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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 25, v. 19 "V'eileh Toldos Yitzchok ben Avrohom" - Rashi comments that this refers to Yaakov and Eisov who are mentioned in this parsha. What is Rashi's intention? The Torah T'mimoh explains Rashi with a Medrash Rabboh that contrasts the spelling of the word TOLDOS as it appears in the verse "Eileh toldos shomayim vo'oretz" (2:4), where TOLDOS is spelled "mollei," with two letters Vov, contrasting it with "V'eileh TOLDOS Yishmoel" (25:12), where TOLDOS is spelled lacking both Vovs. The medrash explains that there was much satisfaction with the creation of both the heavens and the earth, hence TOLDOS is spelled in full. At the birth of Yishmoel there was no heavenly satisfaction, hence the letters Vov are missing.

The Torah T'mimoh points out that the word TOLDOS in our verse has the first Vov and is lacking the second Vov. The appearance of the first Vov indicates satisfaction with the birth of the tzadik Yitzchok, and the lack of the second Vov indicates dissatisfaction with the birth of the evil Eisov. The unique spelling of the word TOLDOS in our verse indicates to Rashi that this refers to Yaakov and Eisov who are mentioned in this parsha.

Perhaps this would explain why Rashi mentions Yaakov before Eisov, even though Eisov was born first. Since the word TOLDOS is spelled with the first Vov present and the second one missing, rather than the other way around, the word alludes to the birth of Yaakov before the birth of Eisov.

Ch. 25, v. 21: "Va'yei'osseir lo" - Rashi (gemara Y'vomos 64a) says that we deduce from the word "lo" that Hashem responded to Yitzchok and not to Rivkoh. The prayer of a tzadik ben tzadik is worthier than that of a tzadik ben rosho, therefore to him,LO, and not to her, V'LO LOH. Obvious difficulties:

Shouldn't Rivkoh be referred to as tzadeikes bas rosho, not tzadik ben rosho. What does Rashi add by repeating "therefore to him, LO, and not to her, V'LO LOH?"

The Imrei Binoh answers that the intention of the words, "The prayer of a tzadik ben tzadik is worthier than that of a tzadik ben rosho," explains why Yitzchok merited to have children through prayer alone, while Avrohom had to also leave his birthplace and country. The answer is that since Yitzchok was a tzadik ben tzadik, his prayers were more potent than those of Avrohom, a tzadik ben rosho, were. Rivkoh's prayers were also not sufficiently powerful to merit having children without first going through the travail of exile, since she was a tzadeikes bas rosho. This is the intention of Rashi in his final words, "therefore to him and not to her."

A question was posed to the Rosh. There were two people available for the position of a congregational prayer leader, "Baal T'filoh." One was a proper G-d fearing individual who was always religious and came from a family of religious people. The second candidate was a Baal Teshuvoh, who was as fully observant as the first candidate was. To whom shall the position be given? The Rosh in his responsa klal #4 wrote that the position should be given to the Baal Teshuvoh as a gesture of "kiruv r'chokim," befriending those who were once distanced from the Torah and are now close to it. Isn't this contrary to the gemara quoted in the above-mentioned Rashi? The Maharsha"l in his responsa answers by differentiating between a prayer leader for a congregation, who prays on behalf of the public, where the Rosh prefers a Baal Teshuvoh even if his parents aren't tzadikim, and a person who is praying for his personal needs, where the prayers of a tzadik ben tzadik are more potent.

We find that Avrohom prayed for a child with Soroh, and Yaakov for children with Rochel. Yet here by Yitzchok and Rivkoh we note much more effort in entreating Hashem for children. Why were powerful prayers necessary? Rabbi Yoseif Chaim Sonnenfeld related a story that took place with the Chasam Sofer. A member of the Chasam Sofer's community came to him with an urgent request. His wife was experiencing severe difficulties during the labour process, and there was a danger to her life. He urgently requested of the Chasam Sofer to pray to Hashem for a speedy and safe birth of a child. To the shock of the petitioner, the Chasam Sofer responded that he was unable to do anything.

The bewildered husband would not take "no" as an answer and demanded that the Chasam Sofer pray for the safety of his wife and the fetus. The Chasam Sofer explained his position. He said that he was Divinely advised that the child this woman was bearing would grow up to be a very holy and righteous man. However, the soul invested in him would be that of a tzadik who was still alive, although close to death. The Chasam Sofer was reluctant to pray for a speedy birth that would hasten the death of another.

It would seem that this concept is contrary to the gemara Sanhedrin 91b which relates that Antoninus told Rabbi Yehudoh the Nossi that a child receives its soul (n'shomoh) upon conception. Rabbi Yehudoh the Nossi agreed and even brought a proof to this from Iyov 10:12, "U'f'kudos'cho shomroh ruchi." Said Rabbi Yoseif Chaim Sonnenfeld that since Avrohom was supposed to live 180 years and also have a happy old age, the earlier Eisov would be born, the earlier he would rebel against the Torah. In turn, Avrohom would have to die earlier, so as not to have the aggravation of knowing that a grandson of his turned away from the Torah path. Indeed, Hashem waited until the last possible moment. Although Eisov desecrated the mitzvos of the Torah at the age of thirteen, only when he was 15 years old did he openly desecrate the Torah, as stated in the Talmud Yerushalmi. This brought about Avrohom's demise five years prematurely.

This is why it required great amounts of supplication from both Yitzchok and Rivkoh to have children. Adds Rabbi Y. C. Sonnenfeld that the numeric value of "Va'yei'osser lo Hashem" equals that of "cho'meish shonim," five years.

Ch. 25, v. 27: "Ish yo'dei'a tzayid" - Rashi explains that Eisov was a trapper with his sly mouth. He had his father believe that he was very righteous. He even asked, "How does one tithe salt and straw?"

The sefer Oroh V'simchoh explains that Eisov sent a profound, but incorrect symbolic message with his question. One tithes the actual fruits that are the actual foodstuffs, the essence of sustenance of living creatures. However, one does not tithe straw or salt. Albeit, they serve a purpose for food, being complimentary to food, nevertheless they are not the actual food itself. Perhaps both salt and straw were used in Eisov's question to indicate two forms of ancillary functions as objects that are used for food. Salt is used to spice food and is actually ingested, although never eaten on its own. Straw is never consumed by humans but is an indispensable component in the growth of food, serving as the stalk through which the minerals flow to develop the fruit.

Eisov wanted to show that the secondary materials are on an equal footing with the basic fruits. He was not one who dwelled in the tents of Torah, neither in its study or fulfillment. He was sending a message that through his activities which could be used to compliment the Torah, being a hunter who brought his own livelihood, he was an equal to the fruit itself, one who fulfills and toils in Torah. Of course, he made two mistakes, that pursuit of outside interests exclusively and not putting them to use for the advancement of Torah is a worthwhile endeavour, and that this supplementary approach is equal to actual first-hand Torah studying and complying with its tenets.

Ch. 25, v. 30: "Hali'teini noh min ho'odome ho'odome ha'zeh ki oyeif onochi" - The verse ends by saying that because of this incident of Eisov's asking Yaakov to pour red lentil soup down Eisov's throat, "al kein koro SHMO EDOME," he received the appellation "Edome," the red one. The Holy Admor of Ostrovtze points out that the numeric value of Eisov's request, "Hali'teini noh min ho'odome ho'odome ha'zeh ki oyeif onochi," 713, equals the numeric value of the hidden portion (For example, Shin is spelled Shin-Yud-Nun, and the hidden portion is the Yud-Nun.) of the letters of the words SHMO EDOME, Yud-Nun-Mem-ALEF-Vov-Lamed-Pei- Lamed-Yud-Tof-YUD-Vov-Mem. Please note that this calculation adds up only with a change of spelling of the letter Vov, once Vov-Alef-Vov and once Vov-Yud-Vov, as highlighted by the upper case spelling.

Ch. 26, v. 7: "Ki tovas ma'reh hi" - In last week's parsha when the Torah describes Rivkoh in 24:16 it says "tovas ma'reh m'ode," - she was exceedingly pretty. Why was the "m'ode" dropped from our verse? The Chizkuni answers that originally she was exceedingly pretty, but after the very difficult pregnancy and birth of twins she was still pretty, but not exceedingly so. Perhaps this question can be answered with the words of the Sforno on 24:16. He says that "tovas ma'reh m'ode" refers to a healthy ruddy complexion. Possibly, this was only so at that time, while she went out daily to draw water for the needs of her family and their animals. However, after her marriage and having children to bring up, she was homebound and lost this feature, not being exposed to the outdoors and an abundance of sunshine. Perhaps to forewarn the difficulty posed by the Chizkuni, the Sforno says his most novel interpretation.

Ch. 28, v. 9: "Mochalas bas Yishmoel" - The Talmud Yerushalmi Bikurim 3:3 says that we derive from the name Mochalas (m'chiloh) that a person is forgiven his/her sins when marrying. Is this a freebie? The M.R. 63:17 and the Medrash Breishis Zuta 36:3 both say that Eisov had pangs of regret for his wayward lifestyle and had thoughts of changing for the good at the time he married Mochalas.

Do not think that the doors of repentance were closed to Eisov. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh on 27:1, when explaining the rationale of Yitzchok's wanting to bless Eisov over Yaakov says that had Yitzchok blessed Eisov it might have helped bring him around to repent from his evil ways.


Ch. 24, v. 19: "Vatchal l'hashkoso vatomer gam ligma'lecho eshov" - Why did Rivkoh give Eliezer water to drink before giving the camels? Isn't there a rule that one must feed animals before feeding humans?

1) When someone else feeds you it is permitted. (Admor miGur)

2) Since he was travelling there was a possibility that he was dehydrated, so she offered him first.

3) Drinking does not have the same rule as eating. (Sefer Chasidim #531, see Mogein Avrohom on O.Ch. 167:18)

4) The M.R. Breishis 33:1 says that we derive from the verse "Odom u'b'heimoh toshia Hashem" (T'hilim 36:7), that in the merit of animals people have sustenance. Therefore animals should be fed first. Since Rivkoh had the water miraculously rise from the well this was surely in her merit. She could therefore offer it to a person first. (P'ninim Y'korim)

5) When a person is suffering discomfort for lack of food or drink, he may eat and drink first. (Torah T'mimoh 24:14:18, based on Ram"oh Evven Ho'ezer 5:14; also Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh d.h. "vatchal")

6) When one fulfills the mitzvoh of receiving guests he may give priority to people.

7) The rule only applies to food which is uniquely for animals. Note that the verse from which we derive that animals are served first mentions giving grass of the field to your animals. Water is for human consumption as well. (Rav Tuvcho)

8) The rule does not apply when the food is gotten in a miraculous manner. This might explain why in Bmidbar 20:8 the Torah says that water would come forth from the wellspring of Miriam and "You will give to drink for the congregation and their cattle," the congregation being mentioned first.

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