Monday, November 19, 2012

Parshat Toldot

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        The very beginning of Parshat Toldot is what I ruminated over this past week. In the first chapter of Parshat Toldot we discover that our matriarch Rivka is barren. In fact, she was barren for 20 years of her life. She and her husband Yitzchak were deeply distraught and consistently prayed to G-d for children.
         Since 1st grade, my teachers have lectured that righteous individuals (such as Yitzchak and Rivka) do not receive their heart’s desires right away. Instead, they are inclined to pore over their prayer book with continued fervor and faith, beseeching G-d for what they need. When our innocent faces puckered with puzzlement over this, our teachers would enthusiastically state: G-d yearns for the prayers of righteous people. This is why He does not deliver what they ask for right away.

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         This answer is beautiful as it is spiritually esoteric. It's pacifying to realize that G-d “yearns” for closeness just as we do. Yet, there are moments when the spiritually consoling answers to G-d’s reasoning are not emotionally consoling. There are instances when our hearts, which are rooted in mundane and earthly endeavors, do not receive solace from answers which are purely spiritual in nature.
        I once mentioned the “benefits of failure,” and today I will briefly discuss the “benefits of waiting.” What are the emotionally comprehensible benefits of waiting? My answer includes the obvious, but nevertheless, it’s good to remind oneself of it anyway. The benefit of not getting what you desire right away is appreciating it when you finally DO get it. 
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        When you sink your teeth into that first whole wheat sandwich after Yom Kippur, your taste buds are positively jumping with joy. But wait a minute, don’t you detest whole wheat? If it would’ve been a regular day, you would snub that pitiable slice of bread and demand at it “where’s the darn rye?”
        How the tables turn when you haven’t eaten in a day and fortnight. Instead of snubbing your sandwich, you are writing an ode to it: “Oh whole wheat sandwich! / Your brown hue is a beauty! / Your organic taste is delectable! / I hereby declare you are better than rye! / Etc., Etc.”
         As I’ve mentioned before, I am stating the obvious. Many of us realize that our society is diseased with the “Instant Gratification” plague. Instant gratification is superb, but it rarely, if ever, delivers that delicious savoring feeling. Any 90’s kids out there? Remember how excited we were when we heard our Internet dialing up? Whenever the AOL screen popped up after its initial “eee—ooo--eee” we were ecstatic. Now, if my Internet takes more than a mere five seconds to load, I begin to panic and consider calling Verizon.
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         Our forefather Yitzchak waited excruciatingly long for the gift of children. Even the wicked ways of his son Esav could not hamper the pleasure he derived from being a father. His adoration and love for his wily son ran deeper than many of us care to comprehend. Why?  He experienced the alternative life of a married man who could not have children. He was bereft and forlorn while waiting for a family. In spite of Esav’s flaws, Yitzchak cherished his child.
        Herein lays the power of “the wait.” Whether it’s waiting for a spouse, a child, employment, or even a good grade in school, waiting will often reward one with that savor, that “mmm…I am truly blessed” feeling that comes with every accomplishment that is hard earned. In fact, even the arduous aspects of marriage, parenthood, or employment can be viewed as blessings to those who have been waiting far too long for them.
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