by Moshe Feiglin
“And Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil soup and he ate and he drank and he rose and he went and Esau despised the birthright.” (From this week’s Torah portion, Toldot, Genesis 25:34)
Esau is a practical guy. Modern. He isn’t interested in “birthrights,” titles and mysticism. He builds the world with his own two hands. Jacob’s soup smells good and if his primitive dreamer of a brother wants some intangible entity in exchange for the red stew, he is more than happy to sell it to him. After all, everybody dies in the end anyway, so what good is a birthright?
“When Esau heard the words of his father, and he shouted a great and exceedingly bitter cry and he said to his father, “Bless me as well, my father.” (ibid:27:34)
Just a minute. Is this the same Esau who scorned the birthright? And even if now he has changed his mind and wants the blessing of the firstborn, he already sold it to Jacob. So what can he possibly claim? And why the change from one extreme to the other – from scorning the birthright to crying and shouting when he loses it?
To understand the mentality of the nations of the world regarding Israel, it is a good idea to join one of the groups that ascends the Temple Mount in purity. Although Ishmael prevails on the Mount, Esau also has his hands in the pot, albeit in a more subtle manner. As long as the Temple Mount was not in the hands of the Jews and abandoned, it interested no one. Even today, Arab children still play soccer on the Mount. And when the Arabs gather to pray, they face Mecca, with their hindquarters facing the site of the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount. Just one thing is important to them: that the Jews should not pray there. In other words, as long as the birthright and blessing is in their hands, it is meaningless to them. But from the moment that Israel has the birthright, it becomes very desirable and its loss evokes an exceedingly bitter cry.