Toledot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)

[Since some of you asked, yes, my retirement was totally voluntary and happily anticipated.]

Sweeney’s Bakery has been owned and operated by the Sweeney family for over 50 years.  While Mr. Sweeney passed away a few years ago, the family continues running what is a neighborhood institution.  Today is Mrs. Sweeney’s 85th birthday.  Still very energetic, she happily pointed to a nearby family of breakfasters spanning a couple of generations and said to me, “I knew her grandmother before she was married” and offered similar comments on others at the table.  That made me I think of this week’s Torah portion (yes, really) and the quite different, quite dysfunctional family depicted therein.

This week’s portion begins after 20 years of childlessness.  Isaac’s adventures echo Abraham’s: the famine, passing Rebecca off as his sister, wells, growing rich (though by farming, not shepherding), and receiving divine promises of land and many descendants.  Some rabbis thought this paralleling was intended to show that, yes, Isaac was the son of Sarah and Abraham, not Sarah and Abimelech.  Or maybe Isaac was just trying to prove himself (typical father/son rivalry).  Isaac still loves Rebecca – he pleads with the Lord on her behalf and is caught “playing” with her by Abimelech – but we never read of any dialogue between them.  Not even after Rebecca, in labor, hears a divine message (25:23), “”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.”  We skip to the twins’ adulthood and a description of the family dynamic that has emerged in which Isaac favors Esau, the elder, and Rebecca, Jacob. Isaac likes hunter Esau’s fresh game and Jacob is a homebody, but those seem flimsy reasons for a favoritism that destroys the family.  Jacob doesn’t respect Esau, Rebecca doesn’t respect Isaac, Esau doesn’t care about his birthright (the priestly role to be accorded him after Isaac’s death), and Isaac is both literally and figuratively blind.  Thanks to Rebecca’s and Jacob’s trickery (voice is Jacob’s, arms are deceptively hairy like Esau’s), Jacob receives the blessing meant for Esau.  Isaac blesses Esau, but Jacob’s is not annulled and in fact Isaac blesses Jacob again when he is about to leave for Paddan-Aram.  Yet again, Rebecca deceives Isaac, by telling him Jacob is leaving to find a wife, not because Esau plans to kill him.

Once Jacob reaches his Uncle Laban’s home in Paddan-Aram, in next week’s portion, he’ll see where Rebecca developed her talent for deceptive communication.

Shabbat shalom,



The chief of staff of the US Air Force decided that he would personally intervene in the recruiting crisis affecting all of our armed services. So, he directed that a nearby Air Force base be opened and that all eligible young men and women be invited.

As he and his staff were standing near an brand new F-15 Fighter, a pair of twin brothers who looked like they had just stepped off a Marine Corps recruiting poster walked up to them. The chief of staff walked up to them, stuck out his hand and introduced himself. He looked at the first young man and asked, “Son, what skills can you bring to the Air Force?” The young man looks at him and says, “I pilot!” The general gets all excited, turns to his aide and says, “Get him in today, all the paper work done, everything, do it!” The aide hustles the young man off.

The general looks at the second young man and asks, “What skills to you bring to the Air Force?” The young man says, “I chop wood!” “Son,” the general replies, “we don’t need wood choppers in the Air Force, what do you know how to do?” “I chop wood!” “Young man,” huffs the general, “you are not listening to me, we don’t need wood choppers, this is the 20th century!” “Well,” the young man says, “you hired my brother!” “Of course we did,” says the general, “he’s a pilot!” The young man rolls his eyes and says, “Dang it, I have to chop it before he can pile it!”



Parshas Toldos on one foot

by S. Galena Posted: 07-07-2006(Viewed 764 times)

Rebecca has twins; Jacob is Good, Esav is Bad. Yitzchak likes Esav even though we all know he is bad. If only Jacob was born first.

Jacob: Lentl Soup for your birthright?

Esav: Mmm Mmm good.

Jacob puts on a makeshift Teenwolf costume and wins blessing.



Good Basis for Marriage?

A husband and wife were at a party chatting with some friends when the subject of marriage counseling came up.

‘Oh, we’ll never need that. My husband and I have a great relationship, ‘the wife explained.’ He was a communications major in college and I majored in theatre arts. He communicates really well and I just act like I’m listening.’

Ten Short Relationship Jokes

  1. I haven’t spoken to my wife for 18 months – I don’t like to interrupt her.
  2. Love is grand… Divorce is 75 grand.
  3. Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. – Swedish Proverb
  4. Don’t smother each other. No one can grow in the shade. – Leo Buscaglia
  5. Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings. – Miles Franklin
  6. Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. ‘Pooh!’ he whispered. ‘Yes, Piglet?’ ‘Nothing,’ said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. ‘I just wanted to be sure of you.’ – A.A. Milne
  7. You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with. – Wayne W. Dyer
  8. Soul-mates are people who bring out the best in you. They are not perfect but are always perfect for you. – Anonymous
  9. Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak. – Epictetus

10.A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. – Mignon McLaughlin


Like Father – – – Like Son

I asked my two-year-old to take his dirty clothes and put them into the hamper.

He looked puzzled, and I explained, “You know; it’s the place where we put our dirty clothes before they’re washed.”

My son picked up his things, trotted into my bedroom, and threw his clothes on the floor…on his dad’s side of the bed.

Brotherly Love

A mother asked her young son what he would like for his birthday. “I’d like a little brother,” the boy said.

“Oh my, that’s such a big wish,” said the mother. “Why do you want a little brother?”

“Well,” said the boy, “there’s only so much I can blame on the dog.”

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