Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Toldot
To dedicate this lesson

Womb With A View

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Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Cheshvan 29 5783
Bulletin: Ours is not the first generation with dysfunctional families! You think you got problems with sibling rivalry, domestic violence or spousal disconnect? Well, check out our Sedra Toldot; your problems will pale in comparison!

A major issue in the parsha that touches on the lives of our young people, now and then, is Identity Crisis.

"And the children ‘struggled - vayit’rotz’ztu’ inside of (Rivka)." She said, ‘Why is this happening?' & she inquired of Hashem. G-d then revealed to her, ‘Two nations are inside you, two entities; they will vie for supremacy & the elder will serve the younger." (25:22/3)

We know the famous Medrash that Rivka would pass a house of idolatry & Esav would try to emerge from the womb; she’d then pass a house of study & Yakov would try to get out. Aside from advising us to avoid idolatrous hang-outs, let’s see this Medrash in a different light:

The children inside Rivka, even as unborn fetuses, were already expressing a will & identity of their own. Though they were twin brothers, their characters were decidedly disparate. Each had a distinct "answer" (the word teretz/answer is a root of the word vayit’rotz’ztu) that expressed their own particular world-view.

This totally confounded Rivka: "If my child already behaves in a certain way," she thought, "then "lama zeh Anochi?" why do I need G-d (Anochi)? What place does He have in their development? If their life’s direction is already decided, what role does He play in their destiny?"

G-d answers Rivka: There are 2 entities inside you – in effect, inside every child. The diverse forces compelling & controlling us, the identities which define us, compete against one another in a battle for supremacy. Will we be selfish or compassionate, stingy or charitable? Will we care for others, or only for ourselves? Are we driven by greed, or a desire to do good? While our responsibility is to introduce our children to a G-dly path in life, in the end they alone who choose whether or not to walk down it.

Interestingly, both Esav & Yakov experience a name-change. Yakov – the meek & mild "follower" out of the womb, who hangs on to his brother, will become Yisrael, the leader of the nation whose new name embodies nobility & decisiveness. Esav – who came into the world "asuy," ready-made, with amazing strength & the potential to build the world - becomes Edom, a bloody & barbaric predator who will terrorize & destroy the planet.

Life is all about choices – from the womb to the tomb.
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