This week's parasha is Toldot, describing the difficult birth of Isaac and Rebecca's twins, Esau and Jacob, Esau's selling his rights as a first born to Jacob for a pot of lentil stew, the blessings that Isaac gives each of his sons before his death, and the deception that forced Jacob to flee to Rebecca's homeland. The title Toldot, generations, recalls the transition from Abraham and Sarah to the next generation and sets the scene for the legacy to be continued through their grandson, Jacob.
On Thanksgiving, as the generations of our families gather around the table, whether physically or via memory, it's good to remember that the original American Thanksgiving was based on our festival of Sukkot - a time of giving thanks for our bounty and the many blessings in our lives. In good times as well as times of despair, our tradition teaches that it is good to count our blessings and express our gratitude...and a wonderful way to express gratitude is to share our love and be a blessing to others.
In these challenging times, we search for a take-away message, something practical and useful that we can do. Let's work together to strengthen that which those who want to harm us seek to destroy. Let's increase our learning and acts of chesed/lovingkindness and remember that each of us is a mini-sanctuary and contains a piece of the Divine spirit within. Commit to supporting our community with your presence and by sharing the opportunity with others - you'll find comfort and inspiration and a lot more! Do it for yourself, and also do it because of our mutual obligations to one another. Your choices matter. As we've talked about many times before, we have a mission not to maintain the status quo but to selflessly increase light in the world. Let's demonstrate to our children that when times are difficult, we rise to the challenge and affirm not just life, but the values of that life. We may start individually, but we ultimately, we must do this work together.