Friday, December 26, 2008

Toldot (Gen. 28:5-9)

Mahalat is the daughter of Ishmael whom Esau marries in an attempt to please his parents Isaac and Rebekah after the whole blessing fracas and the flight of Jacob. This "dvar torah" was actually written in 2007 when my congregation was studying the seventh aliyah.

MAHALAT

Pulling me by the hand,
his smile confident
and pleading at once –
Esau brought me to his parents
as a peace offering.

Wounded and bewildered by Jacob’s betrayal
he came to my father Ishmael,
refuge of his family’s pain –
my father – also the first-born,
passed over by his father and his father’s God.

Night after night I heard them
thrashing it out by the fire –
the anger, the hurt –
my father’s assurance, “The pain will lessen,
though the scars will never fade.”
Esau looking up, our eyes meeting
as I peer out at him from my mother’s tent –
is his smile at a pretty girl
the beginning of healing?

No – he saw a bargaining counter –
a channel back to his parents’ good graces.
His thoughts ran thus:
I married Canaanite women. My parents were displeased.
Jacob, the favored one, was told to marry one of his mother’s kin.
If I marry one of my father’s kin, my father will favor me again.

It did not work.
The silence of his parents is like the chill wind on a desert night.
Rebecca’s hard eyes look through me as if I were made of smoke –
her beloved Jacob is gone,
and he is the only one she longs to see.
Isaac is a broken man, dying by inches.
The Canaanite wives despise me.
My husband’s wounded eyes accuse me – I did not make it better.
If this is the fruit of the covenant, I want no part of it.

But wait –my monthly courses no longer flow.
There will be a child, and now I must make it better or leave,
with my husband or without him,
for my child will not enter into this world of unhappiness and despair.