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    Wait till father dies – Tol’dot

    Esau selling his birthright, by Hendrick ter Brugghen c.1627

    “Wait till father dies and then I will kill my brother,” says Esau, who is eaten up by a burning hatred for Jacob (Gen. 27:41). It seems that only whilst Isaac is still alive will Esau be held back from attacking his brother.

    The air of animosity has poisoned the family for years and things are getting worse. Isaac has been losing his sight and his strength for a considerable time, but Esau still has enough respect for the old man to know that this is not yet the time to implement his feelings of vengeance.

    The killing of Jacob is only one (the worst) example of what is likely to happen once Isaac is dead. It is also likely that Esau will give up any pretence at piety. When Isaac is gone Esau will no longer make a show of prayer, kashrut, Shabbat, yom-tov and everything else.

    The Esau syndrome recurs throughout the ages. Much could be achieved if a family used the death of a parent to restore peace and to establish harmony as a memorial to the parent.

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