Friday, November 05, 2010

Was Yaakov Avinu the first Askan?

While reading over parashat Toledot, it struck me that, at least on a peshat level, there is ample precedent for what the various askanim are doing. It is simply maaseh avos siman labanim.

Consider whether Yitzchak was the first Gadol and whether Yaakov was the first askan. As an askan, he has his own agenda, and seeks the gadol's blessing. In order to do this, he conceals the truth and misrepresents the metzius. And the gadol then offers his blessing. And the world proceeds on the basis of this haskama, granted under false pretenses. (In this instance, though, the gadol discovers the ruse at the end, and yields as well.)

On the other hand, maybe we can present Esav as the first askan, trying to get the gadol to sign on to his chumra requiring maaser on straw and salt. To cite the pasuk and Rashi:

27. And the youths grew up, and Esau was a man who understood hunting, a man of the field, whereas Jacob was an innocent man, dwelling in tents.כז. וַיִּגְדְּלוּ הַנְּעָרִים וַיְהִי עֵשָׂו אִישׁ יֹדֵעַ צַיִד אִישׁ שָׂדֶה וְיַעֲקֹב אִישׁ תָּם יֹשֵׁב אֹהָלִים:

who understood hunting: [He knew how] to trap and to deceive his father with his mouth and ask him,“Father, how do we tithe salt and straw?” His father thereby thought that he was scrupulous in his observance of the commandments (Tanchuma, Toeldoth 8).יודע ציד: לצוד ולרמות את אביו בפיו, ושואלו אבא היאך מעשרין את המלח ואת התבן, כסבור אביו שהוא מדקדק במצות:

Thus, on a midrashic level at least (and I think there is merit to it on a peshat level as well), it was Esav who was presenting a false front to the Gadol, such that the Gadol wanted to even give his blessing to Esav!


E-Man said...

I simply do not understand the idea that Esau hid his wickedness from Yitzchak. The pasuk tells us that the women he married were a source of torment to both Yitzchak and Rivka and this was before Yitzchak wanted to give him the blessing. Breishis 26:35.

How is it justified to say Esau was tricking Yitzchak. The Torah explicitly tells us that Yitzchak knew he did inappropriate things, but still wanted to give him the blessing.

yaak said...

If you want to use "Askan" in a more positive sense, Avraham Avinu trying to save Sedom could be called Askanut. In that case, however, no one can fool the listener of his request.

joshwaxman said...

nice question. i have a post in the works.




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