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This week is the fourth in our series entitled "It's not fair."  At a time when we are facing all kinds of issues that seem to be unfair, it gives us a chance to look at some of the wisdom that can be found in different religious traditions and worldviews.  This story comes from the Jewish tradition and considers the issue of sibling rivalry and family tensions. 
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It’s not fair! - JUDASIM
This is the story of Isaac, Rebekah and their two boys Jacob and Esau. The twin boys were vastly different from each other, Esau enjoyed hunting out in the wild whilst Jacob preferred to stay at home. They are famous for not getting along with each other and described as wrestling even in the womb before they were born. From their early childhood they were always disagreeing, and this caused problems within their family. Rebekah preferred Jacob and Isaac preferred Esau.

Esau who was born first should have inherited his father’s blessing but Jacob, with the help of his mother Rebekah, tricked his father and took the blessing which was clearly not fair. See what you think.

The Story of Jacob and Esau

When Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so he could not see, he called Esau his elder son, and said to him: 'My son'. Esau replied: 'Here am I.' Isaac said: 'I am old, and I don’t know when I will die. So please take your weapons, and go out to the field, and catch me venison; and make me savoury food, just as I like, and bring it to me, so I can eat; and my soul will bless you before I die.'
Rebekah heard when Isaac spoke to Esau, and spoke to Jacob, her son, saying: ‘listen to what I’m about to tell you to do. Go now to the flock, and fetch me two goat kids; and I will make them into savoury food for your father, just as he likes; and you will bring it to your father, so that he blesses you before his death.' And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother: “Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. What if my father feels my skin, and I seem to him as a joker; and I bring a curse upon myself, and not a blessing.'  And his mother said to him: 'Upon me be your curse, my son; only do what I tell you'. And Rebekah placed the skins of the kid goat upon his hands and neck. And she gave the savoury food and bread which she had prepared to Jacob.
Jacob went to his father, and said: 'My father'; and he replied: 'Here am I; who are you, my son?' And Jacob said to his father: 'I am Esau your first-born; I have done what you asked. And Isaac said unto Jacob: 'Come near, please, so I can feel whether you are actually my son Esau or not.' Jacob went near to his father; and Isaac felt him and said: 'The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.' Although he didn’t recognise him, because his hands were hairy, like Esau's hands; he blessed him…
As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, Esau his brother came in from hunting. And Isaac his father said to him: 'Who are you?' And he said: 'I am your son, your first-born, Esau.' Isaac shook violently, and said: 'Who was it then who brought me venison, and who I just blessed? That blessing has already been given! When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a bitter scream. And Isaac said: Your brother came sneakily and took away your blessing.' And Esau said to his father: 'Have you just one blessing, my father? Bless me, me too, my father.' And Esau lifted up his voice and cried. And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him.

(Adapted from the Torah – Genesis 27)

Follow up questions:
  1. List all the different things in this story which do not seem fair.
  2. Whose side are you on - Jacob’s or Esau’s? And why?
  3. The Torah is full of stories of sibling rivalry. Why do you think there are so many “it’s not fair” moments in sibling relationships?
  4. If you were the parents of these hugely different twins, how would you change the story to avoid this situation?
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