This week we study Parashat Toledot (Genesis 25:19-28:9).
* Rabbi Beryl Wein writes: “Finding a mate is no simple matter. The rabbis characterized its difficulty as being on the scale of splitting the Yam Suf. But finding that mate and building a successful and satisfying marriage thereafter are two different tasks. From this week’s parsha it is obvious that Yitzchok and Rivka are at cross purposes regarding the treatment due to Eisav. Yitzchok is willing to give him almost everything in order to attempt to save him from his own evil nature and negative course in life.”
In Hollywood movies, finding the mate is frequently a plot line but building a marriage is rarely portrayed. Take the 1997 Jack Nicholson movie As Good As It Gets. Jack plays a misanthropic author who gets redeemed by his love for a waitress played by Helen Hunt. Though the movie has a happy ending, if anything like that happened in real life, it would not work unless the author got extensive counseling. If you can’t get your computer to work, you take it to a pro. If you can’t get your life or your relationships to work, you have to go to a pro.
Isaac and Rivka are not on the same page when it comes to raising Esau. This happens in real life. There’ll never be anyone in your life who’s on the same page as you with everything. You’re going to have to negotiate differences all the way through your life or just go it alone.
If you give up what is important to you to get along, you’ll be miserable. If you stick to your guns no matter what, you’ll be miserable. The mature person learns to stick up for what he believes in and maintains his integrity while attempting to stay in relationship to the people important to him. That’s the trick. It’s called differentiation.
It’s not good when parents play favorites but they often do. Schools and businesses are often run like families. Some are favored children and others are rebels. Be I in school or at a job, I keep playing out the role I had in my family growing up. Your relationship with your father profoundly affects your career and financial status and your relationship with your mother profoundly affects your relationships. If you don’t take a close look at these dynamics, you’ll keep playing out stuff from childhood instead of relating to people as they are.
I get frustrated when people just relate to me as a type (as a blogger or an Alexander teacher or an Orthodox Jew or whatever).
* Rabbi Beryl Wein writes: “The frightening thing about the struggle between Eisav and Yaakov is its apparently doomed inevitability.”
Many of problems are just inevitable. Much of the tension between husband and wife is just inherent to a man and a woman pairing up. Half of the problems you have with your spouse are simply because your spouse is a member of the opposite sex, says Dennis Prager. There’s no soul mate out there for you who just understands you and relating to her is easy.
Rabbi Wein writes: “The question of accommodation – of the relationship between the Jewish people and the broader, more numerous and powerful non-Jewish world – remains alive and relevant until our very day.”
There will never be a time when relating to the goyisha world is tension free for the Jew, particularly the observant Jew. That said, it’s a lot easier to just surround yourself with observant Jews. It is easier to shop at Glatt Mart than at Ralphs.
The more I surround myself with Gentiles, the more I find myself compromising on my Jewish observance. I pretty much become like whoever I hang around.
Rabbi Wein writes: “The Torah just seems to take it for granted that this is the way it is going to be. And this accounts to a great degree for the almost traditional Jewish attitude of fatalism regarding the behavior of the non- Jewish world towards the Jews. Rabi Shimon ben Yochai stated in the Talmud that it is a given rule that Eisav hates Yaakov. However, there are other opinions there in the Talmud that take a different tack and belie this inevitability of hatred and violence.”
“Faith and fortitude in our own self-worth are the strongest weapons in our arsenal to bring Eisav to reconciliation and harmony.”
When you’re solid in yourself, criticisms don’t bother you. Other people only upset you when they touch on your own insecurities.
* Rabbi Wein writes: “The Torah tells us that when Eisav sold the birthright to Yaakov he had no regrets and no hesitation in so doing. The birthright was then of no value to him. The pot of lentils, the good time, the night out with the boys, his sexual conquests, these were the important things in his life. So he throws away the item that in later life he will most crave and long to find – his birthright, his soul, his very being.”
Same thing happened to me. I gave away my honor for a song and now I want back that innocence.
Rabbi Wein writes: “Eisav’s cry of: “Have you no other blessing for me?” is heard from the depths of the souls of countless Jews today. All of the alternate forms of Judaism, the phony kabbalists and the guitar-playing, kitsch prayer services are a symptom of this deep longing for spirituality, meaning and self-worth in life. But having sold out and discarded the birthright, many times without even realizing that there was once a birthright that was abandoned by their grandparents for a pot of lentils, all of the new blessings somehow turn out to unsatisfying and non-propagating.”
* Different kids require different schoolings. Rabbi Wein writes: “Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch… boldly observes that Yitzchak and Rivka are to be faulted for giving Eisav the same type of education and curriculum of study that they assigned to Yakov. Eisav is not Yakov.”