Dvar Torah Parsha Toldos
Genesis 25:19 - 28:9
Haftorah Masar Hodesh Shmuel 20: 18-42
The haftorah is not the usual one this week, it is for rosh hodesh Kislev.
So Yitzaak is the son of Abraham and he married Rivka daughter of Besuel the Aramean at 40, and she was the sister of Laban. And Yitzy prayed to Hashem opposite his wife because she was barren, Hashem acccepted his prayer and she conceived. Rashi says they prayed in opposite corners - I call some bullshit on that. HE prayed she would be pregnant, she prayed not to be yet because she felt she wasn't ready. He was in a hurry to have kids being now over 40, she was much younger and didn't want to die in childbirth. And really, who can blame her?
And the children struggled within her, and she said "If it is so, why am I like this?" and went to inquire of Hashem. She's huge and miserable, and she prayed not to be pregnant yet for ages, so why twins? What did she do to deserve this?
And Hashem said to her "Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your insides. One will be mightier than the other and the elder will serve the younger." Once again, we see that the old ways will change - the brothers will be rivals from the beginning, and the sons will be like their father and take the birthright of the elder for the younger. It's going to suck balls raising these two, lady. Get ready.
And finally it came her time, and she delivered. The first one was ruddy and hairy, and they named him Esav. And after his brother was born, clutching Esav's heel, and they named him Yaakov. Yitzaak was 60 when she gave birth to them. Now as I went to a Yitzy was 37 yeshiva, there are some things to note here. First, tradition says they were married when Rivka was three years old. Yitz waited until she was of age - 12.5 to acctually take up sexually with her, so he would have been just shy of 50 when they started doing it. She didn't have the twins until he was 60, so she was 23 give or take a couple months when they were born. This is why she was described as "barren" - ten years of sex on a schedule and no babies. I say again - it's not opposite corners they were praying, but opposite wishes - she didn't want to be pregnant yet, he wanted her to be ASAP so he could stop worrying about it. He had learned the hard way about the handmaiden business with his own brother and was having none of that.
As the boys grew up, Esav became a man who understood hunting, Yaakov was innocent, dwelling in tents. One spilled blood, one did not. One did as he pleased, coming and going, the other could be found in the tents of Shem and Eber - ie. Yaakov learned all day. Yitzy loved Esav, because he brought home the not bacon, but Rivka loved Yaakov. You can see this is already a bad set up, right? A whole lifetime of bad set up. Dad loved the eldest, Mum the younger. And the boys - they pretty much despised each other from the beginning. That had to suck all the way around.
Now, Yaakov cooked a pottage, and Esav came from the fields and he was faint. And Esav said," pour me some of this red, red, for I am faint." He was named Edom. red And Yaakov said,"Sell me your birthright." (to perform the sacrifices for the family) Esav replied, "I am going to die, so why do I need it?" Yakkov said, "Swear to me this day," and he swore. So Yaakov gave him bread and lentils and he ate and left and Esav despised the birthright. Red lentils are a mourning food, Abraham had died and Yaakov had made them for his father. But for someone who is supposed to be so innocent, Yakkov just jacked up his brother over a bowl of mush.
Famine came into the land, and Yitz went to Avimelech, king of the Pilishtim in Gerar. (to survive the famine) And Hashem appeared to Yitz and told him not to go down to Egypt as his father had during the famine before, but to stay in the land. "Stay in the land and I will be with you and bless you, to you and yours I will give all this land, and I will establish the oath I made to your father Abraham. I will multiply you like the stars in the heavens and give you all this land, and the nations of the earth will bless themselves by you because Abraham heard my voice and kept my charge, my statutes and my instructions." So don't go all the way to Egypt, because it's bad there, but stay near here, where you have been. Gerar was still a trip, but not so far as Egypt.
Yitz stayed in Gerar. And the men of the place asked about Rivka and he said, "She is my sister," because he was afraid to say my wife, lest he be killed to get her. (You would think that they would know by now this is a bad idea. Particularly since she's pushing 40 by this point, and she has adult children in tow.) And when they had been there many days, Abimelech looked out the window and saw Yitz jesting with Rivka, his wife. (This means either they were kissing far too close for siblings, or the king actually saw them having sex.)
And Avimelech called Yitz and said, "She's your WIFE, how could you say that to us she's your sister?" And Yitzy said "Because they (you) might kill me for her." And Avimelech was all, "What have you done to us? The most prominent might have easily lain with her and you would have brought guilt on us!" (Which means he was thinking about banging her until he saw them together. Yitz had tricked someone to save his own skin as his father had.
And Avimelech commanded that anyone who touched Yitzaak or Rivka would be put to death. (Just to be sure. Because people had heard about that family - and they aren't safe to mess with.)
And Yitz sowed the land and received 100 fold and Hashem blessed him. (This made him rich in the citystate of Gerer, when he had come with very little to that place earlier in the year.)
And the man (Yitz) became great, he grew greater until he was very great. (ie he was a fat cat in the citystate of Gerer)
And he had much sheep and cattle and businesses and the Pilishtim envied him. And all the wells that servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham the Pilishtim filled up with dirt. And Avimelech said to Yitzaak, "Go away from us, you have become strong."
Yitz packed up and moved to the valley of Gerar (far from the city) and set up again. And he went back and redug all the wells the Pilishtim had filled, and renamed them as his father had.
Yitzaaks servants dug in the valley and found living water (moving water, a large underground stream) and the shepards there argued it was their water. So he blocked it with a well and named it Esek. (contention)
And they (his servants) dug another well, and again there was strife and he called it Sitnah. (strife)( Because he's a dick.)
He moved further away and dug yet another well, and this time there was no one around to argue with him, so he named it Rehovos, and said "Now that Hashem has made room for us and we will be fruitful in the land." (Because being run out of town on a rail and then fighting with the local shepards about water rights wasn't being fruitful enough for Yitz.)
And he went from there up to Beer Sheva. And Hashem appeared to him that night and said," I am Hashem the G-d of your father Abraham (you almost died, remember me?) Fear not, I am with you, and I will bless you and multiply you for the sake of your father Abraham." (Not for yourself, because frankly, son, you're kind of a dick.)
He built an altar there and called the name of Hashem and pitched his tent, and had the servants dig yet another well. (Apparently the well digging had a very profound effect on Yitz growing up - water is power. And Yitzaak wanted a lot of it.)
And Avimelech came to him from Gerar with his courtiers and his General Pichol. And Yitz said, "Why have you come to me since you hate me and sent me away from you?" (yeah, it really says that. Like he's some innocent poor guy that the king just felt like bringing his entire court and his general to back him up just for a conversation.)
"We have seen that Hashem is with you, so we said - let there be an oath between us, a covenant between us and you. If you do not harm us, as we have not touched you, we have done only good and sent you peacefully, you won't harm us blessed of Hashem." Now here's the thing. (People read all this like Yitz was just some poor guy with a tent and a handful of sheep. Not so. This is like the Koch brothers rolling into town. He was so wealthy and prosperous he was endangering the power of the king of the citystate and had to be removed. He wasn't out there building wells for the people, either. When his servants built a well - they controlled the water. Period. Why were the shepards fighting over it? Because their wells dried up and they were not being allowed access to the ones that had caused theirs to dry up. Yitz was a water baron while pretending he was just a poor shepard, years after the famine was over.)
So he made a feast for them and they ate and drank. They rose early in the morning and swore one to another and Yitzaak saw them off and they went away in peace.
And it came to pass that same day that Yitz's servants came to him and said, "That well we were digging? We found water." He named the well Sheva (oath) and the city was called Beer Sheva to this day. (Water baron, people.)
And Esav was 40 years old and he married Yehudis daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemas daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a vexation to the spirit of Yitz and Rivka. (they worshipped idols)
It came to pass Yitzaak was old and blind and he called to Esav, who said "Here I am." (Hineni - the same word Abraham said when Hashem called to him)
And he said," See how I have grown old, I do not know the day of my death. Sharpen your tools, your sword and your bow and go to the field and hunt game for me." (hunting is not kosher, which is why Jews do not hunt. But that law hasn't been given yet, and Esav is to be the father of another nation who are idolators anyway, not Jews. Marrying out is bad, mmkay? There is a great deal of back explaining on the part of Rashi as to how he doesn't really mean "hunting" because it's not kosher and supposedly the patriarchs and matriarchs kept all the laws before the Torah was actually given, but it says hunt - and you can't use a bow to make a kosher kill. It means hunt.)
Make for me tasty food I like, bring them to me and I will eat, in order that my soul will bless you before I die. (Give me strength to give you a holy blessing and pass you your blessing inheritance) But Rivka overheard Yitzaak speaking to Esav, and Esav went to the field to hunt. (Remember, this is a woman who has grown up with Yitzaak and his family since she was 3. Who has been married to him 60 years by this point - absolutely scheming to undermine his desire to bless his favourite and eldest son.)
Rivka said to Yaakov, "I heard your father talking to Esav, telling him to bring game and make tasty food, and that he would bless him before he dies. Now listen to me - go get two choice kids and I will make the food your father likes. And you bring it to your father so he eats and blesses you before he dies." (Even then, goat was considered "gamey" tasting.)
And Yaakov said. "but he's hairy and I'm not. Perhaps father will touch me and see I am a deceiver, and I will be cursed and not blessed." (Mum, are you sure we can get away with this?)
"On me is your curse, my son. Now go get them." She took the expensive clothes of her son Esav that we in her house and dressed Yaakov in them. (there is a whole explaination by Rashi about why Mum had his clothes - he didn't trust his scheming wives not to sell them. They weren't the problem.)
And the hides she put on the back of his hands and his neck, (ew, raw goat hide - so much for those clothes) and she handed him the food and the bread she made.
And he went into his father and said, "Father!" And Yitz said, "Here I am, who are you my son?" (the brothers didn't sound alike, you see)
And Yaakov said,"I am Esav, your firstborn. I have done as you asked. Rise and sit to eat of my game so your soul will bless me." (There is a bunch of "what he really meant was" hemming and hawwing about the flat out lie - I am Esav. It says clearly, I am Esav, your firstborn. There's no real getting around that - the game was on.)
"How did you get it (the game, because yeah, hunting) so quickly?" (Yitz may be blind, but he's not entirely stupid.) "Because Hashem prepared it for me." (whoa, even bigger lie, Yaakov is doubling down now.)
"Come closer so I can feel you, and see if you are really Esav or not, my son." (He knows it's a son, but he's still not convinced) And Yaakov came closer and Yitz touched him and said, "The voice is Yaakov, but the hands are Esav." He didn't recognise him because his hands were hairy like Esav's and he blessed him. (small blessing, not the biggie) "Are you sure you're Esav?" he asked. "I am." (no mas pantalones, Yaakov)
"Serve me so I have the strength to bless you," and he gave him the food and wine to drink. "Come closer and kiss me, my son." (He still wasn't buying this shit.)
And he came closer and kissed him and smelled of the fields (bloody) and Yitz said, "the scent of my son is the scent of the fields, which Hashem has blessed."
"May Hashem give you dew of the heavens and the fatness of the earth and an abundance of grain and wine. Nations shall serve you and and kingdoms bow down to you. You shall be master over your brother and your mother's son will bow to you. Those who curse you will be cursed, and those who bless you blessed." It came to pass that when Yitzaak finished blessing Yaakov that Esav came in from the hunt.
And he prepared the game and brought it to his father, saying, "arise and eat game, that your soul will bless me." And Yitzaak asked, "who are you?"
"I am your firstborn, I am Esav." (Can you imagine how that must have felt?) And Yitz was bewildered. "But who brought me game and I ate and blessed him when you had not come? He too should be blessed." (Let's just pretend your brother and Mum didn't just jack us both over, ok?)
Esav cried out bitterly. "Bless me too, father!"
"Your brother has come with cunning and took your blessing." (remember - Yaakov was the "innocent" one of the pair - my ass.)
"Is this why he was named Yaakov? He has tricked me twice - he took my birthright, now he takes my blessing. Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" (The sages actually explain away this passage as proof that Yitzaak had blessed the right one - as Yaakov had already taken the birthright, he was therefore the right son to receive that blessing. Classy, huh?)
"I made him master over you, I gave him his brother as a servant, I gave him grain and wine - what is left to give you, son?" (I dicked you over completely, sorry kid.)
"Haven't you got one left, father? Bless me too." And Esav wept.
"Behold your dwelling place shall be the fat of the earth and the dew of the heavens above. And you will live by your sword, and serve your brother, and it will be when you grieve that you will break the yoke from your neck." (Chazal interprets "the fat (places) of the earth to be modern day Italy (Rome) - and the Romans were considered to be the children of the Edomites.) Esav hated Yaakov because of the blessing and said to himself, "Let the days of mourning for my father grow near, and then I will kill Yaakov."
Rivka was told the words of Esav and called Yaakov to her. "Esav is really angry about it and wishes to kill you. Go to my brother Laban in Heran. Stay with him a few days until your brothers anger subsides. When he forgets what you did to him I will send for you, why should I lose you both in one day? (never mind I caused this whole mess between you)
Rivka said to Yitzaak, "This is all because of those Hittite girls. I am disgusted with my life. If Yaakov marries girls like that, what good is life to me? (That's right, she's totally blaming her scheme on her daughters in law and worried her precious little Yaakov will marry a woman she might lose control of him to)
Yitz called Yaakov and blessed him and said, "Go to your grandfather's home in Padam aram and marry from your cousins, the daughters of your mother's brother. May Hashem bless you and make you fruitful and multiply, that you will be an assembly of people. May he give you the blessing of Abraham, that you may inheret the land where you go, as Abraham did."
Yitzaak sent Yaakov to Padam aram, to Laban, the son of Besuel the Aramean, brother of Rivka, who was mother to Esav and Yaakov. And Esav saw that Yitz had blessed Yaakov and sent him away to Padam aram to take a wife there, and when he blessed him admonished him not to take a wife from Canaan. Yaakov listened to his parents and went to Padam aram. (because his brother wanted to freaking kill him for stealing his blessing, duh.)
Esav saw that the daughters of Canaan were displeasing to his father, so he went to his uncle Ishmael and took his cousin Mahalas, the daughter of Ishmael as a wife in addition to the ones he had. (Now Chazal says that Esav added wickedness to wickedness, for he didn't divorce the wives he had. But since there was no limit to the number of wives a man could have - that doesn't make any sense. Even now the prohibition to only one wife is rabbinical, and strictly for ashkenazim - those Jews who live in muslim lands are permitted up for 4, just as the muslim custom and laws allow.)
So here we are. Yitzaak is either stupid - and there is some suggestion actually that he was somehow mentally deficient or slow in some way - or really just a super dick. I suppose it could go either way, but I lean toward not the sharpest tool in the shed myself. Rivka turns out to be far from the holy innocent she is imagined to be, but a scheming witch who completely screws over one of her own sons in favour of the other. Yaakov is portrayed as innocent and studious, but he's both a Mummy's boy and a conniving dick as well. And poor Esav. Not the sharpest tool in the shed to begin with - totally fucked over by his entire family. He just can't win.
Haftorah Masar Hodesh
Yonatan said to him (Dovid),"Tomorrow is the new moon and you will be missed if your seat is empty. So the day after tomorrow go to the place where you hid before, and stay there, close to the Ezal stone. I will go and shoot arrows to one side, as though I were taking practise, and send boys to get the arrows. If I should call out, "They are on this side!" then you will know it's safe to come back. If I call out. "They are past you!" you will know that Hashem has sent you away. The promises we made to each other, Hashem will witness forever.
Dovid hid in the field and the new moon came and the king sat to his feast. Yonatan and Abner rose and sat at the king's side, but Dovid's seat was empty. Shaul did not think upon it the first day, that only he was unclean and could not attend. The second day Dovid's place was empty again. Shaul said to Yonatan, "Why did Dovid not come to the meals?"
"He asked me to let him go to Bet Lehem, his brother called him to a family feast. He asked me to let him go. That is why he was not here."
"You fool son of a rebellious woman!" Shaul totally flipped out. "I know that you are close with him, the son of Jesse to your shame and the shame of your mother's nakedness. For as long as he lives, your kingship and life is not secure. Now bring him to me, I want him dead!" Yonatan asked, "Why should he be killed? What has he done?" and Shaul threw his spear at him in anger to kill him. He rose from the table and ate nothing, angry and humiliated and worried about Dovid.
The next day Yonatan went to meet up with Dovid as arranged and brought a boy to fetch arrows. He sent the boy to run out and shot past him. When the boy got to the place where the arrows had landed, Yonatan yelled to him, "They are beyond you! Hurry up!" and the boy went past and Dovid knew. When he collected them Yonatan handed the boy his gear and told him to take it back to the city. When the boy was gone, Dovid came out of hiding and bowed deeply three times, then they kissed and wept together. Dovid wept the longest.
Yonatan said "Go in peace, for we have sworn to each other in the name of Hashem. May Hashem witness between you and me, between your children and mine forever.
Many people use this and other passages about Yonatan and Dovid to say they were "gay" - but here's the thing - sexual orientation is completely irrelevant in Judaism. They could have been giving each other metzizah bal peh (blow jobs - nice Jewish boys don't have butt sex) all day every day and it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference how they were going to actually live their lives. They would get married and have families because that's what you do. The first commandment is to be fruitful and multiply. So you can be as gay as you like, but you're still obligated (if you're a man) to get married and have kids. Period. So you do. Trust me, they did and still in many cases do. Don't shoot the messenger, that's just how it works culturally. Being GAY is not the problem. Not marrying and having kids is.