I recently learned in a class that we consider Eisav Jewish. This is corroborated by most of the answers here. I have also learned that we customarily wish someone "Yiddishe nachas" (rather than just "nachas") to distinguish these from "goyishe nachas"; that is, the nachas of Eisav (hunting, etc.) But why should we see Eisav's nachas as goyish if he were in fact Jewish?

  • הלכה בידוע שעשו שונא ליעקב
    – sam
    Aug 15, 2016 at 3:25
  • 3
    Do Jews only do Jewish things? If only...
    – Double AA
    Aug 15, 2016 at 4:17
  • @sam ט"ס היא וצ"ל הלא בידוע ואכמ"ל ודו"ק
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 15, 2016 at 5:24
  • 5
    I am pretty sure "yiddische nachat" is a cultural term; not a technical one.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 15, 2016 at 5:24
  • 1
    The whole discussion of whether or not this figure before Sinai was Jewish, is meaningless unless one defines what one means by "Jewish". Often, once one has a definition, one knows whether said individual meets that criterion, and hence, the whole conversation is meaningless.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 15, 2016 at 5:26

2 Answers 2


The question is predicated on a joke which you missed or which wasn't properly explained.

One of the grandsons of Esav was named Nachas, as we see in Bereishit 36:13:

וְאֵלֶּה בְּנֵי רְעוּאֵל, נַחַת וָזֶרַח שַׁמָּה וּמִזָּה; אֵלֶּה הָיוּ, בְּנֵי בָשְׂמַת אֵשֶׁת עֵשָׂו.

And these are the sons of Reuel: Nahath, and Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Basemath Esau's wife.

The joke goes that when specifying Nachas, we mean the Jewish form of Nachas, and not the Nachas who was the grandson of Esav.

A joke like this does not need justification and need not subject itself to analysis, but if you still desire it, we can point out that even if Esav would be considered Jewish, his grandson was not.

  • Thanks! If I had been less of an am haaretz I would have asked this question for Purim Torah instead of motzoei Tisha B'Av :-P
    – SAH
    Aug 15, 2016 at 13:52
  • +1 I've never heard that one before. Is it really such an old well known joke?
    – user6591
    Aug 15, 2016 at 19:32
  • well, it was when I was growing up... Aug 15, 2016 at 20:57

The development of the term seems not related to Eisav particularly,

Another common use of the word naches is in characterizing something as particularly Jewish or non-Jewish. If one wishes to say that a mode of entertainment or pleasure inducement is particularly goyish (i.e., no Jew would find it entertaining or pleasurable), one would call it goyishe naches (גוישע נחת). (See Max Weinreich’s treatment of the phrase “goyim-naches,” abbreviated to GN, among German Jews based on its medieval German pietistic origins in the Sefer Chasidim. See also Dovid Katz, who writes that the traditional Yiddish term for hunting was goyishker naches (גוישקער נחת), since it was construed as a particularly goyish pastime.)

from here.

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