Generations (Not a Star Trek reference:)

Generations: this is how the Hertz Chumash translates the word "Toledot", whose root word is the basis for "yeled", or boy, and "yaldah", girl, and in general terms, offspring over time. But were it not for Rivka,(Rebecca), the offspring might not have lived up to the inheritance and purpose intended for them. In a strange parallelism, Rebecca,  like Abraham, had to "sacrifice" a relative. In her case, it was one of her twin sons.The Torah says that she favored Jacob, the one whom she had to send away, never to see him again (although that was not her original plan). She had intended to send him away until his brother's anger cooled off, and he was no longer a threat,

"For why should I be bereft of both of you in one day?"

I had always thought that this referred to her losing her husband and then Jacob, because Esau was going around saying, in essence, just let the mourning for my father be over, and I will kill my brother.

A closer reading made me question my prior assumptions. The word Rivkah uses to describe the depth of her feared loss is "shiklah", a verb which means "cut down". This verb would be employed centuries later  when talking about Agag, king of the Philistines, whose sword was described as having cut down children, therefore the prophet Elijah would cut him down in turn. Rivkah is trying to PREVENT loss of life, and in turn, she has to know the pain of losing contact with her  favorite child. But I always assumed that the other life she was talking about was her husband, who was "not dead yet" to insert some Monty-Python-esque humor into a grim situation. But Esau didn't say 'just wait until my dad dies' : he said,

"Let the days of mourning for my father draw near..."

To Esau's credit, he loved his father and would not do anything to hasten his father's death or mar the required mourning period. But after that, watch out! A violent struggle would ensue, and perhaps BOTH of Rivkah's sons would be killed on THE SAME DAY! Could THIS be what Rivkah was trying to avoid?

The mother of twins myself, I have tried and tried to show equal interest in what each daughter of mine likes, and to support her efforts to become the person who she wants to be. I have made many, many mistakes, I'll be the first to admit it. But, thank God, I never had to deal with a situation in which one of my children might kill the other! I can only imagine Rebecca's heartbreak when, after years and years, she realizes that she will never see Jacob again, and it is her "fault"!

Oh God, Shekhinah, Divine Presence, give us a tenth part of your compassion so that we might find a way to compromise without losing "both in one day!"

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