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

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 17   No. 6

This issue is sponsored
with wishes for a Refu'ah Sh'leimah for
R' Yaakov ben Esther Michla n"y
Malka bas Faiga Zelda n"y

Parshas Toldos

Rebbi and Antoninus
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

"And G-d said to her 'You are carrying two nations (proud ones - see Rashi) in your womb' " (25:23).

The two nations were, of course Yisrael and Edom (Rome), and the two proud ones (aristocrats) Rebbi and Antoninus, Emperor of Rome, as Rashi explains.


R. Bachye, based on the Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (10b), cites the remarkable story describing their beautiful relationship, in particular, the awe in which Antoninus held Rebbi


There was an underground cave via which the emperor would walk daily from his palace to Rebbi's house, accompanied by two slaves. One of these he would kill at the exit of his palace, the other, at the entrance to Rebbi's house (to prevent them no doubt, from divulging the Emperor's close relationship with Rebbi).

Antoninus made it clear to Rebbi that whenever he was visiting him, there was to be nobody else present. Consequently, he was somewhat annoyed when he once arrived to find R. Chanina bar Chama (Rebbi's Talmid and successor) in attendance. In answer to Antoninus' query, Rebbi replied that this was not a regular human-being (but more like an angel). And as proof, he accepted Antoninus' challenge to send R. Chanina to fetch the man who was standing just outside Rebbi's door.

Finding the man lying dead, R. Chanina was in a quandary, as, on the one hand, (not aware that the Emperor had killed him), he did not wish to be the conveyer of bad news; whilst on the other, to leave without doing anything would be a slight against the Emperor. To solve the problem, he brought the slave back to life and sent him to the Antoninus.

'I know' said Antoninus, 'that even the smallest among you is capable of bring the dead back to life. Nevertheless, when I come to visit you I do not want to find anybody else here!'


When Rebbi wished to retire, Antoninus would bend down in front of the bed, so that Rebbi could climb into bed via his back. Rebbi once pointed out that this was degrading for the dignity of a king, but he replied 'I wish that I could be your mat in the World to Come!', adding thoughtfully 'Will I merit a portion in the World to Come'? When Rebbi replied in the affirmative, Antoninus cited the Pasuk in Ovadyah "And there will not remain a remnant from the house of Eisav!"; to which Rebbi replied that this pertained exclusively to those who behave like Eisav.

Antoninus however, was not satisfied; 'But does the Navi not continue', he pressed Rebbi, "There (in Gehinom) will be his (Edom's) kings and his dignitaries!" '?

Back came Rebbi's reply 'Some of his kings, but not all his kings; Some of his dignitaries, but not all his dignitaries'. 'Some of his kings, but not all his kings' - to preclude Antoninus the son of Asorus; 'Some of his dignitaries but not all his dignitaries' - to preclude Keti'ah the son of Shalom!

Who was Keti'ah the son of Shalom?


Keti'ah the Son of Shalom

The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (Ibid.) relates how the Emperor of Rome once asked what one does with a growth on one's foot (K'lal Yisrael, whom the Romans considered a pain). All his advisors agreed with him that it is best to remove it and to be rid of it once and for all; all that is, except for Keti'ah bar Shalom, who claimed that due to Yisrael's importance (which he compared to the winds, without which the world cannot exist), it is impossible to destroy them completely. And besides, he argued, the Emperor would be accused of causing large areas of his kingdom to become suddenly deserted. The Emperor conceded that he was right, but invoked a law whereby anybody who outsmarts the Emperor is sentenced to be thrown into a house full of dust.


As Keti'ah bar Shalom was being led to his death, a certain aristocratic woman, with reference to the fact that he had not performed the B'ris Milah, declared what a shame it was for 'a pot to be left without a lid'. Keti'ah bar Shalom promptly fell on the tip of his Milah, circumcising himself by cutting off the Orlah. As he was being put to death, a Heavenly Voice was heard to announce 'Keti'ah bar Shalom is ready to enter Olam ha'Bo!'.

'Here Rebbi wept - and declared "There are people who acquire their portion in the World to Come in a moment, whilst others acquire it only after many years!" '

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

David & Kil'av

"And these are the generations of Yitzchak the son of Avraham, Avraham bore Yitzchak" (25:19).

The Torah sees fit to insert "Avraham bore Yitzchak" to counter the 'Letzanei ha'dor' (the mockers of that generation), who claimed that Yitzchak must have been the son of Avimelech (see Rashi). So G-d created Yitzchak in the splitting image of his father, so that everybody had to admit that Avraham was his father (Rashi).


And this is exactly what happened with regard to David and his son Kil'av, says R. Bachye, citing a Medrash.

When Naval ha'Karmeli died, David sent for his widow, Avigayil to take her as a wife. However, he first waited the three months required by Halachah (to ascertain whether or not, she was pregnant) before actually marrying her. This did not however, deter the 'Letzanei ha'dor' from claiming that the father of the baby to which Avigayil subsequently gave birth was Naval.

There too, G-d formed Kil'av so much like David that nobody could deny that they were father and son. Indeed, 'Kil'av' is the acronym of 'Kulo Av'(entirely like his father).


Incidentally, the Gemara in Bava Basra (17a) lists Kil'av as one of the four Tzadikim who never sinned (Binyamin the son of Ya'akov, Amram, Moshe's father, Yishai, David's father and Kil'av, his son).


Why the Imahos were Barren

"And Yitzchak Davened opposite his wife, because she was barren" (25:21).

R. Bachye suggests reasons as to why each of the Imahos (except for Le'ah) was barren: Sarah, he says, was barren, firstly, so that Avraham should marry Hagar and subsequently father Yishmael, as the Torah specifically writes in Vayeira (16:2); and secondly, in order to induce Avraham to change her name (from Sarai to Sarah, so that the 'Yud' in her name was now split into two - one was added to her name, the other, to the name of Avram). This in turn, was necessary, to teach us that just as G-d created the world with the 'Hey' of His Holy Name (see Rashi Bereishis 2:4), so too, was He able to change the power of the Mazel (which runs the world) with a'Hey'. In other words, G-d created, and He continues to dominate His creations, to manipulate them as He sees fit. There is none beside Him!


Rivkah too, was barren for twenty years, from the time that Yitzchak was forty until he bore Ya'akov and Eisav at the age of sixty. This was in keeping with G-d's promise to the latter in Lech-L'cha (15:15) "and you will come to your fathers in peace" (see Rashi there), as a result of which Yishmael did Teshuvah in Avraham's lifetime, and Eisav did not leave the fold until the day that Avraham died.

As for Rachel, the author explains, she was barren to enable Bilhah and Zilpah to give birth to Dan and Naftali, Gad and Asher, respectively.


These reasons are over and above the reason given by Chazal (with which the author opened his commentary on this Pasuk) - to prompt the Avos to Daven, because 'G-d longingly waits for the Tefilos of Tzadikim'.

And it seems to me that, it is in view of this reason that Le'ah was not barren, or more accurately, she was cured from her barrenness. The Torah writes in Vayeitzei - "And G-d saw that Le'ah was barren, and He opened her womb". This implies that, like her sister Rachel, Le'ah was barren up to that point. Only, seeing as the reason for the Imahos' barrenness was to induce the Avos to Daven, there was no point in keeping her barren, since Ya'akov hated her, and was unlikely to Daven on her behalf. So G-d cured her, and she became pregnant. Not only that, but this in turn, would have the reverse effect of developing the love of Ya'akov that was hitherto missing in their marriage.

* * *


" when he took Rivkah the sister of Lavan ha'Arami .. " (25:20).

The letters of "ho'Arami" spell "ha'Ramai" (the swindler), says the Ba'al ha'Turim. One needs only to glance at Parshas Vayeitzei to understand why.


" You are carrying two nations (goyim) in your womb " (25:23).

The word "goyim" is written with two 'Yudim'. To read 'ge'im' (see Rashi).

The Ba'al ha'Turim, pointing at the extra 'Yud', explains that this hints at the ten nations that, led by the Romans, destroyed the second Beis-Hamikdash, as recorded in Tehilim (83:7-9).

Alternatively, he points out, the Gematriyah of "ge'im' is sixty-three. Ya'akov was sixty-three years old when he was blessed, whereas sixty-three nations, led by the Romans, were involved in its destruction (as seven of the seventy nations had become extinct).

And this is further hinted in the Pasuk in Tehilim (53:4) "Everyone is dross (ha'kol sog) together they have gone astray, there is no doer of good, not even one", he says. The Gematriyah of "Sog", he explains, is sixty-three.

The Ba'al ha'Turim finally adds that the Gematriyah of "sh'nei ge'im" is equivalent to that of 'Rebbi Yehudah ve'Antoninus' (see Rashi).


"And her days of pregnancy were completed and behold there were twins (te'omim) in her womb" (25:23).

The word "te'omim" is written "tomim", missing the letters 'Yud' 'Alef', observes the Ba'al ha'Turim. This represents the eleven additional tribes to which Rivkah was destined to give birth, as the Medrash explains.

He is referring to the Medrash that relates how Eisav struck his mother's womb as he emerged, causing her to become barren (once more) so that she could not have any more children. No doubt he did this, to prevent any additional children from inheriting some of his father's wealth, that he coveted for himself.


"And the first one emerged ruddy (Admoni) " (25:25).

The same word appears in Shmuel (16:12), where the Pasuk describes David as "Admoni".

When Shmuel first saw him, the Ba'al ha'Turim tells us, he declared that David was destined to become a murderer, like Eisav. He did not realize, it seems, that the Pasuk there adds the words "yefei einayim". Bearing in mind that the word 'einayim' often refers to the Sanhedrin, the Pasuk is telling us, that yes indeed, David did have a tendency to kill, but that he would never kill without consulting the Sanhedrin - because he only killed Yisrael's enemies, and it was customary for the King of Yisrael to consult with the Sanhedrin before going to war.

Indeed, knowing of this tendency as we do, it is truly amazing how David ha'Melech restrained himself on so many occasions, from putting it into practice (such as when he refused to kill Shaul ha'Melech, who tried to kill him time and time again, and Shim'i ben Geiroh who heaped curses on him).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 427:
Not to Intermarry

It is forbidden to intermarry with non-Jews. The Rambam z.l. writes that this applies both to the seven nations and to other nations, as the Torah writes in Va'eschanan (7:3) "And do not intermarry with them". This incorporates giving one's daughters to their sons or one's sons to their daughters, as the Pasuk writes there "Do not give your daughter to his son, and do not take his daughter for your son", and how much more so may one not oneself intermarry with them, which is obviously included in the Isur The Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (34b) explains that the La'av pertains specifically to marriage. And although the Pasuk itself (of "ve'lo sischaten bom") refers to the seven nations - after they have converted, as the Gemara specifically states, 'Once they have converted, marriage is applicable, but not as long as they are still gentiles'. Nevertheless, by virtue of the Torah's repeating "Do not give your daughter to his son, and do not take his daughter for your son", it comes to include other nations - before they have converted; whereas the seven nations remain forbidden even after having converted, as we just explained. The above Isur is confined to designating one of the above women as a wife; Discreet intimacy with a gentile woman per se 'like a man is intimate with his wife, is only an Isur de'Rabbanan, known as 'Nashgaz' (the acronym of 'Nidah, Shifchah, Goyah, Zonah' ), all of which someone who has relations with a gentile woman, transgresses (mi'de'Rabbanan).

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah The Gemara in Sanhedrin (81a) says that if someone is intimate with a gentile woman in public (i.e in the presence of at least ten Jewish people, whoever is zealous (for the honour of G-d)is permitted to kill him. Proof for this lies in the episode of Pinchas and Zimri. It is only permitted to perform this act of zealousy however, whilst the sin is actually being perpetrated, like it was in the actual story, as the Pasuk testifies "and the woman to her stomach" (Balak 25:8). But once they have separated, it is forbidden to kill the adulterer, only to take him to Beis-Din, where he will receive Malkos, for having done what he did in public. In the event that neither did a zealous person kill him, nor did he receive Malkos at the hand of Beis-Din, he is subject to Kareis by a decree of the Nevi'im, as the Pasuk in Mal'achi writes "And if somebody is intimate with the daughter of a foreign god , G-d will cut off the man who does this" a gentile man who has relations with a Jewish woman is Chayav Miysah provided she is married, but not if she is single. However, if a Jewish man has relations with a gentile woman be'Meizid in the form of an immoral act (and not via marriage), the woman is sentenced to death, since a Takalah (a sin) came about through her (like the Din of an animal). In fact, this Din is clearly stated in the Torah itself, which writes in Matos (31:16/17, in connection with the Midianite women) "Behold it was they who caused the B'nei Yisrael to commit a betrayal against G-d and every woman (among them) who is fit to have relations with a man you shall put to death" and all other details of this Mitzvah are discussed in Avodah-Zarah, Sanhedrin and Yevamos (and in the Rambam, in the second Perek of Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah).

A reason for the Mitzvah Because the majority of people, stupid as it may be, follow the advice of their wives.

Consequently, somebody who marries a gentile idolatress will be drawn after her to worship idols. Moreover, she will train the children that she has from him to serve idols too. And woe to the person who disqualifies his own children.

This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times to men and women alike. Somebody who contravenes this Mitzvah and marries a member of the seven nations after they have converted (i.e. he/she designates a spouse from among them and is intimate with him/her, is subject to Malkos. And someone who designates a woman from among them for his son or who hands over his daughter to one of their men, has transgressed a La'av, though he will not receive Malkos, since he did not perform an act; the son or the daughter, who actually perform the sinful act, will. Regarding other nations, or even the seven nations who have not converted, there where the sinner designates the woman on a permanent basis, he receives Malkos min ha'Torah for the first time he is intimate with her, and she is sentenced to death. In the event that he did not designate her however, but is intimate with her just the one time, he is subject to Malkos mi'de'Rabbanan (Makas Mardus).


Mitzvah 428:
Not to Derive Benefit from Avodah-Zarah & Things that Serve It

We are forbidden to benefit from what the idols are overlaid with Avodah-Zarah. Even there where the idol itself is not forbidden , such as someone who bows down to something that is not man-made, such as a mountain , an animal or a tree, what it is overlaid with is forbidden to benefit from. This is because it is included in 'Meshamshei Avodah-Zarah' (things that serves Avodah-Zarah), which are forbidden . It is in this regard that the Torah writes in Eikev (7:25) "Do not covet the silver and gold that cover them and take them for yourself. And even though the Torah writes elsewhere (Re'ei 13:13) "And none of the ban shall cleave to your hands" , a general La'av against benefiting from idolatry, it adds a specific La'av with regard to the overlay of Avodah-Zarah, since there are fools who set their sights on it.

A reason for the Mitzvah To distance oneself from idolatry and all that is connected with it.

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel