Torah Portion: Tol’dot (Generations) (B’resheet) Genesis 25-28
Haftorah Reading: Malachi 1:1-2:7
This week we read a portion of Torah that covers much of the life of Isaac. Contained also is the drama played out in the family which concerns the two sons of Isaac and Rebekah. I want us to take time looking at this drama but first a few words about the second Patriarch of Israel, Isaac.
As we read of his life there are several things that bear mentioning. Isaac is the only one of the three patriarchs to never leave the Land of Israel in his entire life. In Genesis 26 we read where there was a famine in the Land, like in the days of Avraham, but in verse 2-3 G-d tells Isaac not to leave the Land but to stay. G-d goes on to tell him He will bless Isaac and give him the promises of Avraham.
Following in verse 7 we see him tell the men of Gerar, a city of the Philistines, that Rebekah is his sister because he feared for his life. In verse 18 we read where he reopened the wells that Avraham had dug earlier.
Both Avraham and Isaac had problems between their children. So from this we see Isaac being much like his father but also being his own man, responsible before G-d for how he lived his life. I think from this we can learn that our families have a great impact on our life, however, we are ultimately responsible before G-d and can’t fall back on our past as an excuse for our actions or inactions. We all stand before G-d.
Now to the relationships in this family, Rebekah, in her pregnancy, was visited by G-d and told that two nations were to be born from her. (Genesis 25:23) and that the elder would serve the younger. As we read on we see the different paths they chose. Esau was a hunter, a man of the field. Jacob was a quiet man living in tents. Genesis 25:27
These were two sons with the same DNA, same environment yet very different. Esau was a man of instant gratification, focused on the here and now. As the oldest son he stood in line to inherit the birthright that would, at his father’s death, put him in charge of the family. He would be responsible for the day to day tasks of leadership. He would also be the one to carry the spiritual leadership and the promises of G-d to Avraham and Isaac. Part of those promises included the inheritance of the Land. However, that would be centuries in being fulfilled and much heartache and difficulty would be involved. Sounds like something a man of the here and now would be interested in? So when Jacob came to him with this deal, a bowl of soup for the birthright Esau saw it as a win win situation. He got to satisfy his hunger and also to rid himself of all the responsibility of the birthright. So the deal was struck. In verse 34 we read where scripture says he despised his birthright. My question this week was, what does it mean to despise his birthright and what can we learn from it?
We each have a birthright as a child of G-d. Each of us has a role to fill in this world. We don’t have the same role but one that the Father has given to us that no one else can do. Our question is what do we do with it? Some of us may be people who like the here and now, instant gratification. Some more like Jacob who are quieter and tent dwellers. In reality our role does not depend on our personality or desires for that matter. What is does depend on is the call and will of G-d. Are we ready to follow our birthright or are we content to live in our flesh doing what pleases our flesh? Do we sell our birthright cheaply for relief from the pressures of walking a G-dly path? Are we doing what G-d has called us to do?
We live in a world that praises individuality and doing what makes you fell good, to chase after the “game” of the world like Esau. Are we spending our lives following G-d’s will for us?
Jacob spent a lot of time in the land of Laben working for his wife but he never forgot what G-d had spoken to him when he left Israel. He endured it all – the heart ache of seeing his beloved die just a few miles from home, arguing children, but it was all worth it because he was doing what G-d asked of him. Have you forgotten G-d’s call on your life or promises He made to you long ago that haven’t come to life yet?
My prayer for each of us is that we not despise our birthright but follow the leading of G-d and remember His promises.