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Shabbat Nugget: Jacob and Esau, Twins or Opposites?

In this week’s Torah portion, we read about the birth and life of Jacob and Esau.  What is most troubling is that although Jacob and Esau are twins, which biologically bring a level of closeness, they are constantly battling with each other, even their personalities are opposites. The Torah states, “Esau was a man who knows hunting, a man of the field, but, Jacob was a wholesome man abiding in the tents of Torah.”

The Kaballah gives a fascinating insight into this paradox. It explains that Jacob and Esau were born as twins since their ultimate potential and destiny is to be united as one.  However, for this union to take place there needs to be a change in their personalities.

The Kaballah explains this as follows:  Jacob is a representative of an energy which is disciplined and controlled, Esau, on the other hand, is a representative of a far more powerful energy.  However, Esau’s energy is destructive since it lacks focus and control.  The challenge is to tame Esau’s powerful energy through the discipline of Jacob’s energy.

The struggle to achieve this synergy is the life story of Jacob and Esau. But, the conflict is too deep to be resolved in one lifetime, so it continues with the nations of Israel and Edom which are descendants of Esau.  It then continues  with the battles between Judah and Rome. It also extends to a Jew’s personal life, in his struggle to utilize powerful physical energy and drives in a holy and constructive manner.

This synergy will be fully achieved in the days of Messiah.  As the prophet Ovadia says, “The saviors will come to Mount Zion to judge Esau’s mountain and then G-d’s kingdom will be complete.

May we merit these days speedily!

About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of “Finding the Joy in Everyday Living,” a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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