Torah Portion: Toldot (History) B’Resheet (Gen.) 25-28
HafTorah: Malachi 1:1-2:7
This week we read the only Torah portion devoted to the second of the three patriarchs. It offers us an inside look at the life of Isaac and his family. We read of his going through the Land, interacting with the Philistines and finally the birth of his twin sons Jacob and Esau. It is interesting to note that he is the only one of the three patriarchs to never leave the Land of Israel. In fact when he faces famine G-d instructs him specifically to not leave the Land. (Genesis 26:2)
We also read of his opening of the wells first dug by his father Abraham. He renames them using the same names that Abraham used when he first dug them. (Genesis 26:18) I would like to take a minute and speak about this before we move on. We could look at this as a way of restating that Isaac is the legitimate heir to Abraham’s legacy. Like his father he sojourns as a stranger in a strange land without any water rights.
You might also look at it on a deeper spiritual level. You could see this story as an illustration of the value of returning to his roots, the original sources of his faith. He could have dug new wells. However, instead, he chose to restore Abraham’s wells. He could have chosen new names but as we have seen he chose to use the names Abraham gave them.
We could compare this to our faith. The biblical path of faith is not one of innovation and novelty. Instead, we find ourselves being nourished by drinking from the same wells of faith that our biblical fathers drank from. This point is played out in the New Testament in John chapter 4 when Yeshua spoke with the woman at the well. He offered her the living water of salvation. He was not speaking of actual water but His conversation with her and His offer of living water happened at Jacob’s well, the well of His earthly ancestor. It was not a new idea drawn from some unfamiliar source but from the well that He Himself drank from.
Our journey into faith in Messiah should be much like Isaac’s, back to the wells of his father Abraham. However, we encounter his problem. These original sources of our faith have been filled in and canceled by time and misguided church leaders over the centuries. The Sabbath has been forgotten, as well as the holy days, appointed times as set out in scripture. Torah itself has been seemingly covered with earth.
My point being, we need not dig new wells or create new names. Our task is to make the effort to open these original wells again. As we go along we will find them to be deep and filled with living water as they were when Abraham, Isaac and Jacob first drank from them.
Now I would like to look at the question I sent out this week. Why did Isaac love Esau. First, I think it is important to notice that scripture does not say he loved Esau more than Jacob but just that he loved him. As we read the story we can see that Isaac related to Esau seemingly more than Jacob. Esau was a hunter and cooked his father’s favorite food.
Let’s look at this story in a different way. Here are two boys, one well behaved, living in tents, and the other had the tendency to let his emotions rule him. Which of these two would probably require the most attention? We can apply this to children, friends or other family members. As a parent we have a responsibility to not despair or disown a wayward child. It could be here that Isaac was devoting more time to Esau in order to change him or give him the opportunity to change. I think we all have the same obligation with people and especially with our children. G-d has called us to be a person of change in the world, to do all we can to help our children succeed, to help our friends maybe exactly those that seem to have gotten off the path. We may not always succeed but whether we do or not, we have the responsibility to try to give them a chance in this world. Isaac may not have succeeded with Esau but he tried, so must we.