Ma Laasot? “So, what can you do?”, as the Hebrew translates. What can we do, in the midst of a barrage of bad news from Ukraine to Jewish settler violence to the shootings of members of the LGBTQ community, students and, now shoppers at a Walmart in Virginia? We, humans, have not done well managing our differences and insecurities.
This week’s Parsha, Toldot, tries to address that. It starts out with Rebecca realizing that she is bearing twins. The Torah describes the clash of these two children within her and predicts that they will become “competing leaders”. (G’yoim)
The Parsha describes the tensions between the hunters and the farmers, favoritisms in society, the meanings of love. The Parsha also reveals the blindness that some people have about others and the deeper wisdom that others have. We see that Rebecca shows the deeper wisdom and a vision of the future not shared by Isaac. We see how Isaac struggles with making peace with a local lord but, ultimately, they make peace at a well. We see how siblings, members of a society, can become so angry that they resort to violence or threats of violence. We learn in the Parsha how poor communication between parents and siblings can lead to problems and alienation.
Does this sound familiar? A member of Am Kolel shared with me how she thought that mental illness was now commonplace in our society. We need more programs addressing this societal reality. Do we have the social therapists, the spiritual guides, and the wisdom teachers to help us? What do we do in the meantime?
“Sur Meyra v’Asey Tov…. Refrain from evil and do good work…”. We heard this teaching from Reb Sammy a couple of weeks ago. This week we hear the calling and the teaching “Hodu LaAdonai Ki Tov, Ki L’Olam Chasdo…. Give thanks to the Ineffable Creator, for the world is filled with loving kindness…”.(Psalm 136).
We have Thanksgiving this week. Around our tables may we pray for those who are hurting, may we give thanks for our loved ones and further dedicate ourselves to helping others in need and help others find the way. Hodu LaShem, — Reb David