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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Toldos (75)

This week's sedra tells of the birth and development of Jacob and Esau; Esau's selling the birthright to Jacob and later on, about Isaac's blessings to his sons.

Genesis 25:30

And Esau said to Jacob: Let me devour now from this red, red (Hebrew: "ha'adom, ha'adom") stuff because I am tired; therefore his name was called Edom.


From this red, red: Rashi: Red lentils. That day Abraham had died in order that he would not see his grandson Esau falling into degenerate ways. This would not have been "the good old age" which G-d had promised him. Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, cut his life short by 5 years - for Isaac lived 180 years and this one (Abraham) lived 175.


First Rashi explains what the "red stuff" was. The Torah only says that Jacob prepared porridge, but we don't know what it was. Since there are red lentils and they can be made into porridge, Rashi assumed this is what was being prepared and what Esau was referring to.

Then Rashi speaks of Abraham's premature death, which came about as a result of Esau's turning away from the right path.


A question can be asked here when we compare this midrash about the reason Abraham dies early with another midrash. The second midrash says that Esau lost his faith in G-d when saw the righteous man, Abraham, die. How can such a righteous one die? he thought. There must be no justice nor any judge in the world! So if it was Abraham's death that caused Esau to give up his faith, it means that Esau only lost his faith once Abraham died. So how can Rashi say Abraham died early so he wouldn't see Esau's going astray?

Can you think of an answer?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The answer may be a psychological insight. It may be that Esau was losing his faith when Abraham was 175 years old. At that time Esau was looking for a good excuse to abandon the path of his father and grandfather; he saw Abraham die and he "hung" his loss of faith on that event. It was an excuse, a rationalization for the desire he had to be free of moral constraints. But in fact he would have strayed at that time in any event, so G-d took Abraham early so he wouldn't witness this.


This is a psychological truth we have all seen (in others!). We should be wary of it in ourselves as well.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek "What's Bothering Rashi?" is a product of the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. All 5 volumes on What's Bothering Rashi? are available in Jewish book stores.

Dr. Bonchek is publishing a new book on Rashi, called "Rashi: the magic and the Mystery" . It has a biography of Rashi & his special character traits. And outlines clearly Rules for interpreting Rashi in depth. We are looking for dedications to help publish this book. Those interested, please contact Avigdor Bonchek at Drbonchek@gmail.com.

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