Parsha Toldos 5766 — To Rise Above the Norm
By, Moshe Burt
The Israeli political scene at present resembles a Free Agency Market. It’s talents or shall we say, bounty-hunters are for hire to the highest bidder, and represent the likes of which would make America’s sports Free Agency look lame by comparison.
Forget Major League Baseball’s rush for “Closers”(the guy to pitch the 8th and or 9th innings and hold a lead) — Wagner $43 Million for 4 years, B.J. Ryan $47 Million 5 years, etc.
Hey, get your Ministry here! Sharon bolts Likud and form’s “National Responsibility(sic)”, oops make that Kidima! Peres, Dalia Itzik to Kadima. Shelley Yehimovic joining Labor. Kadima pitching for Education Ministry Director-General Ronit Tirosh. Ramon to Kadima. Olmert to Kadima. NRP Looking for Sephardi Candidate. Yuval Porat, former Political advisor to the Yesha Council, to Defense Minister Sha’ul Mofaz’s campaign. Ben Gurion University President Avishay Braverman joins Labor.
You just know that eventually, we will see the T.O. syndrome [NFL Football player Terrell Owens whose non-stop trash-mouthing of a teammate and team ownership got himself suspended from play for the season and booted from the team] in Israeli politics as it’s inevitable that some of these free agents will take temper tantrums and start trash-mouthing each other as well as their own parties as soon as they don’t get their way.
But what does this Free Agent political mentality and mindset have to do with our Parsha Toldos? Basically, the mindset and mentally of acting corrupt and accepting corruption, the rationalization; “it may be wrong but everybody does it.” Therefore, because everybody does it, it’s okay? And so, acting corruptly seeps it’s way down to the common man and how he relates, bein adam l’chaveiro with his brethren. This current prevalent type of mindset runs counter to everything we learn about our Parsha’s heroine, Rivka Emeinu.
Parsha Toldos opens by informing us “And Yitzchak was 40 years old when he took Rivka, the daughter of Besuel, the Aramite, from Padad Aram, the sister of Lavan, the Aramite, for himself for a wife. (Parsha Toldos, Breish’t Perek 25, posuk 20) Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer, “Growth Through Torah” writes that although Rivka was both the daughter of and sister of wicked people, “nevertheless, she did not learn from their evil behavior.” She did not emulate their evil.
Rabbi Pliskin then speaks about how many people try to excuse their own faults by blaming others as the cause of their behavior. “It’s not my fault that I have this bad trait, I learned it from my parents.” “I’m not to blame … since my brothers and sisters do it also.” “Everyone in my neighborhood does or does not do it, so how could I be any different?” It’s a rationalization for maintaining the bad trait or habit.
We learn from Rivka that regardless of the faulty nature of one’s nurture, or of the society in which one is surrounded, one has the ability to elevate one’s self above the common nature of the society which surrounds him. Rabbi Pliskin writes, “of course it takes courage and a lot of effort to be different. The righteous person might be considered a nonconformist and even rebellious by those in his environment whose standard of values are below his level.” (Growth Through Torah, pages 60-61) Society may even perceive a righteous person as a “friar” (the Israeli term for “sucker”), one who is naive, meek, unassertive, subserviant — a “nebish” who can be used, abused, cheated, swindled without fear of redress.
Rivka, having lived in, observed and even risen above an evil environment, seemed surely to have internalized the insights gained in that environment and therefore was well positioned to observe the real-life playout of divine prophesy, ergo her urging of Yaakov to go before Yitzchak to claim the Bracha. And so, if Rivka, having come from a society where the only role models, the only frame of reference was that of common crooks, thieves and swindlers and yet she was able to elevate herself above the nature of her surroundings to a level where the Shechina once again resided over the tent of the Matriarch, then we, of an elevated Torah ethic, surely ought to have the capacity to do likewise. We, for sure, ought to have the capacity to project the application of midos of honesty, principle, Torah ethic learned in the home and the Beis Medrash onto the other aspects of our lives in treating our brethren V’Ahavta, L’Rei’echa, Kamocha, treating our brethren as we ourselves would want to be treated.
May it be in this year and beyond, that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif and the Shomron as well as our dear brother, Jonathan Pollard are central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions.
B’Ezrat Hashem, may we soon know the day when Torah is the law of the land, when we pray thanks to Hashem for the Ge’ula Shlaima. May we soon see the day of the restoration of our Brethren, expelled by the evil regime from Gush Katif and the Shomron towns, to bigger and more beautiful homes and neighborhoods, Bati Knesset, Yeshivot in Gush Katif and the Shomron and only happiness and success for all time. May this abominable period of history called hitnatkut be as a bad dream. And may we soon see freedom and long life in Eretz Yisrael for Jonathan Pollard.
May we be zocha in this coming year take giant steps toward fulfilling Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations.”
May we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Meiyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.