The Love of a Parent

Moshe Kempinski

Regarding Yaacov (Jacob) and Esav( Esau) we read the following;

And Isaac loved Esav because [his] game was in his mouth, but Rebecca loved Yaacov.( Genesis 25:28)

Why would that be so?

After twenty years of childlessness, Rivka ( Rebecca)and Yitzchak ( Isaac)are blessed with twin boys. Yet even this much awaited pregnancy is difficult .

“And the children struggled within her, and she said, “If [it be] so, why am I [like] this?” And she went to inquire of HaShem.”( Genesis 25:22)

The Yalkut Shimoni explains that “ Whenever she would pass a house of prayer or house of study, Yaacov (Jacob )would struggle to come out … and when she passed a house of idol-worship, Esav (Esau) would struggle to come out. They were fighting over the inheritance of the two worlds , the physical world in the here and now and the spiritual “world to come”.

Rivka is then told in a prophetic way, an astounding piece of information.

“And HaShem said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your innards, and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom, and the elder will serve the younger.” (Ibid;23)
She understood that this was not just about two children in her womb. Rather these children would represent two world views and create two conflicting nations. Esav and Yaacov were not only two brothers, they were to be two conflicting spiritual paths in the unfolding of human history.

Yet”Isaac loved Esau “ and “ Rebecca loved Jacob.( Genesis 25:28)

We can understand why Rivka loved Yaacov.She understood his pure heart and simple lifestyle.

Her love for Jacob came out of the appreciation of his positive , sensitive and G-dly character ” Yaacov was an innocent man, dwelling in tents”( ibid 25:27).

Yet it is important to remember that a parents love is also aroused as a protective wall to surround and strengthen a child in the midst of his weaknesses.

She also understood the vulnerability of his pure and innocent attitude. She had grown up in a family wherein such a pure approach in life would be manipulated and controlled by others with selfish motives. So her love became a protective shield of armor.

Isaac was a man of the fields “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide; and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming.” (ibid 24:63).

Isaac was able to find holiness in the fields.

“And Isaac again dug the wells of water which they had dug in the days of his father, Abraham, and the Philistines had stopped them up after Abraham’s death; and he gave them names like the names that his father had given them.”(ibid 26:18)

In places where people just saw empty stretches of property he dug wells. That was not just to be seen as a physical activity but actually represented a deep spiritual mission.

Isaac believed in the power of harnessing the physical and elevating it into the spiritual. That was the basis of his love for Esav.”Esav was a man who understood hunting, a man of the field,”(ibid 25:27). Isaac was very aware of Yaacov’s strengths and potential but he also believed that that potential could only be accomplished with the help of Esav’s passionate activism.

Yet Isaac was also aware of the dangers of such an active and hands on “ Esav” approach. He knew what the ego of such a man could do to distort that mission. So his love for Esav was also a protective shield that would hopefully keep Esav from faltering in his divine purpose.

Regrettably Isaac would become disappointed by his expectations.

The Sheim Mei’Shmuel explains that the names of these two twins would reveal much. The name Esau comes from the Hebrew word “Asui”, which means fully formed and complete. It denotes a character that sees himself as “done” and fulfilled and sees no room for growth and change. Such a man is only concerned with the here and now and loses patience with concepts like destiny and birthrights

.“And Esav said to Yaacov, “Pour into [me] some of this red, red [pottage], for I am faint.. Esav replied, “Behold, I am going to die; so why do I need this birthright?”… and Esav despised the birthright.( Genesis 25:30-34).

He could not envision his purpose in the grander scheme of things

On the other hand the name Yaacov comes from the Hebrew root LeAkov (to take step after step). Yaacov represented a spiritual strength and ability to trod forward and continue in spite of all obstacles his life journey.

It is a journey that will compel the children of Yaacov to learn to depend on their G-d above. “For the conductor, a song of David. May Hashem answer you on a day of distress; may the name of the G-d of Yaacov fortify you. May He send your aid from His sanctuary, and may He support you from Zion. (Psalm 20:1-3).

The “Yaacov” spiritual approach demanded a constant path of growth , always working on becoming more of what one needs to be. Yaacov may fail and flounder but his courage and determination to move forward is what will help him achieve his destiny of becoming the “Israel” he is meant to be.

It may very well be that on the other hand Isaac’s love protected Esav from veering too far astray. For at the end of mankind’s journey Esav’s strengths will be critical as well. For in the end he too will be redeemed. He too will take part in the plan of destiny.

Until that time he struggle between those two spiritual approaches will continue throughout time. At the end of time that struggle we read in the book of Ovadia:
“And saviors shall ascend Mt. Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the Lord shall have the kingdom.( Obadaya1:21)

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved

Leave a Comment