Navigate / search

Parashat Toldot

Parasha Thoughts


By Rabbi Yitzchak Ariel

The birth of Yaakov and Esav is not merely a birth of two individuals who lived thousands of years ago; it is the emergence of two clashing ideologies that remain in conflict until this very day. Our sages in their great wisdom have taught us countless lessons based on what these two powers represent. One interesting observation that the commentaries make is regarding the essence of the two names Yaakov and Esav. The word Esav (עשו) comes from the Hebrew word Asuy (עשוי), meaning ready-made, whereas the word Yaakov (יעקב) is related to the word Akov (עקב), which means crooked. Esav viewed himself as a complete product. He felt as if he had nothing to work on, as if it was unnecessary for him to grow and develop as an individual. He felt comfortable with where he was.

Alternatively, Yaakov saw himself as incomplete. He saw much room for growth and improvement and constantly strived to mold himself into a better person. With that initial outlook regarding self-improvement, Yaakov joins Avraham and Yitzchak to serve as the solid foundation of the Jewish nation while his twin Esav is a predecessor to the nation of Amalek, a people who symbolize damage and destruction. It is our duty and obligation to continue in the path that our forefather Yaakov has paved for us, always looking for opportunities to grow and develop, ultimately coming closer to Hashem.