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Reb Lisa's Message

I continue to reflect on what it means for us to live in a country so deeply divided. Of course this is most visible and present in the recent election process. But it seems that increasingly, on so many issues, and in so many areas, there is non-negotiable polarization.


Interestingly, in this week’s Torah portion, Toldot, we are introduced to Esau and Jacob, twin brothers who from the very beginning of their lives are polarized and fighting. What can we learn from their story?


After twenty years of hoping and praying for children, Rebecca and Isaac’s prayers are finally answered. Rebecca conceives twins. We also learn that this is a difficult pregnancy for Rebecca, with twin sons who struggle with each other, even before they are born. God tells Rebecca that there are two separate nations inside her and shall emerge as such. One will be mightier than the other. One will serve the other.


This parasha is full of drama and angst. The themes and issues center on complicated relationships, tense family dynamics, playing favorites and taking sides, deception and fighting over what seem limited resources (including Esau and Jacob scrambling for their father’s blessing). It’s a fascinating read. I urge you to dive in.


What can we learn from this text, at this time? What is Torah reflecting to us around the issue of being in separate camps; of feeling divided; of struggling in extreme opposition; of fighting for a blessing? These are very important questions for us to consider.


May there be a tent big enough for all of us to enter. In that tent, may we value each other’s differences and learn from them. May we know and believe the Holy One has enough blessing for everyone. Ken Yehi Ratzon. May it be so.




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