In our Torah portion this week, we read about the birth of Jacob and Esau. The Torah and the commentaries which follow tend to focus on the fact that these twins and their descendants evolve into two completely separate peoples. However, in a world which has become so polarized, it may also be helpful to focus on the fact that Jacob and Esau are twins. They share the same genetic make-up. They were once the very same embryonic cell. In essence, both Jacob and Esau could be understood as representing two separate aspects of the Jewish people.
In recent years, the battle in both the political and religious aspects of our people has become so intense that it often appears as if we (like Jacob and Esau) will split into two separate entities. Nowhere is this split more apparent than in the State of Israel, where the Orthodox hold a monopoly over all religious activities including marriage and burial rites, and where all non-Orthodox branches of Judaism are shunned. Religious pluralism does not exist in Israel, and as the need for non-Orthodox alternatives continues to increase, the tensions within our people continue to rise.
These splits in identity also fall along political lines as the political left and right struggle for power over the future of the Jewish State. In these polarized times, it is challenging to find a middle ground, yet in order for our people to survive, a middle ground with a moderate voice is exactly what we need.
Here, we can find hope in our twins as well. For after many years of estrangement, Jacob and Esau eventually find their way back together and embrace in brotherly love. As it is with all families, it is ok to fight as long as our fighting does not divide us.