Dear family and friends, Torah reveals parenting struggles for righteous parents throughout the ages. Examples: Adam and Chavah wrestled with Cain’s murder of his brother, Abel. Noah and Na’ama grappled with Ham’s evil nature. He had forbidden relations on the ark, and he emasculated his father. Abraham and Sarah scuffled over Ishmael. Isaac and Rebecca sparred over Esau.
What is the message to parents and children?
No matter how righteous and God-fearing parents are, all of us who have children are subject to the challenges of parenting. If we are humble and honest with ourselves, we realize there are a limited number of parents who would receive the good parenting award. Dear ones it is difficult to be the kind of parents we may idolize in our minds. At one time or another, each of us with children will get bogged down with parenting!
Parents let’s forgive ourselves for what we could’ve done or should’ve done. Let’s stop beating ourselves up. Let us get up and dust ourselves off. We are not perfect. Our children are not perfect. So we have defective parents dealing with faulty children. In Genesis 27.36, Esau claims to his father, Isaac. Esau says, ‘Is Jacob not rightly named? For he has supplanted me these two times; he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing.’Esau claims Jacob is a deceitful cunning son. In Esau’s eyes, Isaiah and Rebecca failed to raise Jacob correctly. After all, Rebecca, his mother, favored Jacob, and his father was so much into Torah study that he could not tell the noticeable differences between him and his brother. The story of Esau and Jacob can be spun in a variety of ways!
For example, how would The All-Seeing, All-Hearing, All-Knowing, and Ever-present Creator tell the story? When all details are included would the picture different? Can any of us handle complete transparency?
Isaac and Rebecca were good God-Fearing righteous parents that wanted the best for their children and grandchildren. That is good! Both were following their revelation. We know things went array with Esau. Mistakes were made. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch discusses the slumbering Tendencies of Esau and Jacob in his book, The Pentateuch Translation And Commentary (London England, Judaica Press, LTD 2nd Edition 1989) pp 425 – 425.
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall guard the way of The Lord, to do justice and judgment;that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he has spoken of him.
On the day Abraham died, Isaac and Ishmael buried him next to Sarah, his wife in the cave of Machpelah. At that time, 2123 From Creation, Esau, and Jacob were fifteen years old. It was that day the wicked Esau came out from the field after he committed five sins, Rabbi Johanan said: Bava Basra 16.b
• He dishonored a betrothed maiden.
• He committed a murder.
• He denied God.
• He denied the resurrection of the dead.
• He despised the birthright.
It was on that day, the day Abraham died, that Jacob prepared his father, Isaac, and his brother Ishmael a broth with lentils to comfort them and other mourners. It was then Esau said to Jacob, ‘Feed me some of that red pottage.’ Forty-eight years later, Esau said, ‘Is Jacob not rightly named? For he has supplanted me these two times; he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing.’ That was Esau’s spin. That was Esau’s take on what happened.
Regarding Esau’s claims:
1. Jacob took away my birthright. Esau did not possess the Honor of the Firstborn. It is not enough to be The Firstborn. Other qualifications are required. The Lord God Determines who will receive the honor of the Firstborn, or who would be responsible for guarding the terms of The Abrahamic Covenant. Esau presumed he would receive the recognition of being the firstborn. Yet, He could not legally sell what he did not possess, Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, The Artscroll Tanach Series – Bereishis Vol. I(a) (Brooklyn, New York: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 3rd Impression, 1989), pp 1069 – 1070. Besides, where does The Holy Scripture say Isaac divided his estate into. Esau possessed two-thirds of Isaac’s estate, he could sell it, but he didn’t. How does one get a business loan on a property they do not have title to?
2. Jacob has taken away my blessing. Jacob could not take away Esau’s blessing. Esau violated the terms of The Blessing. Esau did not guard the way of The Lord. Esau did not do justice and judgment following the Torah.
Jacob’s concern was that his father, Isaac, was about to honor Esau as the Firstborn. He was about to bless him with a double portion. Esau deceived his father. If Esau were accepted as the Firstborn, he would have the responsibility of High Priest. The High Priest offers blessings and sacrifices before The Lord. The High Priest is required to live a righteous, principled, ethical, moral, irreproachable, saintly life. Esau was NOT suited to being the High Priest or receiving the Abrahamic Covenant in addition to other vital responsibilities. It was imperative to stop Esau!
Sarah had greater prophetic enlightenment than Abraham. Rebecca had greater prophetic awareness than Isaac. Rebecca had a Word from The Lord, ‘The elder shall serve the younger.’ Genesis 25.23. Rebecca moved to guard The Holy Covenant and the office of High Priest. She devised a plan for Jacob to intercept the honor of the Firstborn. They were successful.
The second portion of our study discusses evil tendencies some children struggle with whether our children are young or adult. We should guide them to guard the way of The Lord, to Observe justice and judgment according to the Torah. I am speaking in terms of all children. No exclusions! Parents are responsible to continually advise their children in acts of lovingkindness, treating others as they want to be treated, fruitful communication, and mindfulness.
Our goal is to be instruments of blessings to the nations. We are to bless and then let The Lord take it from there. May each of us have Joy, Health, Happiness, Blessing, and Lovingkindness as a result of studying The Holy Scripture.
Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk