In parshat Devarim, Hashem tells the Israelites to leave the Edomites alone and bypass them: "You shall not provoke them, for I will not give you of their land...because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as an inheritance." [Deuteronomy 2:2-5] The Midrash says that Esau (later, Rome) was being rewarded for honoring his parents:

Rabbi Yehudah bar Sima said: [Hashem] saw [Esau] destroying His Temple and remained silent... [because Esau] still deserves reward for honoring his parents... The Holy One, blessed be He, said: "I am paying [Esau his] dues." [Deuteronomy R. 1:17] ... Command the heads of [all future] generations to treat [Esau] with respect. [Deuteronomy R. 1:20]

This sure is a big reward for honoring your father and your mother! One can almost understand Rome being given power and influence as a reward, but why should this reward include oppressing the Jews for 7 centuries, destroying their Temple and stealing their land?

  • Isn't that sort of the point? The Medrash is saying you might not have realized how great of a reward is owed for honoring parents, well, let me tell you, it's enough to allow Esau to become a huge superpower for several centuries and get away with quite a few other heinous acts. – Salmononius2 Jul 9 '17 at 22:13
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    @Salmononius2, it's the "heinous acts" I don't understand. The Midrash says: Rabbi Yehushua ben Levi said: "When the [Roman] enemies came to destroy Jerusalem, there were 600,000 destructive angels standing at the gate of the Temple ready to engage them in battle. But when they saw the Divine Presence observing in silence... they, too, made way [for the enemy to enter]." [Deuteronomy R. 1:17] WHY? Where in Judaism does it say that part of your reward for anything will be to get away with murder? – Maurice Mizrahi Jul 9 '17 at 23:10
  • "Where in Judaism does it say that part of your reward for anything will be to get away with murder?" While I haven't looked at it inside, I will guess the source would be Deuteronomy R. 1:17. The Midrash seems like it should be a valid primary source that the reward for honoring parents to the extent that Esau did is great enough that it counteracts the potential punishment for persecuting the Jews. – Salmononius2 Jul 10 '17 at 19:25

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