May 19, 2024
Parashat Toldot

When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned that Parashat Toldot (Genesis 25:19 through 28:9), the sixth weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings. According to Wikipedia, Toldot is made up of 5,426 Hebrew letters, 1,432 words, 106 verses, and 173 lines of the Torah Scroll. The parashah tells of the conflict between Jacob and Esau, the story of Rebekah and Isaac’s blessing of his sons.

Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Toldot:

The narrative of the young lives of the twins, Esau and Jacob, contains many ironies. Esau comes in from the field after a hunt, tired and famished, and is willing to sell his birthright to Jacob, without regret, to fulfill his primal hunger and thirst. Yet, the same Esau bitterly cries out and swears revenge against his brother when Jacob receives the preferred blessing from father Isaac. Esau is a violent, impulsive individual, yet is known to have a great sense of respect for his father. It would seem, that Isaac prefers the company of Esau to Jacob until he realizes that Jacob would be the one to carry forward the belief in one G-d and the traditions of our faith. Rebecca, on the other hand, recognizes in her younger son the discipline of a Torah scholar who is governed by rules of conduct, “ Ish Tam Yoshev Ohalim- a simple person who dwells in tents.”

What lessons do we take from the early lives of Jacob and Esau and their interactions with each other and their parents? We learn not to emulate Esau’s violent and impulsive nature. We learn to commit ourselves to a life of self-discipline and study showing kindness to all G-d’s creatures. We are also given a template to follow by Rebecca on how to deal with the extreme sibling rivalry that frequently embitters family life. Rebecca sends Jacob away to avoid inevitable bloodshed and to all a cooling-off period between her sons.

On this weekend of Thanksgiving, let us thank G-d for the blessings and lessons we learn from the Torah every day of the year. The Torah is given to everyone equally to accept and learn from. It is our choice to accept and learn with an open heart and mind and apply its lessons to make our lives whole and meaningful. May we always have much to be thankful for.

Rabbi Michael D. Klein

Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.

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