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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Man in Between

Parshat Toldot begins by informing us that Parshat Toldot is Yitzhak's story; perhaps this acts as bookend of sorts, dividing his life into segments.

While there is much written about both Avraham and Ya'akov, Yitzhak's role seems much smaller. The story of his birth is highlighted and then we walk with him to the Akeydah and then, much later, we see when he is fooled by Rivka and Jacob into giving the blessing to Jacob instead of Eisav. In between Yitzhak digs wells, interacts with the locals and accumulates wealth.

Yitzhak is a giant among giants, but perhaps he is the silent giant. He is the only one of the Avot who does not receive a new name, despite his experience with the Akeidah. As he leaves the scene of the book of Breisheet, I wanted to put him in the center of the narrative; to give him more space and more credit for the relatively simple life that he led, but also the to point to the event of the Akeida that shaped him for the remainder of his days.

As we say when we finish a chapter in Talmud, "May we return to you, Yitzhak."

"This is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac." Genesis 25:19


You appear in the

Book of Books,


between Two Luminaries


whose names have been changed

by God.

Your father

and your son;

and then there is


trying not to take up

too much space.

You are a person of few words.

People wonder why you speak so little.

They whisper

and ponder.

Your accomplishments?

You haven’t traveled far

or fled.

You are not the father of monotheism

or the leader of a nation.

You haven’t wrestled with an angel,

but, you have dug many wells.

Your prayer for your wife was answered

and you,

only you,

have memories

of your father standing above you,

a knife in his hand,

cold stones under your back,


you recall

a ram

caught in

a thicket.

Only you.

Your story is less about what you have done,

but what has been done to you.

Events that

shook you,

shaped you,

fooled you,

blinded you.

Your words are few

and few words are written about you.

Your imperfections are known,



your story

is hiding

in the spaces

between the words.

You, whose name is laughter,

although I don't recall hearing you laugh....

Sometimes fewer words leave us

with more to think about.

So sit up a little taller.

Make space for yourself.

וְאֵ֛לֶּה תּוֹלְדֹ֥ת יִצְחָ֖ק בֶּן־אַבְרָהָ֑ם אַבְרָהָ֖ם הוֹלִ֥יד אֶת־יִצְחָֽק:

Genesis: 25-19. Translation from Sefaria

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