Recently I’ve decided to try golfing. I am still working on my swing at the driving range. The good news is that I’m missing the ball less often. I also have no plans of giving up my day job. One of the things I’ve learned about golf is the importance of the follow-through on a swing. Good follow-through enables the golf ball to travel further and more accurately. The same is true in baseball (something I know a little more about than golf). As a baseball coach, I would remind my players of the importance of follow- through: both when hitting the baseball, as well as when you’re running to first base. Follow-through is an important quality to have in life. A person without follow-through ends up being inconsistent and not dependable. When we examine Eisav’s persona, one trait that stands out is his lack of follow-through
If Eisav was such a bad guy, how could Yitzchak have loved him? Our point of departure is the Torah itself, as it says at the beginning of Parshat Toldot: “Yitzchak loved Eisav Ki Tzayid B’fiv.”
According to the literal meaning of the words, Yitzchak loved Eisav because Eisav provided him with good meat. According to Midrash Tanchuma, Eisav tricked Yitzchak into loving him. The Midrash goes on to elaborate that Eisav would ask his father things that would make him look righteous, such as whether one needs to give tithes from salt. The question still remains: How could Yitzchak have been fooled so easily?
There are two ways in which a person can be deceitful. A person can have an accurate sense of self but tries to fool others by not showing his or her true colors. Alternatively, a person can take the deceit so far that they even deceive themselves. In this case it is much more difficult to spot the deception as the lines between truth and lies has been blurred. Eisav is depicted as a person who began to believe his own lies. Medrash Rabba teaches that Eisav is symbolized by the pig. A pig has split hooves but does not chew its cud. The pig is described as always laying down with its hooves outstretched for everyone to see, as if to say, “look at me, I’m kosher.” Eisav’s ability to deceive even himself was what caused Yitzchak to be deceived as well.
Alternatively, one can view Eisav as being sincere, yet his flaw was being terribly inconsistent. Our Rabbis teach that on the day that Eisav sold the birthright to Yaakov he violated five serious sins, among them “Kafar B’Ikar” denying the very existence of G-d. And yet this does not prevent Yaakov from demanding that Eisav swear that his deal to buy the birthright is binding. It seems peculiar that Yaakov would accept Eisav’s oath in light of the grave sins that Eisav had recently committed. The Altar from Slobodka explains that Eisav’s problem was that he lacked any shred of consistency. He was capable of committing the worst of sins one moment, and then takes an oath and truly means what he says.
The Talmud in Sotah quotes the Midrash that Eisav’s head was buried in Me’rat Hamachpela with his righteous relatives. This is because Eisav might have had good intentions. However there was never any follow-through that enabled those intentions to be translated into attitudes and deeds. Let us learn from Eisav’s shortcoming and ensure that we have good follow-through that enables our intentions to translate into actions that hit their mark every time.