Parshat Toldot: Of Offspring Off-the-Cuff

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26 Nov 2008
Arts & Media

These aren’t the first

But these are the first

To become a precedent

By definition, life must

Be alive, lest it not be.

Alive means passionate,

Meaningful, purposeful,

Vibrating and relevant.

The Tree of Life, the

Book of Life, the Torah,

Must be all of the above:

It must be so today not

(Only) yesterday, it must

Be so tomorrow not (only)


For if something is (only)

Alive for a limited period,

Has that something ever

Truly lived? True life never

Dies even if the body that bears

(And bares) it seems to be buried.

These aren’t the first offspring

Of which the Torah speaks, but

(As the name of this week’s parsha

Attests) these are the first offspring

To become a precedent for all of

Eternity, even (and, perhaps,

Especially) in present day life.

So what indeed defines offspring?

And what indeed does it mean to us?

And these are the offspring

Of Isaac son of Abraham

Abraham begot Isaac

Toldot has two translations:

Offspring and Chronicles –

The offspring of one’s life;

The chronicles of one’s life.

To borrow a new-age, self-help

Infomercial tagline, we live in

A results-oriented society. By

Results do we measure ones

Success and accomplishment

And by results, or the lack

Thereof, do we measure one’s

Failure and disappointment.

Our soul descends from on-high

To down low, springs-off and

Off-springs from heaven to earth,

So that it can create results, warm,

Illuminating, living results, not

(Only) theories, or hypes or hypo-

Thetical realities, but true, real

Results, the kind that one can

Touch with a finger and feel

With a heart.

The point being to create offspring,

To create light, to create divine energy.

The voice is Jacob’s voice

But the hands are Esau’s hands

At times we may even have to

Dress up in clothing and skins

That may not necessarily represent

Who we truly are; our two hands

May become rough and coarse

From all the physical labor and

Earthly work. However, our voice,

Our message, our purpose never

Wavers, its sweetness and soul

Never changes, only changing a


Even when all of the world around us,

When the entire universe seems to

Reflect Esau, a man of the field

And not one of the heavens, know

That this too is only so that the

Offspring, the results, the light

Be only brighter and warmer.

For it is out of the challenges,

Out of the things that do not

Necessarily look promising,

That the greatest promise is

Born –

Born as in offspring

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at


The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.