12 November 2015
This week’s Torah reading is parashat Toldot: “Two nations are in your womb…One people shall be mightier than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first one emerged red, like a hairy mantle all over; so they named him Esau. Then his brother emerged, holding on to the heel of Esau; so they named him Jacob…. When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors; but Jacob was a mild man, who stayed in camp.” (Genesis 25:23)
Esau is regarded negatively by most commentators – his rugged passion the perfect foil for Jacob’s mild-mannered behavior. Why? Perhaps the striking differences between the brothers serves the storyteller well in foreshadowing the later contrasts between Israel and her enemies. Perhaps the rabbis had a difficult time with Esau’s passion, preferring instead to promote the ideals of studiousness and mildness.
Regardless of the reasons, success in life requires both passion and control. The yin and yang of Esau and Jacob exists in each of us, and while there are times when one is more effective than the other, both are necessary. Being passionate about Jewish life is essential to being a community volunteer or professional. Thinking creatively and working cooperatively is critical to our success. Working in partnership, volunteers and professionals combine our passions and the work we do to enhance the quality of Jewish life in our community and around the world.
Passion for Jewish life and learning is among the many reasons we at Federation are looking forward to this Sunday’s ROUTES: A Day of Jewish Learning, presented in partnership with University of Maryland Hillel. This annual event is a prime example of the ways in which we combine our community’s personal and professional interests in the pursuit of Jewish knowledge. More details are below. I hope you will join us to Make Learning Yours.