Isaac and Rebecca are married for twenty long years without having children. Finally Rebecca gets pregnant with twins. As the kids grow inside her belly they constantly kick around, so Rebecca goes to visit a great rabbi by the name of Shem to ask him for advice. Shem tells her that there are two children in her womb who will be the fathers of two nations, and the younger one will eventually rule the older one — that’s why they were fighting even before they were born.

Esau is born first. He is hairy and red-headed. Then follows Jacob, who is holding Esau’s heel as he is born. Esau and Jacob are quite different: Esau is sly and loves to hunt, while Jacob is peaceful and spends most of his time studying Torah. On the day that Abraham is buried, Esau goes hunting while Jacob stays home and cooks a pot of lentils for his father to eat (a person who is mourning a loved one eats round foods when he or she comes back from the funeral).

Esau comes home and is very hungry, so hungry that he sits next to Jacob and says: "Give me to eat!" He wants Jacob to pour the food down his throat. Jacob says yes, on condition that Esau sell him his birthright, his right to be the firstborn. (Why did Jacob want Esau’s birthright? Jacob knew that in the future the firstborn would be priviledged to serve in the Holy Temple, but Esau didn’t behave like a person who will serve in G‑d’s temple should — he hunted and killed, and didn’t have respect for life — so Jacob asked him to sell his birthright, which he did.)

Isaac ages and becomes blind. He wants to bless his children before he dies. Esau goes to hunt for a couple of animals to prepare food for his father. In the meantime Rebecca dresses Jacob as Esau. She covers his arms and neck with hairy goatskin so that he should resemble Esau and sends him into Isaac’s room to get the blessings which were destined to the firstborn son. When Esau returns and discovers that Jacob got the first blessings, he becomes very angry and wants to kill his brother. So Jacob runs away to Charan, his mother’s birth-place, where he will also look for a wife whom we will meet in next week’s parshah.