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Parshas Toldos


In this week’s portion, Toldos, we find that when Esau was born, he emerged from the womb "admoni" red (Gen: 25:25).

It was only later on however, when he was full grown and demanded of his brother Jacob, "Pour into me now some of that red, red stuff", that he was called "Edom" - Red. (Gen: 25:30)

Edom is a metaphor for cruelty and blood lust, and while at birth Esau had the potential to be a killer, he also had the potential to channel his inclinations in a positive way. All tendencies and character traits can be directed either for the good or for the bad. 

However once Esau expressed himself in such a crude and cruel manner, the Torah gave him the name Edom, because that is what he had become - a crude and cruel man. From this we learn that our words not only impact on others, but perhaps even more significantly, they influence and shape our own personalities. Thus, if you speak like a cold, uncaring person, you become cold and uncaring; if you speak like a killer, you become a killer. The Torah is alerting us to the far-reaching effects that words can have on shaping and molding our character. Therefore, we must be ever on guard to use refined language and gentle compassionate words, not only so that we might interact with others with warmth and love, but also so that we ourselves might become better, kinder people.

One might argue that Esau should hardly be held responsible for his barbaric ways. After all, he was born red, and his propensity for evil was inborn. Moreover, isn’t it true that everything is pre-determined, that the script of our lives is written before we are born? 

To a certain extent, yes. Nevertheless, we have free choice in the most crucial of all decisions -- and that is shaping our character. It is written in the Talmud that "everything is foretold except our reverence for G-d", so for example, before birth it is determined how high our IQ’s will be, but it is our decision (based upon our reverence for G-d) whether we will use that high IQ to bring blessing to others, or G-d forbid, inflict harm and pain upon them. And this same logic applies to every area of life. 
David, King of Israel demonstrates how one can harness one’s inborn characteristics and channel them for the benefit of mankind. He too was born red, but with his words he created psalms and with his courage, he defeated the evil Goliath and forever changed the course of mankind. These thoughts from the Parsha should inspire us to scrutinize our personalities, measure our words evaluate our deeds so that we may convert our weaknesses into strengths and do our share to create a better world.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Osher


This Torah portion is dedicated in memory of

Yankel ben Dovid

Parshas Toldos      28 Cheshvan 5777


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Friday, November 17th, 2017

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Saturday, November 18th, 2017

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