Former Rosh Kollel (Perth, 2008-2012)
Currently teaching in the ‘Nativ’ conversion course
and part of the Tzohar Organisation
Rashi points out that the name of Yaakov in its Hebrew spelling – יעקב,is spelled in a different way than it is usually spelled – it is spelled with an extra letter of “ו” – יעקוב.
Rashi brings a Midrash to explain this –
“[The name יַעִקוֹב is] written in full, [i.e., with a “vav,”] in five places [in Scripture], and [the name] אֵלִיָּהוּ is written defectively [without a “vav,” i.e., אֵלִיָּה also] in five places [in Scripture]. Jacob took a letter [“vav”] from the name of Elijah [the Prophet] as security-that he will come and herald the redemption of his [Jacob’s] children”
So the Midrash connects these two personalities of Yaakov and Eliyahu, in the context of Geulah – the redemption of Am Yisra’el. Yaakov is the personality that makes sure that Eliyahu – the precursor of the Geulah, fulfills his mission and brings the redemption of the Jewish people. What is this connection between these two personalities, and why is it Yaakov that has the role of completing what might be missed by Eliyahu?
Yaakov and Eliyahu both represent the trait of Emet – Truth. Eliyahu, speaking to the Jewish people on Mount Carmel, does not speak to them about their worship of idols, but rather reprimands them with the words: “Until when are you hopping between two ideas?” It is the inconsistency and hypcricy of the people that Eliyahu rebukes, and it is the striving for truth that he calls for.
Yaakov is also characterized with Truth – as Michah ends his book with the Passuk “You shall give the truth of Jacob” (Michah 7,20). But when we consider Yaakov’s connection to Truth, we can see that it is not a simple understanding of the trait, but rather a more complex and deeper meaning to it. Yaakov is actually surrounded all his life by deceit and untruthfulness. Beginning with having to buy from Esav the Bechorah – the birthright, through getting blessed by Yitschak by making out he is Esav, followed by being tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel, Lavan changing their agreements and later on being deceived yet again about Joseph by his own sons.
Yaakov’s Truth is such that when he is confronted by deceit, he knows how to countereact it so that the outcome is the full Truth. It is not just a superficial appearence of truth, which can sometimes lead to untruthful results. Rather, it is an attempt to reveal The Truth in the world, sometimes by knowing how to overcome deceit by its own methods.
The promise to redeem Am Yisra’el at the end of these curses, does not evolve from Tshuvah – repentance, but rather because of the Brit – covenant with HaShem – “and I will remember My covenant…”. The inherent connection between G-d and Am Yisra’el needs to be expressed in this world through the redemption of the Jewish people, even if they have sinned and although the have not truthfully returned to HaShem. According to a more simplistic view of Truth, they are not entitled to be redeemed. It is only the deep Truth, that Yaakov reveals to us, that can clarify the necessity of the redemption of Am Yisra’el, and thus bring to fruition the redemption that Eliyahu is the bearer of.