D’var Torah: Parashat Toldot

Although Diane and I are no longer running the informal minyan at Shir Hadash, we’re still very involved. So today, she’s reading Torah and I’m leading the service and giving the D’var Torah (the discussion of the portion). And here it is.

D’var Torah: Parashat Toldot (Genesis 25:27-34)

“I’m famished; let me gulp down some of that red stuff.”

“He ate, drank, got up, and left.”

Those sentences come from today’s portion, but they are also all too typical of our lifestyles today. How often do you just grab whatever’s convenient? How often do you gulp it down (maybe while you’re driving or working)?

I don’t know about you, but I have to plead guilty on both counts ”“ especially when it comes to having lunch. All too often, I find myself squeezing in lunch during a telephone call, hoping that the people on the other end can’t hear me chewing. And now that I have a wireless headset, I can even stay on the line while I get up and go (I do try to remember to use the mute button).

But was Esau just famished, or was there something deeper? An alternative translation is “exhausted” or, as in The Five Books of Moses, with introductions, notes, and commentary by Everett Fox (New York: Schocken, 1995, p. 117), “weary.”

In fact, Esau was so worn down that he didn’t even pause when Jacob told him that the price of the meal was his birthright ”“ he just wanted to eat, drink, and go on his way.

In today’s world, it’s very easy to get worn down by the press of events and the demands on our time ”“ even when one is relaxing by watching TV or reading a magazine, there are endless calls to buy, sell, or donate. And you’re likely to be multitasking anyway.

Today is Shabbat, a day when we’re supposed to slow down (stopping is probably impossible!), do no work, study, and reconnect, with God, and with ourselves. That’s our birthright ”“ but we have to be careful not to give it away for a shiny new toy or a glass of red stuff (even if it’s fine Pinot Noir!).

Shabbat Shalom.