top of page
  • Writer's pictureEve Was Right

6. Women's Invisible Role in History

Updated: Apr 8

How different would the world be if women hadn't carried so much weight behind the scenes?


Parshah Toldos

TL;DR of the Text

Major Themes

  • Shouldering the burden of the responsibility for Israel

  • Sacrificing women on behalf of men


*Important attribution note: All quotes listed in this article are credited to the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash. Here is an Extremely Clear Citation so I don’t get in trouble: Nosson Scherman, Hersh Goldwurm, Avie Gold, & Meir Zlotowitz. (2015). The Chumash : the Torah, Haftaros and Five Megillos. Mesorah Publications, Ltd.


Genesis 25:27-32*

“The lads grew up and Esau became one who knows trapping, a man of the field; but Jacob was a wholesome man, abiding in tents. Isaac loved Esau for game was in his mouth, but Rebecca loved Jacob. 

Jacob simmered a stew, and Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. Esau said to Jacob, ‘Pour into me, now, some of that very red stuff for I am exhausted.’ (He therefore called his name Edom.) 

Jacob said, ‘Sell, as this day, your birthright to me.’
And Esau said, ‘Look, I am going to die, so of what use to me is a birthright?’”


A man holds a dog with a sad cat looking on in the background (meme). Split into four panels. The first panel captions the man with the dog: "Isaac favoring Esau because Esau feeds him meat." The second, third, and fourth panel focus on the cat and say "Jacob who spends his childhood studying Torah."

First of all, it’s a bit embarrassing for Isaac, as the great man he supposedly was, to favor Esau in spite of Esau's character flaws just because Esau fed him meat. Secondly, it feels important for us to realize the woman was the one to figure out the differences in spiritual quality between her two sons. 


Jacob didn't look great in this passage considering he was trying to steal his brother’s birthright. However, if we view the birthright in question as the spiritual birthright vs. the material birthright, his actions become more honorable. As we’ll soon see, Esau was far from an upstanding man, and Jacob couldn’t abide the thought of the burgeoning Israelite nation looking to Esau to continue improving upon their moral trajectory. 


Esau then confirmed Jacob’s worst fears by spurning Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew, which the Torah rightly depicts as a grave sin. 


Genesis 26:6*

“So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister’ - for he was afraid to say ‘my wife’ - ‘lest the men of the place kill me because of Rebecca for she is fair to look upon!’”

Again?! Will Abraham’s family ever learn not to sacrifice their women? 


Will Abraham’s family ever learn not to sacrifice their women?

Genesis 26:10-11

“Abimelech said, ‘What is this that you have done to us? One of the 
people has nearly lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us! Abimelech then warned all the people saying, ‘Whoever molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.’”

Abimelech admitted the truth; if Rebecca had indeed been Jacob’s sister, his men would have raped her. 


Genesis 27*

Chapter 27 recounts the story of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing. When I first read this chapter, I remember my disappointment in Jacob - his efforts to acquire the blessing were quite dishonest. 


However, his reluctance is evident throughout the chapter. Combined with Jacob’s focus on the spiritual blessing versus the material blessing, I find myself respecting his actions, albeit with some discomfort. Knowing Esau’s disrespect for his birthright, Jacob did not see Esau fit to inherit the blessing of the nation of Israel. 


Without ignoring their many flaws, this family shouldered the burden of a colossal responsibility. While not even close to perfect by today’s standards, their code of conduct still represented a vast improvement over other moral codes of the time. 


While not even close to perfect by today’s standards, their code of conduct still represented a vast improvement over other moral codes of the time. 

Jacob and Rebecca acted justly when they evaluated Esau and realized, “You can’t be the one to bring this home.” 


*Again with the Extremely Clear Citation so I don’t get in trouble: Nosson Scherman, Hersh Goldwurm, Avie Gold, & Meir Zlotowitz. (2015). The Chumash : the Torah, Haftaros and Five Megillos. Mesorah Publications, Ltd.

댓글


bottom of page