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Parashat Toldot - 5775

My friends,

In last week's Torah reading, we read of the passing of our father Abraham and mother Sarah. This week's Parasha describes the life of our father Isaac and mother Rebecca.

Nothing seems to come easy to our ancestors. Sarah had difficulties conceiving and so did Rebecca. Sarah and Abraham had to deal with two totally different children, Isaac and Yishmael, and so did Rebecca and Isaac. They have twins, Esau and Jacob. There is sibling rivalry and strife as Yishmael and Isaac are separated, in order not to inherit the same land.

The sibling rivalry between Esau and Jacob begins in the womb as they cannot stand each other. As they grown up they take two different paths. Esau is a hunter, Jacob hangs around the house and is a good student.

Just like Ishmael and Isaac, Jews - the descendants of Isaac - and Arabs - the descendants of Ishmael - will become enemies (and still are to this day).

Esau in the Talmud is represented by Rome and the Christian world. Only during the last few decades or so have Jews and Christians begun a rapprochement. But for close to 2000 years, Jews did not fare well in the Christian world. Those are historical facts which will be settled soon, when the Mashiach will come.

I would like to share with you one message from this Parasha that can apply to our life. Esau is looked down upon for selling his birthright for a pot of lentils. He gives up his birthright for the immediate pleasure of satisfying his hunger, while Jacob appreciates the abstract benefits of becoming the first born, with claims on the religious teachings that he will inherit form his parents and pass on to his descendants.

Esau had a choice to make - he chose the immediate and materialistic benefits.

Everyone of us is faced with making choices. It is easy to see the benefits of physical activities and endeavors that provide us with immediate pleasures and satisfaction. Is is much easier to chose such activities over spiritual ones, which may not give us immediate benefits and satisfaction. Take, for instance, Torah study, Shabbat or synagogue attendance. We don't always have the time because there are so many things we must do like work, family, physical activities, shopping, participating in sports, or watching sports games and TV, etc. etc.

That's what Esau did. He picked a stew of lentils over the spiritual benefits that go with a birthright.

Be like Jacob. Make your Shabbat special and set times to study Torah and attend services.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram