Toldot 2015, Nov 14 / 2 Kislev, 5776

This week’s parasha begins with a familiar theme—the infertility of the matriarch, in this case, Rebekah. (Gen 25:21) Previously, Sarah was barren and bore Isaac in her old age. Now Rebekah has the twins, Esau and Jacob, in her later years. Later, Rachel is barren and only gives birth to Joseph and Benjamin after many years of infertility, dying in childbirth with Benjamin. What is the significance of this repeating theme of barrenness? J.H. Hertz suggests that it is to emphasize the specialness of the one finally born—that this child is a miraculous gift from God and therefore destined for greatness. (Hertz Commentary, p. 93) As we consider the advances that have been made in recent decades to treat infertility, we see scientific genius as responsible for a birth after years of infertility. But we can imagine God’s hand in it as well, with human beings as God’s partners in the ongoing work of Creation.

Genesis 25:19−28:9