How did Rivkah give Yackov Eisav's clothing without asking?

וַתִּקַּח רִבְקָה אֶת בִּגְדֵי עֵשָׂו בְּנָהּ הַגָּדֹל הַחֲמֻדֹת אֲשֶׁר אִתָּהּ בַּבָּיִת וַתַּלְבֵּשׁ אֶת יַעֲקֹב בְּנָהּ הַקָּטָן

And Rebecca took the costly garments of Esau, her elder son, which were with her in the house, and she dressed Jacob, her younger son.

(Gen. 27:15)

Is it stealing?

  • How could Rivkah go along with the lie that she was Yitzhak's sister? How could Avraham attempt to kill Yitzhak? How could Moshe kill the Egyptian? Pinhas. Eliyahu. Etc. Doing the right thing sometimes means going against accepted norms.
    – Seth J
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 4:26

4 Answers 4


Eisav was "סמוך על שלחן אביו" - living at home at his parents' expense, therefore his finds and his gifts legally automatically belong to his parents - see Bava Metzia 12a/12b, R' Yom-Tob Asevilli ("Ritb"a") ibid. and Shul'han Aru'h 366:10.

  • 3
    nzn, welcome to judaism.SE, and thanks for the insightful answer and sources. But how do you know that Eisav was "סמוך על שלחן אביו"? If anything, I would say he wasn't, based on the fact that his father was asking him to bring him food, and that Rivka took Eisav's clothes "אשר אתה בבית", which implies that in general, Eisav's stuff was not to be found in her house.
    – jake
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 8:06
  • 3
    I don't think asking to bring him food is a proof. Even after the Torah was given children are obligated to feed their parents from the parents' own resources.
    – WAF
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 13:04
  • 1
    I hate to be "one of those people" who perpetuate an idea about the piety of the Avoth based on a circular logic pointing to one aspect of their behavior that requires ethical support (a la "Of course Avraham wore a black hat! It says he went out from his tent! Would he go out from his tent without his black hat on???"). However, in this case, does not the fact that Rivkah took 'Esav's clothes imply that he was living with his parents, presumably as a household member? She had access to them in the first place...
    – Seth J
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 23:40
  • 1
    Second, it seems both sons were living there, as Ya'akov was cooking when 'Esav walked in. Third, if their father was asking him to go out and catch him his dinner, it also implies that he was not only an obedient son, but one who was available - ie., living there - to fulfill his father's wishes. Granted, none of these is, alone, enough to PROVE that he lived there as a dependent, but the whole framework of the story does have that sense that it depends on a context in which that is understood.
    – Seth J
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 23:42
  • 3
    This actually prompts one of my favorite comments of Rashi. (paraphrasing) So Rivkah had Esav's clothes. Why? He wanted her to wash them. But he had wives!? He didn't trust his wives to wash his clothes. (end of rashi) I think that would suggest he was living there/dependant upon his parents, as much as the college students whose behavior this resembles.
    – Ze'ev
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 7:24

Torah Temima on the pasuk: The clothes were used by Eisav when he was performing his priestly chores. It is hinted by the use of bna hagadol (her elder son). It is not written bna habechor (her firstborn) because we know he sold the bechora to Ya'akov.

How does this answer the question.? I think that if these clothes were meant for the priestly job, she felt that Ya'akov was going to perform such a job now, when going to receive the firstborn blessings.

  • Perhaps indeed they were meant like that, perhaps not. But what gave her the right to take another man's property?
    – gt6989b
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 15:47

according to the pirkei derebbi eliezer chapter 24, these clothes were stolen by Eisav from Nimrod. Hagozel min haganav is patur - one who steals from a thief is exempt.

  • 1
    Patur Aval Asur, or Mutar?
    – Seth J
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 14:37
  • 1
    Can you source that "hagozel min haganav is patur"?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 15:00
  • On the other hand... Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 15:21
  • @MonicaCellio, but in context here the whole enterprise has the same Lifnim Meshuras HaDin problem. As long as they were technically OK, otherwise if this kind of thing would be a problem, then the whole deception is worse.
    – Yishai
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 15:25
  • @DoubleAA "קצות החושן" (סימן לד) וכן רבי יעקב מליסא בעל "נתיבות המשפט" (שם סק"ב) Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 16:32

I heard an answer from one of my rabbeim, who drew a parallel to the case of Yosef not contacting his father. There, the Ramban claims it was warranted because he believed his dreams were prophetic and thus would not go against the dreams that he was shown. (I've been told that the Netziv in HaEmek Davar also subscribes to this logic.)

So too in our case, Rivkah had a prophecy that she was following. Along similar lines, R' Gedalia Schorr in Ohr Gedalyahu writes that the reason Yaakov went along with the deception was to obey the order of a prophet, which seems to hail from similar reasoning.

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