This week’s Torah portion, Toldot, begins with the words, “These are the generations of Isaac, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac.” What is the meaning of the repetition in this verse? By stating “the son of Abraham” and “Abraham begot Isaac” – two ways of expressing the same idea – the Torah offers us the reason for “the generations of Isaac”:
The generations of Isaac are the consequence of Abraham having begotten Isaac.
Abraham, as the Torah relates, was “one” – the only Jew in the entire world. The whole world stood in opposition to Abraham, as the name “Ivri – Hebrew” (from the word “eiver – side”) – implies. The entire world was on one side and Abraham on the other. Nonetheless, Abraham persisted in his mission to make G-d’s Name known, as it states, “And he called there in the name of the L-rd, G-d of the world.”
This approach was passed on to Abraham’s son Isaac as an inheritance, thereby paving the way for the possibility of future “generations of Isaac” – both in the spiritual sense (according to the explanation of our Sages that the primary “descendants” of the righteous are their Torah, mitzvot (commandments) and good deeds) and the physical sense, actual offspring.
This contains a lesson for every Jew in his daily life. When a Jew takes a look at the world he is apt to become discouraged. Evil people seem to prosper and flourish, and countless obstacles stand in the way of his service of G-d. For most o f the day he must involve himself in mundane affairs; it is an ongoing struggle to bring holiness into his life. The Jew is liable to wonder where he will get the strength to observe the commandments and perform good deeds. How can he withstand the many trials that he must endure?
The answer is contained in this week’s Torah portion.
“The deeds of the forefathers are a sign for their children” – and not only a sign or indication of how they should conduct themselves, but an infusion of strength. “Abraham begot Isaac” – Abraham was the rock from which Isaac was hewn, and t he source of strength for all Jews. Just as Abraham did not flinch at taking on the entire world, spreading the belief in one G-d and the knowledge that “there is none but Him,” so too must every single one of Abraham’s descendants take courage in his ability to overcome all hindrances and impediments that come his way.
By striving to fulfil “the generations of Isaac” in the spiritual sense, i.e., Torah, mitzvot and good deeds, we thereby merit to become “the generations of Isaac” in the literal sense as well, vanquishing the enemies of G-d and His Torah in preparation for the conquest of the holy land, at the hands of Moshiach. Moshiach NOW!!!