So, this is the longest stick figure vignette so far, and I would imagine that after 2 minutes of trying to follow this guy getting tossed around by the two creepy guys, that one might expect more of a pay off than a fairly up-front quote acknowledging the struggle between good and evil. I mean, we all know the struggle exists, why did we have to watch this dude sliding around for 2 minutes to get that?

This question mirrors another question I had while I was researching this one. The Torah tells us that when Rebecca was pregnant with Jacob and Esau, “The children struggled within her.” This was so upsetting to Rebecca that she pleaded with G‑d, “Why am I like this?” What didn’t make sense to me was the answer: “There are two nations in your womb and two kingdoms will separate from your innards, and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom, and the elder will serve the younger.” How did this resolve anything for Rebecca? What questions did it answer, and how did it make what was happening to her any easier? Isn’t that kind of even more upsetting? It’s bad enough that her twins are fighting inside of her, and now she finds out that it’s actually an eternal conflict between two descendant-nations? If you ask me, that’s even more of a bummer.

Then I found an interpretation that stood out for me. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explains that Rebecca was only aware of one child. She knew she was destined to be the mother of a tzaddik (righteous individual) who would be one of our forefathers. And when she felt the struggle inside of her, she thought that she was somehow incompatible with the righteous soul growing within her, that there was something wrong with her. G‑d’s answer to her was that the struggle was not one force against her, but rather, two forces within her.

Now, I’ve only been a parent for a couple years, but I can’t imagine it would be reassuring to find out that it’s not me my kids hate, it’s each other. So how does it make things any better? I think it’s easy to see things as all or nothing. When we continue to do things we know are not ideal, we tell ourselves, “I guess that’s just who I am.” Or, the other way around (this is my personal favorite) – we justify our behavior by saying, “Hey, I’m a good guy, if this is what a good guy does, it must not be so bad.” Either way, we’re boxing ourselves in and not allowing ourselves to appreciate the complexity of the struggle. It’s never just a done deal, there’s always a balance and a delicate dynamic, and it’s our responsibility to be aware of that dynamic so that we can shift our lives in positive directions. So while I imagine it couldn’t have been easy for Rebecca to learn that her twins were polar opposites fighting with one another, I think an eternal “struggle” is more promising and reassuring than a simple “incompatibility.” It means there is a relationship and a process—one that will prove long and difficult, but hey, I guess that’s what life is all about. So that’s why the guy was getting tossed around for 2 minutes. It was my way of expressing that ongoing relationship between the forces within ourselves that keep us going in different directions, and ultimately, our ability to control that process. As for the ending—I could toss out some symbolism I thought of if you want to hear it, but honestly, it was just the coolest ending I could come up with.

Oh, and a special thank you to my brother for figuring this one out with me.