The Scandal of Hatred – Toldot 5780


The Torah reports how upset Esav was about the blessing he received. Yet it is hard to fathom why. After all, Isaac tells him that he will be rich beyond his imagination (Gen 27:39) and he will be doing the work he loves and at which he excels (v.40). All of this does not warrant complaint. Yet the Torah tells us that Esav “hated Jacob because of the blessing he received” (v. 41). Getting what you want is no cause for hating another.


However, when delving more deeply into the text, another possibility comes to light.

The pronoun “he” in verse 41 is ambiguous. In context, it seems to refer to Esav. Esav hated Jacob because the blessing Esav received was what his father “left over,” despite the nature and scope of the blessing. But what is “left over” is exactly what Esav wanted and thus raising the question under consideration.

However, the pronoun “he” might just as well refer to Jacob. Esav may have been satisfied – even joyful – at the blessing he received. But what he could not stand was the fact that Jacob got any blessing at all. Esav was upset by the fact that his nemesis had anything, even if it was nothing that Esav wanted or needed.


The psychological point here is profound. Hatred festers not because of what you have but because of what the other has. Consider, for example, that the tiny modern State of Israel makes up a miniscule portion of the landmass in the Middle East. Arab and Muslim states control vast areas divided into numerous states with enormous oil wealth. But what rankles Israel’s haters is that Israel has any territory at all! Rather than rejoice with what they have, they prefer to act to deny what little Israel has.


Embedded in the Torah is the recognition that hatred is irrational. By focusing on denying others anything, haters deprive themselves of everything.


Words to Live By

What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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