Right now, my daughter Gabby is obsessed with the movie Frozen. This means that I end up watching some, or all, of the movie, on average, once a day, as she demands to watch Frozen from the moment she wakes up until virtually the moment that she goes to sleep at night. Thankfully, it is a very good movie with some wonderful music in it, but I do find one element of the story frustrating. The story seems to gloss over the fact that Anna and Elsa's childhood relationship is broken completely by the advice of the trolls and the way that their parents interpret it. For much of the movie, the sisterly relationship is broken, due to a lack of contact and communication between the two of them.
I wonder if we can draw some parallels with this week’s Torah portion, and the relationship of Esau and Jacob. From the very beginning of this week’s Torah, it is clear that there is to be a struggle between the two brothers. When Rebecca goes to God and asks about all of the struggling in her womb, she is told that there will be two nations, two separate peoples, one shall be mightier than the other, and the older shall serve the younger. From the very beginning Rebecca therefore knows that according to God’s decree, Esau will serve Jacob. And yet, she appears to let the two of them go about their business and Isaac, especially, to go about his business, without sharing this vital piece of information. We know that Esau sells Jacob his birthright for a bowl of soup and we know that later on in the story, Isaac decides to give his blessing to Esau, and Rebecca, overhearing this, tells Jacob to go in and lie to his father and pretend to be his brother Esau. Rebecca may have been right that Jacob was supposed to be the one to inherit the blessing. And she may have been correct that Jacob was the one who would continue the birthright given to Abraham and Isaac.
But the way she went about this, the way that she set Jacob up against Esau, lying to their father, breaks the sibling relationship. The brotherly relationship is broken by the actions of Rebecca, who chooses a path of deception, rather than honesty in broaching the difficult subject over who would receive the birthright. In the aftermath of this incident , the brotherly relationship is broken and Jacob and Esau do not see each other for over 20 years. When finally they are reunited in the Torah, they embrace one another and it is clear that the love that these brothers shared is still there. But it is sad for us, as the reader, to observe the way that their relationship was frozen. The way that it is broken by the action of their parents.
There is a similar cautious tale in Frozen but I don’t want to spoil that movie for you. To us, as we read about the separation and break in the relationship between Esau and Jacob, perhaps we can be inspired to pick up the phone and thaw a once frozen relationship, learning the lesson of these two brothers.