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{Originally posted to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}

“A child’s first mirror is the mother’s face.” Monica Ordway, PhD, APRN, reflected on the suggestion of noted pediatrician Donald Winnicott that, when a baby looks at his mother, he sees himself. ( As a baby, and as an adult, when Esau peered into his parents’ faces, he did not see love and empathy mirrored, but shock and disappointment. “The first one emerged red, entirely like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau (Genesis 25:25),” completely developed as an older child (Rashi). Baby Esau looked into the mirror of his mother’s face, and saw shock. “When Esau was forty years old, he took as a wife, Judith, and Basmath, and they were a source of bitterness to Isaac and to Rebecca (26:34-35).” Esau peered into the mirror that was his father’s face, and saw disappointment.



What did Esau see when peering into the face of his twin brother, who more than anyone should mirror his qualities? Esau saw his reflection as someone to be tricked and feared.


What did Rebecca see when she prayed “mirrored by her husband (25:21)?” She looked into the face of the son of Abraham and saw her reflection as, “the daughter of Betuel, sister of Laban.”


What did Isaac see when he looked into the face of Abimelech, King of Gerar, old acquaintance of Abraham? “All the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped up, and filled them with earth (26:15).” Isaac saw his reflection in the eyes of Abimelech and his servants as an Isaac who was not an Abraham.


There is one glance in the mirror that changed everything: “We have indeed seen that God is with you, so we said, ‘Let the oath between ourselves now be between us and you (Verse 28).” Isaac realized that the Philistines now looked at him and saw him, Isaac, as an individual, significant in his own right, not just the son of the great Abraham, and Isaac understood what he had to do for Esau.


“And it came to pass, when Isaac had become old, and his eyes dimmed from seeing, that he summoned Esau, and said, ‘See, now, I have aged. Now sharpen, if you please, your gear, your sword and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me. Than make me delicacies such as I love and bring it to me and I will eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die’ (27:1-4).”


Isaac’s eyes were dimmed. Esau could no longer peer into his father’s face as a mirror, and would have to see his reflection in Isaac’s words. He would, in this new mirror, see someone who deserved to be blessed, someone different from the negative images he saw whenever looking into the way he was perceived. Isaac was presenting Esau with an opportunity to see a beautiful reflection, and that was the essence of the blessing.


This was to be Esau’s True Mirror, his chance to appreciate his symmetry. Esau may not have been sitting in his tent all day studying Torah, but his father wanted to bless the son whose gear was a sword and bow, who was a big-game hunter. Isaac wanted to bless him as Esau was, for who he was.


As angry as Esau was over Jacob’s trickery, this new mirror worked! “Esau perceived that the daughters of Canaan were evil in the eyes of Isaac his father, so Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, as a wife (28:8-9).” The Esau mirrored in Isaac’s words, reconnected with Abraham.


Rebecca, too, saw the Esau mirrored by Isaac, and speaks her first loving words for Esau, “I would be bereaved by Esau’s fall (Based on 27:45).”


A single powerful reflection mirroring love, admiration, honor and acceptance, transformed Esau and the way that others perceived him.


What do we see mirrored when we approach God in prayer? When parents and teachers speak of our sins, we see only disappointment reflected. The prayers fail before they begin. We receive Isaac’s blessing when we enter prayer and see love and appreciation reflected in the way God sees us, and our prayers soar before they even begin.


Shabbat Shalom,


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Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg, is founder and President of the leading Torah website, The Foundation Stone. Rav Simcha is an internationally known teacher of Torah and has etablished yeshivot on several continents.