Rebbe Nachman explains Yaakov epitomizes wisdom (Likutey Moharan, Lesson 1). It was Yaakov who followed his wisdom to navigate his difficult relationship with his brother Esav. In fact, Yaakov actually means wit. When Esav realized he was tricked by Yaakov, he says “Yaackivany,” I was tricked. The Targum Onkolus translates Yaackivany to mean outsmarted. Throughout life, Yaakov used his wittiness to reach his ultimate purpose and to thrive.
Here are some examples of Yaakov doing this. Firstly, when he purchased the oldest birthright from Esav for some lentil soup. Secondly, Yaakov dressed up as Esav to fool his father Yitzchok into the actual delivery of the blessings. Thirdly, when working for his father-in-law Lavan, Yaakov always needed to be on guard not get tricked himself. Lastly, we find Yaakov used his wisdom for the showdown between him and brother Esav.
What was the source of Yaakov’s wisdom? How could Yaakov be so confident he was doing the right thing? And what does this have to with us?
Rebbe Nachman relates that a person needs to find the Sekhel Sheyish Be’kol Davar — the inner intelligence contained within all aspects of life. Meaning, God created the world with intelligence. This intelligence is nothing short of the wisdom of the Creator Himself. God, created the world with intelligence, therefore, wisdom permeates the very creation we live in.
Not only is this found in the world around, more importantly, it’s found inside each of us, in the inner workings of our minds. This wisdom is given to us by God in the form of insights which are accompanied with new perceptions and feelings. Yaakov understood this very well. Which is why he sought it so badly.
Conversely, Esav believed in God, but was only interested in the here and now. He felt the lure of this wisdom that permeated creation but did not have the patience to wait and prepare himself through the ups and downs of life that would create the vessel for him to partake in it. Therefore, he cut himself off from his inner Godly wisdom, what I see is what I get became his motto. His lifestyle led him away from the higher forms of Godly thought, in the form of insights and wisdom. This is tantamount to denying the inherent right he was born with.
All of us possess wisdom, it’s our birthright. But so often we fail to recognize the very fact we have it. This causes us to look outside ourselves in so many areas of life. The ramifications of this would be impossible to innumerate in a single article. As we often overlook the most obvious place for the answers and advice we are seeking. Which is within.
Rebbe Nachman is pointing towards a very deep truth — God’s inner intelligence permeates Creation. This intelligence can be inherited through the experiences of our lives. If we are alive and breathing then we are capable of receiving this wisdom. We are all in a sense living embodiments of God’s wisdom.
This should be a great source of encouragement to us all. Knowing no matter what we may be up against in life, no matter how we may feel about any given situation, we are just like Yaakov and possess the ability to receive insights and new perceptions straight from the Source of wisdom, God. Let us take the first step and realize we actually have wisdom, we are not damaged goods! We are all connected with the Sekhel Sheyish Kol Davar. And then let the journey begin…