Will the real Eisav please stand up?

Phil Chernofsky asks: Was Eisav really an evil person?<br/> The answer according to him is yes.

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Phil Chernofsky,

Fire (illustration)
Fire (illustration)
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When Rivka Imeinu was pregnant with Yaakov and Eisav, she sensed great turmoil within her womb. G-d - via Sheim ben No'ach - told her that she was carrying twins who would father rival nations with conflicting ideologies.

As the twins grew, the Torah describes how different they were - Eisav being a man of the hunt and the field, Yaakov the scholarly tent-dweller.

At the end of the portion about the birthright and lentil stew episode, we find the Torah's specific comment that Eisav rejected and spurned the birhtright. There is also indication that he denied the concept of any life after this world's. And the gemara tells us that he was a murderer, a rapist, and an idolator.

A further glimpse into Eisav's character comes after Yaakov receives the bracha that Eisav felt was his. Eisav plans to kill Yaakov.

On the other hand, the Torah tells us that Yizchak loved Eisav. Was that because Eisav took care of some of his father's needs, or was it because Eisav deceived his father with feigning interest in things spiritual?

Our sources tell us in praise of Eisav, that he was truly respectful of his father and showed him great honor.

Commentaries explain Yaakov's fear at the impending reunion with Eisav, that Yaakov felt inferior to his brother because of the topic of respect for their father Yitzchak.

When the brothers meet up at long last, there are differing opinions as to whether Eisav had an honest change of heart for the better or whether he still wanted to kill Yaakov.

We later find that when Eisav realized he could not kill Yaakov, he sent his son Elifaz to do it. That didn't work out completely well, but apparently the task was passed on to Elifaz's son, Eisav's grandson - AMALEK, charged with fighting against Israel throughout the generations.

The gemara refers to Eisav HaRasha several times. The gemara also posits that Eisav can be considered as a non-Jew or possibly as a Jew who turned away from G-d. Eisav seems to be two different people rolled into one. This dichotomy manifests itself in two very diffent commands of the Torah.

D'varim 23:8 - LO T'TA-EIV ADOMI KI ACHICHA HU - Do not reject the Edomite (Edom is Eisav) for he is your brother...And D'varim 25:19 (both p'sukim are in Parshat Ki Teitzei) - TIMCHEH ET ZEICHER AMALEK MITACHAT HASHA- MAYIM. You shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.

Eisav HaRasha is an apt description of Eisav. And perhaps, the wicked part of Eisav is personified by Amalek. Yet there seems to be another side of Eisav, who is not only Yaakov's brother but the son of Yitzchak and Rivka. That might not say much for now, but maybe when the Mashiach comes.



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