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November 23, 2017

Toldot (These Are the Generations) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Toldot2

Genesis, 25:19-28:9
This Week’s Torah Portion | November 12 – November 18, 2017 – 23 Cheshvan – 29 Cheshvan, 5778

In A Nutshell

The portion, Toldot (These Are the Generations), begins with the wedding of Isaac and Rebecca. After twenty years of infertility, Rebecca conceives and the Creator tells her she will have two sons. The first was Esau, and the second, which was holding unto his brother’s heel, was Jacob. Esau became a hunter, and Jacob studied Torah.

The first confrontation between the twins was over the selling of the birthright. Esau returned empty handed from a hunt, and Jacob offered him lentil stew in return for the birthright. Esau agreed. After some time Esau discovered that Jacob deceived him.

Later in the portion, Isaac digs two wells, both of which are taken by the Philistines. A third well remains in Jacob’s hands, and he calls it Rehovot. Finally, Avimelech and Isaac make a covenant between them.

The second confrontation between the twins happens when their father wished to bless them. Isaac wanted to bless Esau, his firstborn, and Rebecca asked Jacob to dress as Esau in order to receive the blessing of the firstborn. When Esau discovered that Jacob received his blessing, he wanted to kill him, so Rebecca sent Jacob to Haran, to her brother, Lavan.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The drama before us is in fact the process of man’s spiritual development. The story deals with man’s most fundamental forces, although it can be, and has been, turned into a novel.

The Creator created the will to receive. That desire is the entirety of the substance of creation. It is possible to use the will to receive for one’s own favor, or in favor of others. In fact, the whole of creation is prone to using the desire in favor of others, as it is written, “love your neighbor as yourself; it is a great rule in the Torah.” [1] This is the law of the whole of reality, the whole of Nature.

On the one hand we must use the will to receive and satisfy it however we can. On the other hand, the act of satisfying, in which we draw everything to ourselves, must be for the benefit of others. This seems contradictory. Using the ego, the will to receive, must be solely in a direction that is good for everyone. We cannot understand that contradiction, which is why we cannot understand the Torah, making its meaning hidden from us.

The portion seemingly explains it by saying that although Abraham loved Ishmael, he sent him away. Isaac, who loved Esau—the will to receive, all the substance of creation—acted similarly, though Esau is our entire nature, which we need and use in everything we do in life.

The thing is that we must learn to use it with the aim to bestow, a state where the entire ego turns from evil inclination into good inclination. “Love your neighbor as yourself” means that you first act only according to the “as yourself,” meaning as you love yourself. Subsequently, you turn the intention into love of others.

This inversion does not happen through actions because an act in our desire is to receive. Rather, it is done by receiving in order to bestow upon others. Then, all that exists in the world, all the lights—the bounty—traverses each and every one of us and flows to the rest of the world. In this manner, everyone is filled.

Today, as we are discovering how interconnected we all are, we have an opportunity to understand that only through good connections between us will all satisfactions that we so crave pass through us. It will happen only when we satisfy others; this is when we enjoy.

This is the meaning of the birthright. The firstborn in the one on top, in the Rosh (head). The head must have the intention to bestow, to benefit others, love, which is called Jacob, who is studying Torah, which is bestowal.

The portion discusses our need for the Kelim (vessels) of Esau, just as on Purim, we speak of the lights of Haman that we receive clothed by Mordechai, which is the end of correction. It is like the Haman Pockets, where pockets are his Kelim. Esau, the hunter, brings all the egotistical desire under the reign of bestowal, Jacob’s Torah. This is the right way to use our ego, the will to receive.

This makes the combination of Esau and Jacob appropriate. Isaac, the older one, the bigger degree, actually loves the next degree, which is entirely as Esau, as a will to receive that is surfacing. In each new degree, its big will to receive appears first, and subsequently the correction takes place. In other words, when an “Esau” is born in you, you gradually correct it through Jacob until you can use it.

An example of the right combination is the three wells. Two wells, right and left, are not a good combination. The third well is truly Rehovot (wide/broad) “For now the Lord has made room for us” (Genesis, 26:22), which enables drawing great benefit from it.

Jacob receives all the light that comes from the higher degree, from the patriarchs, since Esau cannot receive the blessing. In fact, Esau relinquished it because otherwise he would starve. Only through Jacob—who is operating correctly with Esau’s Kelim, which are our desires—can everyone be satiated, because Jacob directs all his desires toward the benefit of others.

After the stealing of the birthright, a war breaks out between Jacob and Esau because they are completely different. Finally, they find the third well, the third line, founded by both of them.

We have the same problems in our world. On the one hand, we are in our egos. On the other hand, the emerging global, integral system, compels us to be tied to one another. However, we do not know how to connect the two ends. Each of us wants everything for his or her self, and the integral nature that is emerging does not allow it; it “argues” that we are all connected.

Thus, we are all as Esau facing the emerging nature, which is as Jacob. Now we must complement the two. We need to dig the third well through the upper one, Isaac, in order to resolve the crisis.

Sarah was barren for many years, and so was Rebecca. Suddenly, became pregnant. What is the meaning of barrenness and pregnancy, and the transition between them?

In the spiritual world, birth implies the advent of a new degree. In other words, I take part of my desires, with which I can aim to bestow upon others, and I correct them into love of others. The “offspring” of this operation is called a “son.”

This is why we spend many years searching how to sort out our egotistical desires, how to take from them only the ones on which we can build our next degree. Thus, Rebecca’s barrenness for twenty years represents ten Sefirot of Ohr Yashar (Direct Light) and ten Sefirot of Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light), until they all comprise a complete structure that becomes a birth.

In the birth of a new degree, a person always begets both Esau and Jacob. Jacob cannot be born without Esau because there cannot be an intention to bestow without something on which to establish it. Likewise, Esau cannot be born without Jacob because there is nothing we can do with only our egos. Thus, both have to be born together.

This is why “Sin crouches at the door” (Genesis, 4:7): first, the self-centered will to receive that has to grow is born, and subsequently the desire to bestow. Both desires, or both sons, grow. One becomes a hunter, being with animals, with one’s vitality, with nothing but the egotistical vitality. The hunter works with the ego, the will to receive, and enhances it. The other desire has the aim to bestow, and brings one to contemplate how to use one’s nature in order to ascend to greater achievements than this life, to a higher degree.

When the desires grow and reach the higher degree, a struggle unfolds between them, within a person, between right and left. It is settled by means of the third well. Esau must sell his birthright to Jacob or he will starve to death and will never be able to receive the upper light. Likewise, Jacob cannot do without Esau because without him he has no Kelim in which to receive the upper light. Thus, they need each other.

Once Esau is born—our ego, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination”—the second one is born, Jacob, which corrects it, as it is written, “I have created for it the Torah as a spice.” Both Jacob and Esau eventually achieve the complete correction. They use all of Esau’s Kelim and all of Jacob’s intentions, similar to Haman and Mordechai. In this way, everyone achieves completion in the third line, the third well.

What is the birthright and how can it be transferred or sold?

Birthright means being the leader. Who is leading, the intention or the desire? According to the Torah, the firstborn inherits everything the father has. There is no meaning to being the firstborn other than that. It may very well happen that the second or third child will succeed more because they have learned from the experiences of the elder.

Clearly, the evil inclination comes first, meaning the desire that the Creator created, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.” Initially, all of us are evil; we all emerged from the breaking of the vessels; we are all egoists. Only afterward do we correct ourselves according to our free choice.

The firstborn is always Esau. However, I see that I cannot succeed with my Esau. We can see through today’s crisis that we are in an impossible situation; there is nowhere to go. It will not be long before we have nothing left in the world, not even food. We are in “search mode,” in Esau’s field, but we cannot find any fulfillment in it.

The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches us how to understand things before they happen. Having no other choice, we must turn to Jacob and ask him to take over, to accompany us and to manage us, since Jacob knows the ways of the Creator—he is studying Torah and he is in the light. Jacob has revealed the Creator and he knows how to achieve love of others. In a global, integral world, we have to be in such connections, too, but we do not know how to establish them correctly in order to sustain ourselves. This is why eventually the Jacob in us steps forward and manages us, meaning he becomes the elder.

So why did Esau feel deceived and sought revenge?

Esau is the evil inclination. Until it is corrected, it will always appear as such, crueler and crueler. These are the “pangs of the Messiah,” where our ego, our will to receive, is appearing so we may gradually correct it.

From The Zohar: And the Boys Grew – for He Had a Taste for Game

“This was so even while in Rebecca’s intestines; each went to his own side, since when she engaged in good deeds or when she went past a place where it is good to perform the Mitzvot of the Torah, Jacob would rejoice and rattle to get out. And when she went near a place of idolatry, that wicked one would rattle to get out. For this reason, when they were created and came out to the world, each of them was separated and went and was drawn to his befitting place.”

Zohar for AllToldot (These Are the Generations), item 74

Man is born as a “wild ass,” wanting nothing but to “devour” everything in sight. Even when we are little, each of us wants everything. The more we grow and expand our field of vision, the more we want to dominate and rule over everything. It is natural, and it is good because the ego has to grow.

In our evolution as humanity, we grew over millennia using our Esau desire. This desire grew and drew us forward. But now we have come to a state where the world is compelling us to keep advancing, but with the Jacob desire in it, not with the Esau one.

We are the will to receive, and we always chase pleasures, but we are still not happy. Worse yet, we are sinking into depression and anxiety.

For thousands of years we thought that we were obtaining the best, that we were building the American Dream. Now we are discovering that we are not happy because Esau is no longer leading us. All over the world we are discovering that the Esau in us can no longer hunt anything. It did not happen on the first day when he went out to the field. After all, the world developed and became a successful hunter, while Jacob was studying Torah.

But since the day when Kabbalists arrived, matters have changed. They were sitting quietly and engaged in nothing but connection with the upper source of the light that reforms, that corrects us, while the rest of the world continued to develop with technology, which only caused everyone to want everything in a never ending race.

Today Esau is returning from the field, tired and hungry, and is asking to be fed. It will not be long before decision makers understand the gravity of our situation, and they will seek advice. They will seek it even in the wisdom of Kabbalah, and that is when we will work together.

It is not such a simple matter because we are talking about cunningness. Even Jacob is considered a fraud because he deceived Esau twice.

It is not actual deceit because Esau was hungry. The thing is that today we have no choice; we have completed the Esau stage, and we must begin the period when Jacob is in the lead. Esau did not vanish; it is just that he is working with Jacob’s method, and it is specifically with that method that he finds fulfillment.

If you are hungry and want to fill yourself, the way is to connect to the nature that is now emerging. We are all connected; we have no choice. The world and Nature are showing themselves as mutually connected. We must work accordingly and stop our self-centeredness and bias. We need to truly begin to build ourselves differently through education, and we must explain to every person in the world how much we are all interdependent, and that only through our connections will we be able to sustain ourselves.

Why does Jacob steal the birthright?

Jacob did this because Esau could not understand; he is the evil inclination. Esau is not merely the will to receive in order to draw, to satisfy itself. Esau sees that he has no choice, that he has no more meat to eat, so he is compelled to ask for the lentil stew. His consent to eating the lentil stew expresses the transformation of the fulfillment.

What is the current meaning of the lentil stew?

It means taking pleasure in giving, in satisfying others, and then all the lights will pass through us. We will live in such a way that we receive for ourselves only what we need for ordinary life, and focus our minds and hearts on connecting to others and on satisfying everyone.

Each of us ties him or herself to another, and this is the mutual guarantee. It is a major psychological shift. If we connect in this way to one another, each of us will be filled in both body and mind. But for that, we must alter our internal structure.

It is as though we must deceive ourselves. We must choose which way we want to go. We can take the path of suffering, which will leave us hungry and empty-handed mentally and physically, and will eventually force us to change. Nature, too, will force us, because everything has been set up this way for us, deliberately, so we would understand. Alternatively, we will choose the other way—to change voluntarily. The minute we place Jacob in the lead and Esau in the back, everything will harmoniously and perfectly fall into place on every level: economy, water, ecology, and so forth.

In the end, Esau still wants to kill Jacob. He does not calm down, but only intensifies.

It has to be this way. The ego must constantly grow within us. In the next degree we will rise into an even greater level of egotism and will discover that we must fight additional wars.

In other words, we are learning a method here.

These two forces, right and left, meet at higher degrees each time. Each time, they reach a temporary agreement, until the end of correction, until we are all are using the singular, big ego that the Creator created, and we turn it into bestowal.

Nothing has changed throughout history; the same two forces keep fighting each other.

Of course, things do not change in any of us, or in all of us together. However, we must enjoy this revelation. We must want that situation to appear even more. It is truly a great delight when a person knows what is happening and is in a state of connection, searching, implementing these elements, meaning using these two forces. By that, one builds the middle line each time, and learns to use one’s nature correctly, toward connection with the world, with others. In this solution one finds the connection with the upper force.

From The Zohar: The Blessings

Blessings mean giving strength for the end of correction, as it is written, ‘And go out to the field and hunt game for me,’ with a Hey [in the word “hunt” in Hebrew]. This implies the correction of Malchut de Tzimtzum Aleph, whether in Esau’s way or in Jacob’s way, to perpetuate that way forever.

It is known that because of the breaking of the vessels, 320 sparks fell from holiness to the Klipot [shells], and that afterwards the Emanator corrected some of them. And because of the sin of the tree of knowledge, they fell into the Klipot once more, and our whole work in Torah and Mitzvot is to take those 320 sparks out of the Klipot and bring them back to holiness. They are the MAN that we raise.”

Zohar for AllToldot (These Are the Generations), item 147

We raise MAN through the 288 sparks. We cannot correct the stony heart (32 desires), and they are corrected only at the end of correction.

What does it mean to raise MAN?

Raising MAN means to increase the connection between us. Only through such a request—called “prayer for many”—does the force known as the “light that reforms” comes from above and connects us. In this connection between us, in the new, corrected Kli (vessel), we discover the upper world, our spiritual, eternal life here and now.

It appears from the story that Rebecca favors Jacob, and Isaac favors Esau. Why is this so? In many families we find that fathers favor the son, and mothers favor the daughter; what is the root of it?

The root of it is that first, we reveal the evil inclination, the ego, which is called “the son, “the firstborn,” the evil inclination. In each new degree, the evil inclination grows first, and the father is happy about it because he wants his son to initially grow without the corrections, to be strong, to really want to “devour” the world. This is the foundation, the will to receive that is ready for corrections, although it is not yet ready to be used. Henceforth, the corrections will come from Rebecca, the mother.

It is as we learn in the upper Partzufim (plural of Partzuf), upper Aba ve Ima (Mother and Father) from whom emerge the forces of correction. Ima comes from the side of Hesed (mercy); hence her favored son is Jacob, the quality of Jacob. She keeps him the way Bina gives birth to ZON. Conversely, within the father is the force of his Hochma, which acts against the vessels of reception. This comes from the side of Isaac, the father. The mother, the power of Hassadim (mercies), the force of Bina, corrects these Kelim.

We also need to keep in mind that Isaac is the left side of Abraham, who emerged as the left line, in relation to Abraham. This means that his very essence is to bring to the world the force called “Isaac,” the force of our ego, to discover it, so he is certainly closer to Esau.


[1]Jerusalem Talmud, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, 30b.

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