Torah Portion

Toledot

תולדות

Genesis 25:19-28:9
Malachi 1:1-2:7

Isaac before He Was Abraham’s Son

Isaac before He Was Abraham’s Son

Abraham and Isaac each dig a well in Beersheba and make a treaty with King Abimelech. Which story came first?

Dr. Rabbi
David Frankel
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Hunting: How It Became Un-Jewish

Hunting: How It Became Un-Jewish

In the Torah, Nimrod and Esau are hunters, Isaac enjoys game, and the legal collections take it for granted that hunting for food is common and permissible. Once Judaism decided that even wild animals must be ritually slaughtered, the Jewish attitude towards hunting took a sharp negative turn.

Dr. Rabbi
Marcus Mordecai Schwartz
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The Denigration of Esau

The Denigration of Esau

Why does Esau in Jewish tradition come to be known as עשו הרשע “Esau the Wicked”? The answer has to do with the history of Judea’s relationship with Esau’s eponymous descendants, the Edomites, and the connection Jews made between them, Rome, and Christianity. The negative view of Esau is expressed nowhere more forcefully than in Rashi’s commentary.

Dr.
Barry Dov Walfish
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Rashi on the Torah: What Kind of Commentary Is It?

Rashi on the Torah: What Kind of Commentary Is It?

Rashi (Rabbi Solomon b. Isaac) wrote the most famous Jewish Bible commentary in history. Over 900 years later, scholars still argue about the nature of the commentary: Is it an attempt to explain peshat, the plain meaning of the biblical text, or is it an anthology of midrash?

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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Israel’s History as a Family Narrative

Israel’s History as a Family Narrative

Behind the story of Jacob’s struggle with his older twin Esau, stands a political allegory, reflecting how Israel (=Jacob) first dominated Edom (=Esau) in the 10th-9th centuries and then lost control over it in the late 8th century.

Prof.
Marvin A. Sweeney
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A Monogamous Isaac Prays for His Barren Wife

A Monogamous Isaac Prays for His Barren Wife

Midrash Chad Shenati, discovered in the Cairo Genizah, criticizes Abraham for not praying for Sarah and praises Isaac for praying for Rebekah.

Dr.
Shana Strauch-Schick
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Dr.
Moshe Lavee
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Esau the Ancestor of Rome

Esau the Ancestor of Rome

In the Bible, Esau is the ancestor of the Edomites who live on Mount Seir, southwest of Judah. So how did the rabbis come to associate Esau and Edom with Rome? Two main factors are at work here: Christianity and Herod.

Dr.
Malka Zeiger Simkovich
TheGemara.com
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Looking Through the Window: A Gendered Motif

Looking Through the Window: A Gendered Motif

Abimelech, Michal, Sisera’s mother, and Jezebel all look through a window, but their experience is not the same.

Prof.
Aaron Demsky
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Rebecca’s Character

Rebecca’s Character

Rebecca, informed by God of her sons’ destinies, thwarts her husband’s effort to bless Esau. The Torah thus portrays an assertive Rebecca in contrast to a weak and uninformed Isaac. Early Jewish interpreters took conflicting approaches to this unusual depiction of a patriarchal couple.

Dr.
Malka Zeiger Simkovich
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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Toledot

תולדות

Genesis 25:19-28:9

וַיִּגַּשׁ יַעֲקֹב אֶל יִצְחָק אָבִיו וַיְמֻשֵּׁהוּ וַיֹּאמֶר הַקֹּל קוֹל יַעֲקֹב וְהַיָּדַיִם יְדֵי עֵשָׂו׃

בראשית כז:כב

So Jacob drew close to his father Isaac, who felt him and wondered. “The voice is the voice of Jacob, yet the hands are the hands of Esau.”

Gen 27:22

Genesis

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