Birthright Control!

Friday, 24 November, 2017 - 8:38 am

While returning from a joyous Simcha in California, I walked through the airports in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Bozeman carrying Helen’s Torahscroll in-hand, as placing it underneath the plane is not an option. As I Shlepped from terminal 2 to terminal 1 for my connecting flight, all eyes were on the Torah. As I made a left turn into gate area B, a young fellow walked up to me and asked, “May I kiss the Torah?” Of course, he did, and I invited him to come visit our Shul in Bozeman. While getting off the plane in Bozeman, I heard a fellow behind me telling his wife “He must be carrying a Torah”.

In this week’s Torah portion, Toldot, we read about Esau and Jacob, twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca. After their grandfather Abraham’s passing, Jacob was cooking a lentil stew for the mourners, when Esau arrived home irritable and hungry. He demanded “Pour into me, now, some of that very red stuff for I am exhausted”. Jacob agrees to feed him for the “cheap” price of Esau’s “birthright”. Esau agrees to the sale without any hesitation, saying “Look, I am going to die, so of what use to me is the birthright…Esau spurned the birthright”. It was sold to Jacob, fair and square and it forces our minds to wonder: how does one reach a place in life where they are ready to sell their birthright, simply for instant gratification, for a pot of lentils? Yes, ritualistically there are responsibilities for a firstborn, but isn’t worth the blessings?

I think in some ways we all struggle with the Esau Syndrome. How often are we ready to give up on a valuable experience, whether with family or G-d, simply because of instant gratification? For us it may not be a literal pot of lentils, but it may be a great non-Kosher Sushi restaurant, a meeting with the President on Shabbos, a once-in-a-lifetime concert on Friday night, a hard business choice that messes with at least one of the Ten Commandments, spending time with our families when we are stressed out; how often have we sold our Jewish birthright cheaply, simply to gain a moment of so-called bliss? Is it really that hard to remember that we have a birthright? As I marched through the airports, I was reminded that we should be delighted to have an eternal covenant with Hashem and that, for the most part, the world respects those who respect themselves. Can you really find something more valuable as a substitute to the beauty of our heritage? Impossible.

Don’t sell yourself short!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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