Toldot

As the first representative of the human race, called Adam, was created by the Lord and the offspring came through natural birth, so the first representative of the people of Israel, called Avram, was called by Him and the first two descendants came through promise and supernatural birth. These two were Yitzchak and Ya’akov. There is a parallel in that each human being who knows the Eeternal, is created and born spiritually by Him and is called to be part of the faith line which started with Avram. Two of our four matriarchs, Sarah and Rebekkah, were barren. They could not get children. And so the involvement, love and care of The Eternal is very intense from the onset of the existence of the people of Israel. The same is true for Rachel, Samson’s mother, Hannah, and the Shunamite woman. They were all barren at first. But G-d, who holds the key to fecundity (Ta’an. 2a; cf. Men. 98a), granted their and their husbands’ prayers (cf. Ps. 113:9).

Although His known and mystical name is YHVH, The Eternal is Adonai, called El Shaddai when Yitzchak tells his son Ya’akov to go to the family of the grandfather on mother’s side in order to get a wife for himself. This is in Paddan-Aram. “And may El Shaddai bless you”, is what Yitzchak told his son (28:3). This is the same name we learned in Parshat Lech Lecha, where G-d, there called YHVH, calls Himself: El Shaddai (see 17:1). It was so important for Avram to realize that whatever gods he had encountered the G-d of the people of Israel is all powerful. When we are in hat same faith line like Avram, later called Avraham, we worship the same all powerful G-d Avraham did, who keeps His promises and loves His faithful.

When Rivkah, Yitzchak’s wife, was pregnant with two children she heard a prophesy from Hashem which influenced the family life deeply. The Lord told her that the oldest, the firstborn, would serve the youngest. We do not know whether Rivkah told her son Ya’akov this prophesy, as we do not know whether she told it to her husband. Why did Ya’akov try to buy the birthright from his older brother? And why did Yitzchak have to be misled by his wife, from the moment she heard Yitzchak talk to his oldest son (27:5) and by his youngest son at the important moment of the blessing (27:18)? Enough questions, like in our own lives.

In any case the line of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov is not at all clear to Yitzchak, not even if he would have heard the prophesy from his wife. And so it was Yitzchak who had to make the difficult decision to choose between his oldest and his youngest. And with or in spite of all human interference he chose right. He chose Ya’akov and not Esau. This is clearly the power and influence of Adonai, the Eternal – El Shaddai – in, through and in spite of human action. Makes me feel secure. Ultimately the world does not depend on any human being: G-d is in control.

Shabbat shalom,
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehillat Beth Yeshua
Amsterdam, Holland