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

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Vol. 19   No. 6

This issue is sponsored
with wishes for a Refu'ah Sheleimah for
הרב יעקב בן אסתר שליט"א
הרב יוסף דוב בן פריידה שליט"א
חנה פריידה בת פייגא זלדה נ"י

Parshas Toldos
& Vayeitzei

Why the Delicacies?
(Translated from the Seforno)

To answer the popular question as to why Yitzchak needed delicacies in order to bless Eisav, the Seforno explains that it was to give Eisav the Mitzvah of Kibud Av. Yitzchak may well not have been aware of the extent of Eisav's wickedness, he says; but he did realize that he was no Tzadik, and that he was not worthy of the blessing of the Bechorah without doing something special to earn it.

Ya'akov, on the other hand, he knew was a Tzadik. That is why, when he later blessed him he did so outright without making any demands of him, as he had done of Eisav.

The proof of Yitzchak's overestimation of Eisav's true character (even taking into account the Seforno's explanation), lies in the latter's reaction to his father's instructions. Yitzchak warned Eisav to take care to bring him venison that was not stolen. This, the K'li Yakar explains, was because he intended to bring the venison that he brought him as a Korban, and the Navi Yeshayah (61:8) describes G-d as One who "hates a burnt-offering that is stolen". Yet Eisav, in total disregard of his father's warning, set off to find venison, stolen, if need be (see Rashi 27:5). Indeed, the K'li Yakar explains, it was the knowledge of Eisav's intentions, which were revealed to Rivkah, that prompted her to send Ya'akov in to Yitzchak with two Kosher goats that were not tainted by theft (Ibid. Pasuk 9) to enable him to bring a Korban that would find favour in the eyes of G-d.


Another Tack
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Yitzchak's request from Eisav for venison was not based on a desire for a tasty dish, says R. Bachye. Yitzchak was about to bless his son Eisav, and he wanted that B'rachah to emanate from Ru'ach ha'Kodesh. But a prerequisite to Ru'ach ha'Kodesh is Simchah as the Gemara says in Shabbos (30b) 'The Shechinah will only rest on someone who is happy!'. The learns this from an episode in Melachim 2, (3:15), where the Navi Elisha, angry with the idolatrous king Yehoram the son of Achav, ordered a minstrel to play music before him to bring him to a state of Simchah before issuing a prophecy.

The reason that Yitzchak chose venison for this purpose rather than music, as Elisha did, the author adds, was because he was about to convey upon Eisav a spate of material blessings ('from the dew of the heaven and the fat of the land …'). Consequently, he chose a material means to achieve a material end. The idea of the means suiting the end, R. Bachye explains, we find in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (16a), which, citing G-d Himself, declares: 'Pour before Me water on Succos, so that your annual rain shall be blessed; Bring before Me the Omer on Pesach and the two loaves on Shavu'os, so that your crops and fruit of the trees (respectively) shall be blessed.'

One should not for one moment think, R. Bachye adds, that rain, crops and fruit are the ultimate reward for the three above-mentioned Mitzvos. For, as the Gemara says in Kidushin (39b) 'The reward for Mitzvos is not in this world, but in the World to Come.' They are merely the 'fruit'; the principle reward (the tree) is reserved for the World to Come. And the same concept is borne out by Chazal, who say that 'Whoever is careful to observe the Mitzvah of … Tzitzis, will merit a nice garment; … Mezuzah, will merit a nice house … Kidush on Shabbos, will merit to fill many barrels of wine'. There too he concludes, these do not constitute the basic reward. They are merely the 'fruit'.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

Who served whom?

"ve'Rav ya'vod tzo'ir" (25:23).

Rabenu Tam translates this as 'and the younger one (Ya'akov) will be subservient for a long time'.

According to the Riva however, it means that "the older one will serve the younger one'.

Indeed, he explains, this prediction came true - slaves and maidservants constantly serve us, but we never find a Yisrael serving a gentile.

And he points out that Targum Unklus bears out this explanation.

Note, however, that Medrash Eichah tells many stories concerning the era following the destruction of the second Beis-ha'Mikdash, about the wisdom of Jewish slaves serving their Roman masters.


Only Those Who Saw

"And they called his name 'Eisav' … (25:25/26).

See Rashi.

Everyone spontaneously called the older son 'Eisav', because he was born full of hair like a fully-grown man - something that was plain for everyone to see. Ya'akov, on the other hand, was named because he was holding on to Eisav's heel at birth - something which only the women who attended Rivkah during the birth would have seen.


Mules! Which Mules?

"And the man (Yitzchak) became greater and greater …" (26:13).

So successful was Yitzchak in his business ventures, Rashi explains, that the people were saying 'Better the dung of Yitzchak's mules than the silver and gold of Avimelech!'

But how can that be, asks the Chizkuni, when in Parshas Vayishlach (which occurred later) Rashi himself states that Anah discovered mules by crossbreeding a horse and a donkey?

He answers that Anah may have discovered how to produce mules, but that does not mean that horses and donkeys had not been reproducing mules on their own long before that.

And he proves this explanation from the word 'motzo (discovered), implying that he discovered something that was already there beforehand.

* * *


"You are now blessed by Hashem (b'ruch Hashem)" 26:29.

This was said by Avimelech to Yitzchak.

The words "b'ruch Hashem" were also said by Lavan and Besu'el when they greeted Eliezer (in last week's Parshah [24:31]), when they said "Welcome, the one who is blessed by Hashem!"

This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that, just as Lavan and Besu'el planned to kill Eliezer (see Ba'al ha'Turim there, Pasuk 33), so too, did Avimelech plan to kill Yitzchak. Proof for this lies in the words (in this same Pasuk) "… just as we did not lay a hand on you" - implying that he had meant to lay a hand on him.


"And his eyes became dim (vatichhenah einav)"27:1.

The Ba'al ha'Turim points to the Pasuk in Parshas Shoftim (16:19) "for bribery blinds the eyes of the righteous"- and Yitzchak had received bribery from the hand of Eisav (who would reguularly bring him venison that he had hunted). Moreover, he points out, the Gematriyah of "vatichhenah einav" is equivalent to that of 'be'ashan ha'tz'lamim' (from the smoke of the images' (See Rashi).


"… and go out to the field (ve'tzei ha'Sadeh)" 27:3.

The same word "ve'tzei" also appears at the end of Parshas Beshalach - "ve'tzei hilachem ba'Amalek (and go and fight Amalek).

This conforms to the Medrash, which explains that all four nations connected with the Galus of K'lal Yisrael are hinted in this Pasuk:

"keleicho"- Bavel (where the vessels of the Beis-ha'Mikdash were taken).

"kely'cho"- Madai (where Haman was hanged).

"kasht'cho"- Yavan (Greece, which the Medrash compares to a bow - the Mazel of the month of Kislev).

"ha'sodeh"- Edom (alias Eisav, whom the Torah describes as "a man of the field").

The B'rachos that he was about to receive from his father Yitzchak would fortify Ya'akov. It was just what he needed to survive the four exiles and to emerge victorious.


… " and hunt for me venison (Tzayid)" (Ibid).

The word "Tzayid" is a K'ri K'siv, which is spelt with an extra 'Hey'.

This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, at -

a. The five things that invalidate Shechitah - Shehiyah (pausing), D'rasah (pressing the knife downwards), Chaladah (covering the knife), Hagramah (Shechting outside the Shechitah area), & Ikur (tearing out the Simanim).

b. The five signs of a Kasher bird - It does not hold its prey down whilst eating it, it has an extra claw, it possesses a crop (where it stores its food), its maw can easily be peeled, and it does not divide its claws when standing on a rope. c. The five signs of a Kasher Chayah -its hooves are completely split, it chews its cud, it does not have upper-teeth, it has horns, and the skin of its rump runs criss-cross.

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