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

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Vol. 9   No. 6

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas Jack Levin
Chayim Ya'akov ben Sh'lomoh Yitzchak ha'Levi

Parshas Toldos

Good for You, Good for Your Children

Rashi, citing the Pirkei de'Rebbi Eliezer, explains that one of the two goats that Rifkah instructed Ya'akov to bring her was for the Korban Pesach, and the other, for the Chagigah (so as to eat the Korban Pesach in a state of satisfaction). Indeed, Yitzchak blessed Ya'akov on the first night of Pesach (see Targum Yonasan), and Rifkah's choice of two goats was therefore appropriate.


Rabeinu Bachye however, cites a different Medrash, which, commenting on the words "two good goats", explains that the goats were 'good for you' (because through them, you will obtain the b'rochos) ... 'and good for your sons' (meaning Ya'akov's descendants [because through them, they wll receive atonement on Yom Kipur]).

They goats were good for Ya'akov, because through them he overcame Eisav and obtained the B'rochos, and they were good for his children, because through the two goats, they were destined to be saved from Eisav's Angel, Sama'el (alias the Satan), year in, year out.

And although Yitzchak commanded Eisav to hunt him venison from the forest, Rifkah commanded Ya'akov to bring her goats from the herd. Why? Because he was "a straight man", explains Rabeinu Bachye, "who dwelt in the tents", because he was a man who detested the sword (symbolized by the sport of hunting). And it is for the same reason that his descendants are commanded to bring Korbanos from domesticated animals, and not from wild ones, since this would entail entering the forests to hunt them.

The connection between the B'rochos and the goats on Yom Kipur is crystal clear, according to Rabeinu Bachye's explanation. Neither is the choice of goats a coincidence, according to him. For 'so'ir' (a goat) is based on the same root as the 'aderes se'or' (a hairy coat) which the Torah uses to describe Eisav at his birth, and as the "Ish So'ir" (which Ya'akov describes him as, in this very episode). So it is befitting for the Torah to choose goats to offer as a bribe to Eisav's angel and correspondingly, to Hashem on Yom Kipur.


The Ha'amek Davar (in his commentary 'Harchev Davar'), who does not appear to have seen Rabeinu Bachye's explanation, offers a profound explanation of his own to connect the two goats of Rifkah to those of Yom Kipur.

He explains how the good and the bad are both creations of G-d, and how the bad too, must be used in His service, but that the bad must be used minimally and with great care. Otherwise, it can produce the most grievous results.

And he compares this to poison, which has its positive uses, but which must be taken very carefully, and only under strict medical supervision, if one wishes to avoid serious (and even fatal) consequences.


The time had arrived for Ya'akov (who, as we know, was the pillar of Emes), to use the Midah of Sheker. He was loathe to do this, as the Torah relates, but his mother convinced him that it was essential in his role as one of the Fathers of K'lal Yisrael. In the words of Chazal, he was performing an 'Aveirah Lishmoh' (a sin for the sake of Hashem), which in its time and place, is a great Mitzvah, no less than a 'Mitzvah she'lo Lishmoh'.

And the fact that Ya'akov was using his Midah of Emes in obeying his mother, and the Midah of Sheker in serving his father, can be compared to the two goats on Yom Kipur. There too, the Kohen Gadol was bringing one goat to Hashem, and the other, to Azazel, a sin under normal circumstances, but a Mitzvah in its right time and place. Both goats were considered a Mitzvah there, and the use of both Midos was a Mitzvah here.


Chazal point out that Ya'akov was taken to task for the anguish he caused Eisav, who wept bitterly when he discovered that Ya'akov had 'stolen' the B'rachos.

And his punishment took effect many years later, when Mordechai, (like Eisav) cried out in anguish, when he discovered Haman's fiendish plot. (The Oznayim la'Torah suggests that Ya'akov himself was punished when Elifaz took all his belongings and he arrived in Charan empty-handed, as a result of which he himself cried, as Rashi explains there).

The question arises why Ya'akov was punished for causing Eisav anguish, and not his father Yitzchak, who, the Torah relates, shook with fear when he first realized what Ya'akov had done. (According to the Medrash there, cited by Rashi, this problem is easily solved - since it was the realization as to who Eisav was that caused Yitzchak to tremble, and not Ya'akov's act). The answer, says the Ha'amek Davar, is that Ya'akov's act per se was a mitzvah, as we explained. The only problem lay with the personal pleasure that he presumably experienced at outwitting Eisav and depriving him of the B'rachos. Personal pleasure in performing a Mitzvah is acceptable, but when it comes to an Aveirah Lish'mah, which must be cut down to a bare minimum (as we explained) it is strictly forbidden (as is evident from the Sugya in Yevamos 103a). As far as Yitzchak was concerned, we can be certain that Ya'akov felt no pleasure at his pain. On the contrary, he surely shared in his suffering. But when it came to Eisav, it seems all but inevitable that a surge of pleasure welled up inside him at his victory. And that is why he was punished.


The G'ro connecting the two goats in the Parshah with the two goats on Yom Kipur, explains how in both cases, the one was to appease the Satan, whilst the other was to receive the B'rochos in our case, and to receive atonement for our sins, on Yom Kipur.


Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)
Straw and Fire

"va'Tahar Rifkah Ishto" ('and Rifkah his wife gave birth' - 25:21).

The numerical value of ''va'Tahar", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'kash ve'eish' (straw and fire). This is an obvious hint to the Pasuk in Ovadyah (1:18), which, with reference to Eisav's ultimate defeat at the hand of Ya'akov, describes Ya'akov as fire and Eisav as straw (see Rashi, Vayeitzei, 30:25).


As Red as Eisav

"Vayeitzei ha'Rishon admoni (and the first one came out red)" 25:25.

The word "admoni "occurs on only one other occasion - when the Pasuk describes David ha'Melech as "admoni im yefei einayim" (red with beautiful eyes - Shmuel [1] 16:12).

The Ba'al ha'Turim cites a Medrash that when Shmuel saw David, who was red like Eisav, he predicted that he would shed blood like Eisav. And indeed, David had the same potential as Eisav. Only, where Eisav chose to murder innocent victims who happened to cross his path, David opted to kill the enemies of Hashem.

Clearly then, a person's characteristics may well be predetermined. However, that is not what determines his level of righteousness. That is determined by what he does with them. People like Eisav allow their character-traits to mold them. Those like David mold their character-traits.


Interestingly, what distinguished between Eisav and David was the former's excessive body hair, and the latter's beautiful eyes. And these were indicative of what each one would do with his ruddy nature. Because on the one hand, our sages have taught that the root of tum'ah lies in the hair; whilst on the other, they have said that 'a kalah who has beautiful eyes needs no further examination'.


The Last of the Nations

"ve'Acharei-chein yatza achiv (and after that, his [Eisav's] brother emerged)" 25:26.

Th numerical value of "chein", points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, is seventy, as if to say, that Ya'akov emerged after seventy nations. Because Yisrael was indeed the last of the nations to be formed.

'Acharon acharon choviv!'


Named by his Zeide

"Vayikro sh'mo Ya'akov" (ibid.).

The numerical value of "Vayikra" is the same as that of 'Avraham', because that's who gave Ya'akov his name (see also Rashi).


That's Why G-d loved Him So

"Eikev asher shoma Avraham be'koli ..." (26:5).

This Pasuk contains ten words, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, a hint to the Ten Commandments, which contain 'Eikev' (a hundred and seventy-two) words. These in turn, correspond to the ten trials that Avraham endured, thereby upholding the world which was created with ten commands.


And it was for 'Eikev' years that he obeyed G-d's commands, since he was three when he first recognized his Creator, and he died at the age of 175.


The numerical value of "Eikev asher shoma Avraham" is the same as that of 'kiyem af Eiruvei Tavshilin' (he observed even the Mitzvah of Eiruv Tavshilin, even though it is only mi'de Rabbanan).


And a 'Hey' was added to his name, because it corresponds to the five things listed in this Pasuk " ... be'Koli, Mishmarti, Mitzvosai, Chukosai ve'Sorosai".


Having Fun

"Va'yar ve'Hinei Yitzchak metzachek es Rifkah ishto" - 'and Avimelech saw, and (he realized that) Yitzchak (was) having marital relations with Rifkah his wife.' 26:8.

The same word ("metzachek") is used describing Yishmael's maltreatment of Yitzchak (Vayeira 9:21, see also Rashi there). This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Yishmael would 'hunt' married women and commit adultery with them (just as his nephew Eisav would do later - see Rashi 27:34).


Personally Speaking

"One of the people almost lay with your wife ... " 26:10.

David ha'Melech too, used the same expression when he called out to Shaul "One of the people came to kill the king".

Both of these (Avimelech and David) were kings, and both spoke as if they were referring to a third party, when in fact, they were referring to themselves.


Well, Well, Well.

"And the shepherds of G'rar quarreled with the shepherds of Yitzchak saying the water belongs to us".

This happened three times, as the shepherds of Yitzchak dug three wells. The first well Yitzchak called 'Eisek, because "they quarreled with them". The second he called 'Sitnah' (hindrance), and the third, over which they did not quarrel, 'Rechovos', because, he said, G-d has granted us space and we will be fruitful in the land" (26:20-22).

The first well corresponds to Bavel, who robbed Yisrael ('ashak' which contains the same letters as 'Eisek') - see Koheles 4:1. The second, corresponds to Persia, since Haman wrote a Sitnah against Yerushalayim (hindering them in their efforts to rebuild it).

Whereas the third well corresponds to the Greeks, who issued a decree, forbidding women to Tovel in the rivers and public Mikva'os, in order to put a stop to the birth of Jewish children. G-d however, performed a miracle, and a Mikvah appeared in each and every Jewish house. This explains the phrase "and we will be fruitful in the land".

(See also the Ramban, who, in a similar way, connects the three wells to the three Batei Mikdash. Both explanations are based on the maxim 'the deeds of the Fathers portend what will happen to the children'.)

What happened to Edom (the fourth nation), you may well ask? See Ba'al ha'Turim later with regard to the well 'Shiv'ah' (Pasuk 33).


The Midas ha'Din

"I am the G-d of your father Avraham" (26:24).

In contrast to Avraham and Ya'akov, by whom G-d uses the expression "Hashem Elokim", He refers to Himself as "Elokei ... Avicha" (without adding "Hashem").

This is because Yitzchak (unlike his father and his son) suffered through the Midas ha'Din, without any Rachamaim. Bear in mind, that this was Yitzchak's Midah, and presumaably, this is the treatment he himself would have wanted.


The Amidah
(based largely on the Sidur "Otzar ha'Tefillos")
(Part XIII)
Atah Gibor ... Mechayeh Meisim Atah

The word 'Atoh' is repeated, says the Iyun Tefilah, to stress that it is G-d and G-d alone, who revives the dead. Indeed, Techiyas ha'Meisim is one of the keys that has not been handed to man (as we explained in part xii). Consequently, when we find that Eliyahu, Elisha, Yechezkel and others were instrumental in reviving the dead, we must realize that they could only cause it to take place, but that it was G-d who completed the process.

With respect to those cases, the Navi uses the past tense ('hechyah es ha'meis') because it was a once-off occurrence. It is only G-d who is described as 'Mechayeh haMeisim', the one who revives the dead (in the present tense), because it is He, and He alone, who revives the dead, who revives the dead, and who will revive the dead until the final Techiyas ha'Meisim.


Mashiv ha'Ru'ach u'Morid ha'Gashem

Not all winds bring rain, writes the Iyun Tefilah, and not all rain is fit to nurture trees and plants. So G-d sends the precise winds and rain that are needed to perform these tasks, hence the use of the two 'hey's in 'ha'ru'ach' and 'ha'gashem'.

The Medrash compares the rain to the revival of the dead - in connection with both, the Torah writes 'pesichah', 'yad' and 'shirah' (an additional reason to place 'Mashiv ha'Ru'ach' in the B'rachah of 'Techiyas ha'Meisim' (Iyun Tefillah).


Morid ha'Tal

In keeping with Minhag ha'Gra, Minhag Eretz Yisrael is to add 'Morid ha'Tal' in the summer, in place of 'Mashiv ha'Ru'ach ... ' that we recite in the winter. The connection between 'Tal' and 'Gevuros Geshamim' is hinted in the Pirkei de'Rebbi Eliezer, points out the Iyun Tefilah. The Pirkei de'Rebbi Eliezer describes how Yitzchak, before sending Eisav out to hunt him venison, told him that he had picked that day (the first day of Pesach) to bless him, because it was a day on which everyone recited Hallel, and G-d's storehouses of dew were open.

And it describes how Rifkah too told Ya'akov about the storehouses of dew ... . And when Ya'akov, having received the B'rachos from his father Yitzchak, left his father's presence, he was crowned like a Chasan and adorned like a Kalah. At that moment, dew of Techiyas ha'Meisim descended upon him, and he became a mighty warrior.


Atoh Gibor ...

G-d's strength is different than man's, the Iyun Tefilah explains. Man demonstrates his strength by killing those who are alive, but G-d demonstrates His, by reviving the dead.

And similarly, man is considered strong when he knocks down those who are standing, when he makes the healthy sick and when he binds the free; whereas G-d is considered strong when He 'supports the falling, heals the sick and frees the bound'. Man prides himself in his ability to do as he pleases, to keep his word to the living or to break it, because nobody can bind him to his word. G-d on the other hand, prides Himself in that he keeps His word, not only to the living, but to the dead as well.


Mechayeh Meisim be'Rachamim Rabim

As long as man is alive, Hashem 'sustains him with lovingkindness', or as we say in Birchas ha'Mazon, 'He sustains the living with grace, with lovingkindness and with mercy'. But for a dead man, who is unable to perform good deeds or even to Daven for mercy, that is not sufficient. He requires 'abundant mercy'. Just as we find in 'Yigdal' - G-d will revive the dead in His abundant mercy' (Iyun Tefilah).


u'Mekayem Emunoso li'Yesheinei Ofor

It is obvious that the same Neshamah that lived in this world, will exist in Olam ha'Ba. But as far as the body is concerned, considering that the body rots in the grave, one may well be led to believe that G-d will form a new body for the Neshamah when it comes back to life. But that is not what He will do. 'He will remain trustworthy to those who sleep in the dust'. A dead person, like a sleeping one, will arise with the same body as the one with which he went to lie down. Just as the Gemara in Pesachim (68a) extrapolates from the Pasuk "I will kill, and I will bring to life" and "I wound and I heal", because it is the same body which performs the Mitzvos in this world that will reap its reward in the World to Come (Iyun Tefilah).


Somech Noflim, ve'Rofei Cholim ...

Why, the commentaries ask, do we omit 'who clothes the naked' and 'who enables the blind to see' from this B'rachah (in the way that we insert them in Birchos ha'Shachar)?

The reason for the omission, explains the Iyun Tefilah, is because the Anshei K'nesses ha'Gedolah deliberately restricted the B'rachah to praises that are similar to 'Techiyas ha'Meisim'. Supporting the falling, healing the sick and loosening the bound of Yisrael are all comparable to reviving the dead, clothing the naked and making the blind see are not.


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