Shabbat Toldot

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum considers the grief and fear currently felt by Israelis and Palestinians and also by Jacob and Esau.

“On the surface… Esau is a decent, loving son, and Jacob gets all the blessings. There’s a very poignant moment where Jacob tricks Esau out of the blessing. And Esau says, ‘Don’t you have a blessing for me? Don’t you have another blessing? Do you only have one blessing?’ I find that so deeply poignant.”

Rabbi Kleinbaum interpreted the story in today’s context of global conflict. “The fight is not at all between Arab and Jew, between Muslim and Jews, between Arabs and Israelis, despite the way the story gets told. It is fundamentally… a fight between extremism and those who believe in democracy.”

“There is an incredible population of Israeli Jews who are fighting for a future that looks different. And those are the people I’m standing with. They’re not alone; there’s a population of Palestinians who are fighting for a future that looks different.

Both [groups insist] there is not one blessing. We don’t have to choose one blessing. We have to… reject the binary, [and] accept the nuance that’s involved.”

Rabbi Kleinbaum ended by sharing a beautiful eulogy for Vivian Silver delivered by her dear friend Ghadir Hani, a Palestinian Israeli. Silver was killed in the October 7 Hamas attack, and her body was only identified last week.

“Dear Vivian, if you could hear, I would like you to know that Hamas will not kill your vision. You cannot kill the compassion, the humanity, the solidarity, and the aspiration for a secure life.

“All of your work was work for peace. And when we achieve your dream, know that you have prepared the ground for us. We will continue your way. We will do everything to bring the political solution to the agenda. We will prove that our lives have not been cut down by the sword. We will dismantle the concept that there is no solution.

“The best response to your murder, Vivian, is for us to act for peace.”

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum delivered this drashah at Kabbalat Shabbat services on Friday, November 17, 2023 / 5 Kislev 5784.

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