A Strong Woman in the Bible

A Strong Woman in the Bible

Nov 29, 2008 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Toledot

What do you make of our matriarch Rebecca? Certainly she is the boldest and most independent of the mothers. When as a girl she sees a stranger at the well, she rushes to water his caravan of thirsty camels, and then invites him to stay at her house. When offered the chance to travel with this man back to a distant land and a mysterious husband, she volunteers without hesitation. When her pregnancy becomes difficult, she seeks out God and challenges Him with the bold question, “Why do I need this?” When her husband seems ready to bless the wrong son, she quickly conspires to rearrange the action so that Jacob will receive the primary blessing. In all of these actions, Rebecca is seen as a woman of strength and decisiveness.

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Poor Isaac

Poor Isaac

Nov 7, 2007 By David M. Ackerman | Commentary | Toledot

Poor Isaac; wedged between “exemplary” Abraham and “vivid” Jacob, he exhibits very little personality of his own.

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The Challenges and Joys of Parenting

The Challenges and Joys of Parenting

Nov 25, 2006 By Steven Brown | Commentary | Toledot

Parshat Toledot is the epitome of the challenges, struggles, ambivalences, and joys of parenting.

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Food’s Symbolic Burden

Food’s Symbolic Burden

Dec 3, 2005 By David C. Kraemer | Commentary | Toledot

It has often been noted — and properly so — that Parashat Toledot is framed by two stories of deceit and dishonesty.

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Making God More Than a Footnote

Making God More Than a Footnote

Dec 3, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Toledot

The process of seeking God within Judaism is one that is done through patience and mindfulness.

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Drinking the Waters of Torah

Drinking the Waters of Torah

Nov 13, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Toledot

In rabbinic parlance, water stands for Torah.

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A Dialogue Across the Ages

A Dialogue Across the Ages

Nov 29, 2003 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Toledot

Like his father Abraham, Isaac is driven by famine to take refuge in the city of Gerar, in the western Negev northwest of Be’er Sheva. The abundance of water for their large herds is what spurs them to relocate, and it is over water that both of the patriarchs contend with the locals. In the first instance, Abraham accuses the ruler of Gerar, Abimelech, that servants of the latter stripped him of a well that he had dug. Abimelech professes to be ignorant of the theft and willing to make amends; whereupon he and Abraham strike a pact. A gift of seven ewes by Abraham will serve to legally establish his claim of ownership of the well. Indeed, according to the biblical account, the pact gives rise to the name of Be’er Sheva, “the well of seven.” At the time, the dominion of Gerar must have stretched eastward to Be’er Sheva, which appears to have had no ruler of its own (21:22-32).

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Reconciliation of Faiths

Reconciliation of Faiths

Nov 29, 2003 By Rachel Ain | Commentary | Toledot

Sibling conflict is not a new story in the Torah. Isaac knows well his own history of sibling rivalry with Ishmael. They spent years apart, yet reconciled over the burial of their father Abraham. So too in this week’s parashah we see a rift between two siblings. Jacob stands before his father Isaac in disguise and takes a blessing that rightfully belongs to Esau. Upon hearing this, Esau cries out to Isaac, “Have you only one blessing, father?” (Genesis 27:37) How could Isaac, the father of both sons, in fact choose only one son to bless? How could there in fact, be only one blessing?

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Teaching Our Jacobs and Esaus

Teaching Our Jacobs and Esaus

Nov 9, 2002 By Steven Brown | Commentary | Toledot

Recounting the gestation, birth and maturation of the Bible’s most famous twins, Esau and Jacob, reminds me of a wonderful PBS film entitled, “How Difficult Can It Be? The F.A.T. City Workshop.” F.A.T. stands for Frustration, Anxiety, Tension. Through a series of simulations and exercises, Richard D. Lavoie, a gifted special education teacher, turns a group of highly accomplished adults into learning disabled students in a matter of minutes. He reminds us that children with learning differences or disabilities experience them not only in school, but twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, leading to daily frustration, anxiety and tension in their everyday lives. During a poignant moment in the film, Lavoie comments that fairness is not treating everyone the same, it’s giving everyone what she or he needs.

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Words Create Worlds

Words Create Worlds

Nov 9, 2002 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Toledot

This week’s Torah portion gives us a powerful, albeit troubling, reminder of the power of words. Jacob tricks his blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing reserved for the first-born son. Once the deception is unveiled, and Esau stands before Isaac with great expectation, the Torah paints a poignant picture of the devastating consequences of Isaac’s words.

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A Strategy of Inclusion

A Strategy of Inclusion

Nov 17, 2001 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Toledot

The disputes over water rights between Isaac and the King of Gerar have a contemporary ring. Beyond the current Intifada looms the persistent shortage of water that threatens Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians alike. With the Kinneret at its lowest ebb ever and aquifers depleted and increasingly polluted, the region’s bitter adversaries are at least united in their hopes for a rainy winter.

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Two Brothers, Two Candidates

Two Brothers, Two Candidates

Dec 2, 2000 By Joshua Heller | Commentary | Toledot | Purim

This week’s parashah, Tol’dot, tells the story the story of Isaac and Rebecca’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau is born with a slight advantage of age, with Jacob born close at his heels. The two brothers vie, each with measures of bluster and guile and with the support of a favoring authority figure, for the birthright and the destiny of a nation. This story has been played out more than once in history- most recently between two candidates in our own day.

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What Does Prayer Accomplish?

What Does Prayer Accomplish?

Nov 13, 1999 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Toledot

What does prayer accomplish? How often have we prayed to no avail for the recovery of someone we loved dearly? I offer a personal experience as a partial answer.

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Mourning a Sister

Mourning a Sister

Nov 29, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Toledot

The Shiva is over. I have reentered the world emotionally drained and self-absorbed. My sister, my only sibling, was also my friend. We shared so much of our adult lives. My wife and I were married in her home. Her first husband, an obstetrician for whom the practice of medicine was his calling, delivered our three children. Their spacious and relaxed home in Vineland, New Jersey provided us a refuge full of love, companionship and good conversation. We traveled together, mourned together and always celebrated the Passover sedarim together.

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The Flaws of Our Ancestors

The Flaws of Our Ancestors

Nov 13, 1993 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Toledot

As Jews, we revere our ancestors not because they were perfect, but because they are ours. Neither Abraham nor Isaac nor Jacob are portrayed by the Torah as men without flaws, or saints who could do no wrong. They exhibit the warts and weaknesses we recognize in ourselves. What sets them apart, rather, is the nobility and courage of their convictions as evinced in moments of luminous insight and supreme self-denial.

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Toledot

Toledot

Jan 1, 1980

1 A pronouncement: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.

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Toledot

Toledot

Jan 1, 1980

19 This is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac.

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