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twin babies

Living Torah

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel

The Torah portion of “Toldot” is from Genesis 25:19-28:9. The reading opens with the story of how Isaac and Rebecca remained childless for many years after their marriage. They continued to pray and pray that God bless them with children, never giving up hope. They would pray several times a day, both together and on their own. Finally, after 20 years, Rebecca conceived. They were overjoyed at the news – the Jewish people would indeed continue as promised!

However, Rebecca’s happiness quickly seemed to fade away. Throughout her pregnancy she experienced strange “sensations”. Whenever Rebecca passed a place of evil or idolatry, she felt lots of pulling and kicking coming from her womb, causing her great pain. So too, whenever she would pass a house of worship dedicated to the Almighty God, a place where Godliness and morality was taught, she would again feel kicking and pulling from her womb. Rebecca couldn’t understand why she experienced such severe pain on these two specific occasions: when passing a place of evil and when passing a place of holiness.

Rebecca was advised to consult with the prophets of the day: Shem and Ever. Shem and Ever told her that she was not pregnant with one child, but with two. These two children would be polar opposites. One would live a life of Torah and Godliness, while the other would be evil and idolatrous. Can you imagine Rebecca’s reaction? This is the woman who was told would be the second Matriarch of the Jewish people, and she had an idolater in her womb?

When the time came and the twins emerged from the womb, the first one that came out was ruddy and hairy, so he was named Esau, meaning “hairy”. The younger twin came out while holding Esau’s heel, hence he was called “Jacob”, meaning “heel”. As was predicted, Esau quickly went down the path of evil, crime, murder and idolatry eventually becoming the Patriarch of all evil. Jacob, on the other hand, became a prince of God, quickly earning for himself his role as the third Patriarch of the Jewish people.

The world we live in today is essentially made up of Esaus and Jacobs. Esau continues to represent everything evil, dishonest and impure, while Jacob represents everything moral, honest, blessed, and Divine. The world is either with us, or they’re against us. You’re either an Esau or a Jacob.

Israel takes the side of Jacob. In fact, Jacob’s name was later changed to “Israel.” This is what the People of Israel stand for. Our friends and supporters like you, who stand United with Israel, also represent the values of Jacob. You become part of our extended family and are welcomed into our family. You become “Jacobs”. So wave your flag high and proud. May the Esaus of today quickly disappear into oblivion as did their forbearer. And may the Jacobs of the world find blessing among the House of Israel.

Toldot. The twins. It’s time to choose. A blessing or a curse. You’re either with us or you’re against us. It’s time to choose.

Make the right choice and stand United with Israel. You’re on the right side!

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