Torah Tidbits


The Fine Line between Guidance and Control

Shabbat Parashat Toldot

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh

November 2, 2013 – 29 Cheshvan 5774

The Fine Line between Guidance and Control

Our Parsha tells the story of  our matriarch, Rebecca, who was very pro-active in her interactions with her husband, Isaac, as well as with her two children, Esau and Jacob.

From the outset, Rebecca, turned to God to ask about the essence of her life and, even before they were born, about the future of her twin sons.

Later in life, Rebecca orchestrated Isaac’s blessing of Jacob when Isaac himself was
more inclined to give his major blessing to Esau.  And so, it continued.  Rebecca told Jacob to flee from Esau’s wrath.  Jacob followed Rebecca’s plan for his life.  But, then, he continued on his own, to grow, to change, to flourish, to establish his own household, his own identity, his own character, and to become the person who was able to wrestle with an angel and to be re-named Yisrael [Israel].

And, the Torah tells us, that Esau was also able to obtain a significant blessing from his father, Isaac, and to do well for himself and for his family after his anger at Jacob wore off.  In fact, years later, the Torah tells us that the two brothers were reconciled.  It seems that both Jacob and Esau learned to respect one another.

The story of Rebecca and Isaac, and their children, Esau and Jacob, highlights for us the dilemmas we may face as we turn to God and to Torah to find answers to existential questions about our lives.

Was Rebecca providing Jacob and Esau with the guidance, or was she being overly controlling?

This is the kind of question we grapple with as spiritual human beings.

Discussing Torah stories such as the one found in this week’s Torah portion and developing a degree of self awareness can help us to determine when the wisdom we are offering is, as Torah is meant to be –  loving guidance, and when we are simply allowing ourselves to be controlling of others.

This Shabbat we will recite the blessing for the new Jewish month of Kislev.  Rosh Chodesh Kislev will be on Saturday night, Sunday, and Monday of this coming week.   May we enjoy the blessings of Kislev and may it be a month of great joy, of goodness, of justice, of mercy, of peace and of reconciliation.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror