Parasha With Passion – Torah Reading Cycle – Week #6

In Parashat Toldot, we read of Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah, the birth of Jacob and Esau, Isaac’s prosperity, Isaac’s covenant with Abimelech, the strained relationship between Jacob and Esau, and Jacob’s flight to Padan-aram. 

I love reading the stories of the Tanakh.  I can relate to these stories, because the people are flawed… much like we are.  They find themselves in impossible situations… much like we do.  The lives of the patriarchs are better than any box-office thriller.  As we continue our study in the book of Bereishit, we will go deeper in the subject of relationships. 

Create Your Own Love Story

Since our Torah study begins with Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah let us focus our study today on the topic of marriage.  I love romance novels, fairytales, and happily ever after’s.  I “love” loveMarriage is a covenant that takes two extremely flawed individuals and teaches us how to love PERFECTLY.  Marriage is not only the “sandpaper” that God uses to smooth off our rough edges (ouch), marriage makes both partners a stronger, nobler, and more vibrant expression of who we are created to be.  As couples, we can create our own love stories.  Some marriages are dreamy.  Some marriages are triumphant.  All marriages can experience God’s best.  In God, we can create our own love stories. 

I read a very funny story the other day that I will share with you:

THE HUSBAND STOREA store that sells new husbands has just opened in New York City where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates.

You may visit the store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the attributes of the men increase as the shopper ascends to the next floor. There is, however, a catch: you may choose any man from a particular floor, or you may choose to go up a floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On each floor the signs on the doors read:

Floor 1 – These men have jobs.

Floor 2 – These men have jobs and love kids.

Floor 3 – These men have jobs, love kids, and are extremely good looking. “But I want more,” she thinks, and feels compelled to keep going. She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 4 – These men have jobs, love kids, are good looking, and help with the housework. “But I want more!”  She continues to the fifth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 5 – These men have jobs, love kids, are gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak. She is so tempted to stay, but she wants more, so she goes to the sixth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 6 – You are visitor 9,261,496,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women can be hard to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store. Have a nice day.  To avoid gender bias charges, the store’s owner opened a Wife Store across the street: 

Floor 1 – has wives that love sex.

Floor 2 – has wives that love sex and have money.

Floor 3 – has wives that love sex, have money, and can cook.

Floors 4-6 – has never been visited.  This proves that men are easier to please.

Marriage researchers say that a husband’s greatest struggle in marriage is usually his ability to show intimacy to his wife.  This could be because men are more independent in nature.  When God created Adam, he was busy naming the animals and tending to his duties.  It was God who decided that he needed a help mate. 

However, women were created for relationship.  Marriage researchers say that a wife’s greatest struggle in marriage usually comes when her security is threatened.  This could be because when Eve arrived on the scene, not only did Adam adore her, Adam had a job, a place for her live, and gave her a stable existence.  When a wife’s security is threatened we will try to control the situation to regain order in our paradise.  This usually ends up with unwanted results.  Yet, despite our differences, the balance between male and female makes a beautiful harmony, when both roles function as God has intended. 

From Here to There

Let’s take a look at our Torah portion, to see what we can glean from the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah.  As couples, we all have a place in our hearts called “there.”  Our place called “there” is a place of rest – a place of promise – a place of purpose – a place of destiny.

For Isaac and Rebekah that place called “there” was the Promised Land.  After the death of Abraham, a famine came to the Promised Land forcing Isaac and Rebekah to move to Gerar.  This must have been quite frustrating for Isaac and Rebekah considering that the land of Canaan had been promised to Isaac, yet due to a famine Isaac could not provide for his family and had to leave from their place of blessing. 

During their sojourn in Gerar, Isaac and Rebekah faced great struggles.   Isaac and Rebakah seemed to be just moving in circles, not really accomplishing anything – not really moving aheard.  Every time Isaac tried to take a step forward for his family, opposition pushed him two steps backwards.  Life was so difficult for Isaac and Rebekah in Gerar that whenever Isaac tried to provide for his family by establishing wells to sustain his household, the Philistines came along and commandeered the wells, claiming the water for themselves.

Genesis 26:19-21

“Then Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found a well of living water there. But the shepherds of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s shepherds saying, “The water is ours!” So he named the well, Quarrel, because they quarreled with him. Then he dug another well and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Accusation.”

On one occasion, Isaac named a well Esek, which means “quarrel.”  On another occasion Isaac named a well Sitnah, which means “accusation.”  However, Isaac showed great character through these difficult circumstances.  Isaac kept moving forward and he dug another well. 

What we must glean from Isaacs’s and Rebekah’s sojourn in Gerar is that at times life is unfair.  We will be wronged on occasion and often our earnest efforts will seem to be in vain.  Despite the opposition, Isaac kept moving his family forward. 

When we are faced with life’s challanges, we can approach life in one of two ways.  We can either focus our prayers on surviving, or we can focus our prayers on thriving.  There’s a time and place for both approaches.  Surviving is a skill set.  Thriving is also a skill set.  Having spent many years of my life in the surviving category, I can tell you that surviving is situational while thriving is a state-of mind. 

Genesis 26:22

“And he moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth {wide spaces}. ‘Because now Adonai has created wide spaces for us and we will be fruitful in the land.’”

Rehoboth means “wide spaces.” Rehoboth refers to the promises that only God can give and the enemy cannot take away.  The Philistines did not contend for Isaac’s well at Rehoboth.  At Rehoboth we find that our place called “there” is not merely a place of physical fulfillment, but a place of lasting peace and intimacy with God.

Life is full of challenges.  All marriages will experience their share of obstacles.  Constant frustrations can drain the life out of the strongest sojourners.  However, Isaac’s and Rebekah’s example is clear.  Keep moving forward.  Keep walking by faith.  Keep trusting God for His promises God will bring your marriage to broad places

At Rehoboth Isaac and Rebekah’s circumstances began to change.  Isaac kept moving his family forward until he pitched his tent once again in the Promised Land.  Genesis 26:23 tells us that Isaac and Rebekah sojourned in a place called Beersheba which is located in the Negev desert.  At Beersheba Isaac built an altar and he dug another well.  At Beersheba God appeared to Isaac and reconfirmed to him the promises that He had made to his father Abraham.

As couples, the struggle that we experience during our journey “from here to there” builds our character and prepares us to walk in our purpose.  If we walk in faith – in time – God will bring us into that which He has promised.  In God, there is such a thing as “happily ever after.”

Weekly/Daily Scripture Reading

Torah:         Genesis 25:19 – 28:9

Haftarah:     Malachi 1:1 – 2:7

Shlichim:     Romans 9:6-16; Hebrews 11:20; Romans 9:1-13

Next Torah Portion: Vayetzei