Parshas Toldos: The Power of Choices

In this week’s Parsha, we learn the story of Eisav selling his birthright to Yaakov for a serving of “red soup.” At first, this doesn’t seem like a noteworthy event, but this caused Eisav to be known for the rest of his life as Edom (lit. red), in reference to the soup. All of Klal Yisrael understands how vital the status of firstborn was to Yaakov, because through rightfully being the firstborn, Yaakov received blessings from his father, Yitzchok, which to this day, have proven to be the source of the survival of his children, the Jewish people. Why, then, is Eisav degraded so much for this? Through completing this transaction, Eisav helped shape history! In addition, why does the degradation of being called Edom extend further to Eisav’s legacy? We see that the land that Eisav inherits, and the nation that spawns from Eisav are both named Edom!  There are many interesting answers to these questions, but the answer the Ramban mentions is especially insightful. The Ramban says that there was nothing significant about the red soup in general, rather it was the intention of trading away the birthright in the first place that caused him to acquire this name. Eisav was originally the man deemed to be ready for the Brachos of his father Yitzchok, but he decided to trade this esteemed honor away for something as meaningless as food. He traded away his special spiritual connection to Hashem in order for a physical materialistic red lentil soup. Instead of something permanent like a Bracha, Eisav opted for something temporary, a bowl of soup. This is the reason why Eisav, his land, and his nation were condemned to the name of Edom. Eisav will permanently be known for the fact that he desired the temporary, so much so that he was willing to reject any spiritual connection to Hashem. The teaching of the Ramban is pivotal for every Jew in his or her daily life. When faced with a choice between temporary gain and long-term, sustained gain, even if we do not see what lies ahead in the long run, we must recognize that everything that happens is part of Hashem’s plan, and the worst one can do is reject his or her role in the plan. May we all recognize the true will of Hashem in order to bring the ultimate redemption, Moshiach and the everlasting Beis HaMikdash.  Good Shabbos!

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