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   by Jacob Solomon

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The youngsters grew up. Esau was a hunter, a man of the outdoors. Jacob was straightforward, who lived indoors. Jacob loved Esau, who hunted food for him. And Rebecca loved Jacob (5:28).

The Torah presents the third generation of the Patriarchs with something quite unexpected. In a few words, it brings to life two leading personalities, brothers Esau and Jacob. Though twins, they had very different personalities. From their youth, they went in very different directions.

That by itself is unremarkable. Siblings are not carbon copies of one another.

What seems strange is the way that the parents reacted to those differences. Logically, Isaac would have gravitated to Jacob, and Rebecca to Esau. Isaac's background is one of continuing the G-d-and-humanity-centered legacy of Abraham. That would have brought him closer to Jacob who 'lived indoors' (literally 'lived in tents', and following the rabbinic tradition a person, devoted himself to things holy). Rebecca's background was quite different. It was business is business - from the house of her father Bethuel and her brother Laban. As Jacob's experience was to show, business is business was not above Laban's deceiving and exploiting him when it suited him.

Yet Isaac loved - Esau. And Rebecca loved - Jacob.

But the reality is that people do like contrasts, within bounds. They appreciate not being served with 'the same old stuff', however good that 'stuff' is. They want a breath of fresh air.

For example, one young man takes his wife-to-be to an art exhibition. She has never studied art; she comes from a business family and community. She knows that a pound is a pound, and that money can give birth to money. That is her education. His skilful opening, and walking her through classical and modern art 'does' something to her. It's a different mindset and to her it is something special. She will forever remember that experience whatever happens in the future.

Another girl grew up in refined milieu, where literature, art, and instrumental music were the order of the day. She's looked at more paintings than her prospect has had hot dinners. Being a man that 'get it', he takes her instead to a monster truck rally. She has a great time. The earthiness of the whole event awakens something in her that smacks of daring, adventure, strength, action, and downright fun. And like her counterpart, she will forever remember that experience whatever happens in the future.

That is the point which appealed to Isaac. 'Jacob loved Esau who hunted food for him'. Indeed, it was that detail which became the focus of the blessing he believed he was giving Esau when the familiar smell of the outdoors wafted through the house: 'Behold, the fragrance my son brings in is like the fragrance of the field that G-d has blessed. May G-d give you the dew of the heavens and the fat of the land, and much grain and wine.' (27:27-28).

And the detail of 'Jacob was straightforward, who lived indoors' appealed to Rebecca. Living by your skills and wits - Esau's way of life - was the 'same old stuff' to her. She'd seen it all before back at home. The pursuance of the higher cause was something different. As held by the rabbinic tradition, Jacob knew that the key to understand and developing a relationship with the Master of the Universe was not something to take for granted. It took many years of work. That was something new to Rebecca. It did something for herů and it was this contrast that she was drawn to.

Thus it would be wrong to accuse the Patriarchs of blind favoritism. The reality is that they were attracted by what they found interesting in their children, rather than by what they took for granted.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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