We should all be more like Eisav

 As Yaakov prepared his masquerade to earn Yitzchak’s blessings, he put on Eisav’s clothes to complete the deception. These were the special garments that Eisav would wear only when spending quality time with his father. Chazal speak reverentially of this practice of Eisav, as it showcased the highest caliber of kibud av (B’reishis Rabbah 65:16).

A truly beautiful gesture.

Just one problem: Yitzchak was blind! While most fathers would have surely appreciated this extravagant show of respect, Eisav had to know that his father would never know the difference. Why then did Eisav make the extra effort to “spiff up” for his father?

Rabbi Yissocher Frand shlita explained that Eisav did so to reflect his own mindset. While Yitzchak would not be able to see what his son was wearing, Eisav felt it important for himself to dress up for the privilege of serving his father. This is because kibud av va’eim is not fulfilled in action alone. An additional component of the mitzvah is for one to hold his or her parents in exalted esteem, to view them as respectable individuals – even if no one else sees them that way (see Chayei Adam 67:3). Eisav not only acted toward his father with devotion, but also thought of Yitzchak in high regard. He considered his father to be deserving of the highest honor, whether Yitzchak was able to perceive the kavod or not. This is why Eisav made sure to dress up whenever spending time in Yitzchak’s presence.

While the level of donning a tuxedo every time we visit our parents may seem out of reach, we can still work on becoming more respectful of our parents in both action and mindset. Regardless of their actual financial, professional, or social status, children owe life itself to their parents, and that alone makes them deserving of considerable admiration.

We should all be more like Eisav!

Rabbi Yaakov Abramovitz is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, while also pursuing a Psy.D. in School and Clinical Child Psychology at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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