Parshat Toldot

By Sarah Goldstein

Chodesh Tov v’ Shabbat shalom,

In this world we often get caught in the world of externals and challenges.  Even for those of us who have deeper goals and are looking for that depth, so often we can feel that the deep wells of water, of dveikus, of toras chayim, can be blocked up with the עפר of this world. The Sfas Emes quotes his grandfather the Chidushei Harim in explaining that Yitzchak’s digging up the wells that Avraham dug that were now covered up was him revealing the capacity to find that inner Torah and the connection to Hashem hiding in everything.
At first the struggle is more challenging and we face the levels of עשק and שטנה, facing the physical world and fighting the yetzer hara, engaging in the active avodah of peeling back the surface layers to reveal the connection to Hashem that is possible in everything we encounter. The final level he reveals for us is רחובות, the expansion that comes with Torah, that comes on shabbos, the באר מים חיים awaiting to be discovered. This avodah also was reflected in Avraham needing to dig the wells in the first place, finding the neshama of the world, what the inside picture, discoveringit its צורה. Yitzchak’s birth marked the beginning of galus mitzrayim. His avodah with these wells, the avodah of שטנה, fighting the layers of concealment in galus, the layers of challenge and lack of clarity to discover Hashem. Yaakov comes to the big stone on the well and can roll it off with his finger, he represents the inner point, shabbos, Torah where the external illusion falls away to the beauty of seeing the world with the eyes of Emunah, seeing Hashem’s presence in it all.
In fact, this digging motion is also mentioned at the beginning of the parsha too, the Sfas Emes explains, as Yitzchak’s tefilla is compared to a pitchfork that turns the crop over from one place to another. In contrast to Avraham’s avodah of shacharis which draws down Hashem’s chessed into each day, in Yitzchak’s tefilla of mincha the avodah that is introduced is the capacity to transform the dinim to rachamim, sweetening the judgements, through finding Hashem even in the midst of everything, even in those places where it feels that He is hiding.
This capacity to find holiness in everything and desire to elevate everything to Hashem, even the layers of chaos, hiddeness and distance from Hashem within his son Esav, was also Yitzchak’s plan with the brachos. According to the Sfas Emes, Yitzchak knew Esav was not righteous, but Yitzchak’s bracha was intended to be able to find that kedusha and bring him close even from such a far away place. This was the bracha, he teaches, that Yaakov had to steal, not for himself but for his children. That no matter how far we fall, and how many layers of externals we are caught in we can still always find that point of kedusha. This is the Bracha we receive this week.
As we begin this month of kislev and head further into the winter months, let us remember and daven to find that Torah, the connection to Hashem, that point of kedusha in everything we encounter and light up the darkness with the light that is found from within.

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