> Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > A Life Lesson

Living For Tomorrow

Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9 )

by Adam Lieberman

Esau and Jacob were twin brothers. Esau spent his days hunting in the fields and his brother, Jacob, spent his time studying and learning. One day, Jacob was making a stew when his brother Esau came in from a long day of being in the field and...

"Esau said to Jacob, 'Pour ... me ... some of that red stuff for I am exhausted.' Jacob said, 'Sell ... your birthright to me.' ....Esau said, '...I am going to die, so of what use to me is a birthright?' " (Genesis 25:30-32)


Why would someone sell his birthright, which was worth an incalculable amount both spiritually and monetarily, for a bowl of stew? Esau gladly did so and then justified it because he was one day going to pass away.

Sadly, this is the similar rationale we use ourselves when we want to engage in any unhealthy behavior. We all live with a constant inner struggle between having immediate gratification or thinking about the future. But healthy decisions can only be made when someone lives with the awareness that his choices have a direct impact on his life. This "tomorrow filter" is what all of your desired actions need to pass through.

Many smokers rationalize their habit by declaring that, "we're all going to die of something ... I might as well enjoy myself." If you push that faulty logic a little further, they might as well live their entire lives just as recklessly. How about only eating foods that are loaded with sugar or fat? Or maybe experiment with drugs after a long, hard day.

The problem with all of this is there is a tomorrow and it's precisely how you live today that will determine this tomorrow. Pointing out someone you know who never got sick and lived to 129 years old on a diet of whiskey, steak and cigars doesn't give you the freedom to live recklessly and without limits. In fact, it's actually these stories that give you true free will to choose a correct and healthy path.

Esau cared only about what he wanted now. There was no thinking about tomorrow. This kind of thinking can lead someone to do anything he feels like doing and then proudly and confidently justify his behavior.

You can only truly feel great when you sacrifice short-term pleasure by investing in your future and doing what's right. Sacrificing what's right for your immediate pleasure ultimately makes you feel lousy. And that's the great irony.

God set up a system that demands that we grow. And this can only happen through fighting temptations and doing what's right. Then the lasting joy you'll own forever will be on a stratospheric higher level than the temporary and fleeting pleasure you passed up. And the more you're able to do this, the happier you'll be. Today and tomorrow.

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