Sticking Up For Mom
By Rabbi Daniel Travis
And his mother [Rivka] said to him [Yaakov], “Your curse will be on me.
Just listen to what I said and go and take [the goats] for me.”
Rivka’s reply to Yaakov is somewhat difficult to understand. Surely in
order to convince Yaakov to listen to her, she had to take full
responsibility for Yitzchak’s reaction. Therefore, if she meant to accept
all the liability upon herself, she should have said, “The curse will be
upon me,” without attributing the curse to Yaakov at all.
From Rivka’s wording, “Your curse will be upon me,” it would appear that
she meant to say that although Yaakov would be fully responsible for the
curse, she was willing to accept the full consequences upon herself. Since
Rivka had designed the whole scheme to take the blessings (as a result of
prophetic inspiration), how could she justify shifting the blame onto
Yaakov? Yaakov was just filling the role that his mother asked him to
play. Why should he be accountable for Yitzchak’s reaction?
A child is obligated to honor his mother just as much as his father 1, so much so that if a child’s mother tells
him to do something that subsequently upsets his father, the child is
forbidden to reveal that it was the mother who told him to do it. The
correct response in such a situation is for the child to accept the blame
upon himself, in order to spare his mother from embarrassment 2.
Under normal circumstances, had Yitzchak become upset as a result of
Rivka’s instructions to her son, Yaakov would have had to take full
responsibility for what had happened. However, Rivka understood that the
entire future of the Jewish people depended on convincing Yaakov to
pretend to be Esav in order to gain Yitzchak’s blessings. Therefore, in
order to persuade her son to listen to her, she accepted all the
consequences of the curse upon herself.
1 However if the father and mother ask for something
simultaneously, the halachah requires one to fulfill the father’s request
before that of the mother, (unless they are divorced, in which case there
is no order of preference).
2 See also the article entitled “Guilty Parties,” (page 202) on
Bereshith 30:23 for further discussion on this topic.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org