When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned that Parashat Toledot (תּוֹלְדֹת), the sixth weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings. According to Wikipedia, Toledot (Genesis 25:19 through 28:9) 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, Toledot for Shabbat November 18, 2023 aka the 5th of Kislev 5784:
“The Sages relate that during Rivka’s difficult pregnancy, she sought out the advice of the Tent of Shem where there was a great Yeshiva devoted to the study of the Torah. There, an Angel of G-d related to her that she was carrying twins and there was a great internal struggle between them. Even though Yaakov was conceived first, Esau would be born first and Yaakov would be born holding onto his heel (thus the name Yaakov). Whenever she passed a place of Torah, Yaakov would predominate, and whenever she passed by a place of idolatry, Esau would predominate. This struggle parallels the course of history, ancient and modern, between the ideologies of Torah versus immorality, violence, and paganism. Esau typifies ancient Rome (and modern day Hamas) with its glorification of violence and rampant perversion and injustice.
The most puzzling question of this Sedra is the preference of Isaac for Esau and the willingness to give him a final blessing over Yaakov. The commentators mention that while Esau was a cruel person, he was also cunning and blinded his father with words of respect and with gifts of food from animals he caught and killed. Yaakov is portrayed as a quiet studious man, similar in nature to Isaac himself. Perhaps, this is the behind-the-scenes psycho-drama occurring, but, fortunately, Rivka is able to discern the real truth behind who will be destined to continue the traditions of our faith.
The modern-day struggle between Israel and Hamas is a continuation of this struggle between Good and Evil. Unfortunately, modern Evil is also cunning, witnessed by the fact that so many are sympathetic to cause of Israel’s enemies. Just as Esau was cunning, so too are those individuals in the public eye; media, movie stars, models, sports figures, who ignore the injustices that have been perpetrated on our people and even on the Moslem people by their own leaders. They instead, focus their attention only upon Israel and claim that we are oppressors. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel’s IDF army has Jewish and Moslem soldiers. Israel provides free medical care to Arab families and until now has provided food, water, fuel, electricity, internet and work permits to those living in the Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. We must be able to see through the transparent lies of our enemies and their sympathizers, to realize that this narrative is very ancient. Yaakov will triumph over Esau’s Evil and Good will prevail.”
Questions to consider:
- What was the first indication that Esau would live a sinful life?
- How does Rivka determine that Isaac intends to bless Esau?
- What is the essential difference between the blessing of Yaakov and Esau?
- What 2 factors teach us that the blessing of Yaakov was actually meant to be?
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.
Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.
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