A Womb With a View: Toldot 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you have an opinion about whether gender-reveal parties (or intricate announcements thereof) are appropriate? Are they fun? Tacky? Are they insensitive to modern ideas of gender identity?

While Rebecca is pregnant, God reveals a great deal about her future children:

The Pitch: “The Lord answered her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, two separate peoples shall issue from your body; one people shall be mightier than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” – Genesis 25:23

Swing #1: “Only a few characters in the Hebrew Bible have their arrival foretold. … Note that the greatest biblical figures – Moses, Aaron, Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon – are never heralded in utero by Divine voice. In general, the annunciation is a minor type-scene in the Bible, a short episode – taking at most a verse or two – that emphasizes God’s power to intervene in human affairs.” – Elliott Rabin, The Biblical Hero: Portraits in Nobility and Fallibility

Swing #2: “Rebekah on some level already knows the truth hiding under the lies. Instructing Jacob to disguise himself as Esau and to take his blessing by stealth, Rebekah may unconsciously believe she is acting according to God’s will: Jacob is the son destined to lead. Of course, deception comes with consequences. … On a mystical level, the more lies are spread, the more husks exist, and the less divine essence reaches the world. In our own lives, the less we are able to discern the truth, the more we bring suffering to ourselves and to those around us.” – Rabbi Lisa L. Goldstein in The Mussar Torah Commentary: A Spiritual Path to Living an Ethical and Meaningful Life, Rabbi Barry H. Block, Ed.

Swing #3: “Perhaps the reason that we are told that Isaac loved Esau who brought venison to him is to point out that Rebecca possessed enough independence of spirit to love Jacob, whose behavior warranted this, and in whose character she could see the promise of the prophecy that had been revealed to her prior to the birth of the twins that in time the older one would become subservient to the younger one.” – Akeidat Yitzhak

Late-Inning Questions: Do our commentators believe Rebecca makes good decisions based on her knowledge of her sons’ future destinties? Should she have shared this knowledge with her husband? Her sons? When are we obliged to reveal a secret?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, evening minyan on Thursday, November 24th, will be held on Zoom only. Hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday!

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of secrecy, I still don’t know whether it’s best for MLB award voters to have their votes revealed to the public. I understand that many people want writers to be accountable for their choices, but I’m not sure if it’s worth arousing the wrath of fans whose favorite player may have been overlooked.

Shabbat Shalom!