Parshat Toldot and Its Connection to Last/This Week’s Events
Parshat Toldot tells the story of Isaac’s life, of how he beseaches Hashem for his wife, Rivkah to bear kids, of the eventful birth of Jacob and Esau, of their struggles for the birthright, of Jacob eventually resting it from his animalistic twin, of Isaac’s falling out with Avimelech who almost sleeps with Rivkah thinking she’s Isaac’s sister, his trevails in Grad, where the Phillistines end up getting rid of him only to return and ask him to sign a peace treaty with them, of how they accuse Isaac of not having been upfront with them, and so on.
Over my Shabbat meal, my host mentioned the fact that the episode in which Rivkah helps–almost forces Jacob to fool his father into blessing him before his death is a very strange, mysterious one that begs an explanation.
Whereas Isaac is the “perfect offering,” the one forfather who never sets foot outside of the Land of Israel, the mainstay of the character trait of gvura, stoicism, Rivkah is the prototypical Jewish mother. She’s a caring, doting Yiddishe Mamma who wants only the very best for her favorite son. She’s also extremely insightful. She realizes the future of the Jewish nation lies with Jacob–not Esau. While Esau is able to create a false sense of righteousness when dealing with his father, who seems to prefer him over Jacob, Rivkah is not to be fooled.
My host also mentioned how the Phillistines, led by the plotting Avimelech constantly try to get in Isaac’s way of succeeding. The more they try to fill his wells with dirt, the better he does. The more his enemies try to break his spirit, the stronger he gets.
Both Rivkah and Jacob’s plot to “steal” the birthright, and Isaac’s dealings with the Phillistines are a message (it’s written that “ma’ase avot siman le’banim“–the behavior of the forfathers is a lesson to their children) to today’s Israelis, living in fear of Hamas rockets, but perserving and staying strong despite our enemies’ best efforts to destroy us.
With our random acts of kindess, and our charity we must conquer the evil that’s the modern-day Phillistines: the “Palestinians.” To be sure, we’re fighting them as a people–not as individuals. There are those amongst them that would be thrilled to live peacefully with us. I’m extremely confident of this. Their government, the Arabs around them, the Europeans and to some extent the U.S. will have none of this however. And eventually, we must get rid of this evil surrounding us. We must banish it from our midst. But for now, we need to focus on staying united, on performing good deeds, and on being good people because that’s who we are: the pogency of Jacob, the people of Israel.