Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Toldot 5779

Esav has come home from the hunt, and all he wants is something to eat. He sees his twin brother, Ya’akov, cooking lentil stew, and demands some. Ya’akov, wily from the womb, asks for the birthright in return. Esav’s answer is remarkable: “I am at the point of death, so of what use is the birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32)
 
Why does Esav announce that he is on the verge of death? Is it a simple expression of exaggeration? Is he just uncouth? Is the birthright truly meaningless to him, or does he have reason to think that it’s less important to him than immediate gratification?
 
On Shabbat morning, we are marking Veterans Day with a special ceremony at the end of services, followed by a special Shabbat lunch. We are also commemorating the 20th yahrzeit of Frank Strassfeld, who was not only the devoted ritual director of HHJC, he was also a proud veteran. To honor the occasion and Frank’s love of Torah, we will study the meaning of Esav’s words, and consider the contrast between his and his brother’s life priorities. 
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise