TORAH READING FOR 2 KISLEV 5783 Nov 25-26, 2022
From “The Haftarah Commentary” / by Plaut UAHC Press 1996:
GLEANINGS p. 62
From the rising of the sun to its setting My name is great among the nations. (Malachi 1:11)
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/toldot
Tol’dot [תּוֹלְדֹת – The Generations (of Isaac)] – Genesis 25:19-28:9
This is the line of Isaac son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac. – Genesis 25:19
- Rebekah has twins, Esau and Jacob. (25:19-26)
- Esau gives Jacob his birthright in exchange for some stew. (25:27-34)
- King Abimelech is led to think that Rebekah is Isaac’s sister and later finds out that she is really his wife. (26:1-16)
- Isaac plans to bless Esau, his firstborn. Rebekah and Jacob deceive Isaac so that Jacob receives the blessing. (27:1-29)
- Esau threatens to kill Jacob, who then flees to Haran. (27:30-45)
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toledot
Malachi 1 opens with God noting “I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau,” before promising retribution on Esau’s descendants, the people of Edom.
From The Haftarah Commentary, Gunther Plaut/Chaim Stern UAHC Press 1996 p.54
Connection of haftarah and sidra:
The sidra begins with the struggle of Esau and Jacob in the womb of their mother, a struggle that was perpetuated in later history. The haftarah recalls this tension in its opening section.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/toldot
Why Do We Exist?
By: Rabbi Stacy Rigler
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Genesis that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) following this portion. This week’s Haftarah is Malachi 1:1-2:7. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.25.19-28.9 and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/Malachi.1.1-2.7
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
תולדת Tol’dot – Genesis 25:19–28:9
Shaping Destiny: The Story of Rebekah by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Hara E. Person, p. 133
PARASHAT TOL’DOT (“generations”) begins with Isaac but focuses heavily on Rebekah as the more active member of this family. Rebekah runs the family and undertakes the task of determining the destiny of God’s blessings. As the one who blesses, Isaac has authority; but in determining who gets blessed–seemingly against Isaac’s intentions–Rebekah has the power. She independently seeks God and alone receives God’s answer about the future.
This parashah recounts a family story. A mother gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob; and from the beginning, the brothers vie for prominence and their parents’ favor. Like other biblical narratives in Genesis, this parashah is also concerned with self-definition–with the identity of the Israelite community in relation to surrounding peoples and cultures. Rebekah’s twins represent two distinct nations: Israel and Edom.
Rebekah occupies center stage in several key scenes. Energetically, Rebekah ensures that the covenantal blessings will be bestowed on the more suitable son. Isaac, eclipsed by his parents, wife, and offspring, simply goes along–passively and gently surviving.
As Alice Bellis observes, interpreters often object to Rebekah’s manipulations of her husband, comparing her unfavorably with Sarah’s treatment of Hagar in Genesis 16 and 21, as if “[abusing] a woman servant is acceptable; deceiving a man, even to achieve God’s mission, is not” (Helpmates, Harlots, and Heroes: Women’s Stories in the Hebrew Bible, 1994, p. 83). The Torah, however, presents Rebekah as a figure without whom the covenant will not continue properly, the necessary link between Abraham’s blessing and Jacob’s.
Another View – by Diane M. Sharon, p. 150
IN THIS TORAH PORTION, our foremother Rebekah takes matters into her own hands in order to secure Isaac’s blessing for her favorite son, Jacob. She is encouraged to do so by the prophecy she receives when she inquires of God during her pregnancy (25:23). God answers Rebekah’s inquiry about her pregnancy with the ambiguity inherent in every oracle. The oracle specifies that Rebekah is carrying twins and that each child will develop into a nation. Their future relationships, however, remain ambiguous (see at v. 23). Which of the two peoples shall overcome the other? Who will serve whom?
What if Rebekah misinterprets the prophecy? What if its ambiguity is part of the divine purpose? What if, by eliminating the ambiguity–by urging Jacob to steal the blessing meant for his brother–Rebekah is not acting in harmony with the will of God?
In that case we would expect the text to show dire consequences. Indeed, such consequences ensue. First, the fruits of the stolen blessing do not come easily to Jacob. The blessing that he gains by guile refers to material benefits (27:28–29). He later secures his wealth–the promise in this stolen blessing–in an environment of stealth (Genesis 29–31). Second, he soon loses something far more precious than material abundance: his beloved wife dies in childbirth (35:19). Third, there is consequently Rebekah’s pain. She sends Jacob away for his protection (27:43–44) and dies without seeing him again. Rebekah must have suffered deeply in separating from her beloved son Jacob. She pays a very high price for her determination to ignore the ambiguity of God’s word.
The outcome of Rebekah’s story may, perhaps, teach us to allow the divine process to unfold for a while, before we decide to take action on God’s behalf. Perhaps the gift from our biblical mother Rebekah in this parashah is her prompting us to sense ambiguity, to appreciate nuance–and to have the wisdom and patience to let divine intention blossom in its own time.
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Carol Bakhos, pp. 150-151
This is the line of Isaac (25:19). In parashat Tol’dot the reader is re-introduced to Rebekah, the second of the matriarchs, whom the Rabbis extolled for resisting the temptations of idolatry and unrighteous behavior that characterized her childhood home. Moreover, when God’s intention to maintain the covenant through Jacob was made known to her, she single-mindedly fulfilled the divine will, even when it meant deceiving her husband and disinheriting her older son. The Rabbis’ high regard for her reminds us that this portion is as much about Rebekah as it is about her husband. According to the Rabbis, her virtuous behavior merited that the twelve tribes would spring directly from her through her son Jacob (Midrash B’reishit Rabbah 63.6).
daughter of … the Aramean (25:20). This verse describes Rebekah as the daughter of Bethuel “the Aramean,” of Paddan Aram, and as the sister of Laban “the Aramean.” Given the name of the city, both mentions of “the Aramean” (ha-arami) appear superfluous. By means of word play, B’reishit Rabbah 63.4 explains that the first “Aramean” comes to teach us that her father was a ram’ai–a deceiver. Her brother was also a deceiver, as were all her neighbors. Rebekah was surrounded by deception, living among bad influences on her behavior. But she set herself apart and stood out like “a lily among the thorns” (Song of Songs 2:2).
Isaac pleaded with יהוה on behalf of his wife, for she was childless (25:21). According to rabbinic tradition, there were seven infertile biblical women for whom prayer was efficacious. P’sikta D’Rav Kahana 20.1 lists the first six as Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, the wife of Manoah (Samson’s mother in Judges 13), and Hannah. The seventh is personified Israel, based on the characterization of Zion as a childless woman whose hopes for offspring will be fulfilled by God at the time of redemption (Isaiah 54).
The children pressed against each other inside her (25:22). B’reishit Rabbah 63.6 relates that whenever Rebekah stood near synagogues or schools, Jacob struggled to come out; and when she passed idolatrous temples, Esau eagerly endeavored to emerge.
יהוה said to her: “Two peoples are in your belly” (25:22). The Rabbis dignified both Sarah and Rebekah with the title of prophet. They further observed that Rebekah experienced divine revelation twice, once when God informed her that she was pregnant with twins, and again when Rebekah learned about Esau’s decision to kill Jacob (27:42). In the first instance, she learns of the two nations struggling in her womb when she visits the study house of Shem and Eber (see Genesis 11:10–26; B’reishit Rabbah 63.6). Here the Rabbis reaffirmed the need for intercession between the Divine and humans, a notion found also in B’reishit Rabbah 82.3 with reference to Jacob. Thus gender does not seem to be the issue as much as the notion of how one makes contact with God. Similarly, in the second case, the Rabbis stated that the matriarchs were prophets–and Rebekah was a matriarch. Thus, despite her less than reputable pedigree, Rebekah joins her husband in meriting prophetic status: in fact, it is Rebekah rather than Isaac who executes the divine will in ensuring that Jacob receive the status of firstborn son (B’reishit Rabbah 63.7; 67.9).
but Rebekah favored Jacob (25:28). According to B’reishit Rabbah 63.10, “The more she heard his voice [engaged in study, reciting his lessons aloud], the stronger grew her love for him.”
They were a bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebekah (26:34–35). The Rabbis invoked Rebekah’s idolatrous pedigree when they considered this reference to Isaac’s and Rebekah’s’ unhappiness over Esau’s choice of wives. They concluded that Isaac is mentioned first in this verse because he was more disturbed over Esau’s marriages to idolators than Rebekah. This is because, “as the daughter of idolatrous priests, Rebekah was more accustomed to the pollution of idolatry and did not object–but Isaac, the son of holy parents, did object” (B’reishit Rabbah 65.4). The Rabbis were also struck by the focus on Isaac in a passage concerned with domestic matters. Ordinarily one would have expected Rebekah to be more aware of what went on in her household than her husband. The Rabbis extrapolated this assumption to women in general, positing “another reason why Isaac is mentioned first: It is a woman’s habit to stay at home [and do productive work], and a man’s to go out in public and learn understanding from people; but as Isaac’s eyes were dim he stayed at home; therefore [the matter was disturbing] to Isaac first” (B’reishit Rabbah 65.4).
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 2 Kislev through 8 Kislev, we lovingly remember:
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, November 25, 2022. For the next few months we will read and discuss the Haftarah, each selection from the prophets following the weekly Torah Portion.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Toldot: Malachi 1:1-2:7
Time: Nov 25, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Nov 25, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – About the Book of Malachi (the last of the twelve minor prophets):
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Malachi
From My Jewish Learning
Timelines from Wikipedia