November 24, 2022 / 30 Mar-Cheshvan, 5783 • Parshat Toledot
Issue 745
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

Grasping for Holiness

After 30 years of marriage, Isaac and Rebbeca had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau emerged from the womb first, but Jacob was holding on to Esau's heel.

His brother then emerged, and his hand was grasping
Esau’s heel. He named him Jacob. Isaac was in his 60th
year when she gave birth to them.

Genesis 25:26

Esau and Jacob serve as metaphors for our animating and Divine souls, respectively. Just as Esau emerged from Rebecca’s womb before Jacob, so does our inner Esau get a head start on our inner Jacob: whereas our Divine soul manifests itself gradually, only becoming fully manifest when we reach the age of maturity, our animating soul is fully manifest from birth.

Yet, “his hand was grasping Esau’s heel”: Our inner Jacob, our Divine soul, grasps at our inner Esau, our animating soul. The purpose of our Divine soul’s descent into this world is to refine the animating soul and actualize its inherent potential for goodness. Moreover, Esau’s heel symbolizes the lowest levels of Esau, meaning the lowest levels of animalistic materialism. Our Divine soul strives to elevate and refine even those aspects of life normally considered intrinsically outside the realm of holiness.

—from Daily Wisdom3