Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The three tears of Eisav

(This post is dedicated to Chardul, Dude, Cosmic X and any other unreflective conservatives, who believe that torah favors and preaches revenge, violence, and unfeeling conquest. )

And Eisav raised up his voice and wept. (Gen. 27:38)

About this event, the Midrash has an exquisite, moral teaching.

We're told by the author of the Midrash that Eisav shed three tears when he learned his blessing had been lost: One from his right eye, one from his left eye, and one that he kept back. The first tear aused the destruction of the First Temple; the second tear caused the destruction of the Second Temple, and had the third tear fallen there would be no Third Temple -- and there will be no Third Temple until that third tear dries. (Source:

Update: The Tanhchua and Midrash Raba express the same idea, in different ways:

Tahnchuma: "Three tears did Eisav shed. One dropped from his right eye, one from his left and the third he kept back and that tear has salted our bread of exile with tears and made us taste tears in full threefold measure."

Midrash Raba: "Anyone who says God is not particular with his pious ones deserves to have his inwards torn out. The forbearance of God grants long credit, but the debt needs to be paid in the end. One cry caused Jacob Esther to make and that was repaid in Shushan when Eisav's decendant caused Jacob's decendant to cry with a 'loud bitter cry.'"

Note three different aggadic cources tell us that a very great punishment decended upon us -- and all because our Matriarch Rivka, and her son, brought tears to the eyes of Eisav -an entirely evil man!