Thursday, November 15, 2012
Parasha Toldot (Generations) Genesis 25:19-Gen28:9
Parasha Toldot (Generations)
Toldot is a recounting of our forefathers lineage, regardless of being born of Abraham’s lineage or coming into the family by the covenant of faith. In this Torah portion we have an interesting event, and a reoccurring event where the first-born is not the one chosen by YHVH, additionally the siblings started their family dispute from the womb. However I want to park our attention on the following passages: The boys grew. Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field. Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Now Isaac loved Esau, because he ate his venison. Rebekah loved Jacob. Jacob boiled stew. Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red, red stew, for I am famished.” Therefore his name was called Edom (red). Jacob said, “First, sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” He swore to him. He sold his birthright to Jacob. Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils. He ate and drank, rose up, and went his way. So Esau despised his birthright, Gen 25:27-34.
Here we have two individuals that are at opposite ends of the character spectrum. Esau I would consider a whirlwind, all action a man’s man, loving the outdoors, the challenge of life. YHVH lists one of his main skills as “a skillful hunter a man of the filed”, somehow I like that, I personally can identify with that. However, a few verses down, we see another aspect of his person, we see his character coming through in his actions. We see Esau, returning from the field, he was not successful in his hunting trip, I know the feeling all too well. However, I can draw two conclusions from this short verse. He went to the field unprepared and two he had no regard to familial responsibilities.
On the other hand we have Yaakov, a quiet man living in tents, his time was spent in the confines of his abiding place, close to the family interacting no doubt with all members of the family. Point to note! at this stage Yaakov had access to his grand father Abraham; so he would have spent time at his knee learning from his grand father, this knowledge is derived from a logical assumption of the cultural perspective of the time period. Yaakov I would consider a thinking man, a man of deep thought, with analytical skills that allowed him to assess and visualize an outcome before taking action. From here I infer two things about Yaakov’s character, first I see him a man of knowledge and that he would have learned the ways of his forefathers and their values. Some one that he would have listened intently and learned from his heritage and his grand father. Secondly I see a man, that’s because his time is spent in interrelationship and engaging in discussion within his community and his elders, therefore he is capable to wisely determine his path according to his actions.
The next information gleaned from this short few verses is important, that the verses and information, are given to us for the purpose of teaching us something that can be applied to our lives, right now, and it will also apply to generations to come as well, as it did to generations past. We find that our character determines our actions, our actions determine our path, our path determines our lot in life, and especially in the few flitting moments we have in this earth.
Esau came as a whirlwind was hungry saw food and acted on his instinct. Yaakov knew of his promise, that the older would serve the younger, he knew too well he had no right to the heritage of the first born, and the blessings thereof. He acted in his usual calm cool collected way. The rest is history as it is said, Each acted according to his character, each received his reward accordingly, as it turned out the first born heritage carried a lot of weight, yet it was taken lightly and was lost by an action of spoken words. So is the covenant with Messiah, we utter our commitment, we repent of our actions and past life, and take YHVH as our king and master through our faith in Messiah. We are therefore are born a new a new creation a first-born heritage into the kingdom. How we act will depend how we treat that heritage, do we treasure it or do we despise it
It is my firm belief that what we do here is dress rehearsal for the world to come. Because character defines our actions then we ought to examine our character and if it found wanting then we should add and embellish it to suit our service to YHVH. Character can be molded and shaped like clay, it is not easy, it can be painful but the rewards are for the taking and beyond physical measure.
Here is the challenge, self examine yourselves on the mirror that is the Torah, see what are your tov (good, functional) traits, keep them, feed them, exercise them, it’s a muscle that the more you use the strongest it gets. The traits that are lo-tov (not good, not functional), need to be starved out, not exercised, replaced by new ones that will bring forth life, wealth, contentment, and most important a dwelling place in the world to come.
Toldot, generations, Esau’s actions had a repercussion on his following generations to this day. Likewise Yaakov’s actions has had a positive repercussion on his following generations, the promise is kept perpetually. We are the ones living his actions, his faith in YHVH, so may years ago, here we are reading, studying, learning and basking in his actions and hopefully following in our fore fathers tov (good, functional) actions. May your walk be like our forefathers and may you take the challenge of developing a character that suits your walk with Adonai YHVH.