This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
Believe in Your Child
My nineteen-year-old son was playing soccer with his much younger cousins. Although it was three against one, my son went easy on his cousins and was down by several points. It was only when my son’s five-year-old cousin joined his team that he began to play harder for his young teammate’s sake. And by the end of the game, my son had turned the score around and won the game. The little boy went around bragging that he had won the game. Until he joined the team, his nineteen-year-old cousin was losing, and only after he joined the team their team won.
I can’t tell you how proud I was to watch my son smile and allow his little cousin to believe in himself.
Why Jacob Loved Rachel ... but also had to marry Leah
The Torah describes Rachel as having beautiful features and a beautiful complexion, and Leah as having tender eyes.
It's unusual for the Torah to spill ink illustrating the people or places mentioned. It is also unusual that Leah is (seemingly) publicly disparaged. On principle, the Torah goes out of its way to avoid unnecessary critical descriptions, and yet it openly contrasts Rachel's beauty to Leah's tender eyes. In light of this principle, the biblical commentator Rashi deduces that Leah's tender eyes allude to her incessant weeping: her eyes were red and soft from the many tears she shed. She wept in prayer, entreating G-d to shift the course of her destiny. She had been destined to marry Esau, coarse and corrupt as he was, and she prayed earnestly that her fate be changed.
Different Yet Identical
In introducing us to the patriarchal family of Isaac, son of Abraham, this week’s Torah portion of Toldot begins: “And these are the offspring of Isaac, son of Abraham -- Abraham begot Isaac.” Since Torah is not given to redundancy, this opening passage raises the question: Once we’re told that Isaac is the “son of Abraham,” what is the point of then stating, “Abraham begot Isaac”?
The Midrash explains that the statement “Abraham begot Isaac” represents divine testimony that Isaac was indeed the biological son of Abraham. That in the face of ridiculers and rumor-mongers who sought to claim that Isaac had been fathered by the Philistine king Abimelech, G‑d formed the physical features of Isaac in striking resemblance to those of Abraham, so that there would be no room for doubt that “Abraham begot Isaac.”