Never Stop Growing
In this week’s Torah reading of Toldot is a sentence that seems to give an odd description of Yitzchok’s love for his son Eisav: ויאהב יצחק את עשו כי ציד בפיהו
“Issac loved Esau for game was in his mouth” (ArtScroll translation)
When I was a just few months past my bar-mitzvah, in the spring of 1964,, I went one day to visit my father at work. Back then, he had a position in Crown Heights as the executive director of the Bobov Rebbe’s Hassidic community. I took a 45 minute train ride from Far Rockaway (with one switch from the IND to the IRT line), exiting at Eastern Parkway, and then walked 15 minutes through a largely minority neighborhood to his office. (I doubt parents today would feel fine with letting their 13 year old son make such a journey alone).
When I finally reached my father, he took me in to meet the Bobov Rebbe, Rabbi Sholomo Halberstam. The Rebbe had escaped the Holocaust in Europe and was in the midst of trying to guide his community in rebuilding from the ashes of the Shoah. The Rebbe greeted me with a smile, and said “How are the Yankees doing?”. In all innocence, I answered, “They are having a slow start to the season (at that time they were 1-3 under their new manager, Yogi Berra), but don’t worry, they’ll be okay (they ended the season winning the American league pennant, although they lost the World Series in 7 games to the St. Louis Cardinals). And with that, my audience with the Rebbe was terminated by my father.
I’m sure now that the Rebbe didn’t care one bit about baseball or the New York Yankees. And I would bet that he had no idea how baseball was played, or why anyone would even want to play such a game. But by looking at me, he realized that I was an ‘All-American Boy’, and most likely would be a fan of a team he had heard about, the New York Yankees.
Yitzchok had a son Eisav, who was very different that he was. He was a hunter and, according to our Rabbinical tradition, he violated major commandments of the Torah. But Yitzchok loved his son as any father loves his son, no matter how far he has strayed. I would like to interpret the sentence describing Yitzchok’s love for Eisav this way – Yitzchok showed his love for Eisav by speaking to him about his hunting (“game was in his mouth”). He showed an interest in Eisav’s activities and tried his best to forge a bond with him. He did everything he could to show Eisav how much he cared for him.
Too often parents get so disappointed with their children’s actions that all they do is criticize and belittle them. That only serves to further drive their children away from their parents. Parents have to make an extra effort to remain close to their ‘problem children’ and hope that one day their love and concern will be appreciated and reciprocated.