Parashat Toldot

Rebekah gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob, who struggle with each other, engage in bargaining and deception to obtain the birthright and Isaac's blessing.

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“How is it that you have found the venison so quickly?”

“Because God, your God, caused it to happen before me,” answers Jacob.

“Please come closer so that I may feel you and see whether you are really my son Esau or not.”

So Jacob goes up to his father. Isaac feels Jacob’s skin and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob but the hands are the hands of Esau. Is it indeed you, my son, Esau?”

“I am,” says Jacob.

Satisfied that the man is Esau, Isaac eats the stew and drinks the wine. Afterwards, Isaac says to Jacob, “Come closer and kiss me my son.” When Jacob comes forward, Isaac smells his son’s clothes one more time to make sure it is Esau. He then gives his blessing.

“The smell of my son Esau is like the smell of a field which God has blessed. So may God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fat places of the soil and an abundance of corn and wine. Peoples will serve you and nations will bow down to you. You will be a man to your brothers, so that the sons of your mother may bow down to you. Then he who curses you will be cursed, and he who blesses you will be blessed.”

When Isaac finishes blessing the child he thinks is Esau, Jacob leaves his father. Later Esau returns from his hunt and brings a venison stew to his father. “Father, come eat of my venison, that your soul may bless me.”

“Who are you?” Isaac asked.

“I am your son, your first-born, Esau.”

Immediately great terror seizes Isaac. “Who, then, is the one who already brought me hunted venison and I blessed?”

When Esau hears the words of his father, he cries out with an exceedingly loud and bitter cry, and says, “Bless me, also, O my father!”

“Your brother Jacob has come with deceit to me,” said Isaac. “He has taken away your blessing.”

“Jacob he has already gone behind my back twice,” says Esau. “He took away my birthright and now he has taken away my blessing as well! Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”

Isaac replies, “Esau, I have made Jacob a master to you and all your brothers. I have sustained him with corn and new wine.”

Esau cries, “Is this the only blessing you have? Bless me too my father!”

Isaac creates a blessing for Esau, “Esau, the fat places of the earth will be your dwelling place. You will live upon your sword and you will serve your brother. Only when you humble yourself will you loosen his yoke from your neck.”

Esau hates Jacob because of this blessing. Esau says in his heart, “Let the days of mourning for my father draw near and then I will kill my brother, Jacob.”

When Rebekah finds out Esau’s plan to kill Jacob, she says to Jacob, “Go to my brother, Laban, in Haran. Stay with him until your brother’s wrath has subsided. Then I will send for you, for why should I lose both of you in one day?”

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at www.TiptoeThroughTheTorah.com, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.