Jacob And Esau: A Divergence Of Destiny

Toledot, the Torah portion read this past Sabbath from the Book of Genesis is translated as ‘generations’ or descendants’. It relates the stories of Isaac, son of Abraham, his wife Rebekkah and their twin sons Jacob and Esau, born to the couple in their later years. In the illustrations above, entitled ‘The Beleaguered Blessing’, I have envisioned the adult Jacob and Esau as two halves of a playing card contrasted with their aging parents. Motifs on the card include their assigned sefirot and symbols of their destiny. Jacob is wearing the faux hairy arm deviously fashioned by his mother Rebecca. She meant to trick his visually challenged father Isaac into bestowing Esau’s birthright (paternal inheritance) on her favorite son. Jacob is holding a set of tefillin (phylacteries) to indicate his future patriarchal role as a spiritual leader and a writing quill that symbolizes his scholarly leanings. Esau is shown with bow and arrows holding the bowl of lentil stew that he has unwittingly traded to Jacob for his birthright. He also holds a golden eagle on his arm, signifying the future generations that will become Edom and later the beginning of the Roman Empire.

This parashah appeals to the mother in me who watched two sons grow up, marveling at their unique qualities, yet often wondering how children of the same parents who exhibit similar physical characteristics can evolve so differently from each other in personality and character? If there is an answer to this question, I guess it would be but a piece of the puzzle we are given to understand our lives and where we fit in a universal narrative whose outcome will forever mystify us.

These images are further detailed in the AfterImages section of my book, Between Heaven & Earth: An Illuminated Torah Commentary (Pomegranate, 2009) which can be purchased directly from the publisher: http://www.pomegranate.com/a166.html or from Amazon,  amzn.to/gZSp5j where you will also find several reviews.

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5 Responses to “Jacob And Esau: A Divergence Of Destiny”

  1. jasonswartz Says:

    Have you ever read Shamati by Baal Hasulam, its my favorite Kabbalistic text.

    May Bina adorn your vessel so that Hochma may descend from the concealment within Keter and rain all the faces of Zeir Anpin within your Malhut.

    I have been a student of Rav Laitman for 10 years. Where have you studied from? Do you follow the Lurianic method?

    Glad to meet you.

    This is my favorite Kabbalh site, everything is free so you know that the intention is good. You have any good Kabbalh sources?


    See you around my friend =)


    • Ilene Winn-Lederer Says:

      Though I am aware of the writings of the Baal HaSulam, the Ari and Rav Laitman, I have not studied Kabbalah formally with any master. That is not to say such study would not be enlightening. However, my focus is on my art through which I feel I can best learn to serve our Creator and global community.I believe that wisdom is within us waiting for its external counterpart to find and awaken it
      whenever it is needed. To wit: I am often asked, how do I come up with my images or find which books to read at the library? My answer is invariably: I don’t look for them because they find me, just as you have.


  2. jasonswartz Says:

    This is very true Ilene =)

    Art work is an amazing way to serve the Creator and to connect with others. So is music, however I lack both those talents LOL. I do have a gift for the GAB however, so writing seems to be my creative outlet. =)


  3. jasonswartz Says:

    I agree….but I still wish when I sing at karaoke the people would not run away LOL =)


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