dvar parashas Toldos 5781
“The children struggled.” – Genesis 25:23
“They struggled with one another and quarreled as to how they should divide the two worlds as their inheritance.” -Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 111:2, sefaria.org
Rashi comments, “as soon as they leave thy body they will take each a different course – one to his wicked ways, the other to his plain life” (Rashi, Genesis 25:23). As they grew, their corresponding personalities emerged; namely, Esau, who is described as a hunter – a man of the fields; and Jacob, who is referred to as an ish tamin – a wholesome man – and a man of the tents. Esau’s lifestyle did not represent the values that had been passed down from Abraham to Isaac. While, on the other hand, Jacob’s way of life was more in tune with those values, thus making him the better candidate to continue the legacy of Abraham.
Therefore, as their lives unfolded, it was destined that Jacob would supplant Esau, even as Rebecca had been shown by H’Shem, when He explained that the older would serve the younger. Esau approaches Jacob, asking him for a bowl of lentils, because he is famished, having been out in the field hunting for wild animals. At this point “Yaakov no longer considered his brother Esau as worthy of being honored” as the firstborn (Chizkuni). Therefore, he made a judgment call, and said, “Sell me first thy birthright” (Genesis 25:31, JPS). Later in life, Jacob also deceived his father, as recommended by his mother, Rebecca, in order to receive his father’s blessing that would have gone to Esau, because he was the first born.
What was at stake? According to Yalkut Shimoni, it was the future inheritance of Olam HaZeh (This World), and Olam HaBa (The World-to-Come). It would seem that the materialistic Esau was destined to inherit Olam HaZeh (This World), and that the more spiritually inclined Jacob would receive Olam HaBa (the World-to-Come). Yet, Jacob received the blessing for the benefits of this world, to serve as vehicle towards greater heights. In other words, all earthly endeavors should be for the sake of Heaven (No’am Elimelekh).