Villains - Esau/'Eisav
1 א

(כז) ויגדלו ... ויהי עשו כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהָיוּ קְטַנִּים, לֹא הָיוּ נִכָּרִים בְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶם, וְאֵין אָדָם מְדַקְדֵּק בָּהֶם, מַה טִּיבָם; כֵּיוָן שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ בְנֵי שְׁלשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה, זֶה פֵרַשׁ לְבָתֵּי מִדְרָשׁוֹת וְזֶה פֵרַשׁ לַעֲ"זָ:

(27) ויגדלו… ויהי עשו AND THEY GREW … AND ESAU WAS — So long as they were young they could not be distinguished by what they did and no one paid much attention to their characters, but when they reached the age of thirteen, one went his way to the houses of learning and the other went his way to the idolatrous temples (Genesis Rabbah 63:10).

2 ב

(ו) ויתרוצצו הבנים בקרבה - ר' יוחנן וריש לקיש ר' יוחנן אמר: זה רץ להרוג את זה, וזה רץ להרוג את זה. ריש לקיש אמר: זה מתיר ציוויו של זה, וזה מתיר ציוויו של זה. רבי ברכיה בשם רבי לוי: שלא תאמר, משיצא ממעי אמו נזדווג לו, אלא עד שהוא במעי אמו זירתיה מתוחה לקבליה הה"ד (תהלים נח): זורו רשעים מרחם. ויתרוצצו הבנים בקרבה, בשעה שהיתה עומדת על בתי כנסיות ובתי מדרשות, יעקב מפרכס לצאת, הה"ד (ירמיה א): בטרם אצרך בבטן ידעתיך. ובשעה שהיתה עוברת על בתי עבודת כוכבים, עשו רץ ומפרכס לצאת, הה"ד: זורו רשעים מרחם...וכי בתי כנסיות ובתי מדרשות היו באותן הימים, והלא לא הלכה אלא למדרש של שם ועבר? אלא ללמדך, שכל מי שהוא מקביל פני זקן, כמקביל פני שכינה:

(6)...The children struggled [va-yitrotzetzu] within her [Breishit 25:22] - R. Yokhanan and Reish Laqish [disagreed].

R. Yokhanan said: This one ran/ratz to kill that one, and that one ran to kill this one.

Reish Laqish said: This one set aside the commands of that one, and that one set aside the commands of this one.

R. Berachiah said in the name of R. Levi: So that it might not be said that, once he emerged from his mother's innards, he joined [in battle] with him, but rather while he was in his mother's innards, his fist was aimed against him. Hence the verse (Tehilim 58:4), "The wicked are estranged from the womb."

The children struggled within her - At the time when she stood near the synagogues and the study houses, Ya'aqov kicked to emerge. Hence the verse (Yirmiyahu 1:5): "Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you." And when she passed by the houses of idolatry, 'Eisav ran and kicked to emerge. Hence the verse: "The wicked are estranged from the womb."...

And were there synagogues and houses of study in those days? And there was no halachah save in the study of Shem and 'Ever, was there? But rather [this comes] to teach you that anyone who pays respects to the elderly, it is as if one paid respects to the Divine Presence.

3 ג

(ב) מכרה כיום את בכורתך לי אמרו כשהיו יעקב ועשו במעי אמן א"ל יעקב לעשו אחי שני עולמות לפנינו העולם הזה ועולם הבא העולם הזה יש בו אכילה ושתיה ומשא ומתן לישא אשה ולהוליד בנים ובנות אבל העולם הבא אין בו כל המדות הללו רצונך טול אתה העולם הזה ואני אטול העולם הבא שנאמר מכרה כיום את בכורתך לי כאותו היום שהיו בבטן אמם. מיד כפר עשו בתחית המתים שנאמר הנה אנכי הולך למות אותה שעה נטל עשו חלקו העולם הזה ויעקב נטל חלקו העולם הבא וכשבא יעקב מבית לבן וראה לו עשו בנים ובנות עבדים ושפחות א"ל יעקב אחי לא כך אמרת לי שתטול אתה העולם הבא ואני אטול העולם הזה מנין לך כל הממון הזה שתשמח הרהר עשו בדעתו ומה העולם הזה שאינו חלקו נתן לו הקדוש ברוך הוא שכרו העולם הבא שהוא חלקו על אחת כמה וכמה מיד אמר עשו רצונך בוא ונעשה שותפות טול אתה חצי העולם הזה וחצי העולם הבא כו' א"ל יעקב בני רכים ואינן יכולין לעמוד ביסורין שנאמר ודפקום יום אחד:

...Sell me this day your birthright. [Breishit 25:31] They said that, when Ya'aqov and 'Eisav were in their mother's innards, Ya'aqov said to 'Eisav: My brother, there are two worlds before us, this world and the world to come. In this world there is eating and drinking, buying and selling, taking a wife and begetting sons and daughters. But in the world to come, there are none of these qualities. As you please, you take this world and I'll take the world to come. As it is said: "Sell me this day your birthright," like that very day when they were in their mother's belly. Immediately 'Eisav denied the revival of the dead, as it is said: "Here I am going to die!" At that very hour, 'Eisav took as his share this world, and Ya'aqov took as his share the world to come.

And when Ya'aqov came from the house of Lavan and 'Eisav saw his sons and daughters, slaves and maidservants, he said to him: Ya'aqov, my brother, this isn't how you spoke to me - that you would take the world to come and I would take this world. How did you get all this money that you rejoice with? 'Eisav turned it over in his mind - since the Holy One (blessed be He) had given [Ya'aqov] a reward from this world - that was not his portion - how much more would he not be rewarded in the world to come! Immediately, 'Eisav said: As you please, come and let's make a partnership. You take half of this world and half of the world to come, etc. Ya'aqov said to him: "My children are too tender" [Breishit 33:13] and they can't stand suffering, as it is said: "If they are driven hard for a single day..."

4 ד

Aqeidat Yitzkhaq 8:31

31) But the prophet Malachi 1:2 says "God says I have loved you Israel, and I have hated Esau... How can you question this?"

The fact that two brothers, (Jacob and Esau) who by nature should be similar, are treated so differently, proves that character traits rather than genetic affinity, i.e. outwardly similar human beings, determine between whom love occurs...

When Isaac asks Esau for "delicious dishes the way I "love" them," (Genesis 27,4) the term "love" does not describe the dishes, but the people whom he loves. He is saying to Esau "when you do what I like....l will love you." Proof of this is found in the verse (Genesis 25,28) "Isaac loved Esau because he carried venison in his mouth." The term "love" cannot rightfully be applied even to parts of the body. Such parts become "nirtzah," appreciated, and may become the instrument through which their owner becomes "beloved."

5 ה

(מא) יקרבו ימי אבל אבי כְּמִשְׁמָעוֹ, שֶׁלֹּא אֲצָעֵר אֶת אַבָּא, וּמִדְרְשֵׁי אַגָּדָה לְכַמָּה פָנִים יֵשׁ:

(41) יקרבו ימי אבל אבי The days of mourning for my father draw near — According tp its meaning — so that I may not cause grief to my father. There are Midrashic explanations of various kinds.

6 ו

(מא) וישטם עשו את יעקב על הברכה י"מ ד על הברכה , לא קאי אברכה דיעקב אלא קאי הוא אברכה דעשו שברכו אביו, על חרבך תחיה, ובה היה בטוח. וה"ק וישטם עשו את יעקב על בטחון הברכה דעל חרבך תחיה וגו'. יקרבו ימי אבל אבי ולא יוליד עוד בן שינקום יעקב אחי

(41) And 'Eisav begrudged Ya'aqov about the blessing. Some expound for "about the blessing" - not about the blessing of Ya'aqov but rather about the blessing for 'Eisav that his father blessed him, "By your sword shall you live", and of that he was certain. And when it says "And 'Eisav begrudged Ya'aqov" he was relying upon "the blessing" that "By your sword shall you live, etc." "The days of mourning for my father draw near" and he will then not beget another son to avenge Ya'aqov my brother.

7 ז

Nehama Leibowitz, New Studies in Bereshit, Toledot 5 (transl. Aryeh Newman)

...in the Aggada, Esau (like Pharaoh and Haman) is not an individual, a specific historical figure who appeared at a certain time, but a prototype, a symbol, a milestone of Jew-hatred...A symbol also does not contain both good and bad but it is all of one piece. Esau is the symbol of hate. In the Torah, however, Esau is a human being, the son of Isaac and Rebecca. Rashi is concerned with Esau the man. Like all human beings he has his good and bad sides. His good side was his respect for his parents which is emphasised by the text. Rashi who was concerned with "the plain sense of Scriptures" cannot overlook this creditable side of his, even when Esau was breathing Cain-like vengeance and calling for his brother's blood. Even when he was saying "Then will I slay Jacob my brother" the words "just wait for the days of mourning for my father must be registered to his credit.