The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: Kislev 3, 5768/November 14, 2007

The Choice

Ya'akov, Esav, Esav, Ya'akov, born from the same womb. How different could they be? Just as one single womb produced two brothers whose paths diverged so dramatically, so does each individual possess within him the capacity for both good and evil. People are created differently one from another in very many ways, but the two inclinations, toward good and evil are meted out in equal measure to one and all. How could it be otherwise? The G-dliness of every human soul is in his ability to choose good above evil and draw himself closer to G-d. And this is truly the choice that G-d desires.

We are told by Torah that "Isaac loved Esau" (Genesis 25:28). Yitzchak saw in Esav the great potential for good, and with fatherly love and patience sought to inspire and develop in Esav the will to do good. "...Make me savoury food, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless you before I die,'" (ibid 27:4) he instructed Esav, presenting him with an opportunity to do good. "Rebekah," we are told, "loved Jacob," (ibid 25:28) and she firmly instructed him to prepare two kids for his father, and dress himself in Esav's garments. Esav failed to make good on the opportunity placed before him by Yitzchak. Ya'akov overcame his initial reluctance, and fulfilled his mother's words.

We all are Esav and Ya'akov. We all have the potential to place the "hunt" for worldly gratification before our greater responsibility toward G-d and self. We likewise possess the inherent desire to do good. The choice, the G-d given choice found in the very breath of life He breathed into us, is ours.

The Torah reading of Toldot, Esav, Ya'akov, and the age old struggle to choose life over death, a blessing and not a curse, with which the nation of Israel is grappling today as Annapolis approaches, are all part of the discussion on this week's TEMPLE TALK internet radio program.

Click to hear:

Part 1
Part 2