Sedra of the week: Toldot
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
Analysis

Sedra of the week: Toldot

Director of operations at Tribe, Tamara Jacobson, looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)
Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)

In this week’s sedra we learn how Jacob, with his mother Rebecca’s help and encouragement, disguises himself as his elder brother, the hunter Esau, before successfully gaining the firstborn’s blessings from their poor-sighted father, Isaac. As a result, the furious Esau vows to kill his brother and so Jacob’s parents instruct him to flee to his uncle Laban, in faraway Padan Aram, where he remains for 20 years.

At first glance, this seems to make sense. Jacob steals the blessing, angers his brother so much that his life is in danger and then runs away. However, the Torah also tells us: “And Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Padan Aram.” If Esau knew where Jacob was hiding, why did he not pursue his brother and enact his revenge?

Our Sedra teaches that Esau had married two Canaanite women, much to his parents’ displeasure. We also know that earlier, he had sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup. But what happens next perhaps shows a side to Esau many of us have not considered and it begins to answer our question. Esau hears Isaac send Jacob to Padam Aram to find a wife.

Suddenly, Esau begins to understand the pain he may have caused his parents and the damage it has caused. With this new awareness, he does not seek revenge but goes to his uncle Ishmael and marries his daughter, a grandchild of Abraham, rather than another Canaanite woman. Like Jacob, Esau finds a wife from within his family.

We picture Esau as a fierce, angry hunter, but in the aftermath of the
deception, we begin to see him as a remorseful son who shows respect for his father, whom he loves.

Nobody is either wholly good or wholly bad. We all have the ability to learn from past errors, which Esau does and shows true kibbud av v’em – honouring our parents.

  • Tamara Jacobson is the director of operations at Tribe, the United Synagogue’s young people’s department

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments