Parshat Toldot

There was once a rich banker who has two sons. He needed to pass down the family business before he died, but how was he to split the business between the two sons? He decided to make the older son in charge of security and running the front, when the younger son had the job of actually dealing with all of the money, gems, gold, etc that was inside the bank. The older son was jealous that the younger son got to deal with the valuables in the safe so he decided to quite leaving the whole bank in the hands of the younger son.

This is the story of Yaakov and Esau according to a midrash by the אור גדליהו. Most people explain a phrase said earlier in the Torah of כי ביצחק יקרא לך זרע (through Isaac will be the inheritance) to mean that only through Yaakov will the Jewish nation go through. However the אור גדליהו explains that really Esau too had the potential to be part of the continuation of the Jewish nation. However Esau has to accept a certain role in order to merit this. He had to serve Yaakov as a bodyguard/worker/political leader… Basically serve Yaakov but not be the one to deal with the gems, the Torah. The אור גדליהו continues to explain this is what it means when the פסוק says ורב יעבד צעיר (the older will serve the younger). Most people assume that if Yaakov merits then Esau will serve him. However he write that really it’s if Esau merits he’ll get the ability to serve Yaakov.

To finish off the story, we know that Esau didn’t want this role, and the nation ended up only going through Yaakov. What went wrong? Why didn’t Esau accept his role and become a part of the Jewish nation? We know that up until age 13 him and takao we’re equal in learning and actions. So what changed?

The answer can be explained by looking at the family dynamic between Isaac and Esau, and Yaakov and Esau. Through this we can understand that what happened was simply Esau didn’t want this seemingly lesser time to serve Yaakov, he needed to be the main guy and couldn’t take bing a sidekick.

The פסוק writes that the children grew up, Esau became a hunter and Yaakov was a perfect Jew who sat and learned and did his thing. There’s nothing wrong with this split, (other than the fact that Esau went towards idols, but even still he could’ve done תשובה and come back to serve Hashem) Yaakov was dealing with the Torah and Esau was making the living, becoming a strong warrior. According to the midrash this is what was supposed to happen. However there was one issue, Esau was jealous of Yaakov and couldn’t take being different. This can help us understand two things in the next פסוק. The next פסוק writes that Isaac loved Esau כי ציד בפיו, which according to Rashi means Esau was trying to trick Isaac into thinking he was learned in the Torah and according to עונקליס that simply Isaac loved him because he was a hunter. He fed him. So know we analyze both opinions. The reason Esau felt the need to trick Isaac is because he was jealous of Yaakov and wanted to show that he was smart too. Now from is sacs perspective, he said that he loved Esau because he fed him to show Esau that he doesn’t need to be like Yaakov. Yaakov had his thing, but Esau I love you for being you. You’re the fighter/defender, the leader, the one helping make the living and THAT is important and your role! Isaac is showing Esau that he loves him for the way he is, and if he can just embrace that then he can be the helper of Yaakov, and be part of the Jewish nation. This also explains why Issac asked Esau to go hunt an animal to being to him before getting the bracha. Why did Esau need to hunt it? We know that Rivkah just went to the backyard and grabbed two goats, why did Isaac send Esau out to hunt? It must be that Isaac is again trying to show Esau that his role as hunter is important because he brings home the dinner, he’s the protector, and if Esau could just realize that then the prophesy would’ve been fulfilled. He would serve Yaakov and be part of the continuation of the Jewish nation.

So what was this major downfall of Esau? He was too jealous of Yaakov. A major proof is the jealousy and anger Esau felt when Yaakov took the firstborn blessing, but additionally we see he was jealous at the end of the פרשה. The פסוק writes that Esau saw that Isaac blessed Yaakov and sent him away to marry a girl who wasn’t from Canaan. Esau become jealous so he went and married one of the daughters of ישמעאל. We know that Rashi writes that at the end of the life of ישמעאל he did תשובה. Was Esau now doing תשובה? We clearly see that he wasn’t. Rashi writes the reason for the seemingly extra words in the last פסוק that the Torah writes על נשיו to tell us that he married a daughter of ישמעאל in addition to his Canaan wives who he didn’t divorce. We see again that the main reason for Esau’s actions are his jealousy for Yaakov. He wanted to to look like he was as good as him when in reality he didn’t care about actually changing.

We see this concept of sibling rivalry many times in בראשית. The story of Cain and Able, where Cain killed Able because he was jealous that Hashem accepted Ables’s offering over his. Also we see a sibling rivalry from Yosef and his brothers. Yosef was thrown in a out and sold into slavery just because the brothers were jealous of him.

The message here is simple. We need to understand that everyone has their role in this world and not to become jealous of our friends for their accomplishments. True, it’s good if the jealousy leads to you fixing your mistakes, but when it leads to you hating your friend, a fellow Jew, your brother, then it’s a terrible thing. We need to understand that everyone has their specialty in this world. Some will learn more than others, some will do more Chesed, some will lead the youth groups, give more charity, the list can go on and on. This doesn’t mean you should just stick to what you do and not try to improve. However, instead of letting the success of our fellow brothers leads to jealousy and hatred, we need to be content with our role on this world and use our brothers as examples to improve and become even better.

Student Studying in Hakotel