This week the Torah tells us of the great dichotomy of
character between Yaakov and his older brother Esav. Yaakov sat
and studied while Esav hunted. Though it is difficult to
understand the roots of this great divide, their parents' reaction
to this diversity is even more confusing. The Torah tells us that
"Yitzchak loved Esav for there was game in his mouth, and
Rivka loved Yaakov." (Genesis 25:28)
The variance in their opinions manifested itself in the fight
over the blessings. Yitzchak intended that Esav receive his
blessings for worldly goods, intending to save the spiritual ones
for Yaakov. Rivka pushed her son Yaakov to attain the blessings
for the worldly goods, too.
What was the fundamental difference between Yitzchak's and
Rivka's view of their children? Why was there such a diverse
notion as to who should inherit the wealth of this world? How is
it possible that Yitzchak, who epitomized the very essence of
spirituality, favored Esav, a man steeped in worldly desires?
Vice President Al Gore tells a story about
outgoing Senator Bill Bradley. Senator Bradley once attended a
dinner at which he was a guest speaker. The waiter set down a side
dish of potatoes, and placed a pat of butter upon them. The
Senator asked for an extra portion of butter.
"Im sorry sir," the very
unyielding server replied tersely, "one pat per guest."
With a combined expression of shock, scorn, and
disbelief, Senator Bradley looked up at the formal steward.
"Excuse me," he said. "Do you know who I am? I am
New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley." The Senator cleared his
throat. "I am a Rhodes scholar and a former NBA star. I
currently serve on the International Trade and Long-Term Growth Committee,
and the Debt and Deficit Reduction Committee, and I am in charge
of Taxation and IRS Oversight. And Id like another pat of
butter on my potatoes."
The waiter looked down at the
"Do you know who I am?" he asked.
"I am the one in charge of the butter."
Yitzchok understood the great contrariety between his
children. However, he felt that Esav, the hunter-child,
understood the mundane world much better. So it was only fitting
that Esav be gifted with the blessings of a mundane world. Esav would
then supplement Yaakovs needs, and a true symbiosis would emerge. Rivka,
on the other hand, was pragmatic. She felt that putting Esav in charge
of the material world would lead to selfish hoarding that would
hardly give Yaakov a portion.
She understood that while Yaakovs sustenance was
basically from spirituality, he still needed a little butter to
survive. And she could not rely on Esav controlling the butter:
she knew the personality all too well. There would be no parity
or sharing. Esav would take it all.
Everybody has a job, whether it be spiritual or menial, and
each job must be executed with a sense of responsibility and
mission. The argument between Rivka and Yitzchak was complex, but it
was simple too. Esav may be more astute in churning the butter;
however, will he make sure to give Yaakov his fair share? Rivka
knew that the world would be a better place if we all shared our respective portions.
But she wouldn't count on it.
Dedicated by Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Luxenburg in memory of Jesse