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 This week's Torah reading continually raises for us the unbelievable fact that two such divergent personalities and worldviews could have been raised in the house of Yitzhak and Rivkah. We can understand how a person such as Yaakov could have come from their home. After all, he is studious, serious and obedient to the wishes of his parents, especially to those of his mother.

He is not an outdoorsman and prefers the study hall to that of the sports field and the hunt. Later on in life he will acquire the traits of a warrior, an entrepreneur, and a strong leader who will endure much but remain steadfast in his beliefs and way of life.
However, it is very difficult for us to fathom how a murderer, rapist, idolater and feared hunter and tyrant could grow up and be raised in this very same household and by the very same parents that raised Yaakov. All of the commentators to the Torah have questioned this and every generation of scholars have attempted to address it and give it relevant meaning.
Yet, as is often the case regarding the human condition, the questions and problems involved defy logical answers and human understanding. The entire field of psychiatry and psychology is devoted to attempting to unravel behavior patterns and the mysteries of the human personality.
In my experience, psychology can, in the main, help identify the problem. But in most cases the true cause that triggers aberrant behavior remains hidden even from the most knowledgeable of us. Human beings are very complicated, have ultimate freedom of choice and behavior and only God in heaven can read the secrets of one's soul and personality.
And yet, we are all held responsible for our behavior and actions. Whatever it was that made Eisav the person he became, is solely his responsibility…..his deeds in life and the havoc that he created. Generally speaking, Judaism does not allow for excuses. Unforeseen circumstances can acquit someone in specific instances from performing a mitzvah. But Judaism never grants carte blanche excuses and forgiveness because of natural dysfunction and problems of life, especially of family life.
In our current society there are many who believe that parents and home atmosphere are responsible for wayward children. This may be true in particular instances, but it is certainly not the case in every instance or even in most instances.
From the moment we are born, we are granted the power to do what we wish to do. Those are our choices. We are taught that the rebellion of David's children against him came from the lack of discipline that David enforced upon them in their youth. Nevertheless, the blame and punishment visited upon those children was of their own doing and a result of their choices and behavior in life.
Eisav will weep at his father's feet and beg for his eternal blessing. He will be given a blessing but not the one that he wishes for.  That other blessing had to be earned through his behavior and the choices he made. Ultimately that was up to Eisav alone. And that perhaps is the main message that we can glean from this otherwise mysterious person and situation.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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