Parshat Toldot

In Parshat Toldot, Rebecca gives birth to twin boys, Jacob and Esau. Jacob was a gentle and serious child, who spent his time studying. Esau was wild and spends his time hunting.

How could the righteous Isaac and Rebecca parent Esau, who was so inclined toward evil? The belief is that Esau was born with an inclination, but that he was also given the opportunity and the special Divine mission to overcome it and elevate himself. he chose not to. In reality, we know that there is a limit to cause, effect, and influence in parenting. It is a painful, disappointing reality when our children make choices we don’t agree with.

We are told that when Isaac had become old, his eyes were “dimmed from seeing.” One theory regarding this loss of vision is that it was from the deleterious effects of smoke from Esaus’s wives’ idolatrous incense. It has also been written that Isaac’s loss of vision occurred when the tears of ministering angels fell into Isaac’s eyes while he was bound on the alter. Bright light is also blinding, leaving perceived dark spots in our visual field after we look at it, and there is the impaired acuity we feel after straining our eyes in overuse. Perhaps Isaac’s diminishing vision was visual fatigue after a lifetime of intense spiritual insight.

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