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    Little time left – Tol’dot

    Isaac on his deathbed, painting by G. Flinck, 1638

    The sidra tells the sad story of Isaac being old and blind and not knowing when his death would come.

    The commentator Radak thinks that Isaac’s realisation that his days were numbered was more than the usual fear of dying. Isaac had things left to do and he wasn’t certain that he had the time to do them.

    What was it that he so much wished to do?

    To give Esau, his favourite son, a last blessing.

    Another commentator, Chiz’kuni, has a variation on this view. He says that Isaac realised that Esau had sold Jacob his birthright; though the father possibly admitted that Esau had acted impetuously and irresponsibly, he was anxious to give Esau a gift that would not end up in Jacob’s hands.

    Without getting into family dynamics, we see that Isaac is an example of the person who doesn’t get round to doing things promptly.

    The sages say, “When a mitzvah comes to your hand, don’t let it get stale” (M’chilta Bo).

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