Friday, March 21, 2014

Isaac, Rebecca, and Sons: A modernized, sometimes funny, psychological perspective

Just found this lovely, thoughtful review for A Favorite Son:

5.0 out of 5 stars Isaac, Rebecca, and Sons: A modernized, sometimes funny, psychological perspectiveMarch 20, 2014
Judie Amsel (Mayfield Heights, OH USA) - See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Favorite Son (Kindle Edition)
Sometimes it is helpful to hear a familiar story from a different perspective in order to understand more of what the story says and doesn’t say. A FAVORITE SON does that with the biblical story of Jacob (Yanklel), his parents, Isaac and Rebecca, and his twin brother, Esau (Esav).
Uvi Poznansky tells the story from both a biblical and modern perspective emphasizing the psychological aspects. Basically it is the story of sibling rivalry and parental favoritism and highlights a rather dysfunctional foursome who still manage to occupy a positive place in religious history. Yankle questions how that came to be. Most of the story is identical to the biblical version but there are a few changes, some to relate to modern times.
The story, told from Yankle’s perspective, opens from him saying Esav pulled ahead of him to become the first born by a split second. That was very important because the first born child inherited everything from his father. But Yankle questions why his mother told him that (“Why would [a mother] pit one son against another?”) because of how that knowledge affected his life and made him feel “a burning desire to surpass my brother....I had to win it all–or be left with nothing.” He was her favorite, as Esav was his father’s. Poznansky does not mention the Biblical story which has God telling Rebecca before the twins were born that “the older would serve the younger.”
There are hints of Yankle’s future relationship with his own sons. Rebecca gives him the sleeve of her goatskin coat to deceive Isaac (in the original version he wears Esav’s clothes and has the animal skin on his arm) and Yankle pledges he will never show favoritism to any of his own children. (I saw Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat the night before I read this novella. So much for his remembering his vow.) Yankle offers Esav lentil stew, Esav asks if it’s kosher. The laws of kashrut, in fact the entire Bible, were still in the future. He decides the Yankle-in-the-Box restaurant chain was established in honor of his stew.
In the Bible, after sending Yankle away to escape his brother’s wrath, Rebecca is not mentioned again. A FAVORITE SON has him seeing her in the desert, telling him part of her story while her dress, her black veil, tells him his father had died.
Yankle considered his father to be wimp–his father sent a servant to find a wife for him, but, until he fled Esav’s fury, Yankle had never ventured away from home, either. (Isaac realized that they were very similar but that angle is not explored.) Yankle blames Isaac as well himself for his own weaknesses and notes the name his father gave him means “follower:” “How can a follower become a leader?”
As he plans to give parting advice to his sons before he dies, Isaac observed “I have come to the conclusion based on many, many years of experience, that I can expect with perfect certainty, that my advice will be utterly and immediately ignored.
While the discrepancies between A FAVORITE SON and the Bible are the writer’s prerogative, there was at least one contradiction: When Rebecca visits Isaac as he is dying, she asks “What will I do without you?” On the next page she tell him, “You have a long life ahead of you.”
Beautifully written, A FAVORITE SON tells the story behind the legend.
This book was a free Amazon download.

No comments:

Post a Comment