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Home » Toldot

Toldot: What Is In A Name?

Submitted by on December 4, 2005 – 2:52 amNo Comment | 2,385 views


Jacob and Esau – Twin Brothers

We are told that Esau, the older brother, physically mature at birth. The Hebrew name Esav means ‘finished’, or complete, indicating that he completed his growth process. Jacob, the second son, emerged in hot pursuit with his tiny hand tightly clasping his brother’s heel. The name Yaakov is the Hebrew word for ‘heel’ indicating that he maintained a tight grip on the heels of he who came before him.

What’s in a Name?

We are told that our Jewish names are indicative of our moral characteristic and spiritual makeup. As such one can easily expound upon the above mentioned names. Esau considered himself fully developed; he never recognized a need, or even the opportunities, for further growth. His confidence was his downfall.

Jacob, on the other hand, always anticipated the next plateau of spiritual growtwhat is in a name - innerstreamh. He had eyes only for the heel of the person above him and he constantly struggled to rise. Esau saw his progress and was smugly satisfied, Jacob saw his potential and was filled with infinite promise.

Point of reflection

Many continually vacillate between these two extremes. Sometimes we emulate Jacob and at other times Esau. The purpose of  life is to attempt to log more ‘Jacob time’ than ‘Esau time’. How are we doing today and is there any room for improvement? This is a question that every individual must answer for themselves.

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