And Eisav said, "Look, I am going to die, so of what use to me is the birthright?" ...And Eisav spurned the birthright. (Gen. 25:32)

Eisav came home from the field exhausted and noticed Yaakov cooking up a stew. "Pour some of that red stuff down my throat for I am starving", Eisav exclaimed. Yaakov replied, "I'll sell it to you for the birthright." Eisav said, "Look I am going to die, so of what use to me is the birthright?" After he sold the birthright to Yaakov, the verse tells us that Eisav looked at the birthright with disdain.

Rashi explains that Eisav feared the birthright since he knew that the birthright entailed responsibilities such as performing the service in the Holy Temple, and if there were any shortcomings in his performance he could be punished with death. If so, why was he considered to have treated the birthright with disdain by selling it? On the contrary, he was showing the importance of the birthright and the dignity in which the service must be conducted!?

In the course of life, God "throws" us many opportunities which can make us greater. He gives us an opening to start a great project or a position where we can influence and elevate others. The Torah is telling us not to let these opportunities slip away. Don't say, "It's too hard for me," or "I'll do it tomorrow..." Eisav had the opportunity to do the service of the birthright and gave it up. The Torah considers the passing up of such an opportunity a disgrace!(1) When an opportunity comes your way - grab it, and enjoy the ride to greatness!

NOTES

1. R' Moshe Feinstein.