This Parsha this week is Parshas Toldos. In the Parsha we read of the birth of Isaac’s two sons – Esau and Jacob. Esau, the Torah tells us, is a ‘man of the field’, (a hunter), while Jacob is ‘a man of the tent’ (constantly involved in Torah study). The Torah then relates an incident that would ultimately change the history of the world forever. Jacob is cooking lentils, and Esau comes from the field, exhausted. Our Sages tell us that he had in fact just killed the powerful king Nimrod, and stolen the special garments that he had from Adam. Esau is overcome by deep cravings and feelings of hunger. He sees the pot of lentils that Jacob is cooking, and asks him “ Please pour from these red things for I am exhausted.” Jacob tells him that he will only give him these beans if Esau will sell him his special rights as a first born in exchange. These rights include the special privilege to serve as a priest in the Temple, offering the sacrifices and performing all other rites that the priests do. “And Esau said behold I am going to die anyway, why should I want the first born rights?” (Genesis 25:32) Thereupon, Esau sold his rights to serve as a priest to Jacob. Later, when Jacob manages to get the special blessings from Isaac before Isaac dies, Isaac is upset that he has given the blessings that rightfully belong to the first born to Jacob. Once he finds out that Jacob had purchased the rights of the first born from Esau, he feels better.
The Chafetz Chaim writes, that usually we when a person remembers the fact that one day he will die, that realization is expected to arouse thoughts of repentance and improvement. The idea that we are not in this world for a permanent time, that we will one day be in the “world of truth”, that no one can avoid this, is a sobering one; It should make us focus on what we are really here for in this world. This attitude is felt and expressed by good people throughout the world. The extreme wickedness of Esau was expressed in its fullest by the fact that he was able to look at life as being temporary, and use that itself as a reason to sin!!! “Let’s indulge in this world now, for tomorrow we may be dead!!” This is the attitude of an Esau, one who is focused purely on self-gratification and personal pleasure. If we lift ourselves even in the slightest amount, we will realize that our focus and goals must be dedicated to our eternal existence and life, realized through our soul and neshama. The fact that life in this world is temporary, as much as we hope to enjoy it and find in meaningful, serves only to make us serve Hashem better and with more strength.