After two decades of marriage to Yitzhak, Rivka's womb is finally opened as HaShem blesses the couple with children. There is, however, something irregular about her pregnancy:
"The children agitated within her, and she said, 'If so, why am I thus?' And she went to inquire of HaShem. And
Israel and Edom cannot be simultaneously dominant.
HaShem said to her: 'Two nations are in your womb; two regimes from your insides shall be separated; the might shall pass from one regime to the other, and the elder shall serve the younger.'" (Bereishit 25:22-23)
The Maharal of Prague teaches, in Gur Aryeh, that the struggle in Rivka's womb between Yaakov and Esav was not at all influenced by their personal inclinations of good and evil, as these inclinations could not exist before birth. Rather, Yaakov and Esav represent cosmic forces in Creation - forces that transcend the normal course of personality development and existed within them even in the womb.
Rivka, anxious that the struggle inside her could have resulted from some iniquity on her part, went to Shem (son of Noach) in order to inquire of G-d. Through Shem, G-d informed Rivka that the unborn infants represent not only two nations, but two conflicting ideologies - Israel and Edom - and that the struggle in the womb was the irreconcilable conflict already raging between them.
Our sages explain (Megillah 6a) that Israel and Edom cannot be simultaneously dominant in the world. When one nation rises, the other must fall. History has shown that not only the nations, but also the cultures of Israel and Edom have forever been in conflict. But ultimately one will succeed in completely eclipsing the other.
During the early Hebrew kingdoms, when Israel was counted as a major world power, Esav's offspring were of no major significance to the political or cultural developments of Man (they were even subjugated under the Israeli kingdom for many years).
It was not until the Second Temple period that Esav's descendants, the Roman Empire, appeared on the scene as a central world player. Rome exerted political influence over Israel, invaded our country, destroyed our Temple, put down countless Hebrew revolts (albeit with great difficulty), exiled us from our native soil and even sought to abolish the Israeli character of our country (altering her name from Judea to Palestine). Since that time, Rome has succeeded in dominating much of the world with its culture, values and pagan notions of morality. To fully comprehend the eternal conflict that exists between our two nations, it is necessary to examine the essence of Edom - how it developed throughout time and how it contrasts with Israel's pure Torah culture.
The essence of Esav is to appear righteous on the outside while being internally repulsive (much like a pig that has all external signs of kashrut, yet lacks the internal requirements). The Roman Empire, Christianity and modern Western culture all stem from the impure source of Esav. From the time the Roman Empire adopted Christianity, this dogma was imposed throughout the world, eventually becoming the foundation for what is now Western civilization.
Beginning as a breakaway Hebrew sect, Christianity grew in influence and ultimately dominated most of the civilized world. Through powerful vehicles, such as the Roman Legion and later the Crusades, this poisoned doctrine was spread throughout the globe. By abandoning the mitzvot of HaShem's Torah, Christianity enshrouded the world in a seemingly legitimate offshoot of idol worship. While superficially imitating the Torah's sense of values, Christianity actually led the world further away from a true connection to G-d. Under a guise of false
This synthetic religion demanded from humanity an unnatural level of saintliness.
righteousness, this synthetic religion demanded from humanity an unnatural level of saintliness, repressing Man's basic character traits, and breeding a culture of guilt and forbidden desires which built up inside of Western society until finally exploding.
Inwardly sensing his estrangement from G-d, modern Man came to reject the Church and its teachings. Religion became viewed as a prison from which mankind must escape. In seeking freedom from the chains of theology, society leaped to the opposite extreme. Man's every passion was declared holy, and everything and anything became permissible to him. Europeans revolted against the Church's dominion and the culture of Esav was given new expression. Atheism and unconstrained liberalism became the natural modern outgrowths of oppressive Christianity and the next incarnation of Edomism in the world. Europe became a continent where enlightenment reigned supreme. But because Christianity had oppressed Europe's life force for centuries, base traits and suppressed rages festered without any healthy outlet. Like a volcano, they burst forth in the form of devastating world wars, granting release to ancient pent-up desires.
Enlightened civilization was exposed as a mask that had been hiding Man's primitive passions for centuries (the same murderous impulses which had hallmarked ancient Rome). No enduring moral progress had ever been achieved. Two world wars erupted from Europe and scorched the entire world with the slaughter of millions.
It is important to understand how history evolves. The world view of Esav grew powerful and expanded its influence on the civilized world, first by dominating physically and then through the religious vehicle of Christian theology. Modern Western culture, although primarily secular and often hostile to the Church, is rooted in a value system that springs from Christian dogma. In separating mankind from the true path of serving G-d, Christianity gave birth to the secular hedonistic cultures of today.
The ideology of Edom - in all of its various forms - has unquestionably been the greatest cultural influence of the past two thousand years. It has, to a large extent, laid the basic framework for Western morality. While professing to be an enlightened civilization, modern society is still rampant with the profane culture of Edom, cut off from the Torah and Divine Word of HaShem. Rather than refining and uplifting Man's character, Western civilization leaves him in a primitive state. The greed and selfishness that exist in society, along with the world wars of the previous century, underscore the failure of Western culture to lift Man out from his deep moral prison.
But there is still hope for the world. After a long, degrading exile from our soil, the Nation of Israel has begun a miraculous rebirth. Returning to take possession of our homeland, fostering agricultural achievements in a seemingly impossible soil, winning miraculous victories in war and reviving our ancient language to everyday use, the Jewish people are experiencing a full national renaissance. While the physical accomplishments continue to push forward, the Torah character of our state is beginning to flourish. The Jewish people are slowly separating
The Torah character of our state is beginning to flourish.
from the contaminated value system of Edom and returning to the holy culture of HaShem's Divine Truth.
But Israel's national rebirth is troubling for Esav's spiritual descendants. World leaders instinctively feel the threat of Israel's renaissance and the decline it guarantees for Western civilization. The subconscious realization that Israel is rising to become the dominant moral light in the world compels Western powers to work against Israel's rebirth. The global community is therefore determined to keep the State of Israel as small and weak as possible. While lending support to Islamic extremists, the West bombards Israel with its spirit of materialism in a distracting attempt to lull the Jewish State into a complacent consumer culture. The disproportionate focus of the world media on Israel, along with the validity given to the claims of our enemies, are merely tools employed to prevent the full revival of the Hebrew Nation and the moral revolution we will bring to mankind.
Rivka was told, "The might shall pass from one regime to the other, and the elder shall serve the younger." This is the deterministic blueprint of human history. The cosmic force of Yaakov will eclipse that of Esav. The salvation of G-d is destined to come to mankind through the Zionist Revolution taking place in our day. The downfall of Edom will bring peace to the world, as mankind is freed from centuries of spiritual tyranny. As Israel's Redemption continues to unfold and the Jewish Nation rises to the challenges confronting us, the true culture of Torah will be bestowed upon Man, bringing all of Creation unparalleled blessing.