The History of our people

5 Kislev 5781

This parashah speaks about the toledot (history) of Isaac, Esau and Jacob, but there are other Toledot: Toledot Adam (Bereshit 5:1-6:8); toledot Noah (Bereshit 6:9-9:20)

Toledot Shem, Ham, Japheth (Bereshit 10:1-11:9); Toledot Shem (Bereshit 11;10-26); toledot Terah (Bereshit 11:27- 32); Toledot Ishmael (Bereshit 25:12-18); Toledot Isaac Bereshit 25:19-35:29; Toledot Esau (Bereshit 36:1-37:1), and Toledot Jacob (Bereshit 37:1-50:26).

 “and may the LORD give you of the dew of the heavens and [of] the fatness of the earth and an abundance of grain and wine. Nations shall serve you and kingdoms shall bow down to you; you shall be a master over your brothers, and your mother’s sons shall bow down to you. Those who curse you shall be cursed, and those who bless you shall be blessed.” 

Today’s parashah speaks about generations, about Isaac’s generation and the struggle between his two children. Every time I am about to do a study, I ask one question; what do we need from God? We have spiritual, physical and emotional needs, so I ask God, “what is the main need of the people and how do we extract it from this parashah.

I struggled with this parashah and, as Mauricio Quintero put it, this parashah is rich with many themes, but it is important to hear from God in order to address our main needs and what we are looking for.

From my perspective, Toledot should be about the Promise, the blessing given to Abraham. The Bore Olam made a promise to Adam for the earth, then another promise to Noah for humanity, but with Abraham that promise was more concise, more individual and he received a blessing from the Almighty to his descendants. Isaac was the start of the blessing; now when Isaac married Rebekah, he must have spoken to her about the promise of God. As a woman she saw it in a different way. For example: I see things more in the materialistic way, a simple way but my wife sees things in more analytically; she sees the spiritual before the material.

Rebekah did not see just a promise; she saw a blessing and more. Esau was papa’s boy, his favourite in contrast to Jacob’s who was mama’s boy.  Bereshit 25:23 tells us that Adonai knew Jacob, the younger brother, was going to receive the blessing. And God knows everything, right? He knew Jacob was the carrier of the promise. 

Each person at birth received their name according to what their parents saw at the moment, describing them, in a way, it described or defined who they were, but eventually the LORD would change the name according to His purpose; for example, Abram became Abraham, Jacob would become Israel. 

Did the LORD know Rebekah was going to conspire to trick her husband? Did Rebekah perceive that Jacob was the bearer of the promise? She knew that Esau was going to serve Jacob because of what God had said when she inquired of the lord during her pregnancy. So, why did she need to intervene when Isaac was going to bless Esau?

Bereshit 27:4-7 tells us the blessing from Isaac to Esau was a material blessing; Isaac had decided to split the blessing in two, a material one and a spiritual one; Bereshit 27:28-29. It was not until Isaac sent Jacob to the land of Haran, that Isaac gave Jacob the spiritual blessing, the promise from God to Abraham. (Bereshit 28:3-5)

Isaac never intended to bless Esau with the spiritual blessing, but Rebekah knew or understood the importance of receiving both blessings and viewed the blessing as one.  The material cannot be separated from the spiritual realm, a relationship with God. 

We could be the answer / result of the promise of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and at the same time the bearer of the promise for future generations, to our children and our children’s children. But we must remember the spiritual blessing goes hand by hand with the material blessing, as one.

Isaac Payes