The Wasted (yet still redeemable) Potential of Edom (3 February 2017, 7 Shevet, 5777)
Esav [Esau] wasn't such a bad fellow. He is only considered a rosho [evil person] because his brother was such a tzaddik [saintly person] in comparison!
Esav slew Nimrod (Talmud, Bava Basra 16), the dictator of the ancient world who had tried to kill his grandfather Avraham Avinu [Abraham our father]. "If someone had killed Hitler he'd be a hero and we wouldn't examine his past misdeeds too closely!" (R. Avigdor Miller).
"Esav had the potential to have been one thousand times greater than Yaakov, and if he had been worthy he would have risen higher even than Moshe Rabbenu [our teacher] and Dovid HaMelech [David the king] and have merited to have been the Moshiach!" (Rebbe Ya'akov Yehuda Yechiel Safrin Rabbi of Komarno [New York, 1950], Heichal Habrachah, Toldos 145).
One of the great 'What Ifs' of history is what would have happened if Esav had become a Yisroel Kasher [a Kosher Israelite] instead of becoming a Yisroel Mumar [Appostate Israelite]. The departure of Esav from the Jewish camp is considered to have been an even greater a loss than that of the Ten Tribes. The mystical significance of Esav and the potential of the sparks of the eight Edomite kings "who reigned in the land of Edom before there reigned any king over the Children of Yisroel" (Breishis 36, Genesis 36) is foundational in Lurianic Kabbalah to the concepts of the Sheviras Hakeilim [Breaking of the Vessels before the Creation], the Olam HaTohu [Promordial World of Confusion], and of the existence of evil in the universe.
That Hashem expended 43 pesukim [verses] of the Torah listing Esav's descendants showed His solicitude for them and hope that they might yet have been reincorporated in Am Yisrael [People of Israel], or at least have dwelt amongst them as did the Keni [People of Jethro who attached themselves to Israel].
Had Esav accepted Yaakov's leadership, very great achievements would have been possible and the history of the world would have been entirely different. Yitzchok blessed Esav that "your abode shall enjoy the fat of the earth" (Breishis 27) - "this is Italy" (Rashi), and that "you shall live by the sword": the military prowess of his descendants Eliphaz, Tzepho, Amolek, Lotan, Teman, Yisran, Eshban, Shoval and the other Edomites who went on to rule Rome, Carthage, Botzrah, Mocha, Thrace, Tyre, Sparta, Anatolia, Seville and Germania is renowned.
"You shall serve your brother": the Roman Emperor Antoninus came under the enlightened influence of Yehudah Hanasi, and had the Roman legions become the fighting arm of Am Yisroel instead of its sworn enemy, the descendants of Yaakov and Eisav could yet have fulfilled Hashem's original plan of together conquering and Judaising the entire world!
For more articles on Esau/Edom see:
Esau/Edom (List of Articles)
Esau (List of Articles)