relationship between Avraham and Yishmael motivated by Yitzhak.
Perhaps Yitzhak is the patriarch who is most questioned about what kind of merits he had to occupy that place between Avraham and Yaakov. We could mention not only the patience and resilience he had after the aforementioned Akedah episode, but also that condition of a father devoted to his son, even when he apparently did not deserve it. So much so that, at the moment of giving him his blessing, he creates a scenario that would please the son, asking him to go hunting and cooking him that food that he liked so much.
Yitzhak is not really a model of a perfect father. In fact, none of our patriarchs are.
And that is probably also the message that the Torah decides to give us. There is no such thing as a perfect father or mother. There are those who strive to keep the family together and, for that to happen, give themselves with all their hearts and strength to maintain the bonds in the best possible way between those children who, on the other hand, do not always do exactly what is expected of them and choose paths that are different from those imagined.
Let us as fathers and mothers be the ones who extend our arms and give loving hugs to sustain a union that will be translated through the years as the connection of our heritage—a People of Israel with that same and solid union.
Rabbi Gustavo Geier