Shabbat Toldot 5777
It’s a famous scene: One twin brother, Esav, has just come back from the hunt, and finds his former womb-mate, Ya’akov, cooking a pot of lentil stew. What happens next is going to cause reverberations between their descendants for years to come.
Esav paints himself into a corner of deep vulnerability: “Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am famished” (Genesis 25:30). He’s Mikey; he’ll eat anything! He is now at his brother’s mercy, and Ya’akov knows it. He has two choices: to share gracefully and without condition; or to take advantage of Esav’s desperation.
For his part, Esav doesn’t seem to care about anything beyond that moment. For when Ya’akov sets the price high–“First sell me your birthright”–Esav doesn’t hesitate: “I am at the point of death, so of what use is my birthright to me?” The deal is done without negotiation and without remorse from either party. Will that come back to haunt them? On Shabbat morning, we’ll see where and when, as we look more carefully at this artfully narrated story.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise