Dear Members of Am Haskalah:
One of the most powerful and yet simple lines of dialogue in the entire Torah, in my mind, occurs in this week’s Torah portion, pashat Toldot. Towards the beginning of the parasha, Rebekkah, out of the pain of feeling the wrestling of the two fetuses within her womb (to be Esau and Isaac) cries out “If this is so, why do I exist?”What this moment gives us is an image of one of our biblical matriarchs as someone able to speak about pain – perhaps the physical pain of a difficult pregnancy, or perhaps the more existential pain of the feeling of inner struggle that many of us can relate to. What is powerful here, is not just that Rebekka, puts her pain into speech but how else chooses to respond to her pain.

The text tells us “and she went to inquire of the Eternal.” The Hebrew used here for “inquire” is “lidrosh” which means to seek and from which we get the Hebrew word for the tradition of Jewish interpretation and meaning making — Midrash. Rebekkah’s choice to take her pain as an invitation to seek out a deeper spirituality, which in our tradition, involves a deeper relationship both with the divine and with Jewish texts, is not an easy one to make. But it is one that allows her, and us, to continue our stories by seeking and making meaning out of our experiences.

May we be inspired and comforted by her example.
Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Tamara