Parshat Toldot: The Meaning of Siblinghood

November 16, 2023
BBYO Weekly Parsha


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This week’s Parasha is Parshat Toldot which talks about the story of the two brothers, Ya’akov, and Esav. These brothers had a complicated relationship, to say the least. Their disputes began in the womb, when Esav was born just a second before Ya’akov who was born holding his brother’s heel, hence his name. Furthermore, Esav was the hunter, and known as the “man of the field,” while Jacob was the wholesome one who “dwelled in the tents of learning.” The two brothers always fought, but in most cases, Ya’akov was perceived as the more moral one. If there was one Mitzvah that Esav took seriously, it was respecting one’s parents. He would always hunt the best game for Isaac and always take care of him. This is something the Talmud always commended Esav for: no matter what was happening, Esav always respected and looked after Issac, emphasizing kibud horim, or, respecting one’s parents, which is one of the most important mitzvot one can do, regardless of the intent. 

Though he was only a second older, Esav was entitled to the birthright of the family. When Isaac was on his final days, he decided it was time to bless his older son. One day, when Esav was out hunting, he came back super hungry. Luckily, Ya’akov had made his favorite soup. Esav asked Ya’akov to give him some of the soup, Ya’akov agreed but only if he got the birthright, Esav agreed and so they exchanged the birthright for the soup. Rebecca helped dress Ya’akov up like Esav and even put goatskin on his arms and neck to replicate Esav’s hairiness. Isaac, being blind and old, was not able to tell the difference, and blessed the wrong son. 

Now you might be wondering, how does this relate now? Or even, how can this be applied in our BBYO community? Well, in BBYO, we place a big emphasis on Siblinghood. We even recite it as part of our Cardinal and Menorah Pledge Principles. Siblinghood, or, achdut, is what brings us all together and connects us through our pluralistic values. Especially leading into Thanksgiving, we want you to all reflect on the siblinghood that BBYO has brought to you and give thanks to all of your brothers and sisters. Once again, we want to wish you a Shabbat Shalom!

Shabbat Shalom,

Raya Farber, CRW Yehudiah

Jude Efrati, CRW Shomer

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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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