Waiting for the Cookie to Cool

There are many experiences in life that are well worth waiting for.

Commentary on Parashat Toldot, Genesis 25:19 - 28:9

In this week’s Torah reading, Toldot, Esau came in from the field starving and begged Jacob for some lentil stew. Jacob agreed to give Esau the stew, but only after Esau promised to sell his younger twin brother Jacob his birthright. Esau traded the significant material benefits of his inheritance for one meager meal of stew because he thought with his stomach and acted on his animal instincts. If Esau had been more thoughtful and patient, he most likely would have made a different decision despite his growling belly.

cookiesThe story of Esau and the lentil stew teaches us the importance of delayed gratification. While it may not feel good to put a few dollars of your allowance in your piggy bank each week, it feels great when you have finally saved enough money to buy a new bike. It might be painful to run sprints each morning or do endless sets of soccer drills, but it feels glorious when you cross the finish line or score the winning goal.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about appreciating the benefits of delayed gratification.


· Have you ever let your stomach make a decision for you, which you later regretted? Have you ever acted on an impulse, instead of thinking through a decision more carefully?

· Can you think of a time when you didn’t get what you wanted right when you wanted it?

· Have you ever worked really hard to achieve a goal? How did it feel when you accomplished the goal?

· What are the benefits of delayed gratification?


From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.

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