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Thursday, 13th December 2018

Rashi (46:26) cites the commentary which comments that in referring to the Bnei Yaakov (the sons of Jacob), the verse describes them as 'one nefesh (person),' whilst when discussing Bnei Eisav (the sons of Esaub) it calls them many people (nefashos). Why? 

Answers Rashi that Yaakov's (Jacob's) descendents serve one G-D and so they are described in the singular, whilst Eisav's kids served many gods and so are described in the plural. But why does this make sense - the Torah is talking about the people, not how many powers they served? 

The answer is that there is a fundamental difference between someone who serves one G-D and someone who serves many gods. Someone who serves one G-D realises that this G-D is supreme, and so is ready to subjugate and nullify himself & his ego before this G-D. But someone who serves many gods just wants the goods that these gods provide, and so is really only interested in his needs and his ego. Now it is only someone who nullifies his ego who can bond together in unity with other people, someone who is too interested in himself and his own wants will never form a proper team. 

Thus, when the Torah describes Bnei Yaakov it calls them one person, for it is because they serve one G-D and so have nullified their egos that they can bond together (like one man with one heart). But Bnei Eisav serve many gods and are only interested in their own needs, wants, and egos, and so cannot bond together. Thus, they are referred to in the plural.  



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