Commentary on Parashat Toldot, Genesis 25:19 - 28:9
Nothing gets you attention at summer camp like pulling a good prank. The pranks start out small: first the boys bunk toilet papers the girls’ cabin. The girls retaliate by short-sheeting the boys’ beds. The boys hit back by putting the girls’ luggage in the dumpster and soon the boys find their own sleeping bags filled with shaving cream. Before you know it, a full-blown prank war spirals out of control between all the boys and girls in the eldest division. No one is safe from the practical jokes–or from punishment from the Camp Director. What began with one roll of toilet paper and a small act of trickery quickly erupts into a serious situation with serious consequences.
In this week’s Torah reading, Parashat Toldot, Jacob pulls the ultimate prank on his father Isaac. He pretends to be his twin brother Esau in order to receive the blessing reserved for Isaac’s firstborn son. Though Jacob fled from his father’s house, he could not escape his deceitful act. Just as Jacob fooled his own father, Jacob himself was deceived in turn by his father-in-law Laban and by his own sons.
Just as Jacob could not escape from his history of trickery, our misdeeds follow us in unimaginable ways as well. As one deceitful act leads to the next, it can feel like we are stuck in a never-ending prank war. It’s hard to break the cycle. However, before the deceit follows us with serious consequences, we must figure out how to call a truce.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the ways our deceitful acts follow us.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES
· Have you ever pulled a prank? Has anyone ever pulled a prank on you? What was it like to pull the prank? What was it like to be on the receiving end?
· Have you ever deceived anyone? Has anyone ever deceived you? How did it feel?
· Have your actions ever come back to haunt you?
· How can you break the cycle?
From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.