1. We are taught “Open with blessing,” and, indeed, the Torah itself follows this pattern, beginning with the letter Beis which is associated with the word Berachah.

Furthermore, the first word of the Torah, Bereishis, (בראשית) can be broken up into ב ראשית, two firsts, referring to the Torah and the Jewish people. Among these two, the Jewish people are given primacy, for as the Tana d’Bei Eliyahu states, the Torah itself implies that the Jews are given prominence.1

Herein, there is a connection to the service of every Jew as reflected in the narrative of Yaakov and Eisav related in our Torah reading. Eisav was the firstborn and, as explained in Chassidus, shares a connection with the lights of the realm of Tohu which transcend the realm of Tikkun, (the latter being associated with Yaakov). Nevertheless, the fact that these lights are alluded to in the Torah indicates that the intent is that these lights of Tohu will ultimately be enclothed in the vessels of Tikkun.

This ultimate level is not revealed at present in the time of exile, but will be revealed in the Era of the Redemption. It is, however, possible to achieve a foretaste of this at present in one’s individual life, redemption in one’s personal sphere. And the experience of such a revelation on a personal level will hasten the time when in a total sense, the lights of Tohu will be enclothed in the vessels of Tikkun in the Era of the Redemption.

This represents the purpose of a Jew’s service and his mission, shlichus, in this world, to draw down the lights of Tohu into the vessels of Tikkun and thus transform the world into a dwelling for G‑d. Every Jew has the potential to carry out this service and he can make this potential an actual reality.

The above reflects the connection between this week’s Torah portion and the International Conference of Shluchim.2 Similarly, there is a connection to the Torah reading of the previous week, Parshas Chayei Sarah, which describes the shlichus on which Eliezer, Avraham’s servant, was sent.

In the course of carrying out this shlichus, Eliezer made a statement that reflects the purpose of the mission of every Jew, “I am Avraham’s servant.” “I am,” Anochi in Hebrew is a reference to the Giving of the Torah,3 for the Ten Commandments begin with that word.

Similarly, the expression “Avraham’s servant” refers to the Jewish people’s role as being G‑d’s servants as reflected in the promise “When you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve G‑d on this mountain.” The AriZal explains that the service associated with the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah began with Avraham. Thus the term “Avraham’s servant” implies a dedication to carrying out the service mentioned above.

The purpose of Eliezer’s mission, the marriage of Yitzchak and Rivkah, is also relevant to every Jew, for it reflects the unity of the body and the soul. Through their union, each one of these two reaches its ultimate perfection; i.e., the ultimate perfection of the soul is when it is enclothed in the body and the ultimate perfection of the body is when it is granted vitality by the soul.

In the Era of the Redemption, the body will be given prominence over the soul4 and the soul will derive its nurture from the body. At present, the essential factor is the soul, but the service of the soul must be directed towards reaching that ultimate era when the prominence of the body will be revealed.5

2. The name of this week’s Torah reading raises a difficulty: Just as this portion begins with the phrase “These are the toldos (‘chronicles’) of Yitzchak,” we find that Parshas Noach begins with the phrase, “These are the toldos of Noach.” On the surface, since Parshas Noach comes before Parshas Toldos, it would seem proper that it be given the name Toldos and Parshas Toldos be called Yitzchak.

This concept can be explained in a manner which relates to the spiritual service of every Jew and more particularly, to a Jew’s spiritual service as it is reflected within his material activities. Toldos also means “progeny” and in an extended sense refers to our good deeds, for our Sages declared, “The essential progeny6 of a tzaddik7 are his good deeds.” Noach is associated with rest and pleasure. Thus the order of the parshiyos teaches us that before a Jew begins his service (Toldos), he receives an assurance of G‑d’s generosity and kindness (Noach). Since he is G‑d’s servant, at the outset he is promised a full measure of both spiritual and material rest and pleasure.

This relates to Toldos, our performance of good deeds. For as the Rambam relates, the reward we receive for our Torah observance is granted to allow us to continue and enhance that service. Moreover, G‑d has structured the world in a manner in which He “requires” the Jews’ good deeds as it were. Just as the Jews require the influence which G‑d grants them, G‑d “requires” as it were, the service performed by the Jewish people. And through this service, a Jew becomes G‑d’s partner in creation.

And the ultimate result of this partnership, the dwelling for G‑d established in this material world, represents an expression of the essence of G‑d — for it is only G‑d’s essence that can create material existence — and the essence of the Jewish soul, for it is through the enclothement of the soul in the body that the essence of the soul is revealed.8

This should be reflected in the activities motivated by the International Conference of Shluchim. Every Shliach should be motivated to proceed to further activities. Despite all his positive achievements in the past, he should strive toward greater heights in the future. Indeed, this is human nature;9 “a person who possesses one hundred desires two hundred and one who possesses two hundred desires four hundred.”

This gathering will be concluded by distributing money to be given to tzedakah and also a Torah text, a teaching of Pnimiyus HaTorah as amplified through the teachings of the Chabad Rebbeim. For both tzedakah and the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah will hasten the coming of the Era of the Redemption. This is the responsibility of every Jew. It is not enough to wait anxiously, knowing that surely Mashiach will come; each person must do his part to hasten his coming.10

Together with this, an object of food, a piece of lekach, “cake,” will also be distributed. It is customary to give such cake to a child when he begins his study of the Torah. When a child is three,11 he recites a passuk while standing next to a Torah scroll,12 and then he is given a piece of cake.

The Torah is also called lekach as in the verse “I gave you good teaching” (lekach tov). In an ultimate sense, this refers to “The new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.” “One man will not teach another, for they will all know Me,” i.e., G‑d Himself will reveal Torah — both Torah law13 and Pnimiyus HaTorah — to every Jew. May this take place in the immediate future, on this very night, even before we can proceed to any other activities.