November 18, 2019 ~

Shabbat Toledot - שבת תולדת

Maqam MAHOUR: Mandate Melodies

חובי מלכי סלח נשמת
ידך תנחני שמחים
שבתי שבתי פזמון ספר תורה

Two Separate Nations

שני גיים בבטנך - When Ribqa suffers from extreme fetal pain, she approaches God for answers. In Genesis 25:23, she is told that she is pregnant with what will become two nations. Instead of spelling "goyim" (nations) as גוים, the Masoretic Text uses גיים. This is an example of a "Qere VeKetib" (קרי וכתיב); referring to differences between what is written in the text and how a word should be read. Although both גוים and גיים are pronounced "goyim," the unusual spelling of גיים found in the Masoretic Text has puzzled many readers. A possible explanation for the two yods (י), which are small letters that appear parallel to one another, is that this symbolizes a set of twins. These twins, however, are destined to become so separate from one another that they will live totally separate existences; always remaining divided and never united. The above may be considered an example of how the scribal tradition uses the spelling of words to convey certain messages. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, November 10, 2018.

The Birthright

הנה אנכי הולך למות ולמה זה לי בכרה - What does Esav do so wrong to be warranted a villain? To be engaged in sport (איש ידע ציד איש שדה) is not a crime in itself, but it is what Esav does not do that is certainly noted. As first born to the Abrahamic tradition, Esav has the responsibility to focus on upholding the righteous ways of his forefathers. Instead, he ignores this and lives devoid of all spiritual pursuits. In Genesis 25, when Esav returns from the field, he sells his birthright to Jacob, his younger sibling, in exchange for a good meal. “What’s the point of the birthright,” he asks, “if I’m going to die anyways?” Apparently, only hedonistic pursuits mattered to him. From the 5 consecutive verbs (ויאכל וישת ויקם וילך ויבז), we see that even after the meal, Esav couldn’t care less about squandering the birthright, nor did he express remorse about the transaction. It is because Esav cares so little about the values that we hold so dear that he is not remembered fondly. Beth Torah Bulletin, November 18, 2017.


ויחפר את בארת המים אשר חפרו בימי אברהם אביו - During his lifetime, Abraham dug numerous wells; bringing prosperity to all. One year, however, Isaac, his son, was blessed with 100 times more produce (מאה שערים) than anyone else. In response to their hatred and jealousy, the local people vandalize all of Abraham's wells; attempting to erase any connection that he ever had with the land. Isaac defiantly responds by making it his responsibility to rebuild each well; restoring each one by its original Abrahamic name. These wells can be viewed as a metaphor for the heritage of Abraham, which include justice and righteousness, attributes that he strongly championed. We see Isaac's greatness not in his originality of carving his own independent road, but by him publicly defending Abraham's path; retracing his father's footsteps so that his teachings be perpetuated and never forgotten (Beth Torah, 12/3/16).