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​​This Week's Torah Thought

Toldot | תולדות

As if the stories of Cain and Abel and Isaac and Ishmael were not enough, Isaac and Rebecca’s twin sons Jacob and Esau continue a biblical narrative rich with sibling rivalry. At birth, Jacob grabs onto his brother’s heel as if trying to catch up to him, (hence his name Jacob, related to the Hebrew word for “heel”). A famished Esau gives up his birthright for a pot of stew. In Isaac’s twilight, Jacob obtains his father’s blessing through deception. One senses that at the heart of these sibling rivalries is the conviction that resources are inevitably limited, that when my brother gets something I invariably miss out. This sibling rivalry worldview says that there are only winners and losers and that I’d better be the winner, no matter the consequences to others. One of the key lessons of the Torah and Judaism is that this world view is false, and a source of evil. Life is not a sport where the winner takes all, instead, life is an opportunity for sharing the gifts God has showered upon us; a chance to build a society where all have dignity, all have their basic needs met, and all have the possibility of winning, without their win inevitably causing someone else to lose. Our tradition encourages us to live out this lesson by performing acts of chesed, lovingkindness, and tzedakah, righteous giving. This year our Temple family, along with neighbors and friends is participating in a powerful act of chesed and tzedakah with STOP HUNGER NOW. We will be literally feeding the hungry by packing meals that will be sent to communities in need around the world. I urge you to contribute toward this project and to participate – with your friends and families – on Sunday December 11th from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm. This is one small step we can take together to help make our world the kind of place in which God would wish to dwell – a world in which sibling rivalry gives way to brotherly and sisterly love

Shabbat Shalom,

​​Rabbi Gersh Zylberman