It is a huge coincidence that we received the portion that we have for our bat mitzvah. It is called Toldot, the story of Jacob and Esau, twins like us but with very different upbringing and views of each other. It tells of brothers who were fighting with each other before they were even born. Their story is one of triumph, deception and ultimately redemption and their legacy is the two different tribes of Israel. In their story, they talk about how Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a pot of lentil soup and how Rebecca influenced Jacob to deceive his brother and his father. Esau was however not without fault, he was an impatient man whose love of the outdoors and lack of ambition led to his unwise decisions.
Jacob and Esau were very different twins to what we are. Although we are also very different personalities to each other just as they were and we have our disagreements just like they did, we do not set out to hurt and deceive each other. Our home lives are very different to theirs, our parents have no favorites and have both guided us on our paths as equals as opposed to what Rebecca and Isaak did when they chose a favorite each and steered them in opposite directions.
We think that the type of adult a person ultimately becomes has everything to do with the way they are raised. Jacob and Esau were raised by parents who had different views and a favorite child, we have been raised by parents who have joined forces to do what is best for both of us and who have loved us both unconditionally. They were a divided family, we are a united one. There is, however, one similarity in their story and that is that they ultimately loved and forgave each other for all the hurt that was done. The difference is that theirs took an entire lifetime to come to pass, our love and forgiveness happens almost immediately!
Birthright is a topic that plays strongly in this story and probably the cause for most of their struggle. We are fortunate to live in a day and age where generally the firstborn is not expected to receive a material birthright and the other siblings not. We receive something much more valuable. From our community we receive a sense of belonging and fellowship; from our religion we receive the heritage of faith and tradition and from our parents the heritage of ancestry, guidance and unconditional love, to have empathy for all living creatures, human or otherwise, to be humble, to treasure our planet and to “for heavens’ sake brush your teeth”!. These are all things that will be passed from us to our own children one day, their own heritage without conflict, and that is worth more than any physical birthright ever could.