Parshat ha Shavuah Verses –Toldot

This Parshah seems to contain many inner family struggles. First, it reminds us again that each birth is a miracle. As other imahot – אִמָּהוֹת – pra-mothers, Rivka did not immediately give birth.

כא  וַיֶּעְתַּר יִצְחָק לַיהוָה לְנֹכַח אִשְׁתּוֹ, כִּי עֲקָרָה הִוא; וַיֵּעָתֶר לוֹ יְהוָה, וַתַּהַר רִבְקָה אִשְׁתּוֹ.

21 And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD let Himself be entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Once she finally became pregnant, her troubles just started. And she was wise enough and pious enough to look for answers to her questions at the right place.

כב  וַיִּתְרֹצְצוּ הַבָּנִים, בְּקִרְבָּהּ, וַתֹּאמֶר אִם-כֵּן, לָמָּה זֶּה אָנֹכִי; וַתֵּלֶךְ, לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת-יְהוָה. 22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said: ‘If it be so, wherefore do I live?’ And she went to inquire of the LORD.
כג  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה לָהּ, שְׁנֵי גֹיִים בְּבִטְנֵךְ, וּשְׁנֵי לְאֻמִּים, מִמֵּעַיִךְ יִפָּרֵדוּ; וּלְאֹם מִלְאֹם יֶאֱמָץ, וְרַב יַעֲבֹד צָעִיר. 23 And the LORD said unto her: Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

 

As Rabbi Becher says “Esau was not born evil, he had skills, and his father wanted to give him his blessing because he felt that Yaakov was too other-worldly to spread monotheism”, he was not able to survive in the wild world. But the mother knew best.

כח  וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת-עֵשָׂו, כִּי-צַיִד בְּפִיו; וְרִבְקָה, אֹהֶבֶת אֶת-יַעֲקֹב. 28 Now Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison; and Rebekah loved Jacob.

When the twins are born and behave so differently, does that mean that they are not loved by their mother? Can any mother really say that she loves one child and does not love another? As I mother, I find it hard to believe. She feels the pain of her son’s wrongful decisions, but that cannot mean she loves him less.

Yet, the parents’ overall attitude toward the children creates a case for sibling rivalry, a case that lasts until today.

יג  וַתֹּאמֶר לוֹ אִמּוֹ, עָלַי קִלְלָתְךָ בְּנִי; אַךְ שְׁמַע בְּקֹלִי, וְלֵךְ קַח-לִי.

 

13 And his mother said unto him: ‘Upon me be thy curse, my son; only hearken to my voice, and go fetch me them.’

As mothers, don’t we feel that it would be much better if our limbs hurt rather than watching a child suffering from a papercut to their pinkie?

Of course, she is ready to take his curses upon herself, as long as he lives, he is happy and safe.

מב  וַיֻּגַּד לְרִבְקָה, אֶת-דִּבְרֵי עֵשָׂו בְּנָהּ הַגָּדֹל; וַתִּשְׁלַח וַתִּקְרָא לְיַעֲקֹב, בְּנָהּ הַקָּטָן, וַתֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, הִנֵּה עֵשָׂו אָחִיךָ מִתְנַחֵם לְךָ לְהָרְגֶךָ. 42 And the words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah; and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him: ‘Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee.
מג  וְעַתָּה בְנִי, שְׁמַע בְּקֹלִי; וְקוּם בְּרַח-לְךָ אֶל-לָבָן אָחִי, חָרָנָה. 43 Now therefore, my son, hearken to my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran;
מד  וְיָשַׁבְתָּ עִמּוֹ, יָמִים אֲחָדִים–עַד אֲשֶׁר-תָּשׁוּב, חֲמַת אָחִיךָ. 44 and tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away;
מה  עַד-שׁוּב אַף-אָחִיךָ מִמְּךָ, וְשָׁכַח אֵת אֲשֶׁר-עָשִׂיתָ לּוֹ, וְשָׁלַחְתִּי, וּלְקַחְתִּיךָ מִשָּׁם; לָמָה אֶשְׁכַּל גַּם-שְׁנֵיכֶם, יוֹם אֶחָד. 45 until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him; then I will send, and fetch thee from thence; why should I be bereaved of you both in one day?’
מו  וַתֹּאמֶר רִבְקָה, אֶל-יִצְחָק, קַצְתִּי בְחַיַּי, מִפְּנֵי בְּנוֹת חֵת; אִם-לֹקֵחַ יַעֲקֹב אִשָּׁה מִבְּנוֹת-חֵת כָּאֵלֶּה, מִבְּנוֹת הָאָרֶץ–לָמָּה לִּי, חַיִּים. 46 And Rebekah said to Isaac: ‘I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these, of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?’

I prayed for them

Now one is about to kill the other

Both of them I love. How can I make them be friends?

 

Tradition tells us that Rivka is talking about an unfortunate possibility of losing both her husband and son in one day (considering that Esau promised to kill his brother as soon as their father dies). Clearly, no mother would be able to live with a son, who murdered his brother, so I submit that Rivka was thinking of losing all three of them in one day having at least to send her murderous son away forever. No one would envy that possibility.

Thankfully, she was so wise as to make Itzhak sent Yaakov away as if of his own accord to find a wife for himself. That is a new story. May we live through this week in peace to hear it.

img_3694.jpg

 

This is one of the Parshiot when I simply had to cook something appropriate. Of course, the lentil stew’s recipe that Yaakov gave Eusau  is not known to us, but I hope, the one below will be ancient enough, healthy enough, and modern enough for you to try this week

לד  וְיַעֲקֹב נָתַן לְעֵשָׂו, לֶחֶם וּנְזִיד עֲדָשִׁים, וַיֹּאכַל וַיֵּשְׁתְּ, וַיָּקָם וַיֵּלַךְ; וַיִּבֶז עֵשָׂו, אֶת-הַבְּכֹרָה.

34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way. So Esau despised his birthright.

I decided about making this just today, so this is as spontaneous as they come:

For 1 cup of green, red, or mixed lentils:

1/4 cup barley

2 onions

1 lb mushrooms ( I took a mix of baby bella, shitake, and crimini)

1 stalk celery

2 rainbow carrots (you can take regular ones too)

0.5 – 1 cup vegetable broth (use chicken if you want this to be a meat dish)

1 bay leave

2 -3 cloves of garlic

Salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric, za’atar, sumac, lemon juice from fresh lemon to taste. You can, of course, use other spices that you like. These are my every-day ones. I would add fresh cilantro at the end, but this time I didn’t have it.

Preparation:

Soak lentils and barley separately in a bowl of water each for a couple of hours. If you have organic French lentils, do not soak them too long, they cook much quicker than regular ones.

Meanwhile, sautee diced onions with a little bit of your favorite oil. I used a mix of olive and sunflower oils. Add chopped mushrooms and fry them for at least 7-10 minutes until almost done. At this stage add the spices to your taste.

Boil lentils and barley separately in salted water. Your barley will take almost twice the time of lentils if you use French organic ones. IMG_3693.JPG

While the lentils and barley are cooking, sautee celery and carrots cut in small rounds, and add cooked mushroom mixture.

Once the barley and lentils are almost ready, mix everything together with about half a cup of vegetable broth and simmer for just a couple of minutes. You cad add more broth if you want the stew more of a soup consistency.

Sprinkle with some chopped cilantro and enjoy during your Shabbat meal discussing our ancestors.

 

 

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