This week we read Parshas Toldos. In the beginning of the Parsha we are told of the birth of Esau. The Torah tells us that he was born he was red. The sages tell us that Esau’s color indicated that he would one day be a murderer. The obvious question raised is, if so, was Esau to blame for his behavior? Was he created with the chemical make up to become a murderer?
A few verses later, we are taught of the incident of Esau’s selling of his first born rights to Jacob. “Jacob was cooking lentils, Esau came from the field exhausted (he had just murdered Nimrod); Esau said to Jacob feed me from this red stuff for I am exhausted; therefore his name was called Edom (the red one). (Genesis 25:29-30) What does this mean? Why was his name now called Edom?
We are taught that when King David was born he also was red. What was the difference between King David and Esau? King David controlled his tendencies, channeling them only for good. He managed to us them only to fight for Hashem. Esau failed to control his temptations. He allowed himself to be ruled by them, and thus failed.
When Esau was born he was named Eisav – related to Assa – to make or fix. He was given this name with the hope that he would control his desires and temptations, hopefully to rule over them. When he fell and committed murder – the day he ate those red lentils, his name was changed to Edom – or the red one. He had now fallen from achieving his potential.
The lesson Esau taught us is clear. If we have a mitzvah that is challenging, or that we find hard, the response is not to throw up our hands and to say “this is too hard for me”. Rather, we must take our challenge and work on ourselves to overcome it, to become a better person.