Wednesday, November 14, 2012


The Torah Portion of Toldot 

"And these are the generations of Yitzchak, Avraham's son  -- Avraham begot Yitzchak."  (Bereisheet 25:19)

Why is it necessary to say "Avraham begot Yitzchak", since it was already stated that "these are the generations of Yitzchak, Avraham's son"?  Rashi explains that Yitzchak was similar to Avraham in his facial features.  And the Abarbanel explains that everything that happened to Avraham happened also to Yitzchak.  Both of them took a wife from within their families.  Avraham and Yitzchak both suffered with problems of infertility.  They both had two children, one of whom was righteous and one of whom was wicked.  In both of their times there was a famine; as a result of which Yitzchak went in exile to Gerar and Avraham went in exile to Mitzrayim (Egypt).  Both of them said about their wives "she is my sister".  Both of them were blessed with many cattle.  Both of them dug wells which the Philishtim plugged up.

"...And Yaakov was a man of simplicity (or wholesomeness)..." ( Bereisheet 25:27)  

Rashi says that someone who doesn't know how to deceive is called simple (or wholesome).  (Translator's note: the word in Hebrew "Tam" can be translated as either simple or wholesome.)  Apparently, however, we see that when he was with Lavan, Yaakov knew how to deceive.  Rather, Rashi's intention is that someone who doesn't know how to deceive is called simple.  In contrast, Yaakov was not "simple", but rather, a man of simplicity (or wholesomeness), who ruled over his simplicity and knew when to be straightforward and when not to.  The Masters of Mussar (Ethics) say that Yaakov represents the aspect of Truthfulness, as it is said "Give Truth to Yaakov..." (Micah 7:20), yet we see that several times he acted in a cunning manner: 1)  he took the birthright of the firstborn son,  2)  he took the blessings, and 3) with Lavan, he used the sticks (to increase his flocks).  For we don't know what is "Truthfulness", but the Tzaddik (Righteous Man) knows when to act in a straightforward manner and when to act cunningly.

"And Yitzchak loved Eisav..." (Bereisheet 25:28)

The Gaon R' Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld ztz"l explains why Yaakov is called the "select one of the Patriarchs", in connection to the verse "and Yitzchak loved Eisav".  If the Torah writes this verse, that means that the love of Yitzchak for Eisav was a true and recognizable love.  In spite of that, when Yaakov and Eisav were going out in the morning, each one went on his path; Yaakov went to serve Hashem by making an effort in Torah and prayer while Eisav went to do evil deeds.  In the evening when they returned Yitzchak showed love to Eisav and didn't pay any attention at all to Yaakov, and so it was for the duration of a long period of time.  And because of this, Yaakov of necessity would have thought that certainly since Yitzchak was the greatest person of the generation and he gave emotional support only to Eisav, perhaps his (Yaakov's) way of serving Hashem wasn't appropriate.  But in any event, he didn't pay attention to that and stayed with strength and persistency on his path, even though he saw that Yitzchak related only to Eisav.   Therefore he is called "the select one of the Patriarchs", since he was in a constant state of living with a very difficult challenge, and in spite of it all, he remained steadfast in his wholesomeness.

"...I am sick of my life on account of the daughers of Chait, if Yaakov takes a wife from the daughters of Chait like these, from the daughters of the land, why do I need life?"  (Bereisheet 27:46)

Why didn't she say to Yitzchak that Eisav wants to kill Yaakov, like she said to Yaakov?  The Ohr HaChaim HaKodesh says that because of the prohibition of Rechilut (Gossip)  she gave another reason to Yitzchak, but by revealing it to Yaakov, she fulfilled a Mitzvah (from Vayikra 19:16) of "do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor".

The Torah Portion of Toldot has 106 verses. Haftora: "Masa D'var Hashem" (Malachi 1:1).

May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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