Parashat Toledot 5784

November 15, 2023

Rabbi Greg Schindler (’09)

“Stop making sense, stop making sense
Stop making sense, making sense”
-Talking Heads, Girlfriend is Better (1983)

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Parashat Toledot 5783

November 21, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Toledot By Cantor Robin Anne Joseph (’96) “Still waters run deep.” Coined several centuries before Shakespeare’s take-off in Henry VI, Part 2—Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep—this idiom seems to date back to the Latin: Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi—The deepest rivers flow with the smallest sound. That’s our Isaac—our ancestor with the least to say, but perhaps with the most bubbling underneath the surface. Maybe that’s why, in this week’s Torah portion, Toledot, Isaac is busy digging wells. Let’s unearth this situation together… What’s bothering Isaac? A question usually reserved for dissecting a Rashi teaching, I think we could ask the same of Isaac. What is bothering this poor soul to lead him to this seemingly compulsive action of digging not one, not two, but five wells in fairly quick succession? What is going on with...

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Parashat Toledot 5782

November 5, 2021

Our Torah portion opens with the words ‘Ele toledot (Gen. 25:19) – variously translated as “These are the generations/records/lineage/descendants/begettings of…”; basically, carrying us into the next generation, and, in the case of this week’s portion, continuing the story of Isaac and Rebecca.  However, with the announcement of a barren wife (Gen. 25:21), the next generation is put in jeopardy. Ultimately, they will have children, but in looking back, what might they have shared with each other? I was walking in the field in the late afternoon;            I was riding on a camel… I looked up and saw her from afar;            I fell off my camel… and put on my veil… I heard about her generosity and strength;            He brought me into the tent that had been his mother’s… I loved her;            I loved him… In my loss she brought me comfort;            I had left my home and found comfort in his arms… Almost twenty...

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Parashat Toledot 5781

November 19, 2020

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah   A D’var Torah for Parashat Toledot By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11) Parashat Toledot traces the arc of the patriarch Isaac’s life from the beginnings of his married life to his old age. Along the way, seemingly more energetic actors plot and scheme around him: his wife Rebecca, his sons Jacob and Esau, even his neighbors, the Philistines. Isaac’s primary virtue appears to be naivety. Some readers find Isaac’s character to be one of extended adolescence, always traveling in his parents’ footsteps, repeating the steps of their lives, and never venturing forth on his own. One might say that he has a failure to launch. Instead of going out to find a wife, one is brought to him. Instead of leaving the land of Canaan in time of famine to improve his fate, he stays close to home. He moves...

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Parashat Toledot 5780

November 27, 2019

Our “Imperfect” Biblical Characters A D’var Torah for Parashat Toledot By Rabbi Irwin Huberman (’10) Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz, one of my most influential teachers, once shared a profound insight with me regarding why he believed the Torah is based on truth. “The characters we read about are so flawed,” he said. “While the heroes of many other religions are depicted as perfect, ours are not. There is no reason to describe them this way, unless it is to touch on the truth within each of us.” This week’s Torah portion, Toledot (“This is the story of Isaac”), is a case in point. It recounts the story of a dysfunctional family worthy of a reality television series. After twenty childless years, Rebecca conceives twins. The Torah describes Rebecca’s difficult pregnancy, as her two future sons “struggle inside her.” God describes “two nations in your womb,” and—as often is the case in the Torah—...

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