Parashat Toldot (Generations) Genesis 25:19-28:9
Haftarah: I Samuel 20:18-42
Shabbat Erev Rosh Chodesh
The concept of “love” is very important in the Bible. The problem is that most of the time one understands this concept according to his definition, rather than in the terms that the Scripture speaks of it. When G-d created man, He endowed man with a free will; this allows man the ability to make decisions. It is important to understand that there is an inherent relationship between love and choice (decision making). If man did not possess the ability to make choices then he could not love.
In this week’s Torah portion love is mentioned, for one reads,
“Isaac loved Esau because of (the) game in his mouth, but Rebecca loves Jacob.” Genesis 25:28
This verse reveals many important truths about love. First one needs to remember the context of this verse. Rebecca has been informed that it will be her younger son Jacob that HaShem will use in a mighty way to further His covenant plans. Hence Rebecca has made a cognitive decision to love Jacob. This does not mean that she does not love Esau too, but the text is revealing that she is investing more in Jacob than Esau. “Love” is also related to giving, as one reads in the New Covenant,
“G-d so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” John 3:16
Hence, Rebecca is showing a greater commitment to Jacob, because she understands that it will be Jacob that HaShem will use in a special way. Isaac, on the other hand, is not displaying a biblical love at all. Notice that the fore mentioned text says, “Isaac loved Esau because of (the) game in his mouth…” Please notice that Isaac’s love was based on a totally different kind of reason. This reason was based upon what he received. That is, Isaac loved Esau because Esau was a skillful hunter and brought game back to the house which Isaac loved to eat. Isaac in this passage is demonstrating a “worldly” love which understands love as receiving satisfaction, rather than a biblical love, which is a cognitive decision to give / invest in another.
It is also significant that the verb translated “love” in regard to Rebecca’s love for Jacob is in the present tense. The present tense in the Hebrew Bible is very rare and emphasizes a continual action; while in regard to Isaac, the verb is understood in the past tense. This reveals a temporal quality of Isaac’s love that when the satisfaction is over, then the love ceases to be present.
Let’s pray that we demonstrate a biblical love rather than a worldly love to others.
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