Ask Avigail: Yacov & Esau, Becka’s Boys

Dear Avigail,

I have a pair of twin boys, who are like day and night. They are at the age of marriage, and Rami has found himself a young maiden, from a good tribe. Roni, however, refuses to attend the wedding, although it will be quite the bru ha ha, if I do say so, myself. How can I persuade the two boys to reconcile their differences, and be one family, at this joyous occasion?

Esther LeMisRachi

Dear Estie,

It is a little known historical fact, but there is a tangible link between the ancient Hebrews and the ancient Chinese. It lies in the inscriptions in both walls. In excavations of the Great Wall, scientists have discovered the names and menus of a myriad of revered houses of delicacies that deliver to long distances, cater to foreign tongues and what cards/currencies they will accept.

In between the cracks of the Wailing Wall, named so for Chinese dishes that contained too much MSG, salt or hot chili pepper, are the countless reviews for each take-out order, so that generations will know how much to tip 5,000 years from now…

This is a tradition that you won’t find in the Torah, the Mishna, or the Tomorrah. However, it is a tradition that has been around steadfast, since pigeons were trained to fly great distances and avoid holy pilgrimage sites where small birds made great animal sacrifices. The coveted fortune cookie was given to the pigeon, on the return flight. Now, I will turn to your question.

It is just after lunch in Isaac’s tent. A lambskin banner serves as the doorway. It reads: We are HERE (arrow drawn down over the entrance.) There is another arrow pointing in another vague direction. It says: THERE, OR BUST.

Yacov is clearing away the pottery, He has volunteered to be on shard duty because that is just so Yacov. He is 45, and has never left home (literally); they have an outhouse, inside. The word is out that he is a “Mama’s Boy.” Other than that negative connotation, his mother can assure you that the house is spotless, the laundry is stainless, and the food is well, a little tasteless. It’s so..well..Yacesque, and like his personality, cries out for spice. He is what you call a dreamer, even when he is awake. Physically, he is built like a feather, a poet; not much of a challenge against a faint, cloud of impending dust; or, Old Man Weinburger trying to dislodge a piece of liver stuck in his esophagus.

Esau is in the wilderness, doing something physical, such as bullying, flexing, intimidating, spearing, lunging, all within sight of the vestal virgin washing wells. He motions toward the clutter of high pitch nervous giggling, that he will carry their wash home – he will be gone past sundown, for the young women live far and wide across the land, and the wash is not yet wrung.

Patriarch Isaac is sleeping with the goats, but the goats mind little. It could be worse. It could be a lion on the straw pallet. Lions hog most of the cover, and will not get up to go outside, before blasting out, what sounds like shofar blasts of Kol Nidre. Goats wince when Yacov’s mom serves fava bean fandango for dinner…

“Yacov, Yacov, come here…quickly…put that gourd down; it’s just one of Esau’s bronzed baby diapers…I have something important to tell you. Help me in with this package, please.”

Yacov obediently puts on his armadillo skin slippers. Though his mother is careful to serve foods rich in anti-accidents, if he should slip on the unsteady sand floor, his head would be the first thing to go right through, what serves as, the eastern tent wall. Who would you call to repair a rip the size of Mesopotamia, in the Wilderness, without a referral, never mind the grease stain on the little piece of linoleum at the tent’s entrance? Did I happen to mention this might happen five grains of sand before Shabbat?

Yacov grabs the package from Rebecca and places it on the floor. He takes it out of the burlap sack. It seems to be a folded tool. He takes the two sides and gently pulls. It transforms into two joined parts, with steps.

“What is it, Mom?”

“It’s called a stepstool. You can climb up one side, and down the other. They ran out of ladders, but they gave me an excellent deal. It’s light, portable, rainproof, dream proof….you’ll need it for your journey…”


“Yacov, my beloved son. What I am about to do is called “tough love… You are the perfect son, and that is why I must throw you out, on your own, like a mother bird kicks out her fledglings when the nest becomes crowded. That’s the only way they can start their OWN lives, and she might be able to rent the room to other fowl flying South for the Winter.
Quickly, we must act now, before Esau comes home. Run into Esau’s part of the tent, and grab his toupee.”

“Toupee? What’s a toupee?”

“It’s a false piece of hair. We tried Chia pets, but they didn’t take root on your brother, and the pygmies at Amazon wouldn’t deliver this miracle herb called Rogaine, unless we had a proper zip code. So……………….”

“So, I still don’t understand what it is?”

“Esau never outgrew his baby baldness. Traditionally, when two armies fight, the victorious don’t take prisoners, but they do “scalp” them. They cut off their hair right to their brain…like the brave Indian warriors…”

“The Indians! I thought they just sold tobacco and papyrus?!”

“No, Yacov…different Indians from the West… But, we are peace lovers, and there are no hirsute warriors to quarrel with, or even squabble over a parking place… So, Esau always wears some type of head covering;he’s very sensitive about it.”

“Sensitive is not the first word that comes to mind to describe my brother…”

“There’s a small, hairy mound sitting on his bow and arrow; it’s more or less a small animal in hibernation. Just don’t poke it, or anything.”

“OK, but are you telling me Esau wears this animal when he’s hang’n with those barbarian friends?”

“Yes. That animal is a porcupine, and when he wants to go PUNK, he gives its quills a little nudge…”

“OK, a skunk comes with its own problems, even though Esau revels in his own pungent stench; isn’t a skunk a tad less painful than a porcu…What do you want with Esau’s toupee? If this thing is here, what is Esau wearing now???”

“He’s going casual..he just grabbed some roadkill and plopped it on his head.”

“And the toupee?”

“I want YOU to have the position and blessing of Isaac’s namesake…I want you to put this guy on YOUR arm, so when Isaac wakes up, you will be by his bedside. He will reach out for you. He may comment on your hairy arm, but reassure him that he is confused and fondling your armpit. “But yay, it is I, Esau.” He may comment that you have lost some weight. Tell him, “Father, I have gotten a haircut.” He may also notice that your scent is different. Stand up and yell “Hazzah! Those baby yak gland treatments are working!”” Before he reaches for his looking glass, go down on your knees and beg for your birthright blessing! Put a little force in your voice. Remember, you want him to think you are Esau. Act demanding, as if the Chinese laundry embalmed your underloincloth with extra fluid.”

“What if Esau barges in and ravages our tent because it’s so Esaustic of him to do?”

“Don’t worry about that…Ema knows best, and if she doesn’t, she knows where the back flap is”.

Part 2 to come……..

About the Author
Shashi Ishai is a former stand-up/cartoonist from Teaneck, N.J. She resides in Netanya with her husband, Yacov; daughter, Zehava; son Zaki and dog, Stanley .Shashi is the author of ASK AVIGAIL: Advice from a Biblical Era Sagette, available on Amazon.