Parshat Toldos 5782: Preserving the Mesorah — A Challenge Faced by Olim and Their Offspring

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Toldos is being sponsored by Ben and Gina Fishman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for everyone’s success in Torah learning in these difficult times. To the Fishman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Toldos 5782: Preserving the Mesorah — A Challenge Faced by Olim and Their Offspring

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat opens as Torah relates:

“And these are the the offspring of Yitzchak son of Avraham — Avraham begot Yitzchak. Yitzchak was forty years old when he took Rivka, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan-aram, sister of Lavan the Aramean, as a wife for himself.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posukim 19 – 20 as rendered to English in the Sapirstein Edition, The Torah With Rashi’s Commentary)

To put into context the opening posukim of our Parshat Toldos, we look back to Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s commentary in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text”, Volume One, Sefer Breish’t regarding Yitzchak in his vort on Parshat Chayei Sarah (pages 107-110):

As Avraham’s life draws near its end, he turns to his trusted servant, Eliezer, and instructs him to return to his homeland, Aram Naharaim, in order to find a wife for Yitzchak. He specifies that he does not want Yitzchak to marry a woman from the Canaanite nations…(Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t, Perek 24, posukim 1-9) …. Padan Aram, mentioned in the text as the birthplace of Rivka and the home of her extended family, (ibid, Perek 25, posuk 20) refers to a specific region within Aram Naharaim.

Beneath the surface… lies an… important narrative: Avraham’s dramatic negotiation for self-definition as a ger v’toshav, a stranger and a citizen.

Avraham, through this two-word phrase [ger v’toshav], not only describes himself but also delineates the place his descendants will take in society throughout the ages. To survive and succeed the Jew must be both a stranger and a citizen in any country where he lives, participating in the culture which surrounds him while maintaining his own unique identity.

Having arrived at his own self-definition, perhaps Avraham… begins to fear [for the future]: “… I began in this land as a stranger. I came from a foreign land, and have always been able to maintain my distance from those within Canaan. Yitzchak, however, is different. My son was born here. He is too close to those around him. He is familiar only with this culture, with this population and with this land. How do I know that he will learn to discern the dangers that surround him…. that he will be able to distance himself from the elements of society counterproductive to his spiritual development? How do I know that he will maintain the appropriate balance and truly be a ger v’toshav?”

Avraham then sets about guaranteeing the continuation of his legacy…. Yitzchak’s wife will, it is to be hoped, be able to see herself as a ger v’toshav. She will begin with a natural distance from the Canaanites surrounding her. Given her foreign background, she will have a head start in maintaining the perspective needed to discern and confront the dangers around them.

Rabbi Goldin now continues (ibid. page 110):

In short, Avraham does have a deep ulterior motive for sending Eliezer back to his birthplace [Aram Naharaim] to find a wife for Yitzchak. The Patriarch hopes that his son’s wife will ensure the survival of the Jews by maintaining the delicate balance of self-definition that he, himself has achieved.

Rabbi Goldin concludes (ibid, pages 129-130):

Yitzchak’s efforts to define his own identity acquire greater urgency when seen in the light of his unique place at the head of the chain of our tradition. If the process of Mesorah is to fully take root, the second Patriarch cannot simply be a carbon copy of his father. He must actively determine and make his own contribution to upholding the saga of his people. In this way, he sets the stage for generations of Jews to follow, each of whom will be challenged to receive a tradition from their parents, make it their own, and pass it down to their children.

To this author, Avraham’s efforts to guarantee the continuation of his legacy by insuring that Yitzchak’s wife would be someone who would see to the survival of future generations of Jews by maintaining a distance from elements of possible counter-productive societal tendencies among an indigenous population which could undermine spiritual growth seems a lesson for the generations throughout our history through today.

These efforts to guarantee the continuation of Judaism’s Mesorah of thousands of years which soo concerned Avraham Avinu, is shared by olim over the seventy-three years of the State of Israel’s modern-day existence. There needs to be a balance maintained, even today, between the anxiousness of offspring, both born in Chutz L’Aretz and who accompanied parents on Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael and those who were born in Eretz Yisrael of Olim Parents, to emulate the indigenous Israelis, and the continuance of the Mesorah, the midos, the legacy inherited by their Parents over many generations

We return to follow Rabbi Goldin’s train of thought regarding the perpetuation of Avraham Aveinu’s legacy (ibid, page 110)

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that as the story of the second patriarchal generation unfolds, Rivka emerges as the more perceptive parent. She alone sees their two children, Yaakov and Esav, for who they really are, and she alone acts with strength to perpetuate Avraham’s legacy through Yaakov. (Rav Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t , Perek 27, posukim 1-46)

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of seven years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.