Making Faith-based Decisions

Yael Eckstein  |  November 3, 2021

Esau meet Jacob

“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” — Genesis 25:32

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Toldot, which means “offspring,” from Genesis 25:19—28:9

One of the most important lessons that I try to teach my children is the value of healthy decision-making. I sometimes wonder if they should teach a class in school on how to make important choices!

One simple rule that I tell my kids about making choices is that most of the time, thinking long-term leads to better decisions. Think about how many bad decisions are the result of thinking in the moment, or only about the very short-term results. Short-term choices are often more self-centered. We want to enjoy the moment in front of us, without thinking about the consequences that are down the road.

One great way to make sure that we are making better decisions is to put God into the equation. God’s plan is long-term. Faith-based decisions make us think about God’s plan for the future of our families, the world, and for generations to come.

Making Faith-based Decisions

We see this lesson in this week’s Torah portion. When Jacob asked Esau to sell him his birthright as the firstborn son, Esau’s answer showed the selfishness of his priorities. The opening phrase of the verse in Hebrew is Hineh anochi holech lamut, “behold I am going to die.”

Despite the English translation, it’s clear from the end of the scene that Esau was not near death at that moment. After he ate and drank, the Bible tells us that “he got up and left.” If someone is exhausted to the point of feeling near death, they would naturally fall asleep after a warm meal, not get up and leave.

What Esau was really saying was, “Behold I will die.” Esau’s reasoning went something like this: “Because I myself will not live to enjoy the blessings of the birthright which are promised for future generations, what good is the birthright to me right now?”

In other words, Esau rejected the long-term benefits of God’s promises to Abraham and Isaac because in the short-term, he saw no benefit for himself.

As a Jew living in the time of the rebirth of the nation of Israel in our homeland, I am the beneficiary of those who made faith-based decisions long before me. I am forever grateful to all those generations of Jews who came before me and sacrificed for a future that they knew they would not live to see.

Your Turn:

Think about an upcoming decision in your life or in the life of one of your loved ones. Is God part of the equation? How can you make a faith-based decision for the long-term?

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