by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green
In this week's parsha the Torah relates to us the birth and maturation of
Yaakov and Eisov, the twin sons of Yitzchok and Rivkah. About them the
Torah states: "And the children grew, and Eisov was a skilled hunter, a man
of the field. Yaakov was a simple man (uncomplicated, not street-wise), who
dwelled in tents. The sages say that Yaakov engaged in spiritual and
intellectual pursuits in the study halls of Shem and Eiver, great sages who
transmitted G-d's word in those days.
"And Yaakov was cooking food when Eisov came exhausted from the field.
'Give me some of that red stuff, because I'm exhausted' said Eisov. 'Sell
me your birthright today,' replied Yaakov. 'I'm going to die (anyway), what
do I need a birthright for,'" concluded Eisov. (Genesis 25:27-32) Eisov
sold his birthright which had only to do with spiritual entitlements, for a
portion of red lentils, and he didn't even give it a second thought.
Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky, of blessed memory, writes that Eisov
thought the whole issue of the birthright was a big joke. The Midrash
states that Eisov brought a group of lawless friends who joined in the fun
of belittling the birthright and lauded Eisov for getting the better end of
the deal. "Ha Ha, what a maroon!"
Years pass, and the incident becomes part of the distant past. Yitzchok
becomes blind. Aware of his own mortality, Yitzchok decides that the time
has come to bless Eisov, his first-born. These blessings go hand in hand
with the birthright. Rivkah overhears Yitzchok sending Eisov to hunt for
food which he will eat before giving the blessings. She convinces Yaakov to
pretend to be Eisov and receive the blessing in his stead. He succeeds, and
in the end Yitzchok even agrees to Yaakov being the beneficiary of the
blessings. Eisov returns, and the day's events become clear. "And Eisov
cried an extremely great and bitter outcry." "Bless me as well, father.
Don't you have one blessing left father?" Eisov is exposed. He sold the
birthright for a bowl of lentils. Eisov is no longer laughing.
Eisov teaches us a great lesson with his deeds. This event in the life of
Eisov analogizes the choices we face in our own lives, and their
repercussions. The bowl of lentils represents the material world.
Wholehearted pursuit of the material world is often at the expense of our
spiritual growth, and the opportunity to develop a relationship with the
Creator. Material attainment often ends in disappointment. What was
absolutely ridiculous to Eisov before he carefully considered it was a
source of extreme pain and regret at a later point in his life. This is the
meaning of the words of our Sages: "the evil are filled with regrets."
A great man once said that we don't only need to prioritize what is
important, and unimportant. We also need to prioritize what is important,
and what is more important. Our sages comment: "the only things which
accompany us into the afterlife are our Torah study and performance of
commandments." Everything else which we amass we leave behind. Ask
yourself: do my priorities only encompass things pertaining to the material
world? Am I selling my birthright (my heritage) for the proverbial bowl of
beans? Am I truly happy and satisfied with my successes? What gives me a
sense of true fulfillment? Let us learn from Eisov, and not repeat his
Text Copyright © 1998 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.