Toldot – See Your Strengths

Two more sons with contrasting characters is the theme of this week’s Parsha, Toldot. Yaakov and Eisav are as different from each other as two brothers can be. One is fast-living larrikin who enjoys the sensory pleasures of life – including food (to the extent that he sell his birthright to his brother for a Masterchef pot of lentil soup!) The other is a bookish scholar who so enjoys studying that he hardly finds his way outdoors.

  • Chabad Hassidic teachings inform us that Kabbalistically, Eisav represents the body and Yaakov represents the soul. Body-wise, Jews aren’t very different from gentiles. Hence Yaakov was able to seemingly trick his father Yitzhak to get the family blessings by wearing Eisav’s clothes – the body can deceive.
  • A person’s truth lies in the soul, not the body. And here the Jewish soul is distinguished, to the extent that Jews have continued to exist eons beyond any other culture – the spiritual adherence to G-d being the expression of the Jewish soul.
  • There are times when we need to wear the clothes of Eisav – the cunning and cleverness needed to defend our bodies against our enemies. But the ultimate distinctiveness lies in our spiritual, intellectual and emotional response to our environment and life’s more subtle challenges.
  • So let your children see visibly where your strength lies – not in a muscular body, but in a sensitive and insightful soul.