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Thinking Jewish

(originally published on webyeshiva.org; kckollel.org)

Introduction

The Jew as a manipulator is certainly not a new theme. In fact, through the unregulated realm of the modern world of the internet – fuelled by the recent international financial crisis – the notion has gained steam. Yet one of the great ironies of Jewish life is that our very own Biblical sources seem to lend some credence to these anti-Semitic claims: How are we, the “Children of Israel” to relate to the seemingly manipulative behavior of our forefather, Ya’akov? How are we to view Ya’akov’s machinations that won him the birthright – and thus the leadership of our people?

Tense Beginnings

From the moment of their birth, Ya’akov and Esav are struggling. Indeed, Jacob’s very name derives from the Hebrew word, ‘heel’. He tightly grasped Esav’s heel during birth, determined to be born prior to Esav.

After the two were fully grown…

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