This week we read the Torah portion of Toldot. The Hebrew word Toldot means: “generations”, but it can also mean “happenings” or “the story of….”.
What do we read in Toldot?
We read the life stories of our ancestors, beginning with Rebecca’s anticipation of the birth of her twins, Jacob and Esau. These two were already fighting even before they were born! Poor Rebecca! But, she prayed and God heard her prayer and assured her that both of her sons would be okay…one day….
Not only did the twins struggle in utero, they also struggled, competed, and fought as youths. Then, they separated for twenty years. But, in the end, they came together, in peace and found the way to be brotherly brothers.
These days, we may feel much struggle and much division within our country. And, the story of our Torah portion can be read as reflecting our feelings – as reflecting a sense of an eternal, unending struggle. Jacob and Esau fought and they will always fight. They will always be locked in struggle. So it was from the time they were conceived and so it continued throughout their lives. That is one way to read our Torah portion.
But, the very same Biblical story can also be read as a story of eternal hope; a story that reminds us that we can hope for, and work toward, a more spiritual and more peaceful existence.
Even when it seems that we are walking in the path of endless struggle and division, we can look toward the future and know that we will resolve the struggle and we will be able to live in brotherly and sisterly love.
Jacob and Esau were never identical. Throughout their lives, they retained their God-given natures. But, in time, they learned how to live in peace side by side.
They retained their different perspectives, their strengths, and even their weaknesses. But, they learned how to appreciate one another.
They learned how to see the image of God in one another, despite their differences.
Rather than reading our Torah portion as a portion that reflects eternal struggle, this reading of our Torah portion is a reading of eternal hope!
As we honor our veterans this weekend, let us remember that our veterans’ service was, and continues to be, in aid of preserving and protecting our precious country and the freedoms we all enjoy to live side by side, in brotherly and sisterly love.
May we be privileged to see the realization of our hopes for peace, for understanding, and for mutual respect, soon, and in our time!
Rabbi Gilah Dror