Parshat Toldot: Striving to Live Life with Integrity

November 23, 2022
BBYO Weekly Parsha

AZA & BBG

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This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Toldot, discusses one of the biggest rivalries of the Torah: Jacob and Esau. Jacob and Esau were twin brothers that could not have been more different. Esau, who was born first, was known for being a quite cunning and conniving hunter, while Jacob was a wholesome man who had a love for learning. Rebecca, Jacob and Esau’s mother, was extremely favorable of Jacob. She loved him more than anything and was willing to do anything for him.

One day, Esau returned from a hunt tired and hungry. Jacob had a bowl of lentils that were very desirable to Esau and he sold his birthright, his rights and responsibility as a first born, to Jacob for the bowl of lentils. 

As the years went on, Isaac, the twins’ father, grew old and he expressed his wish for blessing Esau before he passed. While Esau went hunting for his father’s favorite meal, Rebecca plotted against Esau and dressed Jacob as him, so their father would unknowingly bless Jacob instead of Esau. Isaac does so and Jacob is now granted superiority over his brother. When Esau returned from hunting, he learned about the deception and was furious. He planned to kill Jacob once Isaac died.

After overhearing Esau’s plans, Rebecca was fearful for Jacob’s life and advised him to flee Canaan. Jacob escaped Esau’s wrath and moved to Haran. Before he passed, Isaac announced that Jacob would marry and his children would multiply into a “great nation”. We now know that great nation as the State of Israel. 

Although this Parshat is filled with hate, cruelty, and deception, we learn a lot about one of the pillars of Judaism: integrity. Rebecca, Esau, Jacob, they all lost sight of themselves and what should be important in their lives. Despite the fact that this was a family, they were very cruel to each other. A mother’s love to her children should be unconditional, but Rebecca was very resentful to Esau. She strayed from honesty and integrity when she deceived her husband into blessing the wrong son and cheated Esau out of a blessing. This can also be applied to when Esau plotted to kill Jacob. Even though Esau was wronged, his plans to kill his brother weren’t just a lack of integrity, they were immoral. We often are wronged in our lives but it’s important that we uphold the morals that we know to be important. Jacob also had a lack of integrity when he took advantage of his tired brother by agreeing to sell his lentils for Esau’s birthright, and agreed to trick his father for a blessing.

We all strive to live our lives filled with integrity as we are instructed to do so from the Torah, but at times we are bound to fail. Life is not as black and white as we would like to think it is. So, let us learn from this family. We all make decisions we will come to regret, but let us do better than Rebecca, Esau, and Jacob. Take responsibility for your actions and forgive those who may have hurt you. Life is filled with desirable things, from a small bowl of lentils, to superiority over a whole nation. Make sure you don’t let your desire derail you from being a good sibling, child, person, and Jew.

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Shabbat Shalom, 

Rachelle Rozet

Evergreen Region’s 25th Doverit

Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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