Leah’s Blog Parashat Toldot 2022
Leah’s Blog Toldot- The Chronicles of WAR AND PEACE
As war is impacting us now on a global level, we are again reviewing the chronicles of Jewish and world history in the book of Bereishit. They always seem to run parallel, world events and the story of Israel as we read again and again the portions of the Torah. There are always actors on the stage- both of now and then. Learning history enables us to wonder at the beginning. The Torah fascinates time after time, year after year with distinguishing ingredients of what seems a story, yet a knowing testimony to the world and to the Torah’s mission in it. The underlying meaning of Toldot- literally –”this history” is about the raw carnal nature of man vrs. the need to “sit in a tent”-and to learn mussar, to study about the chesed and G-dly attributes, to be a better person bring true peace.- This juxtapose is augmented in the embodiment of the two personas- Yaakov and Esau.
This is the biography of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs and crucial to understand how it all began and ultimately will end (spoiler- with Yaakov limping but overcoming and becoming Israel). This is a book of adventure, of riveting pages turning, of turmoil and despair and a knowing lesson for every single person that reads it. Abraham has a son only in old, age, Yitzchak is almost offered and saved by the skin of his teeth, Yaakov is haunted and hunted by his own twin. The word Toldot is mentioned thirteen times in the Torah, culminating in Malchut when King David is born; this is when the last piece of the puzzle reaches the ultimate picture. The Torah is the frame and the narrator of a fabulous prophecy.
After the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, ten generations later Hashem picked Noah to repopulate the world. Shem Chahm and Yapeth weathered the storm. Noah blessed Shem particularly and said: “G-d of Shem, let Him dwell in the tents of Shem.” The Shechinah would rest in a place that Shem would prepare- a Beit Midrahsh just steps away from the Temple Mount. Readers, I have been in it, an astounding find and testimony-(credit to Eli Shookroon- senior archeologist at the City of David) . Consecrating this place- the first “Yeshiva” was founded- the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever. The Priest that blesses Abraham (Malkitzedek) is identified as Shem. After the binding, Yitzchak goes to this sacred enclosure to glean Torah here. Yaakov went to learn at Shem and Ever for forteen years before he left Israel for the house of Lavan- filled up with the keylim (tools to handle)so needed . The Torah describes the house of Yaakov as- “How goodly are your tents!” All of what he learned he passed over to Yosef, who is also called “Ben Zekoonim”- the son of the elders because he learned the deep Torahs of the elders-Shem and Ever therefore had no doubt he would have his dreams come true.
In Berieshit we read about hearing G-d’s voice, erecting altars, but most of all- witnessing miracles. The paradigm for EFFORT is blatant on the side of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Their dedication cultivated a life of FAITH THROUGH ACTION- as we see Yaakov morphs from a Yeshiva bochur into a man of DOING. He is not ravaged by hunger, does not steal, does not make war- but he also moves out of the tent into the real world. The combination of ACTION, ACHIEVEMENT and MUSSAR is the recipe of the Torah. The blatant comparison of Yaakov and Esau teach us an important lesson today. At the time of crisis for Rivka as well as Sarah, they had a place to turn to, to receive council- the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever.
Finding Divine explanation can be found in a house of Torah study. Make it your business to get there. The Torah is vital in the long haul in life- at home, in your neighborhood, in your state, in your country- in the world!
Shabbat Shalom , Leah