Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TorahMama: Toldot

Esau and Jacob are the twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca. Esau, the elder, is mostly interested in hunting and being outdoors. Jacob is more reserved and home-focused. Esau doesn't seem to care much for the "birthright" that is owed to him, and he sells it to Jacob for the low price of a bowl of red lentil stew.

The text tells us that when Esau comes in from the fields, he sees Jacob cooking. He is famished, hungry, starving. "Quick!" he says. "Give me some of that red stuff." He is too hungry to care what it is, too desperate for food to be polite. He demands instant gratification, instant satiation for his basic human need. My young children are so similar. When they want something, they want it NOW. When they decide that it has to happen, it must be immediate. Jacob uses this opportunity to his advantage, to negotiate with Esau for the birthright. We as parents can use this need for immediate satisfaction too. We can take the moment to remind them that, thankfully, they actually aren't starving. Thankfully, if it doesn't happen now, it's going to be okay. We help them to breathe, to consider, to think, to say please and to wait, even just a few moments, to fully understand that instant gratification may not be necessary. The thrill of waiting, of anticipation, of working hard to accomplish and earn something...this is part of our job as parents and teachers. Esau's need to be fed "right now" cost him his birthright. For our children, we hope that they will learn patience and persistence, steadfastness and determination.

TorahMama is my weekly attempt to talk about the Torah portion from a parenting perspective....

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