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

Friday, November 17, 2006

Chayei Sarah - The Sweetest Story Ever Told

We LOVE the story of Isaac. It's unquestionably our fav so far. You got a VERY slow kid with a goofy laugh. His mom was maybe 90 years old when she gives birth to Isaac so Down's Syndrome seems a pretty high probability. He doesn't talk much. His brother makes fun of him. His father tries to kill him. He can't even chase girls for himself.

His father Abraham leaves him a huge pile of money and makes his trusted servent Eliezer, swear on his (Abraham's) old, wrinkled testicles, to find the perfect girl for Isaac, who is by now nearly forty. Eliezer find this beautiful, kind and hard working three year old, Rebecca. After some negotiating Eliezer gets Rebecca away from her no account family and brings her back to Isaac who is out in field doing... G-d knows what.

Rebecca is so shocked when she sees her goofball betrothed she nearly falls off her camel. But Isaac loves her. He moves Rebecca into his mommy's tent and they become husband and wife.

We know that later Rebecca is clearly the brains of the family and ends up manipulating Isaac in a most crude way. Nonetheless as the Torah's most precocious little girl she is the ideal match for a mentally challenged middle aged man.

At least that's the way it is when WE tell the story. - SHABBAT SHALOM! - a & s

Friday, November 10, 2006

Parsha Vayera

This week Torah portion is an action-packed affair. G#d appears to Abraham in the form of three men. Abraham seems to serve them one of the most traif meals imaginable and we get history's earliest recorded punch line. The ugly side of gay love rears... its head... in Sodom. Lot's daughters make sure the family comes first. A part of the parsha we didn't take on is another episode in Abraham's successful career as a pimp. Some years later he prepares to sacrifice Isaac whence many believe Christianity got the idea of sacrificing one's beloved son. Of course if old JC were here today, observant Jew that he was, he would join us in wishing you - SHABBAT SHALOM! - a & s

Friday, November 03, 2006

Parsha Lech Lecha

In his book "Gifts of the Jews" Thomas Cahill writes that Judaism is 'the only original idea in all of human history.' Outside Judaism history is viewed as a circle with peoples ascending to nobility, falling into depravity then repeating the cycle. But, writes Cahill, when Abraham (in this week's parsha) crosses into the promised land, Judaism invents the unknown further and all innovation, change, improvement even the ideas of progress flow from that. As Jews we can only say, "Works for us!" - SHABBAT SHALOM!

a & s