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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Toldos: Worse than a Sin!

ויאמר יעקב מכרה כיום את בכרתך לי. ויאמר עשו הנה אנכי הולך למות ולמה זה לי בכרה. ויאמר יעקב השבעה לי כיום וישבע לו וימכר את בכרתו ליעקב. ויעקב נתן לעשו לחם ונזיד עדשים ויאכל וישת ויקם וילך ויבז עשו את הבכרה.

And Yaakov said, ‘sell, as this day your birthright to me’. And Eisav said, ‘look, I am going to die, so of what use to me is a birthright?’ Yaakov said, ‘swear to me as this day’, he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Yaakov: Yaakov gave Eisav bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, got up and left- thus, Esaiv spurned the birthright.


The "mildest" sin

The Gemara (Bava Basra) tells us that on that day, Eisav committed five serious sins: Adultery, murder, denial of Hashem's existence, denial of the concept of resurrection; and finally, he ‘spurned’, or rejected, the birthright of the firstborn.

It is interesting to note that although all of the enumerated sins are derived from the words in the Chumash, the only sin explicitly spelled out is that of Eisav rejecting the firstborn rights -- unquestionably, the mildest on the list! If the Torah wanted to emphasize Esav's decadence, why do so by citing, of all his transgressions, the one that seems the most minor?

Rav Shimon Schwab's insight

Rashi explains that the sin of rejecting the firstborn rights was really a rejection of the Avodah, the privilege of serving in the Beis Hamikdash. As we know, the original plan was that the firstborn of every family would be like a Kohen, representing his family in the Beis Hamikdash and bearing all the rights and responsiblities that the special position of Kohen affords. When Eisav said, "why do I need the firstborn rights?", he was really rejecting this special zechus, declaring that he wanted no part in the Avodah.

Of course, every sin is a tragedy. But there exists, at least, the possibility of teshuva. We retain a connection to Hashem, which can, and will, inspire us to return. Perhaps it can be compared to unplugging an electrical device. As long as the cord is intact, it can be reconnected.

But if someone rejects the very concept of serving Hashem, he severs that connection. Without the cord, the relationship is much harder to restore.

Indeed, Eisav sinned grievously. But there still could have been hope. Spurning the birthright was what sealed his fate like a nail in a coffin.

Fortunately, we all have a spark within ourselves waiting to be fanned into a raging fire. What we need to do is tap into our true desire to be good, and the teshuva will flow naturally!

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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