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A Generation of Change

Shabbat Thought

Parsha Toldot (“Generations”)

Genesis 25:19-28:9 | Malachi 1:1-2:7 | Matt 10:21-38

Our reading takes us through many years in just a few short chapters. We begin with the union of Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac is forty at the time. The couple prays for a child for twenty years. The L-rd answers the prayer and Rebekah conceives twins. These children struggle within her and she takes her frustration to the L-rd. He tells her the two children in her womb are two nations. The younger will be stronger and the older will serve the younger. We know from history that this becomes a continual struggle for the heirs; thousands of years later we are still witnessing the epic battle of these two nations.

However, one thing we do not often think about is the affect this account can bring to the modern abortion debate. G-d tells Rebekah that the children in her womb are human beings. They will be the progenitors of nations. They have specific futures and, from G-d’s perspective, they are already born. When a woman becomes pregnant the Bible is clear: G-d knows the child and G-d has a plan for the child. Accordingly, killing the child in utero is murder, and defies G-d Himself. To get a full teaching and two testimonies about abortion please see our teaching here.

G-d certainly did not lie, as evidenced in the lives of the brothers. The two boys grow up to argue, deceive, and steal. In the end the younger, Jacob, becomes the ruler of the older, Esau. Jacob receives the blessing of his father Isaac and has passed on to him the covenant promise of Abraham.

The parsha ends with Esau marrying a specific woman in rebellion against his father, Isaac. He marries a daughter of Ishmael, thus expanding and extending the historical family feud between Isaac and Ishmael.

As you read this week's parsha consider the following questions:

1. How did G-d bless Esau?

2. What can you glean from this story about the birth of the Messiah? (Hint: Chapter 26)

3. What are the generational transfers you see here?

4. How do you deal with things in the spirit and natural you received from your family?

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