Game On!: Toldot 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Whom do you admire more: someone who is clever, or someone who is kind? How challenging, if at all, is it to appreciate the skill of someone who is clever but not kind?

Rebecca’s plot to ensure that Jacob receives Isaac’s blessings is clever enough, but, at least at first glance, not kind:

The Pitch: “[Isaac told Esau,] ‘Bring me some game and prepare a dish for me to eat, that I may bless you, with the Lord’s approval, before I die.’ Now my son, listen carefully as I instruct you. Go to the flock and fetch me two choice kids, and I will make of them a dish for your father, such as he likes. Then take it to your father to eat, in order that he may bless you before he dies.” – Genesis 27:7-10

Swing #1: “It would have been well to say just ‘and I will bless you,’ but since [Isaac] added ‘before God,’ the Throne of Glory of the Holy One then trembled and said, Could it be, that the serpent is freed from these curses, and Jacob remains subject to them?” – Zohar

Swing #2: “Even though Jacob is now blessed, most of the blessings of material benefits of this world accrue to Esau and the lesser portion accrued to the children of Jacob for only a few years. Therefore, it appears that all of this effort was for nothing, and Jacob suffered tremendously as a result of this because he needed to run away and be afraid of Esau.” – Beit HaLevi

Swing #3: “How do [we know] it was Passover? It seems the answer is: Isaac was born on Passover. And God completes the days of the righteous – they die the same day they were born.” – Siftei Chachamim

Late-Inning Questions: How might you rank the characters of this story in terms of dishonesty and miscommunication? Do Rebecca, Isaac, Jacob, and Esau all share some of the blame? How might this episode have been different if everyone had simply been honest? How often does trickery lead to good outcomes?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: We’re very proud of our Lifelong Learning students, who will lead us in Havdallah tomorrow night. Tune into the Havdallah Zoom link (found on the TBT website) starting at 5:45pm.

The Big Inning at the End: Why does it seem that baseball embraces trickery? Do you think it has something to do with our celebration of a successful “stolen” base?

Shabbat Shalom!