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Like Jacob and Esau, hope remains if you try really hard

11/08/2018 01:19:38 PM


Jeffrey B. Remz

Complex relationships are part and parcel of this week’s parashah of Toldot. Due to famine, Isaac finds himself living with the Philistines. Great move because “Isaac sowed in that land and reaped a hundredfold the same year” (Gen 26:12). He did so well that the Philistines gave him the boot.
Isaac followed in the footsteps of his father, digging wells in Gerar - the same location as his father, Abraham, even naming them the same.
But difficult times ensued with the fraught relationship between his sons Jacob and Esau. Jacob impersonates Esau to secure a blessing from his blind father. Rebecca, Jacob’s mother, is implicitly involved in the deception.
Soon Esau - the man of the fields, the man who sold his meaningless birthright – wails in the presence of Isaac, realizing that Jacob had duped his father for a blessing that makes him master over Esau. Fearing for his life, Jacob flees on the advice of Rebecca.
Despite the clear despair of Isaac upon learning that he had been deceived (“Isaac was seized with very violent trembling” – Gen. 27:33), he tries comforting Esau whom he obviously loves with a blessing, including that Esau could eventually free himself of his brother.
Chances are strong that either as child or parent, we have not always done the right thing whether with a sibling or parent. Toldot imparts to us not to give up on relationships with loved ones. There may be much pain and hardship along the way to get there, but if Jacob and Esau can later hug, hope remains. One just needs to try. Really hard.
Jeffrey B. Remz is the Temple Director of Communications and Marketing.

Wed, June 19 2019 16 Sivan 5779