Vayishlach: Marble Cupcakes

For Vayishlach, marble cupcakes.

A parsha summary from a three year old: “Esav was very angry, so he went to bite Yaacov on the neck, and Yaacov’s neck got very very hard and Esav hurt his teeth and they fell out and he was crying.”

So, there you have it. Even the littlest ones learn the Midrash that when Esav went to kiss Yaacov, he really wanted to bite him, but Yaacov’s neck miraculously turned to marble and Esav hurt his teeth.

But, what does it actually say in the parsha?

“And Esau ran toward him and embraced him, and he fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”

The word “he kissed” has dots over it, which merits special attention. One explanation is that the word should not be read as “vayishakeihu” (he kissed) but as “vayishakeikhu” (he bit).
(On this topic, take a look at parshablog’s two posts, one specifically about the kiss, and the other about the Midrash of the neck turning to marble; also take a look at this post from

There is another line of thought that Esav gave a kiss, but it was not sincere (Rashi suggests that this is a possible explanation for the dots, while also suggesting the kiss might have been sincere).
(for a drasha based on this, see The Kiss of a Dot at

There is also the interpretation that Yaacov’s neck “turned to marble” so that he would not fall prey to this insincere kiss that was really a bite in disguise. (see discussion at

Rabbi Frand notes that Yaacov offers a seemingly redundant prayer, to be saved from the “hand of my brother, the hand of Esav.” Rabbi Frand explains that there are two Esavs: the one that bites and the one that kisses. Both are to be distrusted. “That is to say, Esav tried two approaches, First he tries biting; but if biting doesn’t work, then other approach is kissing. A Jew can be literally kissed to death.”

Nechama Leibowitz has a long discussion of the commentary on this passage. She cites Ibn Ezra, Rav Hirsch, and the Netziv for the position that the kiss was a sincere one. She notes that the Netziv was particularly taken by Yaacov’s reaction, saying that he was “not impressed by the weeping of Esau but by that of Jacob, who, in spite of all that he had suffered at the hands of his brother, was ready to let bygones be bygones, so long as the smallest gesture of sincerity was forthcoming.” (Nechama Leibowitz, New Studies in Bereshit, p. 376) (Is this the danger, the “bite” of the kiss?)

Parshablog has a very interesting discussion of Ibn Ezra’s position that the derash about the neck turning to marble is good for for Atikei mishadayim, the just weaned (“The Derash on Esav’s Kiss–Does Ibn Ezra Insult Chazal?“) He points to the following explanation which suggests that Ibn Ezra is not dismissing the derash as for little kids, but is saying it is for certain adults:

” . . . so long as children are dependent upon their father’s table, they are called yonkei shadayim. And when they go out into the big world and do business, they need to be able to discern between those who would do them harm or the opposite. And those people are called atikei mishadayim. Thus, Ibn Ezra is saying that this derash about telling the difference between those biting you and those kissing you is good for those people.”

Parshablog is not entirely satisfied with this explanation and maintains that Ibn Ezra seems to be be critical of the derash, or at least against taking it literally instead of allegorically.

Bonus: cute bar mitzvah invitation related to parsha (it uses a clip from a 1994 film called Jacob, and the scene it uses is the one where Yaacov , played by Mattew Modine, meets Esav, played by Sean Bean. Warning: very silly, but it got 70,000 hits on YouTube last year.)

Vanilla Chocolate Swirl Marble Cupcakes

Melt together and reserve:
4 ounces  bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tbl. corn oil

In a bowl, mix together to make THE WET MIXTURE:
6 Tbl. corn oil
1/2 cup soy milk
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In another bowl, mix together to make THE DRY MIXTURE:
1 1/2 cups (6.65 ounces) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the the wet mixture with the dry mixture to make a smooth batter. Spoon about half the vanilla batter into 12 muffin cups. Add the melted chocolate mixture with the remaining half of the batter to make the chocolate batter and spoon the chocolate batter over the vanilla batter. Swirl just a little with a knife or offset spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until just set in the center.

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

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6 Responses to “Vayishlach: Marble Cupcakes”

  1. Mrs. S. Says:

    This sounds like a great recipe for kids to make. Thanks for sharing it, and Shabbat Shalom!

  2. Leora Says:

    What a great excuse I mean reason from the midrash to make marble cupcakes! Enjoy.

    “they need to be able to discern between those who would do them harm or the opposite” – yup! And all the greys in between.

  3. Tali Simon @ More Quiche, Please Says:

    I glanced at this post for a millisecond before my husband and I rushed out last Friday for Shabbos.
    As we discussed the parsha with our hosts that night, someone mentioned the marble neck, and I turned to my husband and said, “THAT’S why she did marble cupcakes!” I felt oh-so-clever.

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