Kol Colchester Parshat Toldot
The Talmud teaches us that true strength and power is not found in the ability to control others, but rather in the ability to control ourselves. Rashi (11th century) explains that anytime we are tempted to do something immoral or wrong yet restrain ourselves, we achieve the highest level of intimacy with the Divine.
He explains that part of our many failings stem from our insistence on forming rationalizations and justifications with which we allow ourselves to indulge in whatever we want. In this week’s Torah portion, Isaac is faced with an incredible dilemma. For over 60 years he has been pinning his hopes and dreams on his eldest son, Esau, to carry on his legacy, yet when faced with the reality that his judgment was wrong, he avoids all rationalizations and excuses and says, “Jacob will be blessed”(Gen. 27:33).
That is why in Jewish mysticism Isaac is the only one of the three Patriarchs to be described as “strong.” He had the ability to face the truth and avoid all attempts at justifying himself. He had real strength: the strength of character to do what was right, not just what was pragmatic and comfortable. Anytime we do conquer our inner drive and exert self-control, we attain a taste of the Divine, right here and now.