Parashat Toldot

Rebekah gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob, who struggle with each other, engage in bargaining and deception to obtain the birthright and Isaac's blessing.

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Rebekah approaches Isaac to tell him that she doesn’t want Jacob to take a wife from the local women. She tells Isaac that it would be best for Jacob to go to her brother Laban’s and find a wife from among the women there.

Isaac agrees. He calls Jacob and blesses him and commands him not to take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. “Arise and go to your mother’s brother and take a wife from among his daughters. God, the all-sufficing, will bless you and make you fruitful. You will multiply into a great nation. God will give you the blessing of Abraham so that you and your children may inherit the land which God promised my father Abraham.” Thus Jacob is sent away to his mother’s brother, Laban’s house.

Esau soon hears of his father’s order that Jacob not marry a Canaanite. Knowing that the daughters of Canaan are displeasing to his father, Esau goes to the family of Ishmael, Abraham’s other son, and takes one of Ishmael’s daughters for a wife.

Questions For Discussion

1) What is a birthright? Why do you think Jacob asked Esau to trade his birthright for food? Why do you think Esau agreed? What is your birthright?

2) How do you feel about Rebekah, a mother, asking her son, Jacob, to lie to his father? Do you ever lie? Is it ever right to lie? How do you feel about yourself when you lie?

3) Esau hates his father and his brother for taking away his blessings. Is it okay to hate? Do you hate anyone? Why?

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.