Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 7   No. 6

Parshas Toldos

He Who Laughs Last

The Medrash relates how, after having eaten his fill of Ya'akov's lentil broth, Eisov began to mock Ya'akov for his stupidity - for having sold him such a delicious broth in exchange for a worthless birthright. He then hastened outside to fetch his cronies and henchmen. Inviting them ino Ya'akov's tent, Eisov told them about the sale, and together they all began to mock Ya'akov and to laugh at his gullibility. They laughed and laughed, says the Medrash, until they could laugh no more, before taking their leave of Ya'akov and going on their way.

Clearly this is what the posuk is referring to when it writes "and Eisov despised the birthright" (25:34).


The Gemoro in Eiruvin (19a) states that even as they are about to enter Gehinom, resho'im do not repent - still at that stage, they feel no remorse for their evil deeds. Elsewhere, Chazal say that resho'im are full of remorse (Nedorim 9b) - a blatant contradiction.

The commentaries answer that the Gemoro in Eiruvin is talking about a 'mumar le'hach'is' - a rosho who acts out of malice, with the intention of angering G-d or at best, because he does not care. Whereas the Gemoro in Nedorim is referring to a 'mumar le'tei'ovon', who does what he does out of self-interest - because the food tastes better or because it costs less. The former, who hates G-d, or simply doesn't care for Him, is never sorry for his actions, because the cause of his sins remains with him all the time; the latter is sorry the moment the sin is over and done with. His sins are not sparked off by a hatred of G-d, but by a love of himself. Consequently, the moment his sin is over and his self-gratification fulfilled, his love or respect for G-d returns, and he is full of remorse.


There is no doubt whatsoever that Eisov sold the birthright because he wanted the lentil-broth - and he wanted it badly. His very method of asking ("I will open my mouth and you pour it in" - like one feeds a camel, Rashi 25:29) leaves us in no doubt about that. Yet even after satisfying his appetite, he felt no pangs of remorse at having sold the birthright (G-d's service). This is because Eisov was not only a 'mumar le'tei'ovon', he was a 'mumar le'hach'is' too! He sold the birthright for a plate of lentil-broth, but he also sold it because the service of G-d meant nothing to him.


It is truly amazing that forty-eight years later, Eisov has the audacity to lament to his father Yitzchok that his brother had swindled him twice, once when he cheated him out of the birthright, the second time when he stole the b'rochos. Had he really forgotten that, not only had he willingly sold the birthright to Ya'akov, but that he had gone on to mock him for his stupidity in buying it from him, demonstrating to all that the birthright meant nothing to him, not even as much as a plate of lentil-broth? In that case, he had no claim to the b'rochos either. As a matter of fact, he was the cheat (for not pointing out that he had sold the birthright to Ya'akov) and not Ya'akov.

But of course, Eisov had no scruples, just as he had no morals. The birthright as an institution of spiritual value meant nothing to him when he fancied the lentil-broth, and it meant nothing to him when his father prepared him for the b'rochos. The only thing that really mattered to Eisov was Eisov. When he was hungry, he would readily sell the birthright for some food. and when he wanted it back (for the wealth and prosperity that came with it), he would just as readily forget that he had ever sold it. But of course, he had sold them, and there was no going back on the sale that he had himself ratified with a hearty laugh.

The birthright, together with the b'rochos, now belonged to Ya'akov, and he who laughs last, laughs best!


Parshah Pearls


Was It Eruvei Techumin?

"... because Avrohom listened to My voice, and kept My charge" (26:5). The Gemoro in Yumo (28b) learns from this posuk that Avrohom observed even Eiruv Tavshilin.

'Eiruv Tavshilin?' asks the Gro. 'Where is there a hint to Eiruv Tavshilin in this posuk?'


It would appear that the original text of the Gemoro read not 'Eiruv Tavshilin', but 'Eiruv Techumin', a concept that is certainly hinted in the word "eikev" (which means 'because' but can also mean 'a heel'), since the mitzvah of Eiruv Techumin enables one to tread with one's heel beyond the two thousand amoh limit of T'chum Shabbos.

The printer of a subsequent edition however, abbreviated 'eiruvei techumin' to 'ayin-tof'. Along came the third printer, and, misunderstanding the initials 'ayin-tof', wrote it out in full to read eiruvei tavshilin - wrongly - stripping the words of any logical meaning at all (in the context of the source word "Eikev") - Gro.


Or Was It Eruvei Tavshilin?

The Tosfos Yeshonim is also perturbed by the Gro's kashya (why Chazal mention Eiruv Tavshilin over and above all other mitzvos de'Rabbonon?), which he leaves unanswered - and so is the Maharsho. The latter however, replies that Eiruv Tavshilin is not an intrinsically important mitzvah, like the other mitzvos de'Rabbonon. Its main function is merely to serve as a reminder not to forget to pick a nice portion for Shabbos. So the Gemoro is telling us that even that secondary mitzvah Avrohom kept too.


The truth of the matter is that the Gemoro does not base its d'roshoh on the word "eikev", but on the last word in the posuk "ve'sorosi" (in the plural, implying both Torah mitzvos and Rabbinical ones). In that case, the Gro's source is unclear (see Torah Temimah and the footnotes of the Seifer P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro; see also 'Eikev' which follows immediately.



"Because (eikev) Avrohom listened to My voice ..." The Ba'al ha'Turim comments that Avrohom obeyed G-d's commands from the time he turned three (according to one of two Medroshim) - 172 years (the numerical value of 'eikev'). He also points out that the numerical value of "Eikev asher shoma Avrohom" is equivalent to that of 'Kiyam Avrohom eruvei Tavshilin' (The Ba’al ha’Turim is clearly unruffled by the kashya of the Gro that we quoted earlier).


The Two Kid-Goats

"Go now to the flock" Rifkah told Ya'akov, "and fetch me from there two good kid-goats" (27:9).

Why two kid-goats?


Because, since it was Pesach explains Rashi, one goat was for the Pesach and one for the chagigoh (see Ba'al ha'Turim).

The Medrash Rabah however, connects the two goats with the two goats of Yom Kipur, one for Hashem and one for Az'ozel.

Rifkah specifically mentioned two good goats. They were good for Ya'akov, says the Medrash, seeing as they secured the b'rochos for him, and they were good for his children, since it is through them that Yisroel would secure an atonement on Yom Kipur. Ya'akov too required two goats, explains the Gro, one to obtain the b'rochos, the other to appease the Sotton, so that he should not accuse Ya'akov, preventing the b'rochos from taking effect. Indeed, the Medrash describes how the Sotton (yes, the Sotton!) delayed Eisov's return.


Rabeinu Bachye goes further. He says that the goats were good for Ya'akov, because through them, he was able to overpower Eisov, who, later in this chapter, is referred to as a goat (posuk 11); and good for his children, because through the two goats on Yom Kipur they would be saved from the Sotton - the Angel of Eisov.


Eisov's Precious Clothes

"And Rifkah took the precious clothes that Eisov had deposited with her ..." (27:15). According to the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, these were hunting clothes with pictures of all animals painted on them. Whoever wore them had access to all the beasts, since they all tended to be attracted to them. And it was these clothes that Eisov coveted from Nimrod, who had received them in turn, from Odom. The day that Avrohom died and Eisov came running to Ya'akov, was the day that he had killed Nimrod to take his hunting clothes - he was fleeing from Nimrod's men who had given case, to avenge their master's murder.

It is most interesting that these clothes played a major role in Ya'akov obtaining the birthright in the first place, as we just explained, and they did so again in his obtaining the b'rochos (particularly intriguing is the fact that Eisov went hunting minus his hunting-clothes, almost as if to present Rivkah with the golden opportunity to put her own plan into practice).


How did Odom obtain the clothes in the first place? The P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro, quoting the Or ha'Tzvi, relates that these clothes were the clothes that Hashem made for Odom from the skin of the snake. Since the snake had originally been king of all the animals, he had a picture of each and every animal embossed on his skin. Whenever they saw their own picture on these clothes, all the animals would bow down to the snake in utter humiliation. After the snake sinned, Hashem stripped off his skin and made Odom and Chavah shirts out of it.




(Part XXXII)

The Shema

Emes ve'Yatziv (cont.)

The Eitz Yosef explains that the fifteen terms listed in 'Emes ve'Yatziv' correspond to the fifteen pesukim that comprise the first two parshiyos of the Shema. All fifteen are really varied expressions of acceptance, to say that we accept the vitally important issues mentioned in those two parshiyos with a full heart.

That will explain why the second word 've'yatziv' is written in Arama'ic (as opposed to the other fourteen, which are all Loshon ha'Kodesh. It is because, assuming that each consecutive word represents a consecutive posuk in the Shema, 've'yatziv' will correspond to 'Boruch Sheim', which we say quietly because Moshe Rabeinu stole it from the angels, as the Medrash Rabah informs us.

Consequently, we say 've'yatziv' in Arama'ic, a language which the angels do not understand.


The Avudraham writes that Chazal instituted the recital of 'Emes ve'Yatziv' in the morning to thank Hashem for the miracles that He performed with our fathers, that He redeemed them from Egypt, took them across the Yam-Suf and drowned the Egyptians in it. In that case, the numerous expressions of acceptance pertain, not to the first two parshiyos of the Shema, as the Eitz Yosef explains, but to the redemption from Egypt mentioned at the end of the third paragraph and to the installation of Hashem as our G-d, the main objective of the Exodus from Egypt, as we have previously pointed out.

In fact, we can go further and explain that the second parshah of the Shema refers to the exile, the third parshah to the initial redemption from Egypt (the forerunner of subsequent redemptions, inasmuch as the exile itself was the forerunner of the subsequent exiles); 'Emes ve'Yatziv' expresses our endorsement of that redemption; 'Al ho'rishonim' widens the scope of Hashem's redeeming powers, whilst 'Ezras avoseinu' breaks out into details of the wonders and miracles that comprised the redemption from Egypt and the crossing of the Reed Sea. The first b'rochoh of The Amidah too, refers briefly to our redemption from Golus, and the second b'rochoh to T'chiyas ha'Meisim.


Based on what we just wrote, and particularly on the comment of the Avudraham that we quoted, it is feasible to suggest that the emphasis placed by Anshei K'nesses ha'Gedolah on the theme of redemption and of its strong affiliation to tefilah, was itself a mark of gratitude. It was an expression of the deep appreciation they felt towards G-d for the redemption from Bovel that they had themselves only just experienced.


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