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Bible-Personalities-Isaac-Orchid & Dandelion

Isaac was born on Nisan 15 (Rosh Hashanah 10b), and Jacob stole the blessings – acted out by the children stealing the Afikoman: The Swedish refer to children who are highly sensitive to their environment, especially to the quality of parenting they receive, as Orkidebarn, Orchid Children. If neglected, Orchid Children promptly wither, but if nurtured, they flourish. An Orchid Child becomes “a flower of unusual delicacy and beauty.” Dandelion Children have the capacity to survive, even thrive, in whatever circumstances they encounter. They are psychologically resilient.


Our first peek at Esau and Jacob offers us a Dandelion and an Orchid. “Esau became one who knows hunting, a man of the field; but Jacob was a wholesome man, abiding in tents (Genesis 25:27).” Esau is a Dandelion Child able to thrive in a violent world, even when standing unprotected in the field.

Jacob is presented as an Orchid, a child who can thrive only in the protective environment of tents.

We are familiar with Jacob the Orchid becoming a Dandelion. He forces Esau to sell the birthright. He steals his brother’s blessing. He will thrive in the house of Laban. He will successfully confront great enemies.

We are less familiar with Esau’s desperate drive to become an Orchid: “Then Esau perceived that the daughters of Canaan were evil in the eyes of Isaac, his father. So Esau went to Yishmael and took Mahalath, the daughter of Yishmael son of Abraham… as a wife for himself (Genesis 28:8-9).” Esau is convinced that he will only be safe in the arms of his father. Yes, he will confront Jacob, but only in the protective womb of a huge army.

Perhaps this is why Jacob dresses himself in Esau’s clothes; he wants Isaac to realize that he, Jacob, is not an Orchid, but a Dandelion. He wants Isaac to see that it is he who has the courage and strength to go out into the world and live as a child of Abraham and Isaac.

Why are they first presented in reverse roles? The Torah is teaching us that it is not the way we are born, as Orchids or Dandelions, that determines our success, but our choice of which flower to become?

Haggadah: Our early ancestors were idolaters.

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