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Thought for the Day: Yitzchak, Yaakov, and Esav -- A Gematria and a Lot More

I am not big on gematrias; usually I find them at best "cute".  Cute is not necessarily a bad thing, and this particular gematria has lots of moving parts, so it is really, really cute.

The basic pieces we need are the following information:
Gematria For Letter Values Total Value In Other Words
HaShem 10+5+6+5 26 The One and Only
Yitzchak 10+90+8+100 208 8*HaShem
Yaakov 10+70+100+4+2 186 7*HaShem
tamei 9+40+1 50 Ewww!
Eisav 70+300+6 376 7*tamei + 1*HaShem

So... here it goes: Yitzchak gave seven brachos to Yaakov and one to Eisav; ie, 8*HaShem.  When Yaakov went to meet Eisav, he first bowed down seven times -- effectively knocking off the 7*tamei and leaving only the 1*Hashem.  Then Yaakov could safely approach Eisav.  Cute, no?  If I were smart, I would probably stop here, but...

I have been saying over this gematria for years and it occurred to me this morning (gotta love that morning bike ride) there may be a deeper meaning.  When Yitzchak first gave the seven brachos to Yaakov, he thought they were going to Eisav.  Why would Yitzchak give Eisav all those brachos for worldly success?  Because Yitzchak expected (hoped) that Eisav would be overwhelmed with joy and hakaras hatov that he would form a "Yissachar/Zevulun" relationship with Yaakov.  Yaakov, on the other hand would only need one bracha for his minimal hishtadlus; Yaakov was, after all, supposed to continue sitting and learning.  When Yitzchak discovered that Eisav had given up everything and that Yaakov would have to carry the entire burden of both Yissachar and Zevulun, he trembled with regret that he hadn't given all eight brachos to Yaakov.  Eisav had to ask three times and start crying before Yitzchak gave him a bracha.  Why?  Because Eisav no longer deserved a bracha; he really had given up everything.  Finally Yitzchak gave Eisav a bracha -- but one that didn't depend on Eisav's righteousness.  So what was the gating factor for Eisav's bracha?  It depends on Yaakov's righteousness.  In other words, Yitzchak did managed to give that final bracha to Yaakov!  Eisav became just a cog in the machinery; a barometer of Yaakov's righteousness.

And so it is until today.  As much as the nations of the world think they are doing stuff, in fact they have no say at all.  Everything revolves around Am Yisrael.  When we are living up to our potential then the gates of bracha are open and the nations are subdued.  When we do not live up to our potential, the gates of bracha are closed and the nations help us -- by being against us until we return.

Personally, I think this gematria moved from cute to way cool.

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