Today I would like to talk about a
topic I’m knowledgeable about.
“ Brothers “
TOLDOT, is the story of Jacob
two twin brothers who didn’t act
When I was reading the portion,
one overall question came to mind.
It seems the Torah was asking this
question, as well.
Why do brothers fight?
The Torah tells us why Jacob and
Esau were fighting.
One reason is that the parents had
Rebecca favored Jacob,
skinny, wise child who preferred
the company of his books.
Isaac favored Esau,
the eldest, hairy, strong, impulsive
The parents showed their
favoritism openly which fueled the
jealousy between the boys.
Jacob was jealous of Esau getting
So Jacob took advantage of Esau
when Esau was hungry and traded
a bowl of stew for Esau’s
It wasn’t a fair trade and Jacob
Sibling jealousy can start at a very
Jacob was born holding the heel
of his brother, almost as if he were
“oh, no, you don’t, the birthright is
Jacob stole Esau’s birthright and
his father’s blessing by
In a fit of rage, Esau swore to kill
To save himself , Jacob ran away.
The brothers were separated for 21 years.
twenty-one Yom Kippurs to reflect
on what they did.
Eventually, Esau, the hunter, and
Jacob, the shepherd, made peace.
The Rabbis thought that the
favoritism shown by Jacob’s and
Esau’s parents was one of the
main causes of the jealousy and
hatred between the brothers.
The Midrash tells us that
favoured Jacob because G-D had
told her that the younger son was
to be the leader.
So, why did Isaac favor Esau?
Genesis Rabbah suggests that
Isaac never recovered from when
his father, Abraham, tried
unsuccessfully to offer him as a
sacrifice on Mt. Moriah.
He became fearful for all his life
and leaned on people who
displayed strength, such as Esau.
I agree that parental favouritism
Esau perceives that Jacob stole
the blessing with his mother’s
The strength of his anger leads
him to want to kill Jacob.
It’s natural to want to hurt your
brother when he makes you angry,
especially someone like Esau with
his quick temper and physical
It’s in the nature of brothers to
whether physically or
by insulting, attacking with words
Why do we fight?
We fight to get what we want.
To be better than our sibling.
But, as we grow,
we come together more.
We start to actually like each other.
So how did these warring brothers
They had 21 years of separation to
consider over their offenses and
That’s a long time.
Esau had time to realize that it
wasn’t entirely Jacob’s fault.
Jacob, Esau and their parents all
had a role in creating the discord.
Esau realized that he should not
have traded his birthright for food
as he wasn’t going to die of
When he was a child,
he let his stomach do the thinking
During this period of separation,
He became a true adult by being
less impulsive and more reflective.
As an adult,
• He had an army to command.
• He had to be responsible for
rations, water supply and military
• He couldn’t afford to think only of himself.
Jacob also had regrets.
He knew that he had taken
advantage of Esau by trading food
for a birthright and then tricking
• He wished he had resisted his
mother who had insisted that he
steal the blessing.
• He had not stood up for himself.
• Instead, he had let someone
else, namely his mother, make
decisions for him.
21 years later,
Jacob realised that he had been
As an adult,
• he too had responsibilities
• a family to look after and
livestock to tend.
Once he had become the parent,
he could reflect on what he liked
and didn’t like about his parents
actions and his own.
These realizations would help in
our own lives.
If we thought about how our
actions affect others every time
we took advantage of someone or
pressured someone into doing
or acted out of duress,
then we wouldn’t fight as much.
Eventually, Jacob and Esau made
peace just like most brothers.
I want to hurt my brother, too,
but it takes me less than 21 years
to get over my anger.
My 21 years is more like 21
minutes or 21 seconds.
That’s the time it takes me and my
brother to make peace
• to think about what we did,
• could have done,
• should have done,
and then to come back together.
Then the whole process of
repent repeats itself.
As we get older, the process
repeats less and less.
Our parents have encouraged us
to think about our actions
and to use words not fists.
We learn to put up with each other
and to forgive,
even when it’s not Yom Kippur.
Brothers are family.
The closest family you can be.