Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always imagined Eisav as being a big, bad, hairy, angry person. The truth is though, that Eisav was a man who understood deep concepts. He grew up in the house of Yitzchak and Rivka, and as a child on the lap of his grandfather, Avraham. Eisav was learned, he knew how to ask his father difficult questions, such as those regarding the laws of separating ma'aser [tithes] from salt and straw. He understood what life was about, in fact, he let out a huge cry when he found out that he lost his father’s blessing to Yaakov. He knew the power of these blessings and the ramifications of their loss.

So where did Eisav go wrong? How could it be that he gave up all of the blessings for a moment of pleasure, to eat a little lentil soup? He was no fool, he understood the significance of the firstborn rights. How did he let them go in a fleeting moment of hunger and exhaustion?

When taking a deeper look into human nature and tendencies, it would seem that as a whole, the population mimics many of the inconsistencies found in the behaviors of Eisav. The average person is aware of the dangers of cigarette smoking, or the potential harm caused by eating too much sugar or fatty foods, yet this knowledge in many cases is not powerful enough to act as a deterrent in resisting such temptations. On a social and interpersonal level we are aware that a lack of loyalty in relationships with friends and family may very well taint if not ruin the most significant connections in our lives, yet individuals have been known to fall and give it all up for a moment of pleasure, for that little taste of desire.

Many live this way because there is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. While we might know something to be true and even understand the ramifications of specific actions, that does not necessarily mean that that which we know is reflected in our lifestyle choices. Human nature, habits and desires cannot be ignored from the equation. It is not knowledge alone that fuels our decisions. Judaism educates not only for knowledge and understanding, but rather for wisdom.

Wisdom can be defined as integrated knowledge. Jewish wisdom is about integrating knowledge and understanding into our daily lives. The Jewish lifestyle is built on the premise of inculcating positive deeds and proper habits in a consistent manner that instill deep values of kindness and morality. In Judaism the worlds of intellect, personal growth, philosophy and Jewish law are all intertwined, all essential pillars, that when combined, becomes the totality of the consistent and God-fearing lifestyle of a practicing Jew.

There is a special ingredient in Judaism that makes integrated wisdom a reality and a lifestyle, it’s called Emunah. Emunah is the knowledge that there is a higher authoritative power that guides us towards living an ethical and moral life. An individual may be addicted to cigarettes, but if the law states that smoking is prohibited in a specific location, he will refrain from smoking. Similarly, when we see a ‘no food allowed’ sign, or are faced with any other prohibitive restrictions, we are able to curb our immediate desires. However, when the individual himself is the only force attempting to control desire, human nature will often override knowledge.

In a sense, the nature of both Yaakov and Eisav live within us. Yaakov understands the ramifications of his actions, believes in a higher authority, and therefore incorporates his knowledge into his daily lifestyle. He thinks about what he does before he does it. Eisav is intelligent and he too understands life, but when tempted by desire, it distracts him, and he is overcome by immediate desires to the point that he forgets what’s really important in life.

It’s up to us to choose how we want to live our lives: like Eisav, or like Yaakov.