PRAYER FOR PEACE – WE STAND WITH ISRAEL
Adonai oz le’amo yitën, Adonai yevarëch et amo vashalom.
May the Eternal One grant strength to our people;
may the Eternal One bless our people with peace.
From Reform Judaism 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 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 Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/toldot
By: Rabbi Kari Tuling
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For the time being, we will meet every other Friday for Torah Study to read and discuss selections from Ketuvim, the third section of Tanach (Hebrew Bible), which follows Torah and Nevi’im. Please see the NEW Torah Study-Shazoom schedule below. THIS week we will continue studying Tehillim (Psalms). You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.25.19-28.9 and the Haftarah 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. 2008
תולדת Tol’dot – Genesis 25:19–28:9
Contemporary Reflection – by Valerie Lieber, pp. 152-3
THIS TORAH PORTION PRESENTS the second of three matriarchs who suffer barrenness. In this episode Rebekah and Isaac are unable to conceive for the first twenty years of their marriage (25:20, 26). The Torah uses barren couples as a literary device to demonstrate the miraculous nature of the conception of the patriarchs and the beneficence of God. Infertility in the twenty-first century tells a different story: overworked and overstressed women, late marriage, and perhaps environmental toxins that inhibit reproduction.
The economy and culture of Rebekah’s Canaan and our society are worlds apart, yet the emotional reaction to infertility has remained largely unchanged. While suffering from her difficult pregnancy, Rebekah cries out, “Im ken lamah zeh anochi? (If this is so, why do I exist?)” Rebekah herself utters these words after she becomes pregnant. But many Jews ask such a question earlier, when they face difficulty conceiving and bringing a pregnancy to term. Aspiring parents today often suffer a crisis of meaning. Women and men who face infertility may experience devastating depression, anger, jealousy, and deep existential angst. It might seem that feminism would have liberated women from expectations of motherhood. After all, feminists of our age take pride that we are not limited by the narrow definitions of womanhood that characterized Rebekah’s milieu. Yet even in our liberated modern age, women and men usually see biological parenthood as a necessary rite of passage without which they are not considered full adults. Generating a child is a signifier of “true womanhood” and “real manhood” to many. Barrenness remains a social stigma–particularly in the Jewish community, which holds that the first mitzvah in the Torah is p’ru u-rvu (be fruitful and multiply).
Full integration and acceptance in the Jewish community often revolve around family life. The Jewish community has grown more open to gay and lesbian families in recent years largely because many such couples have been able to become parents–some through adoption or prior heterosexual reproduction, and more recently through artificial insemination. Yet adults in their thirties, forties, and fifties without children–regardless of their marital status and sexual orientation–remain outsiders in all but the most avant-garde synagogues and activist Jewish organizations. Childless adults treated as full participants in Jewish life remain the exception, and thus the Jewish community tends to lose these people from the rolls of temple membership.
What of the Jewish championing of classic feminist ideas that a woman is much more than a baby machine; that anatomy is not destiny; that a woman defines herself not primarily through her family but through her deeds and ideas? Even today, motherhood and fatherhood in the Jewish community are both idealized and romanticized. Now as much as ever, family and parenthood are the primary cultural institution where individuals look to find personal fulfillment, happiness, and love. Most contemporary Jews cannot imagine finding such rewards without children; many find it difficult to consider doing so without their own genetic children to realize the wish to pass Judaism, love, and genes mi-dor l’dor (from generation to generation).
Our community has done only an adequate job providing support for the infertile. Chapters on infertility in mainstream Jewish parenting books remain either absent or in the non-normative category even though infertility is rife. Nina Beth Cardin has written Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope (second edition, 2007), a spiritual companion for those grieving infertility, pregnancy loss, or stillbirth. This book belongs in every Jewish library, and in time, its messages will perhaps pervade Jewish culture. Yet even in this book adoption is discussed only as a last and unfavorable alternative.
Meanwhile, responsa literature and halachic interpretations have strongly supported artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization for heterosexual couples facing infertility because of the strong drive for Jewish continuity. Such a notion of Jewish continuity is not only religious, but also biological. There is more support in the Jewish institutional world than in Christian communities for reproductive technologies, apparently because many Jews believe Judaism is inherited as much as taught.
The definition of family in the Jewish world, it seems, clings to a model of parents who have genetic offspring. For example, in a study reported in 1991, researchers who surveyed a sample of male college students found that the Jews considered it more important than did the Christians that children be conceived by themselves and their spouse, rather than adopted.
Bonnie Ellen Baron and Lawrence Baron refer to that survey in the ground-breaking book Lifecycles, edited by Rabbi Debra Orenstein (1994). In their article “On Adoption” they explain that while there are some biblical precedents for adoption (Mordecai was guardian of Esther; Sarah initially seeks to adopt Hagar’s son), Judaism never has strongly encouraged it. They speculate that “Jewish law lacks a formal procedure for adoption because of the primacy it accords biological kinship in determining a child’s inheritance rights and religious and tribal status” (p. 28). This is true in spite of the primacy of tikkun olam as a deeply embedded value among Jews. How can we identify ourselves as a community of tikkun (repair) without a commitment to adopt children who languish around the world without loving parents?
Adoption support is rarely modeled by Jewish leaders. A remarkable exception is Yosef Abramowitz and Rabbi Susan Silverman, a couple who direct Jewish Family and Life! and began a family with biological offspring but also fulfilled a dream to adopt two children born in Ethiopia.
“Im ken lamah zeh anochi? (If this is so, why do I exist?)” was Rebekah’s question that continues to bedevil Jewish adults who hope to parent but are unable to carry a pregnancy to term. Has feminism not brought us better questions and better answers? Have modern, forward-thinking Jewish communities failed to provide real alternatives to a dilemma of meaninglessness in the absence of genetic heirs?
Tol’dot poses the question of meaning. If we answer that we exist only to fulfill impulses through our children, we have failed Judaism and feminism. If we answer that we exist for tikkun, to nurture children–biological, adoptive, and those we teach, mentor and support–then we will have succeeded far more in realizing the sacred goal of mi-dor l’dor, from generation to generation.
[On a personal note, twenty years ago a Jewish friend of many years who now lives in New England, chose to adopt a newborn boy from Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia. She brought him to the United States after months of fighting the Georgian government to get him out after they changed the adoption rules mid-way through the process. She had joined Rabbi Steven Chester and a group of congregants from Temple Sinai in Oakland on a tour of historic Eastern European Jewish communities and sites. While at Auschwitz, she decided that the best way for her to repair the world (Tikkun Olam) and ensure the continuity of the Jewish people was to adopt. To her credit as a single mother, her son is an asset to the Jewish community.]
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.376
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.
PRAYER FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL p.552
O HEAVENLY ONE, Protector and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel which marks the dawning of hope for all who seek peace. Shield it beneath the wings of your love; spread over it the canopy of Your peace; send Your light and truth to all who lead and advise, guiding them with Your good counsel. Establish peace in the land and fullness of joy for all who dwell there. 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, 5 Kislev through 11 Kislev, we lovingly remember:
Yetta B. Steinberg
Memorial Board, Mother of TKH Member Iris Adler
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 both Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, November 17, 2023. For the next few sessions, we will read and discuss Tehillim (Psalms) found in the third section of Tanakh, Ketuvim.
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 – Ketuvim: Tehillim
Time: Nov 17, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Nov 17, 2023 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 and Happy Thanksgiving
PS – About Tehillim (Psalms) and the NEW schedule through December 2023:
From My Jewish Learning
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Encyclopedia Britannica
NEW Schedule for Torah Study and Shazoom (Arizona Time Zone):
November 17, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm
November 24, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm TENTATIVE
December 1, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm
December 8, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm [Chanukah 2nd Candle before sundown]
December 15, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm [Chanukah ends]
December 22, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm
December 29, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm