Yaakov is characterized by Chazal as a man of emet – truth. Micah 7:20 lists emet as Yaakov’s defining characteristic (and chesed as Avraham’s): “Grant emet to Yaakov and chesed to Avraham, as you have sworn to our forefathers.” Another example is found in the Talmud, where Yaakov is described as someone of clean and truthful speech ‘”That has no slander on his tongue”– that is Yaakov’ (Makkot 24a). It is difficult to understand how truth is Yaakov’s defining character trait when we see in this week’s parsha that he tricks Yitzchak into giving him Esav’s brachot! Is this an action we would characterize as truth?
When Yaakov eventually reconciles with Esav later in the narrative, he makes sure that Esav knows his aversion for the trickery that had occurred surrounding the brachot. Yaakov presents Esav with a gift and says “Take now my gift (berchati) which I brought to you” (Bereshit 33:11). Why does he use the unusual word ‘berchati’ for gift? Yaakov uses this word because it also alludes to the blessings (brachot). He is saying to Esav – take back the blessings, in an attempt to correct his untruthful behavior.
Yaakov only deceives Yitzchak because of Rivka’s instructions (who herself was acting based on God’s will), hopes that he is discovered in the process, and feels remorse for his actions after the fact. Yet, despite all that Yaakov still tricks his father, and this behavior cannot be excused by his uneasy feelings about the situation. Still, he is called a man of truth. The Gemara (Makkot 24a) indicates that Yaakov is a man of emet not only despite of this act of trickery, but precisely because of the uneasy feelings he felt while doing this act he is the quintessential man of truth.