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"First, the  Truth" -  Parshat Toldot, 5781

11/18/2020 10:13:40 AM

Nov18

Lindsay Wolf, Guest Scholar

 

This week's D'var was prepared by Lindsay Wolf for her Bat Mitzvah which was held via Zoom on Shabbat Mincha.  We are so proud and were so wowed by Lindsay's essay into her read on the narrative of how Rebecca and Jacob tricked Isaac into giving the Firstborn Blessing to Jacob rather than Esau that I wanted to share her profound words with her congregation.  Mazal Tov, Lindsay!

Bat Mitzvah Lindsay with torah

Shabbat Shalom! Thank you all for being here with me today to celebrate my bat mitzvah. While we may not all be together in person, I feel your warmth and love all around me and I am grateful you could share this special day with me.
 
My torah portion is called Toldot. Toldot tells the story of the relationship between brothers Jacob and Esau, twins born to Rebecca and Isaac. Esau is the first born and he is cruel, selfish and violent. Jacob is born holding on to Esau's heel and the prophecy tells Rebecca when she is pregnant, "there are 2 nations in your womb "and the younger will prevail over the elder. Jacob is described as a wholesome, spiritual man and Rebecca wants Jacob to receive the birthright and Isaac's blessing. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew, showing how little the birthright meant to Esau. Rebecca then devises a plan for Jacob to fool his father Isaac into giving him the blessing by pretending to be Esau. Jacob receives the blessing but then has to flee to his Uncle where he marries and raises his family. Esau leaves to go to a new home and Rebecca is left all alone.    
 
What I learned from this story is that the price of lying to get what you want is too high because the truth will eventually come out. The short-term result of the story is that the family is destroyed. Rebecca never sees her children again. Now in her case, maybe it's worth it because the fate of the world is in the balance. Even though for her it was a necessary sacrifice to have Jacob receive the birthright and blessing, for us there is no excuse.
 
The lessons learned from this story is that even if you think you are lying for the right reasons it is very hard to escape the consequences.
 
Jacob pays the price of fooling his father by later in his life being fooled by his uncle and his sons. Rebecca pays the price by losing her family.
 
I invite you to think about how each of us can determine to be truthful with ourselves and with each other. It might be easier not to tell the truth, or only tell part of the truth, but in the end, it is much better to be truthful. Only when Jacob later in life changes his whole personality and takes on a new name, Israel, is he able to be the ancestor of the Jewish people. We each need to grow into who we need to be by being truthful.
 
In my parsha, Esau is a hunter who kills innocent animals. That is why he is not fit to be founder of the Jewish people. It is the gentle shepherd, Jacob, who is kind to animals who we are meant to imitate. For my mitzvah project I raised funds and baked treats for One Step Closer Animal Rescue known as OSCAR. I did this because dogs and animals are very important in my life and having a dog is very special. We adopted our dog Oreo from OSCAR 3 years ago and she is my best friend. She makes me feel safe and loved. I had the opportunity to read to the seeing eye dogs in my reading class in 4th grade and it made me feel calm and confident in my reading. Dogs bring comfort and safety and I wanted to help them and other animals find safe and loving forever homes so they could bring comfort and love to their families as well. Thanks to the generosity of my donors, the funds raised were able to be used for a special double eye surgery for "Ben" the dog at OSCAR. Ben's surgery was a success and he has been given a clean bill of health! I visited OSCAR and got to meet "Ben" and give him some of my treats, which he loved and he gave me lots of kisses! Ben also had a meet and greet scheduled so he can be adopted! How wonderful! A true Mitzvah! 

Wed, July 28 2021 19 Av 5781