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    Code red – Tol’dot

    Why did Esau want Jacob’s soup?

    What attracted him was ha-adom ha-adom hazeh, “this red stuff”.

    It couldn’t have been the taste that interested him because he hadn’t yet tasted a morsel. Maybe it was the aroma, but of that we can’t be certain. He had a ruddy complexion, but that probably had no connection with the food.

    The real attraction must have been the colour of the soup, and indeed history gave him the nickname of Adom, “Red” (Rashbam).

    What’s so special about the colour red? It denotes blood.

    Esau loved gory things. He was a gory man. Shedding blood gave him a feeling of excitement.

    The prophet Habbakuk said, “Woe to him that builds a town through blood” (2:12). We know from elsewhere in the Torah that blood symbolises life (Deut. 12:23).

    Esau was a bloodthirsty man. Taking life gave him his kicks. Jacob on the other hand was a peace-loving student who enjoyed cooking.

    The fact that he chose to make red soup was simply because of the availability of red lentils. He didn’t give a moment’s thought to the symbolism of blood.

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