"May your curse be on me, my son!" (Gen. 27:13)

The reason that she added the word "my son," although she had been talking to him all the time was that she referred only to what Jacob had said last. We have a rule (Makot 11) that the curse of a Torah scholar, even if uttered only conditionally, is effective. Had Rebecca not added the word "my son," we would have thought that she referred to Jacob's being cursed by Isaac when he found out he had been tricked.

In order to understand Rebecca's special love for Jacob the following consideration may help. Rebecca generally was looked upon askance because she had given birth to the wicked Esau. We find in nature that parts of a whole display an affinity for other parts of the same whole. Rebecca testified that this rule did not apply in her case, that her deeds proved that she had no affinity for Esau. Her womb was indeed blessed, and the good part (Jacob) represented that which was normal, hence her love for Jacob.

The fact that she had given birth also to an Esau was not a reflection on his mother's personality.

The Torah teaches us this by repeatedly describing Jacob as Rebecca's son even in instances where these additional words are otherwise quite superfluous (compare verses 6, 8, 11, 13, 15, 17, 42). All of this is to underline that Jacob's righteousness was a direct outgrowth of his righteous mother. The fact that she had given birth also to an Esau was not a reflection on his mother's personality.

Kabbalists, of course, are aware that there are mystical dimensions which account for the emergence of Esau as a potentially wicked person, whereas it was Rebecca's union with Isaac which was the cause of any pollutant disturbing her holiness.

Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai is quoted in the Zohar (Sulam edition Chayei Sarah 251) as explaining that the reason the Torah describes Isaac as loving his wife Rebecca, something that is natural and does not require special mention, is that the love of the male for the female is rooted in the "left" side of the emanations. In Isaac's case it was the fire of the gevura, his predominant characteristic which stems from the "left side" of the emanations. If the holiness of the two was tainted in any way this was due more to Isaac than to Rebecca. Jacob's physical perfection is compared to that of Adam's before the sin. (Baba Metzia 84) He did not therefore inherit any pollutant from his mother. Students of the Kabbalah will understand all this. [I have elaborated on the author's text to make it more intelligible for the non-kabbalist. E.M.]

When we wrote earlier (25:20) that the reason Esau was wicked was because Rebecca had a wicked brother called Laban, this did not influence Rebecca's character.

[Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of "Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar" by Eliyahu Munk.]