12 December 2019

"...Esau, he is Edom."

15 Kislev 5780
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Vayishlach
"And these are the descendants of Esau, he is Edom.  ...So, Esau settled on Mount Se'ir; Esau, he is Edom."
He is Edom.  The name - and the fact that it was used throughout his life -  gives an insight into Esau's base character.  The name was given him as a reference to his gluttony when he sold the birthright for nothing more than red beans (25:30).  That greed and depraved set of values characterized him all through his life (Sforno).  
(Stone Edition Chumash and Commentary)
The following was relayed to me by Rav Yehudah Richter. I hope I can do it justice in the retelling.

In the Midrash Bereishit Rabbah 63, the question is asked, why is Eisav called Edom? And the answer is that it’s because Eisav wears red clothes – everything about him is red.

Chazal say that when Binyamin was brought before Yosef in Egypt (before his identity has been revealed), Yosef asks him about his life – did he have children? Binyamin confirms that he has ten children, and he tells Yosef their names. These are not the standard names heard in the day, so Yosef inquires as to why such unusual names. Then Binyamin explains about the fate of his brother Yosef and that each of the names of his children were meant to evoke some memory of Yosef so that Binyamin would never forget his brother.

On this part of the parshah, the Rokeach contrasts Binyamin’s actions with Eisav’s. He asks why is Eisav called Edom and his place Se’ir. He answers by saying that Eisav never wanted to forget his hatred for his brother Ya’aqov. Every time he would see the color red it would remind him of how his brother “stole” his birthright and keep the hatred alive. And that’s why he wore red and called his land Edom. The name Se’ir also alluded to when Ya’aqov put on the hairy clothes to fool his father into giving him Eisav’s blessings.

This is also why there is an actual halachah that Jews are not permitted to wear red – males or females – because it can rekindle the hatred Eisav/Edom has for Ya’aqov/Israel.

Interesting that “seeing red” is a metaphor for experiencing rage and hatred.

Maybe the key to beating Eisav’s current explosion of hatred lies in keeping the memory of  Yosef HaTzadik’s descendant – Mashiach ben Yosef - alive.  Od Yosef chai!  We have to pray that Mashiach ben Yosef will not die, because he is the one who, at the End of Days, will destroy Evil Eisav's everlasting hatred once and for all.


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