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    Generations that look alike – Tol’dot

    The commentators ask why, at the commencement of the sidra, the Torah text tells us that Abraham was the father of Isaac and Isaac was the son of Abraham. They explain that father and son looked alike and had similar mannerisms and opinions.

    A similar comment might be made when father and son, or mother and daughter, enter the synagogue together. It’s not like two strangers coming into the building. In that case what unites them is probably their shared Jewishness. If parent and child walk together (as Abraham and Isaac did in the story of the Akedah, Gen. 22) the observer can recognise their bond.

    The Ten Commandments have a particular take on the father-son/mother-daughter situation. The Second Commandment says that God “visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children”, which indicates that if the parent sins and the child continues the sinfulness, the Divine punishment is not limited to the parent… but if the child has the moral courage to break the chain and choose a life of merit, the effect of the parent’s sin and degeneracy does not continue into the future generations.

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