Parshah Columnists for Toldot

Guest Columnists
Sweet and Sour Isaac
Life Lessons From the Parshah
Why Isaac's Wells Lasted, and Abraham's Did Not
Each of the three forefathers typified something unique, a particular “brand” that was thereafter permanently imprinted into the Jewish DNA.
Heroic Humility
As any child of a super charismatic parent knows, growing up in the shadows can be hard. Part of that is due to our worship of the extrovert.
Different Yet Identical
Indeed, everything we learn about Abraham and Isaac seems to cry out: Different! That if ever there were a father and son who seemed so unlike one another, it was these two highly individualized personalities.
How Rebecca Learned to Fly
Some of us thrive as a result of a challenging environment—our struggles refine our characters and make us even greater people. And sometimes, no matter what we do, we cannot seem to rise above the circumstances of our birth . . .
Digging Wells
Rather than reaching up for the Divine you went further down instead, digging wells, only to find that the waters down there have the same blueness of which the heavens are made. You extended the distance between the heavens and the earth; thus you established an outpost, promoting a vigorous circulation between the heavens and the new frontier
Rivers of the Soul
All Jews are well-diggers, even today. Whatever you do for your physical livelihood and your spiritual livelihood, all depends on digging lasting wells...
Getting Healthy
Esau is born red and as hairy as an adult, and so he remains—red, intense, driven, violent. Jacob is born with his issues as well. Timid, a bookworm, Mama’s boy. Yet he is willing to acknowledge and confront Esau...
Wedding Speeches for Toldot
The Challenge of Being an Isaac
An Essay on Toldot
Why Did Isaac Dig So Many Wells?
What does well-digging look like in modern times?
Did Esau Mend His Ways?
The world can be a confusing place at times. Don’t be fooled by grand gestures designed to make a good impression.
Isaac and the Egypt Problem
Do you see your regular, everyday interactions as your own, unrelated to who you are as a spiritual person with a G‑dly mission?
Torah Insights
The Deception
Why did Isaac, the quintessential spiritual person, someone who was prepared to offer himself as a sacrifice to G‑d, want to bless his older son, the one who abandoned the tents of study and who spent his time out in the field leading a hunter’s lifestyle?
Keep Laughing
Why would Abraham and Sarah choose the name “laughter” for their child, who was destined to be a deeply spiritual person and a patriarch of the Jewish people?
Heart and Mind: Esau and Jacob
Which do you follow, the analytic mind or the passionate heart?
Weekly Sermonette
Did Jacob Not Care for His Mother?
How could Jacob accept Rebbeca’s offer to take his father’s curses upon herself? There must be a reason for this seeming lack of care.
Can you imagine if Esau received those critical blessings and would have become one of our founding fathers? Oy vey!
Beans and Birthrights
Esau sold his birthright for a pot of beans. But what did Jacob pay for it?
The Book or the Blade?
I myself am lucky to be alive. I remember going to pay a house visit on a family in my congregation and being attacked by their young son who had an AK-47
A Thought for the Week
A Double Gift
When Jacob receives the blessings of his father Isaac he received a double blessing. What is the double blessings significance?
Parshah Messages
The True Heir
Esau wasn't all bad. He had a stellar soul which shone brightly. So why didn't he receive the blessings?
For Friday Night
Strength of Character
Do we have the power to change our own lives? Or are we entirely the product of our environment? A timely lesson from Rebecca.
The Tent and the Field
Jewish teaching sees the life of the individual as expressing an inner struggle. One part of the person relates to Nature--untamed, uncontrolled, like natural forests and unclaimed fields. The other part has a Divine quality, expressing G-d Who created nature in order to make it His dwelling...
Esau the Transformer
Esau was the bad guy, right? So why did his father, the patriarch Isaac, prefer him over his saintly brother Jacob?
Esau and His Wives
Esau’s Hittite wives, although they were in Isaac’s home, offered incense to idols. Rashi says that the smoke of this incense caused Isaac’s blindness.
What the Rebbe Taught Me
Show and Tell
Abraham and Isaac: Two Paradigms in Influence and Outreach
They both served G‑d with all their hearts and souls, but they possessed different hearts and different souls. Their roles and destinies, as well, couldn’t have been more different.
Living through the Parshah
The Positive Power of Negative Thoughts
The evil enclination's strategy makes it clear that it's counter-productive to inspect a shameful thought and be disappointed because of it. The key is to simply let it go. In fact we can actually feel pleased by its arrival…
Life in the Garden
Parshat Toldot
Parshah Moment
Do we have any connection to our parents? Is a connection vital? Abraham, Isaac and a life lesson to our generation
Inner Stream
The Purpose of Wealth
The purpose of wealth is to support holy causes, and once we have it we may use some of it. But if we reverse the values and use our wealth to glorify ourselves, we are not worthy of the gold.
To Really Trust
There is nothing more gratifying than placing your trust in something you cannot see, and then having that trust validated.
The Secret of Jewish Survival
It is not the survival of our bodies that evokes wonder—it is our survival of spirit, culture and identity. How did a persecuted people, displaced and disheartened, manage to survive?
The Thrill of Discovery
Love for G-d is limited by its own size. When we confront an obstacle greater than our love, we need something stronger to catapult us. Isaac's abnegation of self and strict code of obedience shifted his focus from himself onto G-d. Thus he was able to "unplug" Abraham's wells
Why Did G-d Create Evil?
This is not a question about why people choose to do evil or why evil is visited on the innocent. It is a broader question. Why did G‑d create evil and what purpose does it serve?
Tapping Our Potential
Esau was understandably perturbed over losing the blessing. But why was he suddenly concerned over his birthright? He had surrendered it with barely a protest years earlier, so what changed now?
The Secret to Eliminating the Generation Gap
What is the secret to making the generation gap disappear?
Parshah Musings
Jews Vs. Pigs
Defeating evil incarnate is easier than challenging those who assume a patina of purity.
A Sheep in a Wolf's Clothing
Why didn't Jacob and his mother just march openly into Isaac's room, bring proof of Esau's wickedness and convince Isaac that Jacob was the more worthy candidate in the first place?
Life Begins at 40
Rather than withdrawing from society, we are expected to do work that contributes to the common good.
Learning to Laugh
We take on the world, vowing to turn it upside down. And then we relax, and learn to savor life's little pleasures. And then, one day we realize what's wrong: we're not having fun anymore!
The Torah's Esau
How should a person be judged—by what he or she is, or by what he or she can be? A mysterious Parshah commentary by Rashi, a Talmudic adage and a chapter from the chassidic work Tanya provide an unconventional formula.
To Dig a Well
You need to pick a spot and stick with it. You can’t stop boring when you hit a rocky stretch, and you can’t take the work home with you.
Faking It
Whatever for does Jacob need "the dew of heaven and the fat of the land," anyway?
Parshah Recovery
Constantly Recovering
We view our disease as having its own personality, an internal addict that values selfishness and gratification. It is the older twin, big and strong, a hunter and an outlaw.
Covenant & Conversation
The Courage of Persistence
No other prejudice has lasted so long, mutated so persistently, attracted such demonic myths, or had such devastating effects.
Why Did Isaac love Esau?
Why did Isaac love Esau? Did he not know about Rebecca’s oracle?
A Father’s Love
We have no difficulty understanding why Rebekah loved Jacob. The real question is why did Isaac love Esau?
Between Prophecy and Oracle
The future is never as straightforward as we are led to believe. Abraham is promised many children, but has to wait years before Isaac is born. The patriarchs are promised a land, but do not acquire it in their lifetimes. The Jewish journey, though it has a destination, is long, and has many digressions and setbacks.
Was Jacob Right to Take the Blessings?
Was he right to deceive his father and to take from his brother the blessing Isaac sought to give him?
Life's Passages
How to Communicate a Difference of Opinion to Your Spouse—Without Arguing
Why didn’t Rebecca just sit down over a cup of coffee and explain to her husband what she intuitively understood? What would be gained by Jacob committing an act of deception?
Can a Square Fit into a Circle?
Our society is full of boxes and conformist qualities necessary to achieve specific ideals.
Bring Out the Pitchforks!
The person who starts praying may not merit what he or she desires. But the newly transformed, far more spiritual individual concluding prayers may be worthy of what he or she seeks—and use it to further spiritual growth.
What Do You Think?
Is Excessive Wealth a Virtue or a Vice?
Isn’t wealth the negative consequence of greed and unbridled ambition? Is wealth a virtue or a vice?
The Voice and the Hands
A response to the terror attack in Jerusalem
Bloodshed, conquest, genocide, terrorisms, pogroms and all the synonyms of hatred. The hands seem more popular than the voice.
Beyond Speech
On the Haftarah: "Be a Yid"
For the Haftarah of Toldot, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
We have to ask, if not demand, G‑d’s open and revealed love, that He send Moshiach and put an end to this dark exile.
You Are Not Bound by the Rules of Nature
If scripture already says, "Isaac son of Abraham," why the need to repeat, "Abraham fathered Isaac"?
The Freeman Files
No Bad Talk
Inside Job
from the book “Wisdom to Heal the Earth”
You can only fix the world by being part of it.
Two Paths
Jacob's Path
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