Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Torah Connection - Toldot

And now catching up on this past week's reading, we have Toldot, which is a very troubling passage.  Jacob is not seen here as a very sympathetic character.  He extorts the birthright from his brother Esau, and then resorts to trickery (aided by his mother) to seal that extortion with a blessing from his aging father.  What are we to learn from this?  Does the end in fact justify the means?  Doesn't this feed right into the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes about the greedy, cunning Jew? 

I think Jacob is not the focus of this story, any more than Isaac is in the story of his binding.  Jacob and Esau are pawns of their parents in this episode, just as Isaac was Abraham's pawn.  Isaac and Rebekah are seen as much smaller figures than in the previous chapter.  Picking favorites among their children, they are not exactly paragons of good parenting!  It is this parental failure which sets the brothers against each other in the first place.  The conflict escalates until Jacob in fact gains his father's blessing.  Immediately after, Esau comes in to claim the blessing for himself.  Isaac sees his mistake, and offers Esau a blessing as well.  In a sense, the entire passage can be seen to climax in Isaac's dual blessings.  We must not give to one child at the expense of another, but find a way to bless each of our children as our favorites, giving the best to each, so that the love will multiply rather than divide.

This is a question often grappled with when parents consider having additional children, whether biologically or by adoption.  Will a new child, while undoubtedly a blessing, take blessings away from the older sibling(s)?  Will the birthright be "extorted" by the new interloper?  Especially when talking about special needs adoption, the stakes are high.  The blessing to a child rescued from substandard institution is great, but what will be the cost to the children at home?  We, like Isaac, must find a way to bless them through the new addition.  This will not happen automatically.  We must anticipate their rivalry and transform it into a healthy, loving and mutually beneficial sibling relationship.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Jewish Bloggers
Powered By Ringsurf