Toledot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)

We never learn much about Isaac as himself.  He is primarily acted upon, rather than acting in his own behalf.  A few exceptions occur in this week’s portion, but even they echo Abraham’s experiences.  Isaac prays to the Lord on Rebecca’s behalf because she is barren, and Abraham probably prayed on behalf of Sarah (remember that we first meet them at the ages of 75 and 65 respectively, so any such prayers had probably ceased).  Isaac leaves Canaan and goes to Gerar, like Abraham, and he passes Rebecca off to the ruler (Avimelech) as his sister as Abraham did with Sarah (probably to a different Avimelech), and Isaac doesn’t even have Abraham’s excuse of his wife actually being his half-sister, since Isaac and Rebecca are first cousins once removed (unless you stretch the meaning of “sister” to include female relatives generally).  Again, there’s a well incident, and this is where Isaac does more than his father, since he has to persist through three well-diggings to reach a satisfactory modus vivendi with Avimelech.

But most of the portion is taken up with family tensions, manipulations, betrayals, lies, etc.  This family is not the Cleavers, the Nelsons, and definitely not the Andersons of “Father Knows Best.” It’s not even the Bunkers.  The marriage of Isaac and Rebecca decays, if not before the birth of their twins Jacob and Esau, then certainly afterwards.  Each favors one son.  Rebecca prefers Jacob, the smooth (in more ways than one), quiet, spiritual, and smart homebody.  Isaac prefers the older son, Esau, the hairy, outdoorsy, physical, active one.  While Rebecca’s preference is no surprise, Isaac’s seems unlikely. Perhaps he reaches out to Esau because he’s the oldest, therefore the putative heir.  Perhaps he wants to compensate for Rebecca’s relative neglect of Esau.  Perhaps he admires Esau as someone who can take care of himself as Isaac often couldn’t.  And Esau responds in kind to Isaac’s love.

Matters are complicated by the divine message Rebecca got while pregnant (the kids had already started fighting, in utero. Not a good sign.).  As Rabbi Eliezer Diamond points out ( ), the message (25:23) is usually translated as “Two nations are in your womb, two separate peoples shall issue from your body; one people shall be mightier than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” But that last phrase, “ve-ravya’avodza’ir,” which, crucially,  Rebecca uses to legitimize her machinations in deceiving Isaac so that he will bless a disguised Jacob, is linguistically ambiguous.  It could also be rendered, “and the older, the younger shall serve.”  Of course, one could reject that reading because why bother, the younger usually serves the elder.  On the other hand, it could refer to the relationship of the two future nations.  Anyhow, Rebecca never tells Isaac, another sign of problems in their relationship.  Jacob, who may or may not have been told by Rebecca, is watchful, ready to take advantage of Esau to get the birthright.  Of course, if Esau thought it was only worth a bowl of soup, he didn’t deserve it.  And yes, Jacob is the one clearly destined to carry on Abraham’s legacy.  But the trickery and deceit Rebecca and Jacob use to achieve this has accompanying tragic results.  The family is damaged irreparably.  Esau vows to kill Jacob as soon as Isaac passes away, Jacob is forced to flee to live with Laban, and Rebecca will never see her beloved Jacob again.  And poor blind Isaac is kept in the dark as to the real reason Jacob has been sent away.

Shabbat shalom,
There’s an interesting analysis of TV sitcom moms, inspired by the death of Barbara Billingsley, at

By the way, I watched “Leave It To Beaver” but I thought Beaver was really dumb.  (Heck, I watched pretty much everything back then. I even told time by what TV show was on.  For instance, I remember I got my first pair of glasses on June 1, 1961 shortly before the Donna Reed Show came on, so that was shortly before 8 PM, on Thursday .)

Barbara Billingsley has died, but as June Cleaver, she’ll always be the OTHER mom we loved [excerpts]
By Frazier Moore (CP) – Oct 17, 2010
NEW YORK, N.Y. — They were the moms every kid of that generation longed for.
They were the fantasy moms of 1950s sitcoms. Margaret Anderson of “Father Knows Best” (played by Jane Wyatt). Donna Stone of “The Donna Reed Show.” Harriet Nelson in the TV version of her real-life self on “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.”
But towering above them all was Barbara Billingsley. It was 53 years ago that she became Beaver Cleaver’s mom. And at her death on Saturday at age 94, she remained so for millions of “Leave It to Beaver” fans, as well as remaining their own mom, too, in some TV-generated alternative universe.

As played by Billingsley, June Cleaver had endless patience.
And in an era when corporal punishment was still an approved parenting technique, June would never have raised her hand to her boys.
The closest she came to upbraiding her kids was her trademark expression of concern directed not at them, but to their father: “Ward, I’m worried about the Beaver.”
Then it was up to Ward, played by Hugh Beaumont.
Ward was upright, sensible,all about maintaining order. He seemed to be the ideal for middle-class manhood in 1950s America.
Meanwhile, they knew it was June who was empathetic, fun and baked cakes — and who advocated for her boys to her Ward boss.

The original “Leave It to Beaver” series premiered in October 1957 and aired through September 1963. A curious thing: This glowing, picket-fenced vision of Americana ended two months before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
An age of disillusionment had begun. And in TV sitcoms, the perfect nuclear family with the perfect stay-at-home mom was an endangered species.
In its place, “All in the Family” with addled doormat Edith Bunker came along. And raucous Roseanne Conner on “Roseanne.” And raunchy Peg Bundy on “Married … with Children.” These were moms tailor-made for a different world of viewers. It was a different world of parents who weren’t seeking escape by watching TV parents who were better than they could ever hope to be. They were seeking jagged reassurance from parents as hung up, or more so, than they had ever feared they could ever become.

Now the passing of Barbara Billingsley represents a death in every TV viewer’s family. A half-century later, June Cleaver, as Billingsley portrayed her, remains a TV mom against which real-life moms are still measured.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)
Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Dean Brothers
For a time, Dizzy Dean and his brother Paul both pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals. One day Dizzy pitched a one-hitter in the first game of a double-header and his brother had pitched a no-hitter in the nightcap. “Shucks,” Dizzy remarked, “if I’d known Paul was gonna pitch a no-hitter, I’d-a pitched one too!”

Scarlett Johansson: Twins

Scarlett Johansson was born in New York City on November 22nd, 1984. Three minutes later, she was followed by her brother, Hunter. That, she later remarked, was “the most important three minutes of my life.”

[Scarlett later remarked that she and the 6′ 3″ dark-haired Hunter were as much like twins as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.]

Sibling Fight

A six year old comes crying to his Mother because his little sister pulled his hair.
“Don’t be angry,” the Mother says, “Your little sister doesn’t realize that pulling hair hurts.”
A short while later, there’s more crying, and the Mother goes to investigate.
This time the sister is bawling and her brother says…
“Now she knows.”


Jewish Mother Jokes

Just imagine if these folks actually HAD a Jewish Mother. She might actually have said:

“This you call a smile, after all the money your father and I spent on braces?”

“I don’t care what you’ve discovered, you still should have written!”

“Why can’t you paint on walls like other children? Do you know how hard it is to get this junk off the ceiling?”

“All right, if you’re not hiding your report card inside your jacket, take your hand out of there and show me!”

“Again with the hat! Why can’t you wear a baseball cap like the other kids?”

“Next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance good-bye!”

“Of course I’m proud that you invented the electric light bulb. Now turn it off and go to sleep!”

“I don’t care where you think you have to go, young man, midnight is long past your curfew!”

And then these two, who really did have Jewish mothers:

“But it’s your senior photograph! Couldn’t you have done something about your hair?”

“That’s a good story! Now tell me where you’ve really been for the last forty years.”

First Day of Kindergarten

A young Jewish mother walks her son to the school bus corner on his first day of kindergarten.
” Behave, my bubaleh” she says. “Take good care of yourself and think about your mother, tataleh!”

” And come right back home on the bus, schein kindaleh.”

“Your Mommy loves you a lot, my ketsaleh!”

At the end of the school day the bus comes back and she runs to her son and hugs him.

” So what did my pupaleh learn on his first day of school?”

The boy answers, “I learned my name is David.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s