To Offer Rather than Obey
Parashat Toldot

Dena Weiss

According to Rabbinic tradition, the first people who kept and studied the Torah were not the Jewish people after the revelation at Sinai.  Even our earliest ancestors were described as being engaged with the Torah and, in fact, following the Torah.  According to this tradition, Avraham actually observed the Torah’s observances, commandments, laws, and teachings.  Ya’akov, his grandson, is seen as having studied the Torah and as having kept its commandments as well.  Is this just a retrojection of Rabbinic mores onto our biblical forebears?  Why imagine that our forefathers kept or studied a Torah that—according to the text of the Torah—we know wasn’t given yet?  The answer to this question can illuminate what it means to be a student of the Torah and a servant of God.  It can enable us to understand what it means to be in a relationship with God that is defined not by what God demands, but by what we want to offer.

 
To Offer Rather than Obey
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