The Weakest Link: Toldot 2019

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How much of your reputation is based on that of your family? Do you feel a need to live up to your family’s reputation? What happens if you don’t?

Isaac often is seen as the essential yet underwhelming link between Abraham and Jacob, even though the biblical text tries to accord him the same amount of honor as his father and son:

The Pitch: “‘I will make your heirs as numerous as the stars of heaven, and assign to your heirs all these lands, so that all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your heirs …’” – Genesis 26:4

Swing #1: “The military motif can scarcely be disassociated from the divine promise to the patriarchs … that their descendants shall be as numerous as the stars, so that all nations of the world shall bless themselves by their offspring, i.e., that the nations of the world would like to be similar to Israel. … In all probability, this population explosion is envisaged as the prerequisite of military conquest.” – Yochanan Muffs, Love & Joy: Law, Language and Religion in Ancient Israel

Swing #2: “Reiterating many parts of His initial promise to Abraham — the gift of land and countless seed, the source of blessing to all the nations of the earth — God now transfers His promises to Isaac simply because of his father’s obedience.” – Leon R. Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis

Swing #3: “A man will say to his son, ‘May your seed be as the seed of Isaac.” – Rashi

Late-Inning Questions: Does Isaac have a responsibility to live up to his father’s example? Or, after surviving his father almost killing him, could we understand his reluctance to do so? How much do we need to defend our surname, as opposed to our family name?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: It won’t be long before our JBQ (annual Kosher barbecue competition) — this year, it will take place Sunday, December 15th. Contact the office to buy your tickets and to offer items for our silent auction!

The Big Inning at the End: The Toronto Blue Jays have several talented young players — Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio — whose respective fathers were accomplished big-leaguers. What must it be like for a team to be led by players who grew up watching their dads achieve on-the-field success?

Shabbat Shalom!