Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Parshat Toldot - Esav, Rome and Free Choice

I gave this shiur last night in Jerusalem. I look at several Rashis (citing Midrashim) that imply that Esav was born bad, and therefore had no free choice. I also try to find the basis for the Talmudic connection between Esav and Rome (and going one step further, the connection in the Rishonim between Esav and Christianity).

I look forward to your comments.

Here is the audio shiur (and the pdf sheets to download if you want).

Parshat Toldot - Esav, Rome and Free Choice

(Right click and then 'download as')

Parshat Toldot - Esav, Rome and Free Choice- source sheet

Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. I would love to continue giving a shiur to this group on a weekly basis, but to do that I would need some kind of sponsorship. If anyone is interested in sponsoring a shiur (either l'ilui nishmat someone, or just for no reason) please contact me.

1 comment:

  1. Not only do chazal put Esav's words in Rome's mouths (such as your example of the mythical parade), they also put Rome's words in Esav's.

    The "currency" which Roman soldiers would paid in was salt (the root of the word "salary") and had an expense account with which they could buy grain. And how is Esav described as tricking his father? "צוד ולרמות את אביו בפיו ושואלו אבא היאך מעשרין את המלח ואת התבן כסבור אביו שהוא מדקדק במצות" Not maaser on animals or meat, which was his actual income, but maaser on what the Romans who were oppressing us earned.

    As for connecting Edom to Rome... it is noteworthy that Chazal saw Rome as playing the role of Edom, not Amaleiq (in particular). Seen this way, the choice has echos of pacifism; Chazal demoted our then-worst enemy from the role of kill-or-be-killed to a rival with sound reasons to be jealous. One who was blessed by Yitzchaq to have his day in the sun.

    I wonder also if the association has to do with Rome placing Idumian governors over us. You mention the Idumian conversion to Judaism in the days of Yochanan Hyrcanus. However, they don't disappear as a distinct population, and two Idumians -- Herod and Aggripas -- were our first tastes of Roman rule.