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Parashat Toldot


Let us not forget. Let us always have this in our minds: We are still in exile, although redemption is very near. We are in the period of "Ikveta Dimshicha". Our Sages said that in this period those who want to make life hard for the Jews - especially for G-d fearing and Torah observant Jews - will prevail. Keepers of the tradition will find themselves exposed and without protection against these elements.

But is it really so? Let us look in our Parshah! Isaac, our father, speaks to his elder son asking him to take his bow and arrow, go out to the wild countryside and hunt for him. Rabbi Haim Vital asked: "Why did he send Esau to hunt with such light weapons? He was going to the habitat of lions, bears and leopards. Indeed we know that Esau inherited from Nimrod the clothing of the first man, so that all animals would submit to him. Why did Yisshak refrain from telling Esau to take them?

He gives a beautiful answer. Yisshak our patriarch said to his son that when he goes out to hunt for the sake of doing a Missvah, he does not need the complete protection of the clothing of the first man. "Mitssvah messengers are not hurt! You will enjoy Divine assistance so that you will not be harmed or hurt!

We say the same to the messengers of the public who on all fronts represent the true Judaism. You are emissaries of Missvah! Be strong and courageous. Strengthen education in the way of our Forefathers, make great the name of Torah, and there is no doubt that the Shechinah will dwell in the work of your hands!

Essay of the Week:

When we see twin brothers and ask how old they are and which of them is the elder, they answer that they are the same age. They are twins. But one was born fifteen minutes before the other. Perhaps fifteen minutes is not a significant amount of time, and that is the case regarding children who are a year or two in age. Certainly it is true for a ten- year-old or twenty-year-old. As the years pass, the fifteen minutes' difference in the time of birth becomes less and less significant. This is the way things seem. However, in our Parshah, we see the opposite. It says that Rivkah took the garments of Esau her elder son and dressed Jacob her younger son in them. (27; 15). Later, that distinction between the "elder son" and the "younger son" is repeated, when she warns Jacob that Esau intends to kill him and he must flee. At that time Jacob and Esau are sixty-three years old (Rashi 28; 9)! Jacob and Esau were born a few minutes apart! Why does Rivkah see Esau as "big" and Jacob as "little"? The simple answer is that we have no conception of what fifteen minutes of life really is!!!

Rabbi Akiva was a shepherd for the first forty years of his life. Under the influence of his wife Rachel, he went to learn Torah. He rose as quickly as a meteor, and only twelve years later after learning all the time day and night, he returned to his house. When he arrived, he heard an evil man saying to his wife: "Your father was right when he objected to your marriage with that shepherd. He deserted you like a widow all these years"! Rabbia Akiva heard his wife answer: "If he would ask me, I would gladly let him stay to learn for another twelve years"! He heard this, and immediately returned for twelve more years of study. When these additional years were over, he came home accompanied by twenty-four thousand disciples. His wife had become the wife of the greatest man in his generation and received honor and adoration from her husband, who told his students: "Mine and yours are hers" (Nedarim 50).

This question needs to be asked: "After the first twelve years, when he heard that his wife was willing for him to go back and learn, why did he leave without seeing her? Why did he not go into the house for at least five minutes to say "Hello"?

The answer is that he knew the value of five minutes! He wouldn't have become the great Tanna Rabbi Akiva if he had not known the value of five minutes! This is true not only for five minutes but even for a fraction of a minute! The Gemara tells us that in the Yeshivah of Rabban Gamliel they did not say "Assuta" to someone who sneezed, because it would cause a pause in the learning of Torah. A pause of one second (See Berachot 53)! Do you think that it is a law only for the Ssadikim? No. The Rambam rules like this Gemara (T"T 4; 9) and the Shulhan Aruch also (Y"D 246: 17)

Do you want know what how much we should worry about wasting even a minute? See the words of Tosafot (Berachot 37 D"h ) who wrote that if we soak bread crumbs in water until the water becomes white, we say "Bore minei mezonot" on them and not "Hamossi", because they have lost the form of bread. You can imagine what a "delicious" taste those crumbs had! Nevertheless, Tosafot add that Rabbi David of Metz would put crumbs in water at night in order to eat from them during the day without needing to say Hamossi and without Birkat Hamazon, so that he would not be late but so that he would not feel faint, in order to give the lesson in Halachah. In effect, he was willing to do without food completely, but food strengthens man and allows him to be strong in his learning. Therefore he chose the lesser evil

What is the difference between "Birkat Hamazon" and "Al Hamihyah"? 2-3 minutes. And that is exactly the issue. It is a pity to waste those 2-3 minutes. Therefore, Rabbi David of Metz was willing to eat the unappetising paste in order to gain - life!

Note, however, that Tosafot say that he also saved having to say "Hamossi" and not only "Birkat Hamazon". What is behind this, if he in any case has to say "Bore minei mezonot"? If you count the words, there are ten words in "Hamossi" and nine words in Birkat Mezonot. This is the correct outlook on the importance of life!

The greatest people in Jewish history used every minute that they lived on earth. What do we have to show for ourselves? Can we show even one hour used to the maximum? Can we say we were totally committed to one Torah class a day?!

This applies not only to use of time in quantity, but also in quality. When we learn, we should learn in depth and that way we will use the time in quality as well.

The Golden Age: The Gaon and Ssadik Rabbi Rafael Dabush, zassal:

The Gaon, Rabbi Raphael Dabush, zassal, was the head of the Beit haDin in Tripoli, Libya, one hundred and ten years ago.

We read in the Parshah (the portion of the week) about the holiness and success of Isaac our forefather that caused Avimelech, King of the Philistines, to send him out of his land. He said to him: "Go from us". This is what gentiles have been saying to Jews for three thousand years.

Once, Rabbi Raphael was walking along the street of the Jews in Tripoli and came across a violent gentile, who was close to the authorities. This gentile decided to make trouble for the Rabbi of the Jews, and stopped him, asking: "Who are you"? The Gaon, who was modest and humble, answered as usual with the words of Abraham our father: "I am dirt and ashes". The gentile did not expect such a response and said: "go away" and made a motion with his hand indicating that he wanted him to go. The Rabbi continued on his way, and the gentile fell sick with a terrible disease. His body swelled with water, his flesh turned coarse, and none of the doctors could find a cure for him. He was wavering between life and death, gasping for every breath.

One of the priests of his religion came and asked him if he had done anything bad in his life. The man could not remember ever doing anything bad! He asked again: "Perhaps you hurt someone holy recently"? The gentile thought and remembered: "Once I was walking along the street of the Jews. I met the Jews' Rabbi and asked him who he was. He replied: dirt and ashes. So I said to him, go away." The Kadi said: "I have discovered the reason for your illness. If you want to get better you must quickly go and ask forgiveness from the Rabbi." The gentile went and sent his children to the Rabbi, bearing presents. The Rabbi refused to accept their presents but heard their plea that he forgive their father. He stood, put his hand on his eyes and prayed to Hashem. Then he opened them and said simply "Go home".

They went home, and the gentile had risen from his deathbed and was better. He and his household went to the house of the Ssadik to thank him and to ask forgiveness in person for humiliating him. This incident was a sign and sanctity of Hashem's name amongst the nations!

From the Wellsprings of the Parashah

: "The voice is the voice of Jacob and the hands are the hands of Eisav" - Hakol kol Yaakov, vehayadayim yedei Eisav".

1) As the Medrash says: Bilaam, son of Beor, was the greatest wise man in the world. When the Jews left Egypt, all the wise gentiles gathered around him. They said to him: "Do you believe we can't conquer the Jewish nation"? He said: "Go and check out their prayer houses and houses of learning. If you find young children chanting the Torah, then you can't attack them. This is what their forefather promised them. When the voice is that of Jacob then the hands of Esau can't hurt them. But if you don't hear them, you can conquer them." The commentators explained that "Hakol kol Yaacov" comes from the Hebrew word "kal" which means light weight. When the voice of Jacob is light and soft and cannot be heard clearly, then the hands of Esau can hurt them. The solution for this is to strengthen the voice of the Torah.

2) The Medrash further says: Jacob's power is greater than that of Esau's. Esau is powerful but he can hurt you only if you are in his hands. If you run away, you are free of him. But Jacob, even if you run away from him, he goes into his synagogue and prays, and you fall.

3) In the book "Ohev Yisrael", Jacob was afraid that Yitzhak would identify him because he was not a hairy man. Therefore he had his mother put the goatskin on him. Why was he not afraid that his father would recognize his voice? He answered, since Jacob was a man of truth, that he was not afraid and mentioned Hashem to Isaac as was always his style. If so, why didn't Isaac identify him? Rather, Esau was afraid that Jacob would come and steal the blessings from him. He agreed with Yitzhak that when Jacob came, he would imitate Jacob's voice. He understood that if Jacob would try to represent him he would use Esau's voice. He underestimated Jacob. Yitzhak found that everything was as he had made up with Esau - the voice is the voice of Esau and the hands of Jacob so he blessed Jacob!


based on the rulings of the Light of Israel, our Master the First of Zion, Harav Ovadiah Yosef.

Harav Hagaon Harav David Yosef

This column will be continued in our next issue.

Halachah Class from the Rishon Lession Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef: Laws of Havdalah:
A) Just like there is a Missvah in the Torah to sanctify the Sabbath with words at its start, so is there a Missvah to do so when the Sabbath ends. Thus we learn that the Missvah to say Havdalah originates in the Torah and is not of Rabbinic origin. Our Sages said (Pesahim 113a): Rabbi Yohanan said, there are three kinds of people will inherit the world to come, namely: he who lives in the Land of Israel, he who raises his sons to the study of Torah, and he who makes Havdalah on the cup after the Sabbath ends. We are fortunate to live in the Land of Israel, to raise our children to study Torah, now all we need is to say Havdalah on Mossaei Shabbat. It is a Missvah that is easy and costs little money and through it we can attain the world to come!

B) Our Sages amended this so that we should say "Ata Honantanu" in the prayer, and make Havdalah on a cup of wine. Havdalah includes four benedictions, and their acronym is Yavneh - yayin (wine), besamim (the sweet aroma of scent), ner (a candle), Havdalah. The order is ascending. First the mouth enjoys the wine, then the nose enjoys the scent, then the eyes see the fire, and finally the brain comprehends the difference between holy and profane. Our Sages said (Shvuot 18b) He who makes Havdalah on wine on Mossaei Shabbat has sons who are capable of ruling on Halachic matters, as it says "To separate between holy and profane" and after that: "to teach the people of Israel" see there. Certainly if he himself is a Talmid Hacham, by saying Havdalah on Mossaei Shabbat he will merit that he will be able to conclude his learning according to Halachah and teach the Jewish people what they should do. Therefore, everyone should be careful to make Havdalah the way it should be made on Mossaei Shabbat, and this includes saying "Ata Honantanu" during the Arvit (evening) prayer of Mossaei Shabbat.

C) Women are also obligated to make the blessing on the fire. If Purim is on Mossaei Shabbat and they have to read the Megillah, the cantor should say "Boreh Meorei Haesh" in front of everyone, in order that they should not enjoy the light before blessing on it, and only then they should read the Megillah.

D) Why do we bless on the fire on Mossaei Shabbat? The Medrash says that when Hashem said to the first man that when he will eat from the forbidden tree he will die, it was Friday. That was the very first time that man saw the world turn dark. In the morning, the sun came up. After that first Shabbat, Hashem gave man the wisdom to take two stones and some flammable material and make fire. That is why we say the blessing on Mossaei Shabbat.

E) Women have a responsibility to say Havdalah and Boreh Meorei Haesh. Therefore, say the Hida, if Purim is on Mossaei Shabbat, when the men come home from Beit haKnesset (synagogue), the women should say the blessing on the fire.

F) A man who was in the Synagogue where Havdalah was said should have the intention not to use that Havdalah, by saying "Baruch hu uvaruch shemo". When he goes home he should make Havdalah for his family. However, even if he already heard Havdalah in Synagogue, intending to fulfil the Missvah there, he may do it again at home for his family.

G) We must take care that for Missvot for which one needs to be "yotze", one does not say "Baruch hu uvaruch shmo" when the blessing is recited. This applies, for example, to hearing the Shofar and to the reading of the Megillah. One should also warn his household not to say it during Kiddush, as they must be "yotzei" with his Kiddush. They should only answer Amen. The first to say that one should say "Baruch hu uvaruch shmo" is the Rosh. It is not found in the Talmud.

H) One should prepare wine on Friday for Kiddush and Havdalah and not start searching for it after the Sabbath. As Rabbi Meir said: "I vouch for him that he will go to the world to come. He is loyal to his covenant and established in his word.

I) The Talmud says that one may squeeze grapes on Friday and make Kiddush on the juice. This is grape-juice that one may say over it "Bore pri hagefen".

Kashrut Kahalachah:
Separating Tithes from fruit owned by a Gentile - part 2:

Last week it was explained that in factories which process and market legumes and nuts, and whose owner is non-Jewish the produce sometimes comes from Jewish fields. The merchandise reaches the plant packed in sacks and they are already obligated to separate Terumot and Maasrot. However, now we will learn that when the supervisor comes to separate the tithes from this merchandise he gets into great difficulty.

The passage says that the Terumot and Maasrot must be separated by the owner of the fruit or an agent that he appoints. It says : "Ken tarimu gam atem" - atem is the owner and the word "gam" includes an agent. If an imposter separates tithes from the produce of a person without his permission, the required separation has not taken place and, in addition, he is stealing. (That is, unless he is giving his own fruit to be the tithes for the other persons: then it is acceptable.) Therefore, the Rabbis of the Badatz Bet Yosef demand that every business that works under their Hashgachah must sign a document appointing a supervisor as an agent to separate the tithes. However, when the owner of the plant is not a Jew this will not help, for the Shulhan Aruch rules as is stated in the Gemara that a non-Jew cannot legally appoint an agent (See Sh"A Hoshen Mishpat 188; 1)! The solution that was suggested was that the supervisor purchase the merchandise from the non-Jew, separate the tithes, and only then sell it back to him. Nevertheless, the Poskim disagree which forms of sale apply to a non-Jew. In order to accommodate all forms of sale, the Badatz devised a form which uses all forms of transaction, thus guaranteeing that the sale to the supervisor is valid according to Halachah, the tithes can be separated and everything works out the way it should.

Gamliel Ben Nizha and Yosef Ben Hanom

Produced by Cong. Bnai Yosef and the Aram Soba Foundation - translated from Ma'ayan Hashavua in Israel

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