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Parashat Toldot

"Veele toldot Yitzchak ben Abraham, Abraham holid et Yiztchak".

"And these are the generations of Yitzchak, Abraham's son: Abraham begot Yitzchak".

"Toldot" is the section of our Torah that allows us to learn about the life of the patriarch Yitzchak. In the preceding parshiot we learned about him from those around him. His birth; the episode with his brother Esau that caused him to be banished along with Hagar, his mother; of course, the Akedah, the bond that his father gave him and the union with his wife Rivka.

The word Toldot, which titles the parashah, can be taken with its meaning of "generations": These are the generations of Yitzchak. But strangely, only one generation is mentioned, since everything began with Abraham for the Hebrew People, with which, the mentioning Abraham who fathered Yitzchak ends with the "generational account."

Toldot shares its root with lehidah or leholid which means birth, or to be born. It would be, perhaps, more accurate for a story that just has few pages. Even more so, if we look at Yitzchak's life in perspective, he doesn't seem to have many facts to tell. This is the other meaning of Toldot, facts or events.

In the case of Yitzchak, of which the Torah tells us fewer events than the rest of the patriarchs, we could speak of the generations and the events that came from him and have transcended since. The events that were generated from his way of life. This ALSO shaped the beginning of our People. Perhaps, the formation of a peculiar family framework, like those of each one of us, but which in this case made it possible for subsequent events to unfold with his wife and children. This gave our history a particular turn in the facts.

With Toldot we arrive at the moment of the Torah where Yitzchak, for a short period, is the subject of almost the entire parashah. He is the dominant person. When we speak of Yitzchak, we speak of Rivka, a very special union. A love that overcame a long and sad twenty years of infertility. His love was stronger. Their faith in God, their prayers paid off. "Vehine tomim bebitna," and "there were twins in her womb" relates to the Torah. This was the Toldot. These would be continued and make history.

Yitzchak is often presented to us as someone practically inactive, whose only function was to be a link between generations. Is this a small thing? Being a unifying factor in a society that only knew about separations, abandonments and exiles? Perhaps, we lack facts, fantastic events like those of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph.

Of the three patriarchs, Yitzchak is the one who presents the most peaceful and sedentary life: he never left the land of Canaan in which he was born.

Are facts important because of their quantity or because of how they mark our history and that of those around us?

Rabbinic thinking is different and tells us: "… Yitzchak was credited with 5 things: beauty, strength (power), wealth, wisdom and long years of life" (Tanchuma, Buber, Toledot 7).

The Midrash (Bemidbar Raba 2:11) says: "… Abraham was blessed with the stars; Isaac was blessed with the sand and Jacob was blessed with the dust of the earth..."

Yitzchak is different, he was "blessed in the sand." "Chol", sand in Hebrew, also has to do with the idea of the common, the everyday. We could even say the profane (Shabbat is KODESH; a weekday is JOL ...) and doing the right thing in the common every day is no less wonderful. Being the link that supports, like all links, the integrity of a chain, does not have to do with being the most attractive, but with the strength to unite, even the largest links that surround us.

With Yitzchak, it was this and much more because he was the one of the Patriarchs who lived the longest. He knew how to maintain the riches he inherited from his father and multiplied them. He was wise, even when his eyes did not allow him to see the reality that surrounded him. He had the strength and the power to face foreign kings and captains in peace.

With Yitzchak, we began to possess Israel because he never left the land. Yitzhak Avinu left each one of us with the willpower to be, live, exist and fight, like him, with "kavod".

May the model of Yitzchak, who overcame unfortunate circumstances, who managed to sustain generations and perpetuate an incipient tradition, guide us to understand our place in our chain. May we see the enormous importance of small events transcending ours and the need for each of us to take their place as links that unite and build.

Chodesh tov!

Gustavo Geier


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