Project Genesis

Jacob Earns a Birthright

Question: I just reread the bible story of Jacob and Esau. I am so curious – why do you think G-d changed the birth right order of the brothers?

Answer: Great question! There are many layers of depth to why G-d arranged the world as He did, posing its unique challenges to humankind (infinite layers, actually).

I think the most basic answer here is that G-d did not want the birthright just handed to Jacob—G-d wanted Jacob to have to earn it, thus experiencing the growth and maturity which results from overcoming challenges ourselves. The greater a person’s potential—the greater the challenges they can receive.

That is part of the meaning behind the new name that Jacob received: Yisrael, which means the one who wrestles with G-d. A Jew (and every human being) is responsible to create himself or herself—which is also part of what it means to be created in G-d’s Image and to emulate G-d.

Best Wishes,
Shlomo Shulman

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