Sunday, November 15, 2015

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Daniel and Elena Salm on Toldot

 E: Good morning and Shabbat Shalom! As you may know, our Torah portion today discusses the worst-ever relationship between a set of twins, the one between Esau and Jacob.

·         D: If Elena and I had been around during the time of Esau and Jacob, then we could have given them some helpful pointers on how to get along better, since we have so much experience living together as twins.

·         E-: We’re pretty much experts on this topic. And, as twins, we have a lot in common with Esau and Jacob, with one major difference.

·         D: …We don’t want to actually kill each other.

·         E: …most of the time. But seriously… we do get along…

·         D: Certainly better than Jacob and Esau. Not to sound competitive, but I, was born first, though some say it’s because my sister kicked me out.

·         E: Well, it was pretty crowded in there! But that’s exactly how it was for Jacob and Esau. The Torah tells us that they wrestled with each other before they were even born, making them rivals even before they were born.

·         D: Just as in other ancient tales about twins, each of them was described as half of a complete personality. Each had qualities that the other lacked, and, together they were viewed as one complete person.

·         E: In our Torah portion, Jacob was the clever; thinking brother and Esau was the athletic, active twin. The problem is that no person, especially a twin, should be seen as half a person. 

·         D: Just like Elena and me -- each of us likes to study and we also like sports.  Well, maybe we like sports more, but each of us is a complete person.

·         E: So here is our Twin Survival Guide for Jacob and Esau.

·         D: Even though we are both complete personalities, it is important to have individual interests and be your own person, so that we don’t always do the same things. Sometimes, those interests can complement each other. For instance, just as Esau was a big outdoorsman, I like to ride my bike and go fishing. 

·         E: …and I like to swim. Fortunately, I never swim where he’s fishing.

·         D: One of my other interests is that I like playing baseball.

·         E: And after going to my brothers’ baseball games for so many years, I know all the rules of baseball inside out, and enjoy watching baseball -- but not as much as I like watching “Project Runway.”

·         D: Speaking of watching, we both love movies, but I prefer comedies like “Happy Gilmore.”

·         E: And I like creepy, horror movies. But we can always find room to compromise by watching t.v. shows like “River Monsters.” 

·         D: Because it’s a TV show that has swimming,

·         E: scary Monsters,

·         D: AND fishing!

·         E: So this is our advice for Jacob and Esau. If you want to get along, stop trying to one up and compete with each other so much. You don’t have to be rivals just because you’re twins. Remember, friendship and brotherhood (or sisterhood) is more important than winning an argument or a competition or favor from a parent.

·         D: In another part of today’s Torah portion, Esau trades his birthright for a bowl of soup. As the first-born twin, I know that even though my favorite soup is Ramen chicken noodle, I wouldn’t trade my birthright for it.

·         E: …and I would never cook up some chicken noodle soup in order to trick you into giving me Dad’s blessing—I’d just trick Dad instead.

·         D: Well, I have some news for you. You’re too late.  Dad’s blessing already went to Nathan.

·         E - But that brings up another important point. Parents should not be seen as favoring one twin over the other.

·         D: Yes, Rebecca and Isaac were way out of line in how they favored one child over another.  That probably didn’t help them get along.

·         E: As twins, the other key to getting along is to be able to share the things that we both enjoy!

·         D: like pizza or our dog Tino.

·         E: No, like family or being there for each other or community or our Mitzvah Project, which was really great. We volunteered at the Ferguson library last summer, where we helped kids participate in the summer reading program.

·         D: Also, we collected the books that our now in our bima baskets and we are going to donate them to the Prison Book Program in Quincy, Mass., the city where our Grandma Dale grew up.  She was a big reader, and I think she would have been happy about our project. We’re so happy to be able to give actual books to people who people in prisons who are having tough time and who don’t have access to books or reading.

·         E: There’s one more bit of advice that we have for Esau and Jacob, and it’s really important. Never give up on your twin sibling. Even if it takes a long time, what you share will always be more important than what divides you.

·         D: It took twenty years, but eventually Esau and Jacob learned that lesson and came back together to become one big happy family. Finally, their rivalry was over.

·         E: So those are Daniel and Elena’s helpful hints for our “Twin Survival Guide.” If only we’d been able to help Jacob and Esau, maybe they could have been friends for those 20 years and their lives would have been so much more meaningful having a brother and a friend around.

·         D: Well, Elena, at least we’re friends.  We get on each other’s nerves, but we also have lots of laughs.

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