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Bartering with Vanity - Further thoughts on Toldot

Bartering with Vanity

Further thoughts on Parashat Toldot...

by John J. Parsons

From our Torah portion (i.e., parashat Toldot) we read: "And Esau said to Jacob, 'Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!' Therefore his name was called Edom (אֱדוֹם)." The Hebrew text more forcefully reports Esau's words: 'Let me gulp down (הַלְעִיטֵנִי) some of that "red-red stuff" (הָאָדם הָאָדם), picturing how eagerly he bartered away the blessing of heaven for a momentary and fleeting pleasure... The Maharal of Prague said that when Esau called the stew that "red-red stuff," he was acting like an animal that relates to things without restraint, in the immediacy of the moment, and without regard to their "form," that is, their higher purposes or end...

נִבְחָר שֵׁם מֵעשֶׁר רָב
מִכֶּסֶף וּמִזָּהָב חֵן טוֹב

niv·char · shem · me'osher · rav
mi'kesef · u'mizahav ·chen · tov

"A good name is to be chosen rather than great wealth,
grace is better than silver or gold."
(Prov. 22:1)


"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; and that no one is sexually immoral or profane (i.e., βέβηλος, worldly, ungodly) like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal" (Heb. 12:15-16). Surely this is the deeper meaning of "profanity" - to deny reality, to live in willful ignorance, and to miss the glory of God's presence. 

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