Tol’dot (Genesis 25:19 – 28:9)

What happened to Isaac?

This week’s portion begins, Eleh tol’dot Yitzchak, “these are the generations (or chronicles) of Isaac.”  But Isaac doesn’t seem to be a major player in his own story.  The activities recorded in Chapter 26, which chronologically apparently occur prior to Chapter 25, mirror Abraham’s adventures with Pharaoh and Abimelech with a few differences:  1) Lord explicitly forbids Isaac to go to Egypt for relief from famine as Abraham had; and 2) After Isaac passes his wife off as his sister (“1st cousin once removed” really does not equal “sister”), the ruse is discovered because Isaac is seen “playing with” (mitsachek),  i.e., fondling Rebecca, something we never saw between Abraham and Sarah.  But the honeymoon didn’t last.

Like Sarah, Rebecca is childless for a long time, here, 20 years.  Isaac prays that she conceive and his prayers are answered.  It is a difficult pregnancy, and, in great pain, asks the Lord why she is going through this.  The Lord responds that she is having twins who are already fighting with each other, and that the elder will serve the younger. (It’s never too early for sibling rivalry.  There’s a video of identical twins apparently kicking each other in utero at  She does not seem to have told this to Isaac.  When we fast-forward to the twins as adults, we find a dismembered family, Jacob and Rebecca on one side, Esau and Isaac on the other.

It is no surprise that Rebecca favors Jacob, the quiet homebody.  Esau, the outdoorsy, energetic hunter, is totally unlike his father, and maybe that difference endeared him to Isaac.  Also, Esau showed he loved his father, making game stew especially for him.  It is true that he is unsuited for his birthright.  That entails priestly duties, more suited to Jacob, who seizes a chance to buy it from Esau with some lentil stew.  Esau does not seem a suitable spiritual heir to Abraham and Isaac.  Rebecca has apparently not been able to convince Isaac of this, even when Esau takes Hittite wives.  The elderly Isaac is blind both physically and figuratively.

And so, on overhearing Isaac tell Esau to prepare to receive the all-important blessing due him as elder son, Rebecca devises a plan to trick Isaac into giving Jacob that blessing.  Goat stew stands in for venison, and Jacob simulates Esau’s hairy arms with goat skin and appears to fool Isaac, who trembles when Esau comes back and they realize what has happened.  Yet, if you look at the blessing intended for Esau (27:28-29), it’s only about material prosperity.  The blessing knowingly given to Jacob as he prepares to flee to Laban’s household (28:3-4) hearkens back to the covenant made with Abraham.  Perhaps Isaac finally understood that Jacob, not Esau, was meant to be his spiritual heir.  Rebecca is praised by the rabbis for keeping the Lord’s plans on course despite Isaac.  But are we really supposed to believe all the deceit she instigated was praiseworthy, or divinely inspired?  That her actions are not fully justified is shown by one sad fact of which she is yet unaware, that she will never again see her beloved son Jacob.

Shabbat shalom,

Pregnancy Test

A blonde came running up to her husband in the driveway as he came home from work just jumping for joy. He didn’t know why she was jumping for joy but thought, what the heck, and started jumping up and down with her.
She said, “Honey, I have some really great news for you!”
He said, “Great, tell me what you’re so happy about!”
She stopped jumping and was breathing heavily from all the jumping up and down, when she told him that she was pregnant!
He kissed her and told her, “That’s great! I couldn’t be happier!”
Then, she said, “Oh, honey, there’s more!”
He asked, “What do you mean, ‘more?'”
She said, “Well, we are not having just one baby, we are going to have TWINS!”
Amazed at how she could know so soon after getting pregnant, he asked her how she knew.
She said, “Well, that was the easy part. I went to Wal-Mart and bought the TWIN PACK home pregnancy test kit and BOTH tests came out positive!!”


Tee Shirt – Expecting Twins

tph im_getting_my_own_room_twin_maternity_tshirt


The Honeymoon is Over

A young couple got married and left on their honeymoon.
When they got back, the bride immediately called her mother.
“Well, how was the honeymoon?” asked the mother.
“Oh mamma!” she exclaimed. “The honeymoon was wonderful! So romantic!”
No sooner had she spoken the words than she burst out crying. “But mamma . . . as soon as we returned, Sam started using the most horrible language. He’s been saying things I’ve never heard before! All these awful 4-letter words! You’ve got to come get me and take me home… please mamma!”
“Now Sarah . . .” her mother answered. “Calm down! Tell me, what could be so awful? What 4-letter words has he been using?”
“Please don’t make me tell you, mamma.” wept the daughter.
“I’m so embarrassed! They’re just too awful! You’ve got to come get me and take me home… please mamma!”
“Darling, baby, you must tell me what has you so upset . . . Tell your mother these horrible 4-letter words!”
Still sobbing, the bride replied, “Oh, mamma . . . words like dust, wash, iron, and cook!”
———————- dysfunctional family

Two from 2000:


One cannibal to another. “Boy your wife sure makes a delicious stew!”
The other replies “Yeh, she really does, but I’m sure gonna miss her.”

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

Tommy Smothers, Mom always liked you best

(For those too young to remember the Smothers Brothers routines, one of their bits was centered on Tommy’s claim that Mom always liked Dick best, whence the item below, recorded in 2008.  The video is also at the above website.)

Tommy Smothers: When Dick was really good, if he really got on my case, the audience would sometimes boo him. Actually hiss a little bit and boo. And it kind of hurt his feelings. I said “that’s – you’re really doing a good job.” Bud Abbott was relentless on, on Lou Costello. Just relentless – he – didn’t show any humanity or – but you believed him. And people believed my brother too so when really gets – he’d do this one litany, about five or six lines in a row, when we were recording an album in St. Louis and he said “you’re stupid. You’re dumb. You’re not a man. You’ve never done anything right. You’re a failure. Da da da da.” And he finished up, he ran out of things and – and “You’ll never amount to anything.” And I said, “Yeah, and mom liked you best.” It was like the – and just the audience fell apart. Don’t know where it came from. So it – we have one enduring, uh, idea that will always live on with the Smothers Brothers, that mom always liked you best. We’re the universal, uh, feeling that every child, every sibling has had somewhere along the line. Or who did she like best? And that became kind of a little mantra.

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