This week’s portion is Toldot—Generations. We see that Abraham and Sarah have died, Issac and Rebecca have lived their lives and are now leaving the birthright to Isaac. These are the generation of our Patriarchs.
What made them so special and to stand out?
In this day and age during our current times, politics proliferates. Well, not really politics. Statesmanship has been replaced by something else. We are a divided country. It is not just about your political affiliation, it’s “us vs. them”.
How did this happen and how does this relate to our Patriarchs?
During the holiday of Yom Kippur we afflict ourselves. This means not eating, drinking or engaging in pleasurable activities. The point is to shut off all external stimuli and focus only on the spiritual. So we are shutting off the material in order to focus solely on the spiritual and get closer to Hashem.
Most of our sins come from our temptations. Our temptations are the result of our attachment and focus on the material. Material comforts are what makes us want more and go after them. Sometimes, we want to “cut corners”, that is do things that are immoral in order to satisfy our lust for those material comforts.
When we shut off the material but denying ourselves those material comforts, we now can focus more easily on the spiritual. Our satisfaction comes not from bodily appeasement but from the “high” if you will of feeling the ultimate spiritual experience within us, the so-called “Shechinah”.
This is what Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew. This is what they experienced. This is why when they died, it was no big deal. The problem with death is that we are all so attached to the material world, we don’t want to leave it. They knew better. They knew that there was more than just the bodies and material comforts. They knew that the ultimate security was that of Hashem.
Consider that the problem with our political landscape is that people are so attached to it. They define themselves by it. It is who they are. It is not just a preference of expression. They are so attached to it that it defines their very being.
The Vedas of Indian culture have a similar concept. For them, the idea of enlightenment is being detached from the material world. This doesn’t mean hiding in a cave but rather what happens doesn’t affect you. It is a complete appreciation of the spiritual world. What governs your mood and outlook is you, not others.
A very evolved woman in our community organized a get-together, a Unity Rally and asked the so-important question of how we can all come together and resolve our differences. In doing so, she defined the problem: we are tribal. We define ourselves through our political parties and our heritage. Anyone who does not fit into our definition of who’s right is wrong.
Wasn’t this why Sodom and Gemorrah were destroyed? They despised strangers and treated them with contempt. Our Torah tells us to love the stranger.
So Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had it right. They knew that people are people and we are all G-d’s children. One thing about HaShem is that He likes variety. Sort of like a Crayola crayon box. Different colors that really make our world a beautiful and colorful place.
How do we make our world a better place? Simple. We take a lesson from Yom Kippur and maybe not shut out the material completely but put it in perspective. We don’t care what political party or candidate or what color or heritage you happen to be.
We just care that G-d created us all as His children and created variety, so the world wouldn’t be such a boring place. He created us different so that we could come together with our different ideas as input for how to make the world a better place.