This Shabbat we will read the Torah Portion “Toldot”.
The big tension between the two brothers Jacob – יעקב and Esau – עשו is unfolded here.
The name Yaakov contains within it the word “eikev” (heel) – עקב
Jacob is born holding on to his brother’s heel, demonstrating his attention to the details that are so easily trampled on and overlooked.
For Jacob, the nuances and details of the day-to-day life are top priority. This awareness strengthens his commitment to the framework within which the details belong.
Esau’s name, on the other hand, hints to his lack of concern with details.
Our sages explain that the name “Esau” comes from the word “asui,”
The Midrash even tells us that Esau was born with his mouth full of teeth and with a beard on his face.
Esau was interested only in the finished, final product, not the details – and this approach led to his eventual rejection of the big picture – the birthright, and transfer of it to his twin brother.
Then, instructed by Rivka, Jacob receives Isaac’s blessings, originally meant for his brother Esau.
And the tension between the two brothers reaches a record peak!
Rivka is afraid of the fight between Esau and Jacob. She tells Jacob to stay away from Esau and go far away to be with her brother Lavan.
וְיָשַׁבְתָּ עִמּוֹ, יָמִים אֲחָדִיםעַד אֲשֶׁר-תָּשׁוּב, חֲמַת אָחִיךָ
עַד-שׁוּב אַף-אָחִיךָ מִמְּךָ
וְשָׁכַח אֵת אֲשֶׁר-עָשִׂיתָ לּוֹ, וְשָׁלַחְתִּי, וּלְקַחְתִּיךָ מִשָּׁם; לָמָה אֶשְׁכַּל
גַּם-שְׁנֵיכֶם, יוֹם אֶחָד
” and tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; ” (27: 44)
until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him; then I will send, and fetch thee from thence; why should I be bereaved of you both in one day?’ (27: 45)
In the first verse Rivka says: “until thy brother’s fury turn away”
In the second verse Rivka says again: “until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee…”
At first sight Rivka seemingly says the same thing twice.
What is the reason for this repetition?
Rabbi Pinchas Horwitz explains:
Rivka does not tell the same thing twice.
In the first verse Rivka tells Jacob to stay away from Esau, until Esau stops to be angry with Jacob.
In the second verse Rivka explains how Jacob can recognize when Esau’s anger has ended.
She gives him a sign: “until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee…”
When your own anger at your brother stops, you will know that his anger inside him stopped as well.
In human relations there is intrinsic reciprocity:
When one is angry with the other, the other is angry with him as well.
And, when one loves the other, the other loves him as well.
Torah portion Toldot tells how Esav sold Ya’akov his birthright for a pottage of lentils.
Let’s now address some additional Hebrew roots,
words and expressions.
Lentils in Hebrew is – ADASHIM – עדשים
In Modern Hebrew we nowadays use the idiom:
MAKHAR BIN’ZID ADASHIM – מכר בנזיד עדשים
(Sold for a pottage of lentils)
It means – “sold something valuable at a very cheap price”
MAKHAR – מכר
The root is MAKHAR usually translated as “Sell“
However, there is another word for ‘Homeland’ – MEKHORA
At the first sight this word strangely has the root MAKHAR
But, the root of this word is ‘KHUR’ – meaning something that is dug deep inside the ground – to get deeply connected with the soil.
This is the reason why Homeland in Hebrew is MEKHORA, insinuating a deep connection with the soil – land.
The Hebrew saying “MAKHAR … TMURAT NEZID ADASHIM”
means selling something very valuable almost for nothing.
In Hebrew the root MAKHAR is used to describe addiction.
Addiction – HITMAKRUT – הִתְמַכְּרוּת
Addicted – MAKHUR – מכור
MAKHUR LE’KAFE – addicted to coffee.
There is an expression in Modern Hebrew – MISKHAK MAKHUR
lit. “Sold Game”, meaning “Fixed Game” – describing a situation, where the outcome (of a negotiation) is known in advance, since it has been “fixed”.
Yoel & Orly
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