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    Mourning a father – Tol’dot

    Jacob & Esau, by James Tissot c.1896

    When the enmity between the brothers was at its height, Esau said, “Let the days of mourning for my father draw near” (Gen. 27:41).

    Did he really want his father to die? Was it not his father who loved him best?

    What Esau meant was, “When my father dies I will show Jacob the full force of my vengeance for what he has done to me”.

    Yet Rashi says we must take the verse “in its plain sense”, i.e. literally.

    There are many interpretations of what Rashi was telling us.

    For a moment let us presume that he was actually suggesting that Esau had a death wish for his father. What Esau loved he also hated. Maybe he hated himself too.

    Is this Samson pulling down the palace around himself? Is it the cow kicking over the bucket? Is it Esau saying, “I love my father so much that I can’t bear it”?

    Are there moments in the life of each of us when, without apparent reason, logic or justification, we want the happiness and exhilaration to collapse, when we (God forbid!) toy with the idea that we would want a loved one to go, when we almost invite destruction and calamity?

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