Published Date: November 27, 2016
This Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Toledot (The Life and Times of), Genesis 25:19 – 28:9, is the only portion that focuses on the middle patriarch, Isaac, but even still opens and closes with stories about his son Jacob. In between, the stories about Isaac mostly mirror some stories about Abraham his father.
The two best known stories are Jacob’s birth with his twin brother Esau, and his purchase of the family’s birthright from Esau for a stew of lentils; and Isaac’s blessing of Jacob towards the end of the portion. These stories, because of the apparent trickery employed by Jacob and his mother Rebecca, as well as the traditional identification of Esau with Christianity in Jewish sources, make this week’s reading fascinating and challenging.
The Haftara Prophets reading, Malachi 1:1 – 2:7, recalls the relationship between Jacob and Esau, rebukes the Jewish People and especially the Priests, and concludes with an important definition of the Priests’ task (2:6-7):
Proper rulings were in his mouth, And nothing perverse was on his lips; He served Me with complete loyalty And held the many back from iniquity. For the lips of a priest guard knowledge, And men seek rulings from his mouth; For he is a messenger of the LORD of Hosts.