[When Esau was forty
years old, he marries two Hittite women.] They were a source of much bitterness to Isaac and to Rebecca (Genesis 26:35)
The Midrash states that the Hittite women were idol
worshipers, and this deeply aggravated Isaac and Rebecca.
Since the Torah states, "They were a source of much
bitterness 'to Isaac and to Rebbeca,'" instead of "to Isaac and Rebecca," the Midrash infers that Isaac was provoked first, and Rebecca only later. The Midrash explains that Rebecca, having grown up in a family of idol worshipers, was not as intensely provoked as Isaac, who was raised in Abraham's household.
Why does the Torah tell us this?
Actually, the message is a frightening one. The
Matriarch Rebecca, in spite of her antipathy toward idol worship, and in spite of her being away from her family for over sixty years, was not as annoyed by these practices because she had been exposed to them in her childhood.
Even the grossest abominations may lose their odium if one has been accustomed to them. We are in danger of losing our abhorrence of evil if we are exposed to it.
There are some psychologists who minimize the
effects on children who are exposed to violence and lewdness in the media. The teaching of this passage in the Torah as explained by the Midrash is that such exposure lowers one's threshold of disapproval, so that even the most moral person does not escape unscathed.