Weekly Reading Insights:
Toldot 5778



Overview of the Weekly Reading An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
From the Chasidic Rebbes A Mystical Chasidic Discourse from the "Chabad Master" series
Moshiach this Week Kabbalah Teachings from the Sages of Tsfat and Galilee
Shabbat Law of the Week This week's story from Ascent's storyteller, Yerachmiel Tilles


Overview of the Torah Reading

To be read on Shabbat Toldot, 29 Mar Cheshvan 5778/Nov.18

Torah: 25:19-28:9; Haftorah: Shmuel I 20:18-42 (because of the Eve of Rosh Chodesh)

Toldot is the 6th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and it contains 5426 letters, in 1432 words, in 106 verses

Yitzchak married Rivkah when he was forty. When he was sixty, Rivkah gave birth to twins, Esav and Yacov. At age fifteen, Esav returned one day from hunting in the fields, tired and hungry, and asked Yacov for some food. Yacov told him to sell him his birthright, which he did. There was a famine in the land, but G-d told Yitzchak to remain in the land. Yitzchak went to Gerar, near the border, where he said to the people there that Rivkah was his sister, as he was afraid that he would be killed because of her. When king Avimelech found out he issued a decree that should anyone touch Yitzchak or Rivkah they would be killed. Yitzchak farmed and became wealthy. The Philistines became jealous and filled in his wells. Avimelech told him to leave. Yitzchak eventually arrived in Be’er Sheva. He made a peace treaty with Avimelech. When Esav was forty he married Judith and Basemath. Yitzchak became old and his eyesight was fading. He told Esav to prepare him a meal, and he would bless him before he died. Rivkah heard this and told Yacov that she would prepare a meal for his father, and he should take the blessing instead of Esav. Esav was furious, and planned to kill Yacov after his father’s death. Rivkah heard of this and sent Yacov away. Yitzchak blessed Yacov and told him not to marry a Canaanite girl. Yacov left for the house of Lavan, Rivkah’s brother. Esav understood that his father was displeased with his Canaanite wives, and married Ishmael’s daughter Machlat.


An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

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Parashat Toldot opens with the verse:
"These are the generations of Abraham ; Abraham gave birth to Isaac ." (Gen. 25:19)

The holy Baal Shem Tov expounded upon this verse thus: Our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are connected to the three primary emotional attributes of how G-d relates to the world: first kindness, then judgment (contraction, essentially the opposite of kindness), and then compassion (the combination of kindness and judgment). How can Isaac, the epitome of judgment, contraction and strength, be the offspring of Abraham, our archetype for total kindness and giving?

The answer is that Isaac had to be born of Abraham; kindness must be followed by judgment in order for this kindness to be expressed in the world. No vessel can contain pure kindness. The unrestrained flow has to be contracted for us to benefit from it. For example, rain can fall indiscriminately and cause massive flooding, or it can fall in the proper place and measure and help sustain life. In particular, the contracting of kindness is manifested in give/take relationships: One person is lacking and another person is graced with fulfilling that need. This way, the context of reality will always stem from the verse, "a world of kindness will be built". (Psalm 89) Through these acts of giving, even more kindness will be drawn into the world.

In a similar way, the Lubavitcher Rebbe gave the world the mission to do more and more acts of kindness to help bring the redemption. Through our acts of kindness now we will also bring the biggest gift - the most powerful vessel of all time to draw in the most blessings - our righteous Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul.

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For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this week's Reading, see the archive.


Specifically, for an overview of the recommended articles in the columns:
Holy Zohar, Holy Ari, Mystic Classics, Chasidic Masters, Contemporary Kabbalists, and more,

click to Toldot

one sample:

Contemporary Kabbalists

Two Souls

From the writings & talks of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch

There are two levels in the service of G-d: one where the light of holiness drives away the darkness and a higher level where one transforms the darkness itself into light

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