THOUGHT FOR PARSHAT TOLDOT 5779

BY RABBI CHAIM FACHLER

 

Our first encounter with the twins Yakov and Esav is fascinating. As a child, I remember learning how poor Esav was swindled out of his rightful birthright by scheming Yakov, who later repeats the act by deceiving his blind father and receiving Esav’s blessing. Thankfully, when I was older and was able to study the sources, a very different picture emerged. There are many interpretations to these two controversial incidents, but I heard one recently which I’d like to share.

 

Anyone – myself included - who ever smoked (I’m presuming none of you do now), was very aware of the medical dangers, but the short-term enjoyment would invariably override the long-term concern. Anyone – myself included – who occasionally indulges in an extra serving of delicious whipped cream knows full well that the body would prefer not to be bombarded with these extremely unhealthy extra calories and cholesterol. And anyone – myself included – who on very rare occasions takes tiny weeny chances on the road in order to arrive a little earlier for a meeting knows full well that driving is not to be taken lightly.

 

In other words, the here and now often takes preference over the tomorrow. Short-term enjoyment versus long-term health, security and safety. It takes a Zaddik to recognise the folly of that equation.

 

This is what Yakov was showing us. He worked diligently all his life for a better FUTURE, for himself, his family, his people. Esav wanted the immediate physical rewards for his immediate self-indulgence. So much so that he knowingly forfeited his birthright – because he was hungry.

 

It is obviously very harsh to compare over-eating to behaving like Esav the Rasha! Of course we all worry about our future and our children’s future too. And we worry about our health, and our safety and our security. And a little whipped cream won’t destroy all that.

 

But the message from our Patriarch is clear. The message the Torah is sending by describing in detail the ongoing conflict between Yakov and Esav is clear. When making decisions, when reviewing our actions, when being tempted to judge others, it would be nice to be able to claim that most of what we do takes into account more long-term wisdom than short-term pleasure.

 

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom