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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

What Would You Give?

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Parshat Toldot tells the story of Isaac and Rebecca and their children Esav and Jacob.

The story is detailed, and in a few paragraphs details the complicated relationships between husbands and wives and parents and children. This parsha helps us to understand the characters of each of the players in this family drama. Today we will pause and think for a moment about Esav, who is painted as not only red headed and a hunter, but as a brute. Perhaps, if we can stop time for a moment, there is something to learn from Esav, the red.

Here is a link to last year's poem called

We are Family


Hey, Admoni,

Hey Esav,

What would you give for that red stew?

Your birthright?

Your dignity?

Your future?

What would you give

to go back,

undo your actions,

leave the stew,

straighten the crooked,

smooth the wrinkled,

undo what has been done?

What would you give

to go back in time

for a minute,

for an hour?


re-shape your life?

Re-shape the course of history?

What would you give?

You wouldn't.

Going back in time is the stuff of poetry.

Changing reality exists only in fiction.

Going back in time is like an empty bubble

floating aimlessly

before it



So, let's rewrite these words,

let's rewrite this poem.

What would you give to make your life better?

What would you do you to change your future?

What would your actions be,




Esav saw the stew.

He grabbed it.

He wolfed it down.

It changed his life.

He cried bitter tears.

He screamed and bellowed.

He threatened,

but then....

and this is the important part,

He got up.

He took a step to the future.

He started his life again.

Despite making a mistake.

Despite anger and frustration.

Despite disappointment in himself.

Despite bitterness.

Despite sorrow.

He took steps to make his life better.

One step at a time.

And then he lived.

And he prospered.

Esav, Admoni,

We hear about you now

and you are painted red

and evil,

impulsive and boorish,

but for this moment,

at this moment

on this page

with words as our witnesses,

we can learn from you,

even you, Admoni,

from your mistakes,

but also from how you


made a future for yourself.

"And they lived happily ever after"

exists only in fairy tales

but the rest of us


our own

"happily ever after"

after mistakes

and embarrassments


even after loss.

All of us, even the boorish

even the impulsive,

even those painted red

with the brush of history

can take action

to paint our futures

whichever color we wish.

The first one emerged red, like a hairy mantle all over; so they named him Esau.

Genesis 25:25

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the open, famished.

And Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am famished”—which is why he was named Edom.

Genesis 25: 29,30

Translations from Sefaria

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