Choosing Poorly: Esav and America Post Trump

Reading Toldot, this week’s Torah portion, you cannot help but empathize with Esav getting suckered our of his birthright by his brother Yaakov. There we read:

And Yaakov made pottage; and Esav came in from the field, and he was faint.  And Esav said to Yaakov: ‘Let me swallow, I pray of you, some of this red, red pottage; for I am faint.’ Therefore was his name called Edom. And Yaakov said: ‘Sell me first your birthright.’ And Esav said: ‘Behold, I am at the point to die; and what profit shall the birthright do to me?’ And Yaakov said: ‘Swear to me first’; and he swore to him; and he sold his birthright to Yaakov. And Yaakov gave Esav bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way. So Esav despised his birthright.( Genesis 25:29-34)

On the simple level it seems that Esav was hungry and Yaakov used that as leverage to buy his birthright. But why did Esav despise this birthright in the end?

I can relate to Esav’s wanting to eat. What use is some distant reward when compared to the immanent need to eat? This is resonant with the Stanford marshmallow experiment. It seems to be as a nation when served two options of something that might take time and effort to materialize or something that promised imediate greatness- it is clear what we chose. Like Esav we too got duped into selecting the hot-headed twittering and smoldering orange bowl of lentils. Do we despise our birthright of liberty, freedom, and justice? We need to figure out if we will allow the Trump doctrine of hate, xenophobia,  and self-interest to become our new normal. Is already too late?

More on the Stanford marshmallow experiment


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