B”H

parashas Toldos highlight

by Tzvi Schnee
November 25, 2019

(17 Chesvan 5780)

“And the boys grew; and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents.”

– Genesis 25:27, JPS 1917 Tanach

With regard to the plain meaning of the pasuk (verse), Esau was an ambitious person, not content to settle down in one place for the days of his life; rather, he enjoyed the thrill of pursuit in the field, chasing game, showing his skillful prowess in hunting. On the contrary, Jacob is described as an ish tam (a simple or wholesome man). He lived in tents, inasmuch that he tended his nearby flocks, living a life characterized by faith, with many opportunities to reflect on G-d in the quietness of the day, provided by the solitary nature of the life of a shepherd.

According to the sages, Esau’s ambitious nature was fraught with wickedness. He is compared to Nimrod, who built Babel, and expanded his kingdom from there, subjugating men along the way, in the name of progress. Esau eventually became the forerunner of the Edomites, whose descendants were the Romans. Yet, Jacob, whose character reflected the traits best known to be in alignment with the moral integrity of Abraham, was the prime candidate to take on the position of the next Patriarch:

“Let peoples serve thee, And nations bow down to thee. Be lord over thy brethren, And let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee. Cursed be every one that curseth thee, And blessed be every one that blesseth thee.”

– Genesis 27:29, JPS 1917 Tanach

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