And Isaac entreated God concerning his wife, for she was
barren, and God was entreated by him and Rebecca his wife
And the children moved lustily against each other with her and
she said when this occurred: Why am I thus?
And she went to enquire from God.
And God let her to told:
Two nations are in thy womb, and two manners of
government will separate themselves from thy inwards, and one
form of government will be mightier than the other, and the
greater will serve the lesser.
Raphael Hirsch says a great deal on perek chav-gimel (23):
nations need not have different forms of government. Europe contains a number of nations but they are mostly under
a form of government which basically and in principle is the
note that this was the case during Rav Hirsch's time when
practically all the countries of Europe had a form of
was informed that she carried two nations in her womb who
would represent two different forms of social government. The
one state would build up its greatness on spirit and morals,
on the humane in humans, the other would seek its greatness in
cunning and strength. Sprit and strength, morality and violence oppose each other
and indeed, from birth onwards will they be in opposition to
each other. One
form of government will always be more powerful than the
other. The scales
will constantly sway from one to the other.
The whole of history is nothing else than a struggle as
to whether spirit or sword, or as our sages put it, whether
Caesarea or Jerusalem is to have the upper hand.
Hebrew words rav (resh-bet) never means the elder [as
is commonly translated], but always: great in number and
power. In the end it will be seen that the one who had seemed to be
the mightier, would had fought only for lower purposes, the
material, had in reality been working for the other, had
really prepared the victory for him, and will finally submit
to him. The
representative of the spiritual and moral comes out of this
struggle as the ultimate victor, and the representative of
might and force is not destroyed, but at the end finds his own
purpose served in submitting and devoting himself to the
principles of the other.
that said, please allow me to add a few details.
As you may recall, Esav was also known as the "red
one" - Edom. In
terms of nations, Edom was the Roman Empire, and could well be
the political powers in and around Italy today.
Thinking in terms of the comments by Rav Hirsch about
the greater ultimately serving the lesser, we can see that
although the Romans conquered Judea and carried the majority
of the surviving population into captivity, they also served
God in the process as the prophecies around Klal Yisrael being
dispersed to the north, south, east, and west were indeed
carried out by the greater - Edom. This, of course, begs the question of whether this service
has been completed.
In previous weekly commentaries, I have mentioned
that I like to look for those odd little phrases that tend to
stick you. Initially,
for this week, I tried to find comments for the initial words
of pasuk chav-gimel which Rav Hirsch translates as "And
God let her be told" while the Art Scroll Stone Edition
Chumash translates this as "And God told her . . ."
Unfortunately I was unable to locate any points on this but
the difference is an interesting one, nevertheless.