30 November 2019

Motzai-Shabbat Follow-up to Parashat Toldot

3 Kislev 5780

In follow-up to the previous (Yom Shishi) post...

Commenter: "...there's also a good part of Esav. That's not my opinion, but what the sages say."

I would really love to see where the sages say that.  Til now, I just haven't seen it - anywhere.  In fact, what I read in the commentaries seems to indicate just the opposite:
...All character traits, even the basest, can be used for good.  Man must harness his nature and not let his nature harness him.  David and Esau had similar personalities, but David utilized it for good and became one of the greatest people who ever lived.  Esau let his nature run rampant, and became the eternal symbol of evil and cruelty.
Until they grew up - i.e. reached bar-mitzvah age - they were relatively similar to one another and Esau's pranks were attributed to childishness (Sifsei Chachamim).  From the age of thirteen, the essential differences became apparent, with Esau turning to idols and Jacob going to the study hall.  Esau became a hunter, but not only in the literal sense.  He became adept at trapping his father by asking questions that would make him appear to be unusually pious....  Jacob, however, was morally wholesome, saying what he thought and never being duplicitous, and spending all his time in the study tents of Shem and Eber (Rashi).
God's blessing to Abraham specified that only one of Isaac's children would be heir to the mission of Israel (see Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 10:7), meaning that the Torah would go to Jacob or Esau, but not to both.
[This would seem to negate the idea of Esau being a "fourth avot."] 
Rashi cites the Midrash:  Esau is compared to a swine that, when it lies down, stretches out its cloven hoof, as if to say, "See, I am a kosher animal!"  Similarly, the princes of Esau rob and extort while they pretend to be honorable....So it was with Esau.  Until he was forty, he had been living immorally, enticing married women from their husbands, but when he became forty, he said hypocritically that he would follow the example of his father who married at that age.
 Unlike his father, however, Esau married Hittite women; his passions were unbridled and he chose to marry into a nation that matched his evil nature.  With these marriages, Esau set the seal on his complete unfitness to carry on the mission of Abraham.....  (R' Hirsch)
...[Isaac] felt, according to some, that the two brothers should both be parts of God's nation: Jacob with the higher calling of Torah scholarship and spiritual ascendancy, and Esau with material success that he would use to support and assist Jacob.  Had Esau been worthy, this could have happened,....  Rebecca, however, guided by Divine inspiration, knew that Esau was not entitled even to this. 
...Having been told before the twins were botn that the younger would be the superior one, Rebecca knew that the blessings had to go to Jacob.  She also knew from that prophecy that the two could not coexist - because when one would rise the other would fall - so that any plan Isaac might have to enlist them in joint service of God could not succeed - but she had not been commanded to convey this knowledge to Isaac....
[When it says "Isaac trembled...", v. 27:33] Isaac perceived that Gehinnom opened beneath Esau (Rashi), which was in sharp contrast to the fragrance of Eden that had accompanied Jacob in Isaac's chamber. 
The presence of Gehinnom with Esau made Isaac realize that he had been deceived all along - Esau was truly evil.  This made Isaac fear that the vision of Gehinnom proved that he, Isaac, would be punished for having allowed himself to be so grievously misled (Pesikta d'Rav Kahana). 
["...Rebecca, mother of Jacob and Esau." v.28:5]  The verse repeats the obvious to imply that even though Esau had the same genealogy as Jacob and it would have been just as logical for his parents to ask him to seek his mate in Haran, they did not do so because the heir of Abraham was Jacob, not Esau (Ramban).  
The passage [describing Esau's marriage to the daughter of Ishmael] justifies the portrait of Esau as a selfish person, oblivious to all but his own desires.  For twenty-three years he had permitted the behavior of  his Canaanite wives to cause anguish to his parents, yet it seems to have dawned on him only now.  Instead of divorcing them, however, he merely took another unsuitable wife in addition to them.  Thus he proved that he had no feeling for the House of Abraham, and Rebecca's assessment of his complete unfitness for the future leadership of the nation was fully justified (R' Hirsch).   (Source:  Stone Edition Chumash commentary) 
In other words, Esau did not repent in his lifetime and his descendants have followed in his path for these 4000 years.  In fact, we are told that the Torah was offered to them before it was offered to us and they rejected it...
...the Holy One blessed be He offered the Torah to every nation and every tongue, but none accepted it, until He came to Israel who received it!" (Avodah Zara 2b). ... It was not G-d who chose Israel, it was the other nations that refused to accept the Torah when it was presented to them. This rejection is explained in part by the prohibitions that those nations were unable to accept - for murder is endemic to the children of Esau, adultery to the children of Ammon and Moab, and theft to the descendants of Ishmael, and "they were unable to accept even the seven commandments accepted by Bnei Noah and threw them off". (Sifre Devarim 343).
But, as is well known, any gentile from among these nations who wants to accept the Torah, can do so by conversion.  And any gentile who wants to better himself without converting is only obligated to the Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach; however, they are then considered as attached to the Jewish nation rather than remaining part of Esau, etc.  


  1. His head merited to be buried with the patriarchs...?

  2. Eisav acknowledged that the brachos belonged to Yaakov.

    His head merited to be buried in Ma'aras Hamachpela.

  3. Shemot Rabbah 31:17 states that Jacob gave all his possessions to acquire a tomb in the Cave of the Patriarchs. He put a large pile of gold and silver, all the riches left him by their father Isaac before Esau and asked, "My brother, do you prefer your portion of this cave, or all this gold and silver?" This sale was also ratified by a document, which Jacob put in an earthen vessel to preserve it from decay.

    The story of Esau selling his right to be buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs is also recorded in Sefer HaYashar 27:12-14 which states:

    "And he said unto his brother Jacob, Behold I shall die this day, and wherefore then do I want the birthright? And Jacob acted wisely with Esau in this matter, and Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, for it was so brought about by the Lord. And Esau's portion in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham had bought from the children of Heth for the possession of a burial ground, Esau also sold to Jacob, and Jacob bought all this from his brother Esau for value given. And Jacob wrote the whole of this in a book, and he testified the same with witnesses, and he sealed it, and the book remained in the hands of Jacob."

    Rabbi Yochanan elaborated, quoting Rabbi Shimon Ben Yehotzadak, that the word "kirah" in this verse means none other than "selling," i.e. aquisition.

    Generally, if a person has two sons, one of whom is legally deemed a firstborn son, the firstborn takes a double portion in the inheritance (see Deuteronomy 21:17). This means that the firstborn would take two thirds of the estate and the other son one third (as if there were three sons and the firstborn was equal to two). Now, Esau argued that in the famous lentil-stew incident, he had waived his special rights as a son. Thus no one would receive a double portion; rather they would split the inheritance in two (see Rashi; cf. Maharsha).


    A Midrash states that after his twin brother's death, Esau disputed the sale and tried to prevent the burial of Jacob:

    As the twelve sons of Jacob and their families arrived at the Machpelah Cave for their father's burial, Esau his twin brother came and prevented their entry. He said: “At Mamre, Kiriat Arba, the same is Hebron , there are four couples destined to be buried. Jacob buried Leah in his portion and the one remaining is mine!”

    They said to him, "You sold it!"

    He said, "Indeed I sold my birthright, but I did not sell my rights to the land!"

    They said, "Yes you did, since it is said (by Jacob) the land which I had dug (i.e. purchased) (Genesis 50:5) and "digging" in this context means purchase.

    Esau: “Bring me the deed!”

    “It is in Egypt and who is going to get it? Let Naphtali go for he is as light as a gazelle, as it is said: ‘Naphtali is an antelope let loose who gives good words’” (Genesis 49:21).

    Hushim the son of Dan was there and he was hard of hearing [some translate he was deaf] and he said: “What is this?”

    “He (Esau) is preventing the burial until Naphtali returns from Egypt,” answered the brothers.

    “And until he returns my grandfather will lie here disgracefully,” concluded Hushim.

    Hushim then took a big sword and hit Esau on the head; he died and his head rolled by Jacob's feet. At that moment Jacob opened his eyes and smiled. As it is said: ”The righteous will rejoice when he sees revenge; his feet will bathe in the blood of the wicked.” (Psalms 58:11). - Talmud Bavli Sotah 13b.

  4. D.J., I got your message. You've had your say many times. You are not arguing with "me," these are what's called "SOURCES."

  5. "His head merited to be buried in Ma'aras Hamachpela"

    Even after all of these sources have been brought to prove that Esav is totally evil, you still dare to bring ONE MIDRASH to try and prove otherwise???? Can you fathom how rediculous that looks?
    Let's say that this midrash is meant to be taken literally and his head was actually burried there (MANY midrashim are NOT to be taken literally as they were only written to teach a lesson). Seeing as how it has been proven absolutely by all of these TORACH and TANACKH sources that he is evil, most likely his head was burried there because he "meritted" to be an example to all other evil doers...

    -the original me

  6. Interesting tidbit I never knew before...

    "Esau’s skin was so red that Isaac was afraid to circumcise him, deciding to wait until he was older and his complexion improved. Da'at Zekeinim on Genesis 25:25 holds that by the time it became clear that the reddish skin was simply Esau’s natural skin color, Esau refused to be circumcised." Source