Torah Parasha

Parashat (Thoralesung) TOLDOT – פרשת תולדות

Photo: Miriam Woelke


This week’s Torah reading is Parashat TOLDOT. The twins Yaakov and Esav are being born, Yaakov takes the blessing of the firstborn and has to escape from his brother’s revenge.
Many people think that Yitzchak when Avraham was supposed to sacrifice him as well as Yaakov and Esav were little children. It may sound cute that Avraham wanted to sacrifice his little son on Har HaMoriah (the Temple Mount). Reality, however, is very different, as Yitzchak was already 37 years old. The same with Yaakov and Esav who were 63 years old when Yaakov took the blessing of the firstborn and escaped from home. As a matter of fact, the Torah tells us in Parashat TOLDOT (Bereshit 26:34) that Esav married at the age of 40. This happened years before Yaakov sneaked into his brother’s blessing. 
Yaakov and Esav – the ongoing quarrel between Judaism and Christianity. Esav = Edom (Red) and he is associated with the ancient Romans, Nazi – Germany and Christendom. Esav’s descendants, however, didn’t necessarily have anything to do with Rome or Nazi – Germany. Amalek was a direct descendant of Esav and it was him who was longing for revenge. When the Israelites were walking through the desert, the Amalekites were the only ones attacking the Jews because they were Jews and not because the Jews were endangering them.
The same with Rome, Nazi – Germany and many Christians as well as the church: All of them want to get rid off the Jews because they are Jews and not for any rational reason.  This is why the Christian world is called AMALEK until this day. Not all Christians or Gentiles but those who simply hate Jews for no reason.
Couldn’t Esav have developed into a better person and did he have to turn into a rebellious Jew ? Talmud Kiddushin 18a refers to Esav as a Jew and not as a Gentile !
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch is referring to this question at the very beginning of his commentary on TOLDOT. He states that if Rivka and Yitzchak had realized early enough that Esav was not the type of Yeshiva student as Yaakov was, they may have provided him another goal in life. A profession where he can use his hands instead of stealing and killing people.
Every human is different and thus has to find a goal in life suiting his abilities and potential. Not every male Jew has the ability of being a Yeshiva Bochur. There are many who cannot sit and learn the whole day but are eager to build or create something. The chassidic Shem MiShmuel states in his commentary on Parashat TOLDOT that Esav made the mistake by taking everything in this world. He took whatever suited him best and what his desire was longing for. Whereas Yaakov’s priority was doing everything in order to serve G – d. He didn’t think about himself and his desires but his Creator came first.
When I read this Shem MiShmuel commentary, I started thinking what it means “Doing everything for Shem Shamayim – for G – d and not putting one’s own desires first”. I think that the line between doing everything for G – d and the one doing something good for myself is extremely thin.  G – d created everything existing and He gave the Torah Mitzvot to the Jews. Our task is living according to the Torah. I sometimes do have problems with “What is good for me” and “What I actually should do”. In one way we are obligated to G – d but, on the other hand, we are here in order to enjoy life.
Don’t get me wrong ! I am not talking about anything against the Torah but there are times when you just want to do something good for yourself. The question is: Where is the line when I want to read a novel but should study the Parasha ? When I am not in the mood for the Parasha at the moment.
I highly respect those Jews who are able to combine their own desires with everything the Torah says. 🙂
Shabbat Shalom – Gut Schabbes !
Thoughts on Parashat TOLDOT

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