Thursday, November 23, 2006

Parsha Toldot - Rebecca Steps up

Beloved Sibling,

Last week we met Rebecca, the Torah's most precocious three-year-old bride. She married forty-year-old (and apparently not-so-sharp) Isaac. This week, in parsha Toldot, Rebecca becomes a full-fledged matriarch. She has a terrible pregnancy, but G-d (in the first revelation to a woman) tells her she's carrying twin sons, Jacob and Esau, who are slugging it out in her womb. G-d tells her the older will serve the younger.

Esau, the first-born, is a ruddy, manly man. Had there been iron-age beer commercials, he'd have been a star. He's a hunter, a lover (he has three wives) and a great son to Isaac. Esau kills stuff, then cooks it up just the way dad likes. Jacob is mama's boy. He stays home, studies, cooks (probably quiche) and he has smooth skin. One day, crafty Jacob takes advantage of Esau's hunger after a hunt and persuades him to sell his first-born rights and privileges for a bowl of bean stew.

Isaac gets old and feels like he's going to die. He decides to have Esau hunt him a nice meal, then give his BIG blessing to his favorite son. But Rebecca overhears Isaac's plan and launches her own. She persuades reluctant Jacob to go along and designs an Esau costume to trick Isaac. Incredibly, the ruse works: Esau is disinherited and G*d gets his way again.

Poor Isaac, the one thing in the world that's truly his, the paternal blessing, he is tricked out of giving to his favorite son by the woman he married when she was three.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving reminds us of the power and perils of food. - SHABBAT SHALOM! - a & s


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