Tol'dot – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis
V’eleh toldot Yitzhak ben Avraham, Avraham holid et Yitzhak.
This is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham, Abraham begot Isaac
The Sedra immediately moves on to the birth of Jacob and Esau, Isaac is almost a side-line. Unlike the other Patriarchs, Abraham and Jacob, Isaac does not change his name and unlike them is not involved in great deeds and conversations with God. The intervention of God is in the words spoken to Rebecca:
Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.
Isaac is living in the lands of the Philistines who turn against him. When they block up his wells when he flourishes, he simply makes new wells. He does not run away. It is something to think about today when anti-Semitism is on the rise. Where do we live and how do we respond?
The story of the blessings can be read as the deception of an old man by one of his sons. Before the episode of the blessings we read:
When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebecca.
Rebecca was aware that the covenant was not safe in the hands of Esau. She was aware of the prophesy. Isaac was literally blinded by his love for both his children and the custom of blessing the first born. Rebecca also loved Esau as her son, but she knew that the covenant would only be safe in the hands of Jacob.
Someone once asked Rabbi Kook the following:
He had given his son a good Jewish education. Now the son had drifted far from Judaism. He did not even identify as a Jew. What should the father do? “Did you love him when he was religious?” asked Rav Kook. “Of course,” replied the father. “Well then,” Rav Kook replied, “Now love him even more.”
We love our children, but we need to love them for who they are and not what we hoped they might become.