From "Jonathan and David" by Gustave Doré
From "Jonathan and David" by Gustave Doré

It’s Esau vs. David in a special episode of ‘Family Feud’


Genesis 25:19-28:9

I Samuel 20:18-42

When Toldot is immediately followed by Rosh Hodesh (the new month), we read a different section of the Haftarah, opening with the words “Jonathan said, ‘Tomorrow is the new month.’”

Our Torah portion is about the family of Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, and our Haftarah is about the family of Saul, Jonathan and David.

So without further ado …

Family Feud host: Survey says … it’s time to play the Fam’ly Feud! And here we go, right into the fast-money round. You know the rules: Two family members play; one stays with me and gets 20 seconds to answer five questions, the other goes backstage into a soundproof booth.

Our first contestant is Esau, and what a handsome redhead we have here! Esau, your twin, Jacob, is backstage with your parents, Isaac and Rebecca. We are going to ask you five questions. Are … you … ready?

Esau: This an indoor game that Jacob and Mom would really like. But OK.

Host: Esau, when you were born, technically making you the first born, did you get the birthright or a blessing?

Esau: Birthright, and the right to inherit a double portion of my family estate.

Host: Right. But did you, or did you not, sell that birthright for what kind of soup?

Esau: Hey. I was hungry, and it was lentils. Red lentils. And I was tricked. Who knew one could sell a birthright?

Host: Right answer. And how did your mother trick your father into giving Jacob a greater blessing because he held the birthright?

Esau: She dressed him up like me, taking advantage of Dad’s poor eyesight.

Host: Yes, and what did you do after that?

Esau: I complained that he took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing (Genesis 27:36). I begged my father for some type of blessing to be given to me, and I did receive a blessing (verses 38-40).

Host: And how did you feel?

Esau: I want to clobber him.

Host: Right answer! Unfortunately for you, while you’ve been here with me, Jacob has run away. (Only the audience knows that Jacob is going to his Uncle Laban.)

Esau: This family never liked me or respected my skills in the field. They choose a peacenik!

Host: Thank you, Esau. Now … since Jacob has bolted … we’re going to change things up a bit. So everyone please give a warm welcome to, coincidentally, another ruddy outdoor type with a head of red hair … David!

David: Thank you.

Host: Ready for your first question? OK. How did Saul become king?

David: The people pleaded to Samuel, ‘Give us a king!’ Because they were afraid of the Philistines.

Host: Right! (King Saul, his wife, Ahinoam, and their four sons are all backstage.) And which one of Saul’s sons loves you like himself?

David: Jonathan.

Host: Right again. It would appear that you are on the run from someone in this family …

David: That would be King Saul.

Host: Yes! Yet you are so popular with the people and successful in the field. Who gave you his robe, armor, sword, bow and belt?

David: Again, Jonathan.

Host: And what happened when you returned from defeating Goliath?

David: The women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet me and Saul, with tambourines, joy and musical instruments. But the people loved me more than Saul because I am better than Saul as a military leader. Saul became very angry and suspicious. He even threw his spear at me.

Host: Indeed. Saul is so paranoid about you that he set a trap for you by …

David: He planned to kill me when I had to come to his house at the new moon, even after I had defeated more Philistines.

Host: And you were saved by …

David: Jonathan! He said to me, “Tomorrow will be the new moon; and you will be missed when your seat remains vacant. So the day after tomorrow, hide until I tell you that it is safe.”

Host: Right again. Being an all-knowing host, I can tell you now that after Saul and Jonathan are killed in battle, you will be anointed as king. And what a murderous, poetic, musical and treacherous king you will be!

David: The people asked for a king and they got me. I am a lot like Esau. He was admoni, reddish, and so am I. We are both warriors. Sometimes the people choose Jacob and sometimes they choose Esau. It’s their choice.

Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan
Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan

Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan lives and works in Berkeley, California. He can be reached at [email protected].