WATER FROM THE WELL: These are the generations

Existential angst as we raise children who make different choices than our own –often leading to rupture, estrangement and alienation –leads many parents to question the truth of their own existence.

By NECHAMA GOLDMAN BARASH
November 8, 2018 00:28
WATER FROM THE WELL: These are the generations

BIRTH OF Esau and Jacob as an example of twins’ fate against the arguments of astrology, by François Maitre, 1475-1480, detail from miniature at the Museum Meermanno Westreenianum, The Hague.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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As we continue reading in the Book of Genesis, the complexity of family relationships emerges from within stories of moral ambiguity. This week’s Torah portion, Toldot, continues this pattern with stories of deception between parent and child, brother and brother and husband and wife.

Certain things are unique to our portion. We have the predictable barrenness of Rebekah, but Isaac singularly prays to God in the presence of his wife to end her barrenness. He does not take a second spouse or concubine. We have been told that he loves his wife, and in this week’s portion, King Abimelech, who thinks the beautiful Rebekah is Isaac’s sister, looks out his window and sees Isaac being intimate with Rebekah, causing her laughter. Despite these differences, the birth of the twins ruptures marital harmony, with each parent choosing a child to favor, thus causing enmity between the brothers and leading to tragic events that divide the family forever. Jacob, who is forced to flee at the end of the portion, will only return after Rebekah is dead.

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