Stop Press

Twin nations were in Rebecca's womb - Jacob and Esau. Jacob was the feminine one, who stayed at home, preferred by his mother. Esau was a warrior huntsman, full of strength and vigour, the oldest son and apple of his father's eye.

You might expect us to identify with the strong and manly Esau. But Jacob is the founder of the Jewish nation and the hero of our story. We are supposed to see ourselves as gentle and mild.

The rabbis turned Esau into a symbol of much-hated Rome. They saw war, material strength and power over others, as symbols of foreign empires.

Our tradition encourages us to be sceptical of those who want to make war and make their nations greater. The Jewish way is to be like Jacob, modest and calm.

This week, we marked in dignified silence Armistice Day, which commemorates the end of the First World War. We remember how hellish it was for those young men sent off to die in the trenches, and for the families they left behind.

The British-Jewish soldier, Siegfried Sassoon, wrote poetry from the war's front lines. He criticised the people cheering for more war, saying "you'll never know / the hell where youth and laughter go."

At this solemn time, let us remember our Jewish duty to work towards peace, and never to forget those whose lives were stolen by war.

Shabbat Shalom

Student Rabbi Lev