Parashat Toldot


Parashat Toldot

In this week’s Torah portion we meet two men, Esau and Jacob. Although these two men came from the same family and were raised with the same values, somehow these two men went in two very different directions.  This fact was prophesied in Genesis 25:23 “…And HaShem said to her, two nations are in your womb and two nations from your loins will separate…” Pay close attention to the words “will separate”. They foretell that Jacob will seek after the things of G-d, and Esau the things of the flesh. This point is also hinted at in verse 27; Esau being a man of the field focused on the natural, while Jacob sat in tents. The word “tents” is spelled exactly the same letters as the Hebrew word for G-d.  There are those who say that this verse shows Jacob’s desire to draw close to HaShem.

One day Esau returned from hunting empty handed. The Torah emphasizes that when he returned he was not just hungry, but near the point of starving to death. Twice in verses 29 & 30 the word for “weary” is used. In Modern Hebrew the word means “tired”, but in the Bible it is much more intense. It has the meaning of being at the point of death as in Judges 4:21. In this account Yael drives a tent peg into the head of Sisrah and he falls. The verse concludes, “…and he loses consciousness and becomes weary and dies.” The phrase “becomes weary” really does not capture the idea of the text, which is to be at the point of death.

Hence Esau feels that he is near death when he asks Jacob for food. The word that Esau uses for the type of food is “red”, which relates to him (see verse 25). This is to show that what Esau seeks, are the things that his body craves. Jacob on the other hand is interested in the things of G-d. He uses this opportunity to make an agreement with Esau for his birthright. The birthright is the privilege to continue the heritage of Abraham and Isaac which is to be a blessing to OTHERS (see Genesis 12:3). Esau is not interested in others only himself as is demonstrated in the next verse,

“And Esau said, ‘why is this birthright mine?’ behold I am going to die.” Gen. 25:32

Esau, thinking that he was about to die, was not interested in G-d’s plan to bring blessings to the world. Esau could only see and care about those things that affected him. If he were dead, he didn’t care about others. Jacob was very different than that. In Hebrews chapter 11, the chapter which speaks about faith, we see Jacob at the point of death and his thoughts were very different that those of Esau,

“By faith Jacob blessed before he died the two sons of Joseph while leaning on his staff.” Hebrews 11:21

Please note that the two sons of Joseph received the right of the first born from Ruben (see 1 Chronicles 5:1).

If you knew that you were at the point of death, what would be on your mind—yourself or how you could bless others in the last moments of your life. Jacob, not Esau, demonstrated real faith.

Shabbat Shalom.

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