Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Toldot - 5778

Dear friends,

In this Parasha we are faced with difficult questions about the parenting skills of our ancestors, Isaac and Rebekah. After twenty years of marriage they finally have twins. Esau is born first, but Jacob is holding on to his heel, as if to show that there will be much rivalry for the rest of their lives. Isaac favors his first born, Esau, while Rebekah prefers Jacob. She likes Jacob so much that, when Isaac wants to bless his favorite son Esau, Rebekah dresses Jacob as Esau and encourages him to go to his father and pretend that he is Esau. Jacob gets the blessings that were first intended for his brother Esau.

As we go thru this Parasha, we cannot help but to think that Rebekah is involving her son in a scam that will deceive her husband Isaac, who is now blind, and that would most likely get Esau so angry that he would want to kill his own brother. Our sages attempt to explain Rebekah's action as being justified because she knew the true character of Esau, and that he was not qualified to carry on Abraham's teachings because of his lifestyle as a hunter. Jacob, who hesitates to pretend that he is Esau only because he is afraid of being caught, is punished in that he will have to leave his home and flee to Mesopotamia because of his brother's anger. There, he will be deceived time after time and suffer under the hand of his father-in-law Laban.

The obvious conclusion of this story is that anything that is gained by deceit and lies, will not succeed at the end. The Torah does not hesitate to tell us some of the flaws that were in our own founding fathers' behaviors in order to teach us the right way in life.

Jacob does not come out of this situation until many years later when his name is changed from Jacob to Israel, indicating a new man who, hopefully, has learned from his mistakes, and will now live in a way that befits a person whose name is 'Yisrael', 'Sar El' - a Prince of G-d.

Shabbat Shalom,