parashas Toldos 5782

“And the children struggled within her.” – Genesis 25:22, JPS 1917 Tanach

Esau was the firstborn, while Jacob was born grasping Esau’s heel. This is how Jacob received his name, Yaakov, meaning heel, or supplanter, because, eventually, he supplanted the rights of the firstborn. Additionally, “Jacob’s holding on to the heel of Esau may symbolize those values that Esau would symbolically stamp his foot on, those values would be the very ones Jacob would cherish” (Akeidat Yitzchak 23:1:10, sefaria.org).

According to Akeidat Yitzchak, Esau would tread upon the very values that Jacob cherished, the values that Jacob emulated in his father Isaac, the same values of Abraham. Jacob was destined to supplant Esau in regard to the rights of the firstborn, so that the legacy of Abraham, replete with the qualities of chesed (kindness), gevurah (moral restraint), and tiferes (harmony) would be continued.

Another rendering of the phrase, “sins of the heels,” is in reference to the pasuk (verse), “Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my supplanters [heels] compasseth me about” (Psalm 49:6, JPS), concerning King David’s fear that the sins of his heels, those that most people disregard, i.e., “trample upon,” would prevent him from entering Olam Haba (the World-to-Come). How much more so, should we also be concerned for the sins that we might otherwise overlook, without doing teshuvah (repentance) or working towards self-improvement in those areas of our lives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s