These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Third Story: Jacob and Essau

Posted on February 5, 2014 by Tani Cohen-Fraade

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Tani Cohen-FraadeDaniel Roth presented our ‘Judaism and Conflict Resolution’ class for Jewish Educators with this assignment, and below is the ‘Third Story’ that I wrote about Jacob and Essau:

It was the day of Reuven’s Bar Mitzvah. All of the brothers were there. Things had been a little awkward between the family and Uncle Esav and his clan since the infamous encounter(s) between him and their father Yaakov. At this point it was safe to say that B’nei Yaakov knew about Esav, but the topic was always dealt with a bit gingerly during dinner table discussions (which as you might imagine, were events in themselves!). Here’s how it happened: Yaakov and his wives were sitting around, discussing who would be invited to the big event and one of the wives called out, “what about those Edomites?” Yaakov sighed, and thought about their last meeting. He answered, “okay, fine, but Esav gets to bring a few members of his immediate family, not 400 of them!”

The big day arrived and needless to say, the family was a bit nervous. All of a sudden it was as if Barack Obama (or Bibi!) himself had arrived. Esav showed up in good spirit, each family member riding on a different camel. Things were a little awkward at first. Esav and his wives stayed near the entryway to the banquet tent while Yaakov pretended to be talking to the caterer and helping the band set up. Luckily Yehuda, (who would later be known for his negotiation skills and conflict resolution) approached his uncle. “Uncle Esav” he began. “I’m Yehuda, It’s a pleasure to meet you! I just wanted to let you know that the buffet is open and the first course is lentil soup, I’m told you’re a fan!” This was too much for Esav. He made nervous eye contact with his brother who had been watching the whole thing. As the two moved towards each other, not sure of what to do, both a bit apprehensive and not completely trusting, Esav picked up a bowl of hot soup from the buffet table. “Dear brother,” he said, “please join me in a bowl of soup, no trade necessary.” Yaakov laughed, accepted the soup, and ordered up another bowl for his brother.” As they broke bread and ate together, the two families began to mingle, hairy and smooth shaven, hunters and shepherds, together again.