The sidra tells the sad story of Isaac being old and blind and not knowing when his death would come.  The commentator Radak thinks that Isaac’s realization that his days were numbered was more than the usual fear of dying. Isaac had things left to do and he wasn’t certain that he had the time to do them.

What was it that he so much wished to do?

To give Esau, his favorite son, a last blessing.

Another commentator, Chiz’kuni, has a variation on this view. He says that Isaac realized that Esau had sold Jacob his birthright; though the father possibly admitted that Esau had acted impetuously and irresponsibly, he was anxious to give Esau a gift that would not end up in Jacob’s hands.

Without getting into family dynamics, we see that Isaac is an example of the person who doesn’t get round to doing things promptly.

The sages say, “When a mitzvah comes to your hand, don’t let it get stale” (M’chilta Bo).


Why did Esau want Jacob’s soup?

What attracted him was "ha-adom ha-adom hazeh", "this red stuff".

It couldn’t have been the taste that interested him because he hadn’t yet tasted a morsel. Maybe it was the aroma, but of that we can’t be certain. He had a ruddy complexion, but that probably had no connection with the food.

The real attraction must have been the colour of the soup, and indeed history gave him the nickname of "Adom", "Red" (Rashbam).

What’s so special about the colour red? It denotes blood.

Esau loved gory things. He was a gory man. Shedding blood gave him a feeling of excitement.

The prophet Habbakuk said, "Woe to him that builds a town through blood" (2:12). We know from elsewhere in the Torah that blood symbolizes life (Deut. 12:23).

Esau was a bloodthirsty man. Taking life gave him his kicks. Jacob on the other hand was a peace-loving student who enjoyed cooking.

The fact that he chose to make red soup was simply because of the availability of red lentils. He didn’t give a moment’s thought to the symbolism of blood.


Readers and commentators have long been puzzled about the opening words of the parashah: "This is the history of Isaac the son of Abraham – Abraham begat Isaac" (Gen. 25:19).

If Isaac was the son of Abraham, it follows that Abraham begat Isaac. Why do we need to be told what is obvious?

Rashi’s explanation, following, as usual, the more ancient interpreters, is that some of that generation suspected that Abraham was not really the father, so G[-]d gave father and son similar facial features to prevent any misunderstanding.

A Chassidic homily quotes the rabbinic view that the history of righteous people is their record of good deeds, which may imply that the good deeds you do must be counted amongst your progeny.

Immortality comes not only through your biological descendants, but also through what you do for the world, for G[-]d, for other people.

In a metaphorical sense, your good deeds look like you.

Dr. Raymond Apple, Jerusalem, Israel



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The Museum of Tolerance invites the public to special evening featuring:

Israel & Zionism as a Test Case
Wednesday, November 7th at 7:30 pm

Featuring award-winning author of The Zionist Ideas GIL TROY in conversation with Jewish Journal Publisher & Editor-in-Chief DAVID SUISSA.

Just 24 hours after the US midterm elections: Where do we go from here? What does this mean for the Jewish community, US and Israel? Can we restore civility in these divisive times?

Gil Troy is an award-winning historian, Zionist activist, weekly columnist for The Jerusalem Post and regular contributor to the Jewish Journal. Troy is the author of the definitive account on the history of anti-Zionism, Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight against Zionism as Racism. He has also written ten other books about American presidential history.

Reception and Book Signing will follow the program.

This event is offered free of charge. Seating is limited. Advance RSVP required. Register here.

Sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jewish Journal and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Spin Film, RYOT and the Museum of Tolerance invite you and a guest to a special screening of:

LIFEBOAT  How far would you go to save a stranger’s life?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 7:30 pm  
LIFEBOAT puts a human face on one of the world’s greatest contemporary, global crises: documenting the plight of refugees fleeing war and oppression. LIFEBOAT bears witness to the experiences of desperate refugees who leave Libya in unsafe boats in the middle of the night and to the heroism of volunteers from a German non-profit who brave the dangers of the sea to try to save refugees from their sinking boats.

Q&A with special guests following the screening:                                            
Skye Fitzgerald, Director - Spin Film and Lifeboat
Matthew Reynolds, UNHCR Regional Representative          
Jabig, Former Refugee From Rwanda. Immigrant To Kenya and Canada
Tom Cole, Senior Technical Advisor, Africa Women  
A representative From Direct Relief           
This screening is offered free of charge. Seating is limited. Advance RSVP required.



Yuval Gadot

LOS ANGELES – Yuval Gadot (Tel Aviv University) will examine the Relationship of Egyptian and Semitic Israel and the Samaria Highlands: A Nomad Settlement Wave or Urban Expansion during the Early Iron Age? on Tuesday, Nov. 13,  at 2:00 p.m. in Humanities A51.  

Archaeology of Ancient Israel Lecture Series.  The early Iron Age, between 1200 and 1000 B.C.E., witnessed a wave of settlements in the highlands of Israel, mostly in Samaria but also in the Upper Galilee and Judah.

This wave is traditionally associated with the genesis of ancient Israel and is interpreted in light of the collapse of Canaanite urban centers at the end of the 12th century B.C.E. This lecture reconsiders the reasons behind this wave of settlement throughout the Samaria Highlands in light of new understanding of the social and economic reality on the coastal plain, the Jezreel, Jordan and the Hula valleys, and the regions immediately around the Samaria Highlands.

The event is sponsored by the UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and cosponsored by UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies.

For more info and to RSVP, please email nreast@humnet.ucla.edu.


                            27 Cheshvan-3 Kislev, 5779                                 Nov. 5-11, 2018 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  614th Web Ed.

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