November 30, 2023 / 17 Kislev, 5784 • Parshat Vayishlach
Issue 797
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

The Parsha records the death of Isaac and lists the descendants of Esau:

Timna was a concubine of Esau’s son Eliphaz, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. All these are the descendants of Esau’s wife Adah. 

Gen. 36:12

Timna can serve an object lesson in the dangers of being stingy. Her very name means “You will withhold,” reminiscent of King Solomon’s advice: “Do not withhold [al timna] good from one who needs it when the power is yours to bestow it.” Timna’s nature was to withhold even when she had nothing to lose by giving. 

A member of a royal family, Timna sought to convert to the faith of Abraham, but she was rejected on account of her stinginess, which was deemed incompatible with the generosity that Abraham had instilled in his family. Rather than forsake her stinginess, however, she tried to have her way by becoming a concubine of Abraham’s great-grandson Eliphaz. But by aligning herself with the wicked Esau, she perpetuated her own evil, giving birth to a son who inherited her heartlessness – Amalek, the cruel archenemy of Israel.

By practicing generosity and cultivating a generous spirit, we can, in contrast to Timna, be a part of Abraham’s great enterprise of spreading goodness, making the world fit to be G-d’s ultimate home.

--Daily Wisdom Volume 3