Monday, November 25, 2013

Pick a Parasha: Tol'Dot

What an interesting portion we've chosen this month. The story of Rebecca giving birth to her sons Esau and Jacob, their split birthright and the ensuing favoritism.  It's a popular story, but once again, I feel like in the reading I learned so many things.

Just like the last portion we looked at, Rebecca has a shared moment with G-d:

She went to inquire of the Lord, 23 and the Lord answered her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
Two separate peoples shall issue from your body;
One people shall be mightier than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger."
What a specific proclamation.  To show from the beginning of life, before either had breathed the air that one shall be mightier than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.  I can't help but wonder what I would do, given such specifics from the lord.  Is it any wonder that later down the road we find that Rebecca favors Jacob?

Isaac favored Esau because he had a taste for game; but Rebekah favored Jacob. 

There are many different interpretations of this passage.  She loved Jacob, she favored him, etc.  But how could she not when the Lord so clearly tells her that her youngest shall rule the older.

Beyond that we are once again in a story where a husband passes his wife off as a sister.  What is with these men and not taking responsibility for their families, their lives.  Not standing up and being who they are.

It seems to me that this might be a pre-curser for the big moment of the portion.  When Jacob pretends to be Esau to claim the blessing of the father.  Like father, like son?  Everyone blames Rebecca, but when your father doesn't claim his own wife, why wouldn't you think you can deceive him too?

Obviously Issac knows something isn't right.  He says point blank- you have the voice of Jacob.  He smells the clothes and feels the skin and decides to trust his other two senses over his hearing.  Rather than trust these instincts, he gives the blessing anyways.  

Poor Esau.  He comes with his stew and his father has to tell him that his blessing is already gone.  That he can't give another one, and that he's sorry.   Rebecca sends Jacob away to keep him safe, and that's the end of the story for now.  

When we say our blessing over EG on friday nights, we say may you be like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.  Do I really want her to be like Rebecca.  Surely there is something a miss here.  That this entire family feels so at ease and comfortable lying about who they are.  Deceiving themselves and others as if it was a drop of a hat.

Many people claim that Rebecca shows herself to be a good mother- in the end she sends away her loving son Jacob to protect 'both' her sons.  I'm not exactly sure that I buy that idea.  If she was a 'good' mother would she have directed her son to lie so brashly.  Would she have deceived her husband on his deathbed?  Or is she just following G-d's direction.  That the older will serve the younger..?

I take from this story the fact that sometimes errors aren't mistakes.  There are moments in all of our lives when we think we've made a terrible mistake.  When we make a choice that seems morally wrong.  But then, things can work out in the end.  Rebecca's morally ambigious choice leds Jacob to become the father of the Jewish people.  Leads him to great things. 

Sometimes we have to step away from our choices (ours, and our children's) and embrace the bigger picture.

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