This week’s portion, Toldot, features a famous story of twin brothers Jacob and Esau. Though they shared the same parents, the similarity ends there. Jacob is pure, a tzadik (righteous soul), a channel of Light and positive energy. On the other hand, his brother Esau is negative, evil, selfish and bitter. A channel of negative energy. Their grandfather, Abraham has just passed away and Jacob makes a bowl of lentil soup to comfort their father Isaac. Enter Esau – just back from the fields, and ravenous after a day of hunting. He smells the lentil soup and tells Jacob he would give anything for it. So he trades his birthright, for the momentary pleasure of a bowl of lentil soup.
This begs the question, how could Esau do such a thing? To trade something invaluable for something so meagre and short lived?
The lesson of this week is a powerful lesson for all of us, because this is the type of thing we do on a daily basis. Why did Esau do it? Because he didn’t realize what he was losing. All he could see was the immediate gratification. He was overtaken by his desire for food; he wasn’t thinking of anything else.
How often do we trade our Light for short-lived energy? We give in to our anger, judgment, fears, insecurities. What the Light wants to give us, the birthright of our soul, is always far greater than any short-lived pleasure.
Sometimes, in a moment, our desire for something feels so strong it overtakes us. What I wouldn’t give right now for love, a drink, pizza, a bowl of lentil soup… If we allow ourselves to be driven by our emptiness or neediness, how can we expect to manifest great blessings or our soul’s “birthright”? We’ve heard it all before – the cow wants to feed more than the calf wants to suckle. The Light wants to give us more than we want to receive. Our birthright isn’t just our potential to receive more, but our potential to do, share, give, and make a difference. The more we activate our soul’s birthright, the greater meaning and fulfilment we bring to our lives.
We might think that we really want to receive something, but then when offered a lesser but more immediate alternative, we often settle for it. We settle for the lentil soup. We settle for being right instead of bringing peace and a better relationship. We settle for Mr. Right Now instead of having to wait for Mr. Right. We settle for lentil soup, because we don’t think or don’t want to wait or work for something better, even though it would give us more fulfillment and meaning.
Rav Berg explains this through the example of Lashon Hara (evil speech, speaking negatively). There is a spiritual law that states that when person A speaks Lashon Hara about person B, all of the Light that person A revealed that day becomes transferred to person B. We trade our energy and our Light for a little bit of lentil soup.
The Rav shared that during the Ari’s (Rav Isaac Luria) lifetime, many souls had the potential to achieve that which the Ari had achieved. However, he was the only one who rose to the challenge. Use the tools to help manifest the energy of this week. Scan the Zohar, meditate while in the mikveh, be more present at Shabbat. Through raising our consciousness and awareness we can take greater steps towards manifesting our birthright and avoid choosing the lentil soup.