Sure, we all get tired, but a Jew cannot let himself be affected by fatigue and should not complain about it either. A Jew’s job is to serve God 24/7.
The commentators note that it is kind of weird that the first person that we find complaining of fatigue is Esau – Jacob’s twin brother, who appears prominently in Toldot, this week’s Torah reading. What about Noah? He spent 120 years building his Titanic! He was surely entitled to complain of being tired! Adam worked the land day in and day out! And of course there was Abraham, who spent his entire life in the service of God. From leaving his homeland to travel to the Promised Land, then travelling to Egypt and back, the near slaughter of his son, not to mention spending every free moment teaching everyone that would listen about God, Abraham certainly had what to be tired about!
So why does Esau get to complain about being tired while Abraham doesn’t?
One the answers given is that being tired is not a Jewish concept! Sure, we all get tired, but a Jew cannot let himself be affected by fatigue and should not complain about it either. A Jew’s job is to serve God 24/7. If one lives his life with the attitude that he is serving God in everything that he does, especially if one uses all his free time in the performance of mitzvot (Torah commandments) and other worthwhile pursuits, there is simply no time to get tired. We can’t let fatigue run us off course.
Esau, on the other hand, was not Jewish. But even more significantly, he spent his free time pursuing the most unappetizing and most undignified activities, to say the least. It is no wonder that he would complain of being tired! If a person lives his life with no direction or positive purpose, he is going to burn out quickly.
The lesson is clear: If you commit yourself to a meaningful life of doing mitzvot and good deeds, you won’t even let fatigue get in your way!
Read more of Rabbi Ari Enkin’s insights into this week’s Torah reading by clicking below: