Meditative Moments with Parshat Toldot

Meditative Moments with Parshat Toldot


Meditative Moments commentaries are opportunities to increase your sense of connection with HaShem, to ease your mind and soul while you read and afterward by using classic Jewish meditation skills. Today we’ll look at how to feel safe despite the headlines and something bothering you. Avraham Avinu and his son Yitzhak are role models for doing just that.

Due to unsavory characters such as Philistines in Gerar, Sheikh Avimelekh, and their cronies, Avraham and Yitzhak worried about maintaining property rights regarding disputed wells plus other real estate, the wellbeing of their beautiful wives, and of their very reputations. Accusations of being “too powerful” for local thugs to deal with led to the classical Jew-hatred that ensued for millennia. Our saintly heroes dealt with the challenges by remaining in a state of daat, core self, dealing with facts rather than emotions. Avraham prayed and meditated, then negotiated with nasty neighbors. Let’s zero in on how his son handled stress.


Yitzhak dealt with disputed wells by naming a specific well “… Reĥovot, saying, ‘Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z’ya indicates in The Courage of Persistence essay that “… Isaac is the least original of the three patriarchs. His life lacks the drama of Abraham or the struggles of Jacob… The text is unusually emphatic on the point: Isaac ‘reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them’” Normally we strive to individuate ourselves by differentiating ourselves from our parents. We do things differently, or even if we don’t, we give them different names. Isaac… was content to be a link in the chain of generations, faithful to what his father had started. Isaac represents the faith of persistence, the courage of continuity. He was the first Jewish child, and he represents the single greatest challenge of being a Jewish child: to continue the journey our ancestors began, rather than drifting from it, thereby bringing the journey to an end before it has reached its destination. And Isaac, because of that faith, was able to achieve the most elusive of goals, namely peace – because he never gave up. When one effort failed, he began again. So it is with all great achievements: one part originality, nine parts persistence…”

How did Yitzhak keep that faith going? Tzadikim aren’t born complete, they achieve completeness. What did Yitzhak do that we can emulate and imitate to remain persistent when our tempers flare and our minds imagine quitting a struggle or taking revenge on the people who caused it? How can we learn from that to keep our emotions in check so that we pursue a cause rather than its detractors? Yitzhak exemplifies the method, even though he almost  become an unwitting sacrifice as a young man, then suffered the ugly rivalry between his sons – one of whom was a thug by any definition – as a weakened old and blind man. Yitzhak’s emuna, faith, let him persevere despite shocks to his system, including confusion and grief. His faith gave him courage, and the ability not to be defeated. Despite the agony of emotional pain and frustration, Yitzhak envisioned and proactively pursued broad spaces, Reĥovot, plus the serenity of his spiritual destination, no matter the setbacks before him not just because he was Avraham’s son, but because he meditated in the fields. Meditation was a big part of having a holy life. It still is.


Let’s meditate on remaining persistent, aiming for the serenity of the destination despite storms (employment issues, Jew-hatred, in-laws and outlaws shalom bayit problems, kids, whatever hurts) along the way. A Bitakhon Bubble Meditation can help you to remain in, or to recover, your composure with confidence in HaShem. No matter how miserable the situation or the emotions involved, we can choose and believe to feel confidence in Our Creator and in the destiny we’re reaching for. Here’s how: We enter an imagined bubble of safety and comfort despite the negative forces outside it. Trusting HaShem is causative; it can seriously improve on a situation. The Brisker Rav used a Bitakhon Bubble Meditation to help his children to flee Nazis. They meditated on the words “Ata Hareita Lada’at Ki Hashem Hu HaElokim, Ain Od Milvado” – “It has been revealed to you to know that God, He is the Almighty One, there is no one else except Him.” Let’s gain a settled mind plus a sense of hitkashrut, togetherness, with HaShem, too.

Stretch out a bit, and then open your arms and legs to rest comfortably. Close your eyes and imagine a soothing bubble of holy light enveloping you. That light shields you from harm. Fill that Bitakhon Bubble with music or scents that comfort you. Breathe in the holiness and the comfort. Focus on the thought “HaShem You created me, You’re creating me now moment by moment. I rely only on You. Nothing else matters; There is nothing but You. I disconnect from everything else. Everything…”  Stay in the bubble, repeating “HaShem You created me; You’re creating me now, moment by moment. I rely on You. Nothing else matters; There is nothing but You. I disconnect from everything else. Everything…”  Keep breathing. Breathe in with your nose, out with your mouth. That physical gesture relaxes the mind and body more.  If you wish, say what the Brisker’s children said to themselves: “Ata Hareita Lada’at Ki Hashem Hu HaElokim, Ain Od Milvado” – “It has been revealed to you to know that God, He is the Almighty One, there is no one else except Him.” Stay in the bubble; make it as soothing a location as possible. Focus on HaShem’s protection. Smile at HaShem if you want to. Relax in the bubble. Imagine HaShem smiling, so to speak, at your spiritual efforts. When you’re ready, open your eyes and shake your limbs. Come back to the moment. Do an inner inventory of your emotions. How do you feel? Less worried? Just as worried? More worried? Go back in the bubble of bitakhon from time to time. Let it become a soothing experience. You might need practice with this technique. It’s new to you!



Jewish meditative skills lead to insights and calmer mindsets, creative thinking, the exploration of thoughts, plus feeling more connected to oneself and to the wider world with a sense of calmness, confidence, creativity, in love with HaShem, and able to see between the lines to find the richness of life within daily experiences. That leads to a sense of authenticity and of increased emuna despite the stresses of daily life.

Yocheved Golani teaches meditation skills in the classical Jewish tradition. The highly effective results of these meditations lead Yocheved to creating a larger project which includes her Meditative Moments writings.

One comment

  1. Laureen Sussman

    What an uplifting essay! Yocheved Golani writes to inspire, and I am often inspired by what she imparts in her articles and in her life. Meditation provides the individual with strength and with serenity. I am working on meditating and am not quite there yet. However, reading Yocheved’s words provide the encouragement for me to keep trying. Bravo!

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