[Avodah] What kind of Twins were Yaakov and Eisav?

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Mon Nov 5 13:35:11 PST 2018

On Mon, Nov 05, 2018 at 09:16:27PM +0000, Professor L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
: RSRH says that Yaakov and Eisav were identical twins. See
: http://personal.stevens.edu/~llevine/identical_twins.pdf

There was a 1979 paper by [Dr?] Philip Lanzkowsky in the American Academy
of Pediatrics Journal on the topic.
The AAP Journal even cites RSRH!

    Polycythmia as a result of twin-to-twin transfusion in monozygotic
    twins has only been recognized as a clinical entity in the last few
    decades. The first recorded case of polycythemia in the newborn due
    to twin-to-twin transfusion, however, was reported in the Bible:
    "And when her (Rebekah) days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold,
    there were twins in her womb. And the first came forth ruddy, all over
    like a hairy mantle; and they called his name Esau...". Genesis XXV,
    24-26. A ruddy newborn twin is a clear description of polycythemia
    in the newborn presumably due to twin-to-twin transfusion. According
    to Hirsch,[1] despite the contrastrating differences between Esau
    and Jacob, they were identical twins with complete exterior
    similarity. Twin-to-twin transfusion occurs in 15% of identical
    twins. One may further speculate that because of the marked
    intellectual and emotional differences between Esau and his brother
    Jacob, that Esau's intellectual restrictions might very well have
    been evidence of brain damage due to cerebral sludging as a result
    of polycythemia or kernicterus due to uncorrected hyperbilirubinemia
    pursuant to polycythemia. "... nothing is new under the sun.... It
    has already been in the ages before us."[2]

The article itself is behind a paywall, though.

The problem is that Rabbeinu Chananel quotes R Yosi that Yaaqov was
conceived first. And R' Yosi is an amora.

As my kids and I each learned in our respective parashah classes in
elementary school, Yaaqov was allegedly really the bechor, because the
pebble that comes out of the vessel last was the one put into the vessel
first. It's the one nearest the exit, after all.

I say allegedly, because bekhorah doesn't really go to the second twin.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Between stimulus & response, there is a space.
micha at aishdas.org        In that space is our power to choose our
http://www.aishdas.org   response. In our response lies our growth
Fax: (270) 514-1507      and our freedom. - Victor Frankl, (MSfM)

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