Rash"i in Breishit 33:4 cites Sifrei, by stating:

הֲלָכָה הִיא בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁעֵשָׂו שׂוֹנֵא לְיַעֲקֹב

It is a well-known halacha that Esav hates Ya'akov

How is this "well-known"? Based on what sources? If you look at the verse in Breishit, Esav kissed Jacob. Yes, I see Rashi's citation of Sifrei that implies that the kiss was sincere and it was only this time that he meant it. But, in a reading from the rest of the Torah, we don't find any situation were Esav attacked or was in any way hostile to Ya'akov or B'nai Yisra'el.

It seems that they were satisfied to be left alone. In parshat Chukat, we see that Moshe sent messengers requesting passage through their land, Edom, and they refused ans even set out against them "with a heavy force". However, this seems to be a defensive maneuver to discourage B'nai Yisra'el from passing through their land. I.e., they didn't actively bother B'nai Yisra'el in the desert or wage war against them.

So, how or why does R. Shimon bar Yochai say, "this is well-known"?

  • 1
    Whose translation is that? That's not how I'd have translated it
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 2:17
  • @DoubleAA What would your translation be?
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 2:18
  • @DoubleAA I've seen this translation on Sefaria (almost) as well as two other places.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 2:38
  • 5
    Doesn't Esau hate Jacob for taking their father Isaac's blessing by treachery? Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 3:43
  • @MauriceMizrahi See my comment below Lo Ani's answer. One can temporarily hate someone and then relinquish the hatred. Make a similar comparison to the brothers who hated Joseph (and there, the Torah explicity uses the word "hate".) They also wanted to kill Yosef. They didn't as we know they sold him. At the end, they repented. It could have been similar with Esav.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


Bereishis (27:41)

וַיִּשְׂטֹ֤ם עֵשָׂו֙ אֶֽת־יַעֲקֹ֔ב עַל־הַ֨בְּרָכָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בֵּרֲכ֖וֹ אָבִ֑יו וַיֹּ֨אמֶר עֵשָׂ֜ו בְּלִבּ֗וֹ יִקְרְבוּ֙ יְמֵי֙ אֵ֣בֶל אָבִ֔י וְאַֽהַרְגָ֖ה אֶת־יַעֲקֹ֥ב אָחִֽי׃

Now Esau harbored a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing which his father had given him, and Esau said to himself, “Let but the mourning period of my father come, and I will kill my brother Jacob.”

Further on, in Vayeshev, 34 years later:

וַיָּשֻׁ֙בוּ֙ הַמַּלְאָכִ֔ים אֶֽל־יַעֲקֹ֖ב לֵאמֹ֑ר בָּ֤אנוּ אֶל־אָחִ֙יךָ֙ אֶל־עֵשָׂ֔ו וְגַם֙ הֹלֵ֣ךְ לִקְרָֽאתְךָ֔ וְאַרְבַּע־מֵא֥וֹת אִ֖ישׁ עִמּֽוֹ׃

The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau; he himself is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.”

Eisav had 400 men with him in order to attack Ya’akov. This can be understood from the following passukim (“And Jacob was very scared”, “If he attacks and kills one camp, the other will run away and live” among others).

If Eisav was planning to attack and kill him, he must still have hated him.

And even though Eisav didn’t kill him, and instead kissed him, this doesn’t mean that he had forgiven or stopped hating Ya’akov. It may have been, like Rashi says, his one sincere act.

  • It's a partial argument. For many things in my personal life, I follow the adage of "think it over before you react." It's obvious that at the end, Esav did not kill Ya'akov, even though he came with a huge army that clearly overpowered Ya'akov's forces. One could argue that at the point that Esav met Ya'akov, his hatred was gone.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 14:16
  • @DanF. To me it makes more sense to claim that he was still angry- which was why he brought 400 warriors- but he had a sudden feeling of love, which also works with Rashi saying that it was his only sincere moment.
    – Lo ani
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 14:51
  • let's not forget to mention that they were also against one another since the womb...Rashi explains sefaria.org/Rashi_on_Genesis.25.22?lang=bi and see his reference: Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 111:2
    – code613
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 0:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .