Toldot, Genesis 25:19-28:9, Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, November 21, 2020

The central story of this week’s Torah portion is the competition between Jacob and Esau for the mantle of their father’s leadership. In the climactic scene, Jacob, with his mother’s help, deceives his father Isaac by pretending to be the favorite first born Esau. 

Our sages teach that Esau was deeply flawed, a man controlled by his appetites for food and women, and thus not worthy of carrying on his family’s mission to bring the word of God to the world. But Isaac cannot see this, blinded as many parents are by their love for their children. 

Perhaps, Isaac also cannot see what is going on in his family because his eyes have been trained on heaven since he was a young boy laid on the altar as a sacrifice by his father. 

Jacob and Rebekah’s deception of Isaac is necessary because Isaac cannot see what is best. His decisions are flawed because of his biases. 

This is often true for us: our biases and prejudices prevent us from seeing the world as it is or making the right decisions. 

This week’s Torah portion is a cautionary tale. That we must check ourselves, to make sure we are seeing reality as it is, not as we wish it to be. 

Recently, we have seen the high price our country is paying when we are not willing to see the world as it is. There are few flaws worse than self-deception.