Torah Reflections; Lessons in the weekly Torah portion and topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition

Torah Reflections from Torah Readers

Divrai Torah, weekly Torah portion summaries, lessons and essays on topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition.

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Parashat Toldot

For the week of Sat 26th Nov 2022 - ב׳ בְּכִסְלֵו תשפ״ג
Parashat Toldot

As you have done to others, so others will do to you

Rebecca used Jacob to deceive Isaac into giving him the blessing reserved for the eldest son. Was she, maybe, justified in deceiving Isaac? What were the repercussions of this deceit?

Did you know that...

The first instance of anti-semitism is spelled out in this weeks portion.

One defintion of Anti-semitism could be; the irrational hate of a minority, i.e. a group of people who are different from the people surrounding them, based soley on their success as compared to the majority. 

In this week's portion God blessed Isaac and his crops grew 100 fold over his neighbors. The Philistines grew envious of Isaac and even though it went against their best interests, they filled in the wells he had dug and eventually drove him from their lands. Had they cooperated with Isaac and shared  the water and crops, had they allowed him to teach them how to find water, they could have benefited greatly, however irrational hate of a successful minority took precedence over their own well being.

Anti-semitism is no different; antisemites will in one breath contradict themselves with irrational arguments, Jews control the media, yet the western media is openly biased aginst Jews. Jews control the governments, yet Israel is demonized on a daily basis in the UN. This is irrational hate that is first defined in Parashat Toldot.

Parasha Summary

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Jacob deceives Isaac and steals Esau's birthright

This week's Parasha focuses on the story of Isaac even though most of the Parasha is taken up with the stories of Isaac and Rebecca's children Esau and Jacob. The central story in this week's parsha is the sale of the Esau's birthright to Jacob.

In a nutshell the following points cover this week's Parasha:

  1. Isaac and Rebecca are childless for 20 years until their prayers are answered and Rebecca becomes pregnant with twins.
  2. Rebecca's pregnancy is hard as the twins struggle within her belly. God tells her that there are two nations in her womb and that the younger will prevail over the older.
  3. Esau emerges first, Jacob is born clutching Esau's heel.
  4. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a mutten stew
  5. Isaaac moves to Gerar, in the land of the Philistines where he presents Rebecca as his sister and reopens the wells dug by his father Abraham as well as digging his own wells.
  6. Esau marries two Hittite women.
  7. Issac grows blind and expresses his will to bless Esau with his birthright
  8. Rebecca dresses Jacob in Esaus clothes and encourages him to take Esau's blessing
  9. Jacob receives Isaac's first born blessing meant for Esau
  10. Esau is mad at Jacob and wishes to kill him
  11. Jacob runs for his life to Haran and Rebeccaa's brother Laban
  12. Esau marries his third wife, Ishmael's daughter in an effort to find favor with his father and show him that he is marrying within the family instead of taking another Hittite wife.

The Last Word

Social Religous, Cultural and Political Commentary

All in the Family

Sometimes we consider our untruths to be ‘white lies’. Is there really a difference between lies and white lies? Is lying for the greater good really OK?
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