Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Toldot- Accepting Children For What They Are & Allowing Them to Make their Own Destiny
Vayig’d’lu han’arim va’y’hi Eisav ish yodei’a tzayid ish sadeh v’ya’akov ish tam yosheiv ohalim. Vaye’ehav Yitzchak et-Eisav ki-tzyad b’fiv v’Rivkah ohevet et-Ya’akov.
And the youths grew, and Esav was a knowledgeable hunter, a man of the field, and Ya’akov was a simple man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Eisav because he ate of his venison, and Rivka loved Ya’akov. (Breishit 25:27-28)
My father often jokes that, if only his children had become an Olympic gymnast and pro-golfer, he’d be able to live in the style to which he wanted to become accustomed. Alas this was not to be. I lack the competitive desire, and my brother preferred blocks and tools to clubs. Nevertheless, we do not doubt our parents love us.
Isaac is a simple man. Mostly he remains in the land of Israel, and is caretaker of the wells his father dug. He is not an adventurer. In spite of this, I think that he might have been a bit of s dreamer, and lived those dreams vicariously through his son Esav. Esav is a skilled hunter. The verb yodei’a reflects the innate depth of his knowledge. He is a man of the field, out and about in the world, and Isaac, literally, eats the rewards of this lifestyle. For this, Isaac loves Esav. He wants Esav to be the inheritor of the birthright. It seems likely. Esav is strong. Esav is the eldest. Esav is the one who dotes on his parents. Although all seems to point to Esav, Rivka’s prophecy tells a different tale, “And the elder shall serve the younger.” (25:23). Did Isaac know about the prophecy? We do not know. Maybe he did not. Maybe, knowing Isaac’s love for Esav, Rivka kept it to herself. “And Rivka loved Ya’akov.” With our knowledge, we may think that Rivka’s love was directed by the prophecy. The text tells another story. “Rivka loved Ya’akov.” The Torah does not give an explanation. Rivka simply loves Ya’akov because he is Ya’akov, and for no other reason.
Parents, with the best intentions, dream for their children. They look ahead, wondering what their children might become. They worry about who their friends are. They worry about education and careers. They teach, they nag, and they work hard to give guidance. Whether nature or nuture, children become who they will. Parents cannot change that. Even as youngsters they make decisions that will shape their lives. These decisions are not always what we expect. In fact they are a daily surprise. Each person has his/her own talents and skills, interests and desires. And while they may not be what we might have dreamed for them, we must accept them, and allow them to follow their own paths.