Yitzchak and Rivka endure twenty childless years, until their prayers are answered and Rivka conceives. She experiences a difficult pregnancy as the “children struggle inside her”; Hashem tells her that “there are two nations in your womb,” and that the younger will prevail over the elder.
Eisav emerges first;Yakov is born clutching Eisav’s heel. Eisav grows up to be “a cunning hunter, a man of the field”; Yakov is “a wholesome man,” a dweller in the tents of learning. Yitzchak favors Eisav; Rivka loves Yakov. Returning exhausted and hungry from the hunt one day, Eisav sells his birthright (his rights as the firstborn) to Yakov for a pot of red lentil stew.
In Gerar, in the land of the Philistines, Yitzchak presents Rivka as his sister, out of fear that he will be killed by someone coveting her beauty. He farms the land, reopens the wells dug by his father Avraham, and digs a series of his own wells: over the first two there is strife with the Philistines, but the waters of the third well are enjoyed in tranquility.
Eisav marries two Hittite women. Yitzchok grows old and blind, and expresses his desire to bless Eisav before he dies. While Eisav goes off to hunt for his father’s favorite food, Rivka dresses Yakov in Eisav’s clothes, covers his arms and neck with goatskins to simulate the feel of his hairier brother, prepares a similar dish, and sends Yakov to his father. Yakov receives his father’s blessings for “the dew of the heaven and the fat of the land” and mastery over his brother. When Eisav returns and the deception is revealed, all Yitzchok can do for his weeping son is to predict that he will live by his sword, and that when Yakov falters, the younger brother will forfeit his supremacy over the elder.
Yakov leaves home for Charan to flee Eisav’s wrath and to find a wife in the family of his mother’s brother, Lavan. Eisav marries a third wife—Machalas, the daughter of Ishmael.
“’Pour into me, now, some of that red stuff (HaAdom) for I am exhausted’ He was therefore called Edom (red)” (Bereishis 25:30)
In this week’s parsha, Eisav comes back from a hard day’s work, sees Yaakov making a stew, demands some and agrees to sell his birthright to Yaakov for it. And for all this, he is called Edom? Furthermore, the Midrash says that Eisav was returning home after committing five very serious since (including murder and rape). Why did the Torah seem to ignore THOSE sins, and focus on Eisav’s lack of appreciation for his birthright?
If the Torah focuses on “Edom”, over the other sins, there must be a good reason for it, and that THIS particular storyline shows us what drives Eisav more than anything else.
Rav Zilberstein says that Eisav’s willingness to forgo his birthright so quickly shows how he was quick to throw logic out of the window and follow a more “instant gratification” route. It was his desire to fulfill his needs IMMEDIATELY that led him to commit the other sins.
“This is how the yetzer horah works,” says Rav Zilberstein. “When it arouses a desire in a person’s heart, it tries to remove the reins of self-control. The Satan exerts himself fully to this end, because he knows that, if he manages to get an individual to a state where he is no longer in control of himself- nothing more is needed! That person is done for.”
This is why the Torah focused on a mere lentil stew. It showes us the nature of Eisav and the power of the yetzer horah. When we lose self-control and get caught up “in the moment”, we are handing over our “remote control” to the yetzer horah. That is why it’s important when we realize that we are losing control over ourselves, to never say or do anything. Just wait a while and then make a decision with a clear head.
Have a great Shabbos!