Weekly Drash - Toldot
Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
Red, Red Stuff
Toldot – תולדת :“Generations”
Thought for the Week:
As followers of the Master, we must be children of Jacob, not children of Esau. We must remember that our animal nature does not rule us. Paul reminds us that we belong, not to our appetites, but to the Lord. He says, “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body” (1 Corinthians 6:13). Our heads must rule our hearts.
Jacob is often lampooned for cheating Esau out of his birthright in Genesis 25:29-34. Once again, Jacob is regarded as the deceiving trickster. But let’s examine this story carefully.
Jacob made a stew. Esau returns from hunting, exhausted and famished. When he sees the stew he exclaims, “Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished!” The Hebrew is even more comical. He uses a verb more appropriate to describe “slopping the pigs.” In his desperation, he cannot quite formulate the word for soup, so he stammers around calling it, “red, red stuff.” “Quick, slop me some of that red, red stuff!” he begs.
Jacob, on the other hand, replies calmly and deliberately and in clear legal terms, “Sell me as this day (from this day on) your birthright.” There are no hidden terms, no fine print, and no deceitful bait-and-switch. It is a straightforward and honest offer.
Esau should have refused. He should have been insulted that Jacob would suggest such a sacrilege. Everything for which Abraham and Isaac had lived was on the line. The entire covenant, the land of Canaan, the blessings and the promises, the future destiny of the nation for the price of a bowl of soup!
Instead of refusing the offer, however, Esau considered it and accepted it. He said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” This was, no doubt, hyperbole. Esau was certainly not about to die. Instead he was letting his appetite dictate his will. His desire for red, red stuff, at the moment, was greater than his desire for the right of firstborn.
Whenever we allow our appetites to rule us, we are following in the footsteps of Esau. How often our desire for “red, red stuff” dictates our decisions! Opportunities to honor or despise our birthright pass before us on a daily basis. We are constantly placed in positions where we must decide between what we crave and what is right. A man who lets his appetites control him is a godless man. For many men, sexual temptation is the “red, red stuff” for which they are willing to compromise their birthright. For others it may be the desire for power or control. For others it may be desire for possessions. For still others, it may lie in the realm of physical addictions. All of these are signs of Esau. They are the “red, red stuff”.
Esau accepted Jacob’s offer. The Torah artfully describes Esau’s cavalier exit with a succinct series of one-word verbs: “He ate, he drank, he rose, he left and he despised his birthright.”
Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!
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