Much of today’s world violence is due to religious differences, the claim that “my God wishes me to destroy all those who do not believe as I do”. Much of this belief is supposedly based upon Biblical and fundamental religious writings. Certainly, the Hebrew Bible is full of stories of death and destruction delivered to the “other”, and disastrous conflict between siblings, families, tribes, communities as well as countries. However, in his 2015 thought provoking book, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence”, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of England, offers a convincing case that the supposed biblical underpinnings of this violence is invalid, and that conversely, the call is for brotherhood even among different belief groups. This week's Torah portion about the early conflicts between Jacob and Esau can be interpreted as a story illustrating the inevitability of long-term hostile relations between different individuals and then their groups, but is used by Rabbi Sacks to illustrate just the opposite. We will discuss Rabbi Sacks’ book, and how it is relevant to the Torah Portion, and to today’s world.
“The struggle which had begun inside the womb, was carried outside as Jacob and Esau were born. This would foreshadow the struggle which would consume much of their lives. This struggle would also manifest itself in the respective countries of Jacob and Esau; Israel and Edom.”