Family Corner: Parshat Toldot

Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Posted by: Family Corner

Family Corner is a space to offer interactive and thoughtful ideas for family engagement with the Parshat Hashavua (weekly Torah reading). 

This week in the Parsha, we encounter themes of prayer, patience, honesty and family love. 

This week we’ve provided a video and a book recommendation on brotherly love (both based on the same Talmudic story), a family craft related to family bonding, a link to a family Parsha magazine and more. We hope you enjoy!

Parsha Summary 

  • Rebekah has twins, Esau and Jacob. (25:19-26) 
  • Esau gives Jacob his birthright in exchange for some stew. (25:27-34) 
  • King Abimelech is led to think that Rebekah is Isaac's sister and later finds out that she is really his wife. (26:1-16) 
  • Isaac plans to bless Esau, his firstborn. Rebekah and Jacob deceive Isaac so that Jacob receives the blessing. (27:1-29) 
  • Esau threatens to kill Jacob, who then flees to Haran. (27:30-45) 

Torah Thought 

וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח יִצְחָק֙ אֶֽת־יַעֲקֹ֔ב וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ פַּדֶּ֣נָֽה אֲרָ֑ם אֶל־לָבָ֤ן בֶּן־בְּתוּאֵל֙ הָֽאֲרַמִּ֔י אֲחִ֣י רִבְקָ֔ה אֵ֥ם יַעֲקֹ֖ב וְעֵשָֽׂו׃  

Then Isaac sent Jacob off, and he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, mother of Jacob and Esau. (Gen. 28:5). 

This verse has puzzled many commentators on the Torah. It is well known that Rebekah is the mother of Jacob and Esau, leading the famed Torah commentator Rashi to declare, “I do not know what the addition of these words is intended to tell us.”  

Perhaps the Torah is teaching us that despite the very unfortunate circumstances surrounding Isaac’s departure (Esau has threatened to kill him for stealing the birthright) and the possibility that Rebekah favored Jacob, she was still the mother of both children. She still loved both of them. Her love for Esau was not diluted even as she may have been disappointed in him. 

Parenting is challenging and it is made more difficult when children make decisions that upset their parents. Perhaps the Torah is offering a view into how Rebekah looks back at her involvement in this unfortunate situation and hinting at a bit of remorse. “Even after all that Esau has done and after all that I have done, I am still his mother."

This story is an opportunity to speak to our kids about our hopes and dreams for them and how we will always love them.  

PJ Library Recommendation

This week’s PJ Library recommendation is The Brothers' Promise by Frances Harber. It relates to the theme of siblings that we find in this week’s Torah portion. 

Synopsis: In this poignant retelling of a Talmudic story, siblings recall the promise each lovingly made to his father. 

Contact Hilary Kamin at for more information on the PJ library and to sign up to get PJ Library books delivered to your home!  

Activities, Videos, Crafts and More! 

We Are Family: Mizrahi Folktale for KidsGabi and Rafael slide into a Jewish folktale and help two brothers learn about love and the appreciation of family. And along the way they learn the words to Hinei Ma Tov, a Jewish song about peace. 

Devash (Published by Hadar): Devash is a weekly parashah magazine that makes learning Torah sweet. By engaging directly with texts and taking kids seriously as Jews, Devash helps children and grownups discover new ideas, values, and sweet morsels in the weekly Torah portion. Devash is designed for kids aged 7-11 to read independently, or together with families and teachers. 

Connect with us!

Follow this link and select Coming Up at the J to sign up to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. 

For more information about Jewish Living and Learning at the J, please contact Rabbi Barry Gelman at

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Category: Family Corner