Yom Sheini, 2 Kislev 5775
Monday, 24 November 2014
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Read an inspired commentary on this week’s Torah portion by one of our free-thinking Liberal Rabbis.

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Parashat Toldot

20th November 2014 - Rabbi Yuval Keren

It’s not fair, and I decided not to keep silent about it. You, the people of truth, have been doing it for years, centuries, millennia. You have been giving me a bad name and enough is enough. It is time to clear my name!

I am the one who was wronged, abused and cheated. I am the one who had a good heart, who really cared! I could be a little simple at times and others took me for a ride, and robbed me of everything I cared for.

It all started on day one –my birthday. I had to share it with another person – my very own twin brother. I came first through the door. Forget the stories about us fighting in our mother’s belly! In the end it was all down to where I was positioned in the belly – next to the door! I didn’t put myself there. Call it divine intervention, and call it pot-luck, I just happened to be there. In the scans they marked me as T1, and him as T2. There is nothing I or him could do about our position! In the end I came first because I had to come first!

I suspect that they just made up the family story about him holding my heel at birth. I can see why they made it up because from a very young age he was always after me! My dear brother Jacob, the one who should have helped me and cared for his twin brother was my worst enemy!

My mother did not help at all. She always had a soft spot for Jacob. For her he was the boy who could do no wrong, no matter how much wrong he actually did!

I remember that day I came home starving, Jacob was sitting there sipping a nice red lentil soup. I was nearly dying of starvation and I asked him for some of his soup. What did he say? Sell me your birth right!

I was sure he was teasing me. I thought to myself that when the moment comes we will just split everything in half – he will take his share and go his way, and I will take my share and go my way. So I agreed to the deal. But Jacob made a big deal out of it, claiming that from now on he was technically the one to be born first. How is this possible? Can you really change past history by sharing a lentil soup with someone?

But these are small matters. What really upset me about Jacob and about my dear mother is the day that my father, who was getting old, frail and blind, sent me to hunt for him with a promise of a blessing. These two collaborated against me and against an old, disabled and helpless man in order to steal my blessing. This was insane! Smooth Jacob even had the chutzpah to put on my own clothes and a sheepskin to pretend he had hairy arms like me!

When I came home I was upset – I was angry – and I was ready to kill him for deceiving our father, an old and blind man, like that. He had to disappear for a few years but I very quickly forgot about his silly tricks and my anger subsided.

Years later my brother and I met again. I had a small army with me and I could have easily wiped his whole entire extended family out. This is what he must have thought I was going to do. My men told me that he placed the children of the women he liked least in the front and children of his favourites at the back. I would have never been able to decide who among my children my favourites are because they all are!

Still, it was all in vain. By then I had let my hard feelings against him go. It was as it was, and it made no difference to me any longer.

They say that the apple doesn't fall far from tree. You, Jacob’s apples! Why do you keep giving me a bad reputation in your Midrashic literature? What proof do you have that I was an idol-worshipper, a murderer, a rapist or a thief? Why do you always call me ‘wicked Esau’? I am not the one to be accused – certainly not with theft! Why do you claim that I tried to bite Jacob rather than kiss him when we met again?

I can successfully sue you for defamation, libel and slander. Alternatively admit the error of your ways for the past three millennia and clear my name publicly. Admit your flaw and stop treating me like an outlaw.

Admit that you never saw Esau sitting on a see-saw!

 


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