This week, in Parshat Toldot, Rebecca is told that she has two nations in her womb: Esau, the man of the field, and Jacob, the man of the tent. Throughout the parsha we see the struggle between Jacob and Isaac mirrored in Isaac and Rebecca. The Sefat Emet, a 19th century Hasidic rabbi, comments that ideally, Jacob and Esau should have complemented each other in repairing the world. We need someone to go out and fight and work the land AND we need someone to stay at home and study to further society intellectually.
We can learn from this lesson by understanding that we each have a Jacob tendency and an Esau tendency inside us. There are some moments that we must be strong and stand our ground, and others when we need to be accommodating. The goal is to be balanced. That can only be accomplished when we are able to be objective in situations and not react purely out of emotion.
This week, think about how you can balance the Jacob and Esau, the soft and the hard, the inward and the outward, in your life.
Rabbi Ben Shefter is the senior Jewish educator for the Hillels of Westchester.