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Toldot 5766

Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!   In this week's Torah portion, Toldot, the Torah tells us that Yitzhak and Rivka (Isaac and Rebecca) were deeply upset over Esau marrying outside of the faith. For thousands of years Jewish parents have wanted their children to marry Jews and to be a link in the Jewish future.

Recently, I published "How to Prevent an Intermarriage - a guide for parents to prevent broken hearts" (you can download the whole book for free or order a hard copy at my website, - or buy it at your local Jewish bookstore). I first wrote the book in 1976 as a practical guide to help parents with both the long term goal and to be able to intelligently respond to their child considering intermarriage. In this third edition, I have rewritten and expanded the book.

We often don't even realize what it is that we value or why - until we're about to lose it. In 1967 before the Six Day War it looked liked Israel was going to be destroyed. Virtually the whole world was against Israel, the Arab nations were posed to invade, the U.N. was doing nothing - and Jews were coming out of the woodwork to donate large amounts of money to help Israel. These were Jews that had no connection to the Jewish community, some of whom had even changed their names and had no identification with being Jewish. Why? Because all of a sudden with Israel about to be destroyed they realized that they cared, that it mattered, that they were part of the Jewish people.

Likewise with parents confronted with their child going out with or planning to marry a non-Jew. They care and they care deeply. For many, they can't explain what is so precious about being Jewish or part of the Jewish people, but they know somewhere deep within that they wanted their children to continue as part of our heritage.

However, parents are often frozen and unable to respond. Perhaps they haven't been the best role model for leading a Jewish life. Perhaps they aren't that connected with things Jewish - a synagogue, a JCC, the Federation. Perhaps they don't know what to say. Perhaps they don't even know why they care. It's a lot easier to say "oy vay" under your breath, smile and then respond to all who ask, "As long as they're happy."

What if there was a book that could answer their questions? What if it could explain why they're conflicted, why they care, why they're not hypocrites if at this late stage they express their concerns and want their child to reconsider plans to get married? What if the book could not only give them courage, but information, communication skills, questions to ask about problems and issues that occur in intermarriages and provided articulate answers? What if the book even gave case histories of parents who were successful? Well, that book would be "How to Prevent an Intermarriage - a guide for parents to prevent broken hearts."

Rather than use "As long as they're happy" as a shield to ward off any questioning the union, why not take "As long as they're happy" and find out what problems face intermarriage regarding underlying differences, raising children, religious differences? Why not find out what happens to intermarriages and why they have a higher divorce rate? Talk with people who are intermarried or were intermarried and get wisdom from them to share with their child so he can avoid pitfalls, heartache, divorce - and so he or she can truly be happy.

We as parents are often derelict in our responsibility to our children. We often give in too easily. It is easier to go with the flow than to deal with the issue - and the issue may be curfew, drugs or even keeping their room clean. Being a parent is about responsibility and helping our children be the best they can and make the best choices they can. It means taking the tough road and actually talking to our children about issues that really matter. It is not about abdication to the will or desires of our children.

If intermarriage is something that you might one day have to face with your children, don't hide your head in the sand. Get a copy of "How to Prevent an Intermarriage - a guide for parents to prevent broken hearts." And hopefully you won't have the pain experienced by Yitzhak and Rivka over your child marrying outside of the faith!

For more on "How to Prevent an Intermarriage" go to!


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Torah Portion of the Week

Rivka (Rebecca) gives birth to Esav (Esau) and Ya'akov (Jacob). Esav sells the birthright to Ya'akov for a bowl of lentil soup. Yitzhak (Isaac) sojourns in Gerar with Avimelech, king of the Philistines. Esav marries two Hittite women, bringing great pain to his parents (because they weren't of the fold).

Ya'akov impersonates Esav on the counsel of his mother in order to receive the blessing for the oldest son by his blind father, Yitzhak. Esav, angry because of his brother's deception which caused him to lose the firstborn blessings, plans to kill Ya'akov, so Ya'akov flees to his uncle Lavan (Laban) in Padan Aram - on the advice of his parents. They also advise him to marry Lavan's daughter.

Esav understands that his Canaanite wives are displeasing to his parents, so he marries a third wife, Machlath, the daughter of Yishmael (Ishmael).


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

When Yitzhak found out that he gave the blessings to Ya'akov and not to Esau as he thought he had, the Torah tells us:

"Yitzhak trembled greatly." (Genesis 27:33)

Why did Yitzhak tremble so much?

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the late Rosh HaYeshiva of Mir, cited the Sages who stated that Yitzhak experienced greater fear and anxiety at this moment than he did at the akaidah, when he was brought up as a sacrifice by his father, Avraham. There he was bound and ready to be killed with a sharp blade. From here we see, said Rav Chaim, that the realization that one made a mistake is the greatest of pains. This was not a one time mistake. Rather, Yitzhak realized that all the years he thought Esau was more deserving than Ya'akov he was in error. The anxiety experienced in the awareness of error is a powerfully painful emotion.

This is important to keep in mind when you are trying to point out to someone his faults and mistakes. You might think, "It is so obvious that this person is wrong. As soon as I tell it to him he should admit it." However, the reality is that admitting a mistake can be extremely painful. For this reason there is a strong tendency for people to deny their mistakes. If you sincerely want to help someone improve, it is crucial to be as tactful as possible. Start out by saying, "It seems to me..." or "I might be mistaken, but perhaps..." The more sensitive you are to the feelings of the person you are trying to help, the more effective you will be.

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I never tried quitting,
and I never quit trying.
--  Dolly Parton

With Special Thanks to
Helen and Jerry Stern
for their dedication

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