Dvar Tora Parshat Toldot (Toldos) 5770 2009

When Rivka gave birth to twins the Torah tells us the names they were given. One was called Esav and the other Yaakov. The first one was born and was covered entirely with hair. Because of this feature he was called ESAV. Rashi explains that he was given this name because he appeared fully developed. His hair was like that of a grown person. The name comes from the root ASO which means made or done. The next one born was given the name Yaakov from the root AKEV which means heel. He was born holding on to the heel of Esav.

These are the literal meanings of the names as explained in the Torah. There is, however, another implied meaning in these names. Esav was born accomplished. He became a hunter and devoted his life to this skill. He was completely “made”. He was “done”. He had no desire to change or to improve himself. The name Yaakov, on the other hand, can have another meaning. True, the root comes from “heel”. But this can imply a “step”. Yaakov was always trying to take another step to improve himself. He wanted to take one step after the other to climb to greater heights.

This trait has survived in his descendants who have always been in the forefront of developing civilizations. His descendants have always been the leaders of new developments and new discoveries throughout history, to this day.


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