Volume 3 Number 38 – November 21, 2020 – 5 Kislev 5781
Toldot: “Grab the Opportunity”
Gen. 25:19-28:9 – adapted from Rabbi Eli Scheller (www.aish.com)
And Eisav said, “Look, I am going to die, so of what use to me is the birthright?” …And Eisav spurned the birthright.
Eisav came home from the field exhausted and noticed Yaakov cooking up a stew. “Pour some of that red stuff down my throat for I am starving”, Eisav exclaimed. Yaakov replied, “I’ll sell it to you for the birthright.” Eisav said, “Look I am going to die, so of what use to me is the birthright?” After he sold the birthright to Yaakov, the verse tells us Eisav looked at the birthright with disdain.
Rashi explains that Eisav feared the birthright since he knew that the birthright entailed responsibilities such as performing the service in the Holy Temple, and if there were any shortcomings in his performance he could be punished with death. If so, why was he considered to have treated the birthright with disdain by selling it? On the contrary, he was showing the importance of the birthright and the dignity in which the service must be conducted!?
In the course of life, G-d “throws” us many opportunities which can make us greater. He gives us an opening to start a great project or a position where we can influence and elevate others. The Torah is telling us not to let these opportunities slip away. Don’t say, “It’s too hard for me,” or “I’ll do it tomorrow…” Eisav had the opportunity to do the service of the birthright and gave it up. The Torah considers the passing up of such an opportunity a disgrace! When an opportunity comes your way – grab it, and enjoy the ride to greatness!
Getting to Know You… Rebbetzin Devorah Tova Okin
Sisterhood welcomes Rabbi Avi and Rebbetzin Devorah Okin and their son, Binyomin, to NHBZ. The Okins arrived in St. Louis in September just prior to the Yamim Noraim, but due to the Coronavirus we have been unable to properly meet and welcome them. Meet Mrs. Okin here in our exclusive interview!
Q: Tell us about yourself and your family.
A: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, where my parents still live. I went to local Jewish day schools and studied in Israel for a year at Michalalah Jerusalem College Rebbetzin Devorah Tova Okin before attending UCLA, where I became heavily involved with the campus Jewish publication and other Jewish organizations. I’m currently a fourth- year doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University, studying clinical psychology with a focus on neuropsychology and also — somewhat inadvertently — a focus on trauma and addictions. I’m also a trainee at UMSL, where I conduct child and forensic assessments.
My husband and I met shortly after I moved to New York during my first year of grad school and moved to LA after getting married. We were introduced by a friend of mine – sister-in-law of a friend of his – who got a flat tire. Her brother-in-law told her to call my husband, since he was a volunteer for Chaverim, a roadside assistance organization, and she was so grateful for the help that she called me up and told me I had to go out with him because he was so nice!
Our 16-month-old, Binyomin (Benny) is also an Angeleno but has been loving the colder weather here, so far! He also loves meeting new people and will eagerly share his thoughts with anyone, in fluent gibberish and toddler-speak.
As a family, we enjoy going on walks, singing Shabbat and other songs, reading books (especially ones featuring cars and trucks), & trying new foods.
Q: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why?
A: My favorite Jewish holiday is Sukkot, although all of the holidays are wonderful in their own ways. I love building, decorating, and then sitting in the Sukkah with family and friends, singing songs and enjoying the holiday. I’m also very much an outdoorsy person and so enjoy spending time outside in the Sukkah. (If anyone has recommendations for local toddler-friendly hiking trails, please send them over!)
Q: What hidden talents do you have? Or describe something about you that would be interesting for people to know.
A: I have an interest in languages and cultures and speak Spanish and Hebrew (and can read and write paleo-Hebrew), in addition to English. I’ve also been working on Arabic and German, although those have gotten sidelined as grad school (and life) have taken over. Before getting engaged, I had planned a trip to Iceland with a good friend and was working on reading Icelandic and having a basic grasp of the language.
Q: What is the most adorable thing your son has done that you can describe in 50 words or less?
A: On Sunday night, we made semi-homemade pizzas and Binyomin wanted to help. We ran out of shredded mozzarella and so were using string cheese. Benny grabbed a stick (clean hands!), persistently peeled it into shreds, and carefully dropped the shreds onto the designated pie. He then ate the extra cheese.
Q: And, to avoid any potential controversy at NHBZ Pizza Nights, we asked Mrs. Okin… How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza!?
A: I do enjoy pineapple on pizza and became a fan during my student media days, when a coworker convinced me to order pineapple-jalapeño pizza for our weekly meetings. The sweet and sour acidity adds a flavorful dimension which is pleasantly accented when you also add jalapeños! (My husband, however, is appalled by those additions, like most East Coasters I’ve queried.)
Welcome to NHBZ, Mrs. Okin, and thank you for sharing with us!
Book Club News
Because the original book selected for December (Footprints on the Heart by Jean Naggar) has been difficult to obtain, our book club will instead be reading “How to Fight Anti-Semitism,” by Bari Weiss. The Zoom discussion will be Monday, Dec. 21, 7:15-8:45pm. Bari Weiss, the featured speaker at the recent JFed’s Women’s Philanthropy event, is the former op-ed staff editor for The New York Times. Her important book is a worthy, concise brief against modern-day anti-Semitism. The Guardian writes: “Her childhood synagogue in Pittsburgh was the site of last year’s Shabbat morning massacre. This passionate, vividly written, regularly insightful book is her pained, fighting elegy.”
Save the date for the February 22 book club meeting when we will read “Noah’s Wife,” by Lindsay Starck, a gorgeously written, brilliantly introspective, fable-like novel reimagining Noah’s Ark for our modern times.
To join Sisterhood’s Book Club, or, to suggest a book to read, contact Terri Schnitzer
Upcoming books under consideration:
Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
Footprints on the Heart by Jean Naggar (if available)
Sisterhood wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving… and Thanks for your support!
For information or to join Sisterhood, call the NHBZ office at 314-991-2100, ext. 3, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org