When Esau turned 40, he married two Canaanite women. Sometime after this, Isaac, who by then had gone blind, felt that it was time to officially pass on the mantle of leadership, so he told Esau to prepare to receive his blessings.
Qualifications for Leadership
וַעֲשֵׂה . . . בַּעֲבוּר תְּבָרֶכְךָ נַפְשִׁי בְּטֶרֶם אָמוּת: (בראשית כז:ד)
[Isaac said to Esau,] “Prepare . . . so that I may grant you my soul’s blessing before I die.” Genesis 27:4

Isaac wanted to name Esau his successor because he recognized Esau’s potential to become a fearless, G‑dly warrior, dedicated to combating evil. Although Isaac had seen Esau give in to the very temptations he should have battled, Isaac felt that if he would bless Esau, Esau would take up the cause of goodness and righteousness. With his superior power, sophistication, and skill, Esau would then be able to accomplish G‑d’s purposes on earth far better than Jacob could.

Rebecca realized Isaac’s error. It was true that Jacob was not the cunning, wild warrior that Esau was. But the keen perception that Jacob had developed by devoting himself to the study of the Torah could well provide him with the cunning necessary to overcome evil when confronted with it. Moreover, Jacob’s devotion to the Torah gave him a much stronger drive to make the world into G‑d’s home than Esau could ever have.

From Rebecca’s wisdom, we learn that possessing skill and power cannot on its own make us reliable leaders. We can best develop our own leadership qualities by studying the Torah devotedly, and we should consider scholars of the Torah the ones whom we look to for leadership.1