Friday, November 01, 2013

Esau Back to Old Tricks

A Torah Thought for Parshat Toldot
By Moshe Feiglin
And Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and he rose and he left and Esau scorned the birthright. (From this week's Torah portion, Toldot, Genesis 25:34)

When Esau heard his father's words, and he cried an exceedingly great and bitter cry and he said to his father: Bless me as well, my father. (Genesis 27:34)

Esau scorned the birthright and sold it for a pot of lentil stew. Yet he cries an "exceedingly great and bitter cry" when his brother receives the firstborn's blessing. Esau's descendants practice the same mode of behavior until this very day. Until the Nation of Israel returned to its homeland, the Land of Israel laid desolate, of interest to no one. As soon as Jacob's descendants returned, Esau's descendants woke up and began to cry "an exceedingly great and bitter cry."

It is worthwhile to look at the picture of the Temple Mount above, taken in 1877, when the Mount was in Muslim hands. Note the thorns and thistles, neglect and desolation. Muslim interest in the site was sparked only after the Jews liberated the Mount in 1967. Before the miraculous 1967 war, the Arabs claimed land inside the borders of what was then the State of Israel. They did not demand land held by the Jordanians. They were not interested in land that was not in Israel's hands.

It is not the blessing that makes Jacob. It is Jacob who gives significance to the blessing. Now that the two have connected, Esau is jealous of the result. The deep hatred burning in his gut stems from the understanding that the essential truth is that he is not the first-born; the dynasty of Abraham and Isaac will not continue through him - and the blessing will not be bestowed upon him.

Esau was right. He really has nothing to do with Jacob's blessing. He knew that then and he understands it well today. But then as now - he will certainly raise a ruckus.

Shabbat Shalom

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