The rabbis in Ethic of Our Ancestors teach us that all love that is dependent on a specific condition, when that condition stops existing, the love too will stop existing. But love that is not dependent on a condition will last eternally.
This week in Parshat Toldot we see this lesson played out in the favoritism displayed by Isaac and Rebecca for their twins Esau and Jacob. We are told straight out that Isaac favored Esau because he had a taste for game, but Rebecca favored Jacob. Putting aside the fact that Isaac and Rebecca broke one of the cardinal rules of parenting by favoring one child over the other, we are left with the even more poignant message about lasting love.
Isaac we are told favored Esau because he was a hunter and Esau could bring him the meat he craved to eat. We are never given a reason why Rebecca favored Jacob, just that she did. If we follow the lesson of Ethics of Our Ancestors, we are left asking what would happen to the relationship between Isaac and Esau? If Esau could no longer deliver the game that Isaac so desperately craved, would that be the end of his favoritism and love for Esau? Rebecca’ s favoritism, or love, for Jacob knew no bounds. There was no condition that once lost would affect their relationship.
As we continue through this Thanksgiving weekend, let us take a moment to ponder the relationships in our own lives. Which of them is tied to some circumstance? Which are unqualified? How do we focus more on those unconditional relationships, the ones that give us a true sense of Thankfullness?
I hope your Thanksgiving was memorable and enjoyable.
Wishing you a restful Shabbat.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.