Rivkah, concerned she has an errant child agitating in her womb, hurries to the Academy of Shem, hoping to solicit the prophet's help in gaining divine guidance.
The Holy Chida, quoting from 'earlier sources', explains Rivkah's dilemma.
Rivkah observed that Avraham had fathered two children from separate wives — Yitzchok from Sarah, and Yishmael from Hagar. She realized that Avraham, the progenitor of the Jewish people, evidently had to filter out the spiritual flaws he was bequeathed from his idolatrous ancestors by begetting Yitzchok through the pristine Sarah, and siphoning off his inherited impurities through Hagar, with Yishmael embodying those impurities.
She now wondered whether the agitation within her womb was due to some further flaws within the character of the Patriarchs that might require further sifting, with her being the instrument to slough off those negative influences, personified in Esav. If so, she requested to have that tainted child be born from another woman, as was Yishmael from Hagar, allowing Rivkah to mother the pure Yaakov alone.
The response she was given, "Two גוים — nations, are in your womb…", was instructive.
The word for 'nations' is written as גֵייִם, which translates as 'exalted ones', referring to the two royal descendants of these two children within her womb. The great Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, a descendant of Yaakov, and his comrade, the Roman emperor, Antoninus, the offspring of Esav, who through their friendship was influenced to eventually convert.
Rivkah was thus told that her active role was critical since only she was worthy enough to carry and raise the wayward child, Esav, whose nascent descendant would one day eventually convert.
The Chida quotes the Arizal who says this is the reason why we find many illustrious converts over the generations descending from Edom, the nation of Esav — such as Rabbi Akiva, Shmaya and Avtalyon, and others, but none from Yishmael. (חומת אנך)
What differentiates the descendants of Esav from those of Yishmael, that gives them a glimmer of hope to find the truth while Yishmael's children will never get it?
The Torah goes into much detail listing the various wives Esav took for himself.
Two of them possess names quite unusual for what we would expect.
One is יהודית — Yehudis. We are taught that her original name was Ahalivama, and Esav conferred upon her the name Yehudis. The root of this name is הודה — gratitude, or admission. Esav knowing his wives were ardent idol worshippers, something very foreign to his parents' home, sought to feign her allegiance to monotheism by calling her Yehudis with its intimation of one who 'admits' to a single G-d, denying idolatry, placating his parents' fears.
Ironically, we as a nation are labeled as Yehudim because we pay allegiance to one G-d and deny the existence of any other, yet Esav was the first to implement — albeit disingenuously — its usage.
Another wife is called מחלת — Machalas, rooted in מחל — to forfeit, alluding to the dictum that one who marries, his sins are forfeited and forgiven. Esav bestowed this new name on the daughter of Yishmael — Basmas, upon the occasion of his marriage to her and the pardoning of sins that is promised with it.
Was Esav sincere in his desire for forgiveness? Was he possessed by a sudden epiphany and change of heart?
After years of moral depravity, murderous behavior, and wanton indulgence, Esav is still trying to impress his parents. Were they so clueless?
The Torah reports how the wives of Esav 'were a source of spiritual rebellion to Yitzchok and Rivka', with Rashi adding that it was from the smoke of the incense they offered their idols that blinded Yitzchok.
Clearly, Yitzchok and Rivka were aware of their despicable behavior, yet concealed their wrath and disgust from Esav, lest they alienate him and lose any hope for his repair.
They were so convincing of their love for Esav that he sought to still impress them with his righteous desire to quash idolatry and pursue forgiveness for his sins.
Yitzchok and Rivkah understood that Esav's desire to impress them meant that he still sought their admiration and had a need for validation. The moment Esav might think his parents deemed him worthless, would be the moment he would become a terrorist, who has lost any sense of self-respect, ready to do whatever it took to feed his needs without any notion of civility or humanity.
By their never giving up hope on him, Esav would harbor within himself a seed of hope, even if it might take two thousand years to sprout.
Yishmael was disposed of by his mother like trash once she sensed he would not survive. What hope could such a child have that might ever buoy him back to a life of worthiness, respect, and hope?
The world is raging in battle over the forces of hope, and those of despair; of those who value themselves and seek purpose and meaning, and those who merely want freedom without direction or self-definition, merely feeding their whims and whimsies; a world of order versus a world of chaos.
We must remain the banner of sanity.
We too, must never be complacent nor distracted, but must strive for greatness, discovering the talents within us, honing them in creating a more profound connection to G-d, His Torah and His Mitzvos.
May the day of victory arise soon, when the forces of Yishmael be defeated, the influence of Esav tamed, and the presence of Hashem inspiring our every thought, word, and action, enthusing a world with our brilliant unity, supernal values, and absolute devotion to the Honor of Heaven!
צבי יהודה טייכמאן