Parashat Toledot – Erev Shabbat 25 November 2022 (5783)
Week of 20 – 26 November 2022
Torah portion : Gen. 25 :19 – 28 : 9. Haftarah: Mal. 1 :1 – 2 : 7Theme: The value of the action taken equates with the dignity of a person
The first verse of chapter 25 gives us a puzzling phrase: “Abraham begot Isaac” while Gen. 25:19b gives us the notion that Jacob is the reflection of his father Isaac as Isaac is the reflection of his father, Abraham, in all his attributes for Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son for God. The fact that the Author needs to emphasize that Abraham begot Isaac alludes to the importance of the character of his father during his lifetime and his role afterwards.
In Gen. 25:27 Rashi commented on the character of the twins, that Esau “went his way to the idolatrous temple…understanding how to entrap and deceive his father with his mouth…as his mouth is his heart. A man without a permanent occupation…:” while Jacob stayed in tents. This fact suggests his holiness for it is in a tent where God dwells and it also suggests performing permanent works for God: he stays among the tents like a good pastor while tending his flock as did his father, Isaac. In Gen. 27:13, 19, 27, 32, and 36 during the seeming deceptive action of Jacob, one must pay attention since it is one event following another, where Esau sold his birthright to Jacob. This was equivalent to relinquishing all the rights that it contained (see Gen. 25:29-34). This was symbolized by the lentil soup that was cooked by Jacob. Rashi suggested that “it is the meal that is given to mourners during that era, because lentil is without a mouth. Like a mourner who cannot greet someone for a period of days.” And since this is the case, Esau mourns his death while relinquishing his right to his twin, Jacob. The right that belonged to Esau is rightfully transferred to Jacob.
Such an event leads to Rebekah calling her favorite son to prepare the meal that was requested of Esau by his father. We notice that in Gen. 27: 9-10 Jacob is instructed to fetch two young goats from the flock. This will lead us again to conclude that it was a fitting sacrifice due to his father and due to the blessing that he was to receive. In Gen. 27: 19-29 the blessing implores God, the Just One. Rashi commented on Gen. 27: 28 “may Elohim give you” that which signifies God in His attribute of justice! If you are worthy of it may he give it to you, and if not, let him not give it to you (see also. 1 Kings 8:39). And the blessing is given in favor of Jacob. The appeal of Esau then was overruled because he relinquished his right to it from the very start.
Mal. 1: 6-8 poses a question concerning the justice given to God and a question that affirmed the injustice that was done by Esau when he relinquished his birthright. At the same time, it implies that he dislikes his father’s blood and his father’s faith, and all his father’s attributes. Surely, no sane man will exchange such an honor for a simple dish offered to him!
For Reflection and Discussion: What is human dignity? What is the purpose of human dignity? What can dignity give a person? Is our dignity a gift from God?
Bibliography: The Catholic Study Bible 3rd ed. New American Bible Rev. Ed. (2016) Oxford University Press and Pentateuchwith Rashi’s Commentary, Hebrew Pub. Comp. New York
This week’s Parasha Commentary was prepared by
Jefferson Philip Jacob Reyes, Philippines, Bat Kol Alumnus: 2019
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