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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.

First reading:

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.

Second Reading:

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.)

Third Reading:

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.)

Fourth Reading:

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.)

Fifth Reading:

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."

Sixth Reading:

"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."

Seventh Reading:

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.

Originally posted to Mortifyd on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 07:28 PM PDT.

Also republished by Elders of Zion and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for this diary, Mortifyd n/t (4+ / 0-)
  •  My interpretation of Isaac (4+ / 0-)

    My interpretation of Isaac being "tricked" by Jacob is that in fact Isaac knew exactly what he was doing.

    Esau had taken up with Hittite women, so any children that might have come from subsequent wives would have been subservient to the Hittite children. The Hittites were polytheistic and hence would corrupt their descendents. Jacob was the son who could father a family that recognized only G-d.

    I think it's simplistic to think that Jacob was a d--k. In deceiving Esau and stealing his birthright and blessing, he was carrying out the divine plan. However, the young Jacob did not know the Lord. Thus, as he is escaping, he sleeps, has a dream of angels, recognize that the place is holy and says, "If G-d will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear
    so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD will be my G-d." These are the words of a man who is just beginning to know that there is a supreme Being. And, of course, he ends up wrestling with the angel of the Lord to demand a blessing, as if one could demand anything of the Most High.

    Jacob is far too dependent on his intellect, which is why he feels he has to deceive people in order to get ahead. He lacks simple faith. In the end, he doesn't even really reconcile with his brother. After the famous scene where they meet, Jacob says, " let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir."  But does Jacob go to Seir?  No:

     "that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth." As far as we know, they never really live together.

    And, finally, we know that Jacob's household was not really committed to the Lord at that point, since chapters later, we read that he tells his household, "“Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes."

    I think we have to see Jacob as a man who, like his brother, lacked Isaac's pure connection to the holy, one so pure that Isaac did not resist being made a sacrifice. Jacob's trials represent a purification of his branch of the family to make it worthy to father the Jewish people.

    And thus Isaac's behavior is better understood as not being that of a fool (indeed, he lived long after Jacob fled), but of a father delicately confirming what had to be: the disinheriting of Esau.  

    •  Understand, I don't DO interventionist G-d (4+ / 0-)

      or destiny, or woo woo holiness. Which is really odd for a chassid, but there you go.  So it's not simplistic at all when you don't believe in any of that - this is a completely disfunctional family.

      He didn't in any way intend to disinherit his favourite son, he was tricked into it.  Whether he wasn't very bright (his Mum was very very old when she had him after all) or simply gullible (here get on this pile of wood so I can kill you, son) - any kind of justification of it is simply not dealing with the text as written.

      If someone believes all that interventionist, woo woo destiny, there is a very vested interest in explaining away what actually happened.  If Yaakov deceives people, it's because he can and chooses to, not a lack of faith.  He thinks he's better than other people - and it bites him in the ass again and again.  This is not Toradik, deceit is not a virtue.

      He reconciles with his brother because Esav has given  up on the idea of revenge.  He didn't do anything to merit that change of heart, he stayed away until he thought he could bribe his brother into not killing him - it never occurred to him Esav didn't CARE anymore and had moved on and lived his own life.

      •  Generally I would point out (5+ / 0-)

        that a non-interventionist-God approach is also not dealing with the text as written.  In this story, however, there is no description of God intervening at all between the conception of the twins and Jacob's dream of the ladder.

        •  G-d left it to the players - and it's all on them. (4+ / 0-)

          I know it's not a popular way to look at it.

          I would argue about the whole wrestling an angel as well, but that's another parsha.

        •  Amen (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I agree: G-d repeatedly intervenes in the life of the People of the Book and, indeed, in very definite ways. Plagues, miracles, aid to those who call on Him, speaking through prophets, etc.  

          But here, G-d's intervention is through the character of Rebecca. Being faithful to the Lord, she reasons something like this: turn over the clan to a bunch of Hittites? Over my dead body! One can say--without being wrong--that this is not G-d intervening; it is Rebecca. I would say that it is G-d's spirit, which dwells in and is part of the nature of Rebecca which causes her to rebel against her husband and oldest son and even invite a curse down upon herself, rather than allow the bloodline to run through Hittites.

          This, too, is within the text.  

      •  He is the alpha and the omega (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, JDsg

        I'm not sure what you mean by an "interventionist G-d."  I assume you mean a G-d that manipulates human beings in each moment, thereby depriving human beings of free choice. This concept would be clearly contrary to scripture.

        But if the long-term result is not good, how can it be from G-d? The Alpha was good, and the Omega must also be good. So G-d is in each moment, turning it toward good. A sailboat is free to go anywhere, but it must also go where the wind permits it to go.

        In this story, everyone has his/her own motives, and most of them are not particularly good. But the result is the perpetuation of a line of people faithful to G-d.

        True, the text does not say that Isaac knew for certain that this was Jacob he was blessing. But he heard the voice of Jacob and blessed him anyway. He was not really fooled. At some level, Isaac knew he was blessing Jacob.

        •  I don't "believe" like you do. At all. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          So I have a completely different way of looking at it.  That doesn't make it invalid, only different.

          •  Perhaps it's like Pascal's wager (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest, ramara

            Naturally, we will only know for certain after death whether the Most High intervenes in human affairs, so whatever you believe is your business.

            But I will quote myself in another context: " By refusing to believe that miracles are (while not common) possible, we make them impossible."

            Isn't it possible that your belief that you are entirely on your own in this life making it so? In other words, if one refuses to recognize the presence of the Lord, there is certainly no way one will recognize His actions in one's life, whether they are there or not.

            It's a question, not an answer.

            •  I didn't say I didn't believe, I said I don't like (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              you.  NOT the same thing.

              And frankly, you trying to preach to me in my dvar Torah - pretty dickish.

              •  You said "I said I don't like you." (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RiveroftheWest, mettle fatigue

                OK, message received. I will avoid your threads.

                •  That doesn't mean I don't at all. You assumed. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Not A Bot, RiveroftheWest
                  your belief that you are entirely on your own in this life
                  This is making a HUGE assumption right here.
                  if one refuses to recognize the presence of the Lord
                  That's just digging your hole deeper.

                  This is a Jewish diary.  It's not a praise diary, a preaching diary or an evangelical diary.   I asked you to respect it as Jewish space and not preach - because we don't do that.

                  I translated that into English myself from the Hebrew.  I translated the commentary too.  I didn't just look up someone else's translation and go with it.  I went to an orthodox yeshiva personally.  I've been actively orthodox - you could even describe my average level of observance as "ultra orthodox" - for twenty years.  So I'm not just trying to get a rise out of people.

                  I don't think it's ok to lie and cheat and steal.  I don't think it's ok to look at any of these actions and say - well, G-d SAID lie and cheat and steal, that makes it kosher - because it doesn't to me.  It might very well to you - but it's not your diary.

                  So telling me I'm not reading it right because you think it's ok to lie, cheat and steal 'when G-d tells you to' - not kosher.  And you got personal there.  I'm ONE of those people you know, an actual Jew.  So don't talk to me about my ancestors and how I have to understand how special we are and how I clearly don't.  

                  If you can't refrain from preaching and telling people what their own ancestors really did - then perhaps avoiding my diaries is a wise choice.

                  •  double-check your comment, Mort. (0+ / 0-)


                    you made a major typo resulting in a comment which was NOT an assumption on CharlesII's part, but a direct quote of  YOUR error.  Be enough of a mensch to cop to it with courtesy.

                    •  WTF are you talking about? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      mettle fatigue

                      I don't like you (do) is not a major typo.  As in not in the same way you believe.  I don't care enough about Charles II to "not like him."

                      •  WTF I'm talking about is at the link to your (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        comment. Read it calmly and you'll see the error of phrasing is yours.

                        It's irrelevant whether or not you "don't care enough about CharlesII to 'not like him'" - it's not about him, it's about you so frequently giving yourself license to indulge in discourtesy and manipulative rationalizing toward relative outsiders, such as myself and christians who participate here; you often use the cover of righteous anger, when realistically there is absolutely nothing at stake in these threads to require/need your verbal belligerencies and use of expletives like WTF and "Learn to fucking spell". Torah stands in no need of such defense.

                        The rage is simply your indulgence, and yours alone: it undermines the credibility of your oft-cited credentials of yeshiva study, ba'al t'shuva-ism, and living as an orthodox Jew. In past diaries you yourself have said you discovered your Jewish heritage only as an adult, that your study under qualified teachers was relatively brief (and, from you describe, extremely narrow), and only self-guided since then, your sole tutelage the writings of a mystic 200 years too old to correct your missteps. How convenient.

                        So when you try to devalue others by bludgeoning with your credentials and by declarations such as,

                        "I'm ONE of those people you know, an actual Jew...don't talk to me about my ancestors and how I have to understand how special we are and how I clearly don't,"
                        you wear your credentials thinner and thinner, proving yourself every bit the "ordinary Jew" you've sometimes call yourself - a very ordinary one, who trumpets justifications for bad behavior like the vain boasts of a desperate bully, not a Jew serenely confident of his ground.

                        You appear to be trying to elevate yourself by portraying others low, both those who in Jewish tradition more than merit your high respect --e.g., parents and teachers - so far every mention I've seen you make of your parents is denigrating despite all they have done for you and continue to do, and you seem proud of having "fired more [rabbis]" than most people ever even go to-- and also those with whom you take issue, as if your arguments to place them low proves their ideas wrong and yours right. It doesn't. That's a hoary old debate trick too lame to work here.

                        You have a great mind, but you are no gaon, and in coming to Judaism as an adult without immersion throughout infancy and childhood, you are as much a mere student as everyone else, and that's putting it politely.

                        You do Judaism, Torah, and yourself no credit by unleashing your rage addiction in bullying toward others. Knock it off. You ARE ordinary, exactly as you've said. Have the menschlichtkeit to show the same courtesy toward others as they show to you even though you haven't earned it. That is their zchut, that they show it anyway, because it reflects meritoriously upon them and upon Judaism that they do. You should follow their example.

                        •  You - I don't like. (0+ / 0-)

                          So take your lectures and keep them to yourself.   I've already blocked you because of your bizarre and constant barrage of demands - and I don't want them here either.

                          Stop talking to me.  Period.

        •  It is Jacob's voice (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mettle fatigue

          but Esau's hands...

          Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

          by ramara on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 08:18:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Even in the one place (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mettle fatigue

        where Rebecca consults with her husband and they discuss their concerns about the kids, she must lie and talk about Esau's Hittite wives rather than her concern about Jacob's safety if he remains. But in this one scene they do seem like a couple.

        Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

        by ramara on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 08:15:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  There is no evidence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mettle fatigue, Batya the Toon

      that Bethuel's family worship Abraham's God; they are the members of the family left behind in Haran when Abraham is told Lech lecha. Rebecca comes to worship as Isaac does (mostly) and becomes one of the women prophets who speak directly with God. And indeed, many years after these events, Rachel steals her father's household gods to take with them as they leave to return to Canaan.

      By the way, I don't think it's possible that Rebecca was only three when she went to wed Isaac. First, there is the whole story of what happens at the well, which we have repeated some three or four times. That took physical strength as well as kindness and planning. Also, when he sees her, Isaac takes her immediately into his tent where he is consoled for his mother's death. He went to her and he loved her - implying strongly that sex came before love.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 08:11:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't agree on Bethuel's family... (3+ / 0-)

        But I do agree that Rebecca must have been 15 or so.  

        Genesis 24, Laban speaking:

        “Come, you who are blessed by the LORD,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”
        The reference is to YHWH, and Bethuel assents in a later verse. At the very least, Rebecca's brother Laban and his father were believers.

        I do agree about Rebecca.  

        Sarah was, we are told in Gen 17, 90 when she bore Isaac, and 127 when she died. Isaac would have been 37 when the servant was dispatched to find a wife and was 40 when he married Rebecca (Gen 25). Abraham's death occurs at age 175 when Isaac would have been 75 (since he was born when Abraham was 100). We are told that Isaac is 60 when the boys are conceived. That would make Rebecca so0mewhere in the vicinity of 30 when she conceived.  

        Since Jacob and Esau are vigorous young men when the deceit occurs, Isaac would presumable have been about 80 and Rebecca in her 60s. But Isaac lives to be 180. So at the time of the story, if Isaac is really decrepit, he must have been really, really decrepit by the end of his life.  

        •  Bethuel's family (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, mettle fatigue

          would have known about Abraham's faith - they knew of his leaving Haran because God told him to, and Rebecca told them what happened at the well, which included reference to the Lord.

          It's debatable; I think either interpretation is possible.

          Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

          by ramara on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 01:41:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I mentioned that, yes (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ramara, RiveroftheWest

          That he was 40 when he was married.  However, according to Talmud, Rivka was 3 when she carried the water - it's part of how miraculous and holy she was and what marked her out as Yitzy's future wife.

          And none of that math matters, because it's not literal.

      •  I'm just relaying what I was taught, I didn't say (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ramara, RiveroftheWest

        at any point it was emes.  But it IS a legit school of thought within orthodoxy itself, like it or not.

        And no there is nothing at all to suggest that Rivka wasn't an idolator herself. At all.

        •  So much legend (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, mettle fatigue

          it's hard to keep up.

          I would say it is part of the whitewashing of Rebecca, the way the stories of Abraham's childhood (some of which, in Genesis Rabbah, rival that of Jesus) make him into something beyond the possible. I don't like this, though many of the stories are interesting in themselves.

          For me, it's important that these ancestors of ours are imperfect and human - I don't think I could belong to a religion where the people we were supposed to emulate were perfect. If we are to struggle to be good, I want to read about other people who had to struggle and sometimes failed.

          Rebecca never thought of just talking to her husband about why she thought Esau was the wrong son to receive the blessing, and why Jacob was the right son. That was not part of their relationship - it's almost as if each son had only one parent.

          Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

          by ramara on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 07:21:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it's great legend, don't get me wrong. (3+ / 0-)

            I love it.  But I don't think it's literal 99% of the time, written in order and not edited to sing better.

            Minor niggle - Abraham came first.  Just saying.  He has to be beyond the impossible, G-d talks to him firsthand - the Only G-d, not just any old ghod.

            They are very imperfect and human, which is awesome - but there is a tendency to idolize (and I use that word deliberately) them and explain away their humanity.  Particularly now.  Like this whole mishigas about how they kept the mitzvos before they were given.  A lot of the interpersonal mitzvos are given because of the stupid and evil shit they did to one another.

            G-d totally wanted her to jack up her sons inheritance through deceit.  Talking to her husband? Who does that? Just flat out scheme and lie and cheat!  G-d says it's cool!

            It's very much a dysfunctional family - I think that is part of the point of it.  This to me is a warts and all story, not a look how awesome they are story.  Which in some ways is awesome itself because not very many other cultures idolize warty people.

  •  "Who are you, my son?" (5+ / 0-)

    If the brothers don't sound alike, this question of Isaac's is meaningless; if he can recognize that it's his son's voice, he should likewise be able to recognize which son.

    Or else, as one interpretation has it, it's a deeper question.  I know you're Jacob, but what you're doing doesn't match how I've always thought of you; who are you really?

    (Alternately, they're twins and they really do sound a lot alike, so Isaac recognizes the voice that his sons have in common.  That makes for similar cognitive trouble with "the voice is the voice of Jacob," though.)

    •  The sages argue that Yaakov spoke kindly, while (3+ / 0-)

      Esav was harsh - get up, eat my food, bless me already.

      •  Yes, but again ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, mettle fatigue

        ... if it's a difference in behavior that Isaac can spot, he ought to immediately conclude "oh hey, this is the wrong son," rather than ask.

        Many of Isaac's responses to Jacob make very little sense if you assume he is completely hoodwinked, and make a lot more sense if you assume he knows exactly what's going on and is going along with it to draw Jacob out.

    •  Since I don't think it's a literal transcript (3+ / 0-)

      I just think it's part of the reiteration of the trickery myself.  

      There are a number of places that it repeats things that seem arbitrary - adom adom, that Rivka was the mother of the boys - things we already knew without question were part of the story.

      •  "Adom adom" is reduplication for emphasis (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, mettle fatigue

        as in "red red wine" or "never ever".

        I'm not sure what to make of "not a literal transcript."  Whether we are talking about Isaac as a real person, a fictionalized version of a real person, or a fictional character -- regardless, surely his dialogue is open to analysis.  As just a reiteration of the trickery, "who are you, my son?" doesn't make sense.

        •  it does if he's thick. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Or senile.  Or both.  I do not believe he intended to bless Yaakov with Esav's blessing - or he would have just done it without the need for Rivka to do the whole wear nasty goat skins and trick your Dad, Mkay? business.  

          He told Esav he intended to bless him.  Not Rivka, she was eavesdropping.  Not Yaakov, he was oblivious until Mum dragged him into her scheme.  He told Esav.

          •  The interpretation I've always liked (3+ / 0-)

            says that his intention was to bless Esav, and that Yaakov's appearance in Esav's clothing caused him to reevaluate his intent -- because he had always considered Yaakov too meek and passive and honest to be able to survive as the strong leader of a nation, and thought it would be easier for Esav to learn compassion than for Yaakov to learn aggressiveness and/or duplicity.  Obviously Yitzchak doesn't know about the incident with the lentils, or he might have changed his mind earlier.

            It is by no means a necessary interpretation, but I haven't yet found another that makes as much sense to me.  Yitzchak being stupid and/or senile is an easy explanation, but he would have to have been really quite extraordinarily stupid to be fooled by Yaakov's stunt rather than to be seeing through it and giving it a pass.

  •  Gay marriage: Yonatan and David? (3+ / 0-)

    the Conservative branch of Judaism recognized gay marriage and authorized rabbis to officiate at weddings, in 2006, following their Reconstructionist and Reform colleagues.  It would seem to me that a gay couple could fulfill the mitzvah of having children by adoption - especially when they adopt a child who would not otherwise be raised Jewish.  

    Adoption of a non-Jewish child requires immersion in a mikveh and, for boys, circumcision, which is why I think Jewish couples are reluctant to adopt non-Jewish boys after their infancy.  Almost all of the parents I know who adopted formerly non-Jewish children have adopted girls.  When the child, regardless of gender, is ready to become a bar or bat mitzvah, the rabbi talks to the child, tells the child he or she had been converted without their consent, and it is now up to the child to decide if he  or she wants to enter adulthood as a Jew.

    Every adopted child I know has said "yes" except for one boy who said "no" after his parents had paid for the engraved invitations and hired the caterer, and he had studied to do his Torah and Haftarah sections.  Our rabbi convinced the boy to change his mind for his 14th birthday, so he had his bar mitzvah a year late.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 01:34:03 PM PDT

    •  I don't disagree with that. I'm cool with adoption (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      As is halacha.

      Up until recently, medical circumcision was the norm for boys in the US - so all that was required was a brit hadamah - a quick poke in the junk on the scar before immersion in a mikvah.

      Most of the people I know who were adopted into Jewish families are actually male - but because of the culture of the time came "pre snipped" and that made it much easier.

    •  In Israel, Judaism passes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mettle fatigue

      to the child from the birth mother. In cases of artificial insemination using an egg donor, the birth mother was still the one that counted. A few years ago, however, the rabbinate changed this, making the religion of the egg donor the deciding factor. Many women were not happy with this at all. After all, going through pregnancy and birth should make a woman the mother of her child. I haven't heard anything since.

      I had a rabbinic council decide on my son's Judaism to exempt him from circumcision, given his history. If the decision had gone the other way, I'd have gone to a reform synagogue.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 08:28:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  interesting juxtaposition of concepts of rivka (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, JDsg, ramara

    described in the first few paragraphs as being raised by her affianced husband to be used as a nearly-child breeder, understandably desperate for her own survival in the first few paragraphs, and by section 7 "Rivka turns out to be" --more likely has become-- "far from the holy innocent she is imagined to be", instead a "scheming" dick as her husband and younger son (assuming "witch" is comparable to "dick").

    along the way, rivka is entirely subject to the dictates of her husband, such as where they go to live.

    including the repeat history, as with abraham& sara, of a husband who says his wife is his sister, leaving her exposed to danger & abuse, for the sake of his own objectives where they went to live.

    and again, remarkably, a nonjewish ruler, upon discovering the lie, condemns it for the wrongdoing it could have instigated, and makes them leave.

    esau is said to be a hunter often far away (does absence make the father's heart fonder?) and yakov said at some points to be a keep-to-home student at times described as a 'mama's boy' - for a wife of a very old man and with only 2 sons, rivka has no daughters and no other son to bond with except yakov, for their mutual survival.

    so again one of the lessons of both the previous generation and this one is that making use of people for what good they can do oneself, without concern about the detriment it is to them individually nor among themselves, and no thought of equitable fairness, tends to "set up" everyone involved so there's no survival or safety except by manipulation and abuse.

    and that even when outsiders point out that this is wrong if only because it leads to serious trouble that will spread to harm others,  the chief instigators decline to acknowledge the ripple effects they put in motion, acknowledge only the individual wrong action, and persist in the abusive use of their power over others, to warping effect upon everyone involved and into following generations.

    thanks for the detailed work, much appreciated.

  •  some quibbles... (4+ / 0-)

    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?

    But they had been married 20 years by now.  She wasn't necessarily so young at the time.

    First, tradition says they were married when Rivka was three years old.

    Tradition actually has two views: the other being that Rivka was fourteen.

    •  ten intimately. She was 23ish when she had them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Unless you think he was banging a 3 year old...

      I wasn't taught there was a 14 year old option, I was taught they were married when she was 3.   So I went with what I learned at yeshiva.

      It's on him to be fruitful and multiply, not her.  Who says she wanted any children at all?  

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