Points to Ponder

Toldos 5776

Avraham begat Yitzchak (25:19) – Rashi comments that the Letzanei HaDor – the clowns would say that it was from Avimelech that Sarah became pregnant. Why are they called Leitzanei HaDor – the clowns and not Rishei HaDor – the evil ones? The Beis HaLevi explains that had the 90 year old Sarah given birth to Avimelech’s baby instead of Avraham’s, it would be no less miraculous. Moreover, it was nonsensical to assume that Avimelech whose taking of Sarah caused a national fertility difficulty, was all of a sudden responsible for the birth of Yitzchak. So the people merely joked about it. Lest anyone revisit this historically and decide that there was truth to the rumor, Avraham Holid Es Yitzchak – Hashem made them look the same.

Feed me from this red stuff since I am tired (25:30) – Rashi notes that Eisav would not even eat on his own. He wanted it shoved into his mouth. Where is the benefit in that? And what kind of motivation is tiredness? We normally eat because we are hungry, not tired? Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau Shlita suggested that there is a tiredness that is not physical but rather mental. It is the tiredness of someone who works constantly with no purpose. His tiredness is the lack of joy. (In psychological terms we call this burnout). Eisav lives focused on the present – the hunter feasts or famines in the moment. Yaakov sees a future and such wants the Bechora. Tiredness in the present becomes burnout if we do not see a purpose in the future.

Here I am going to die, why do I need a Bechora (25:32) – Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm Shlita contrasted the approach of Eisav to death with that of Yitzchak. The former sees death as the ultimate end – worthy of the final fling before it hits. For the latter, it is the chance to leave a legacy and attach wayward souls back to their sources and try to make things right. Which approach to the future does a Jew choose?

Because to you and your children I shall give these lands (26:3) – In the next possuk Hashem tells Yitzchak that the land was given to the children. Why the change? Rav Schachter Shlita noted that the answer is based on the gemara in Shabbos (55a) which notes that Zechus Avos has ended. Rabbeinu Tam comments in Tosafos that Zechus Avos may have ended but Bris Avos is still alive. The difference, explained Rav Schachter, is that Zechus Avos is based on love. Love for the people has an end point when the children do not act like the parents. Bris Avos refers to a pact which led certain traits to be found in the children that were in the parents. Those Middos are the children’s and thus, the Bris Avos remains. The Torah is letting us know that our right to Eretz Yisrael is based on two rights, originally Zechus Avos but today, Bris Avos as well.

Bring me the delicacies such as I love and bring them to me and I will eat so that my soul may bless you before I die (27:4) – What was Yitzchak thinking? Why would he want to give a Beracha to that Rasha? Rav Noach Weinberg ztl. suggested that Yitzchak envisioned a partnership between Eisav and Yaakov to combine inner strengths in order to perfect the world. Material abundance and political domination to Eisav and Torah and spiritual destiny to Yaakov. Sforno notes that if this had worked, Eisav would have ruled Gashmiyus and Yaakov, Ruchniyos. The problem, Rav Weinberg explained, was how Yaakov was to get Eisav to get over his Rishus. Yitzchak thought merely being with Yaakov would inspire Eisav to righteousness. Rivka knew that you do not give a reward to a rasha before it is earned. Still, he adds, Yaakov is at fault for not doing what he could to prompt Eisav’s Teshuvah. Reaching out to the wayward, is an obligation on each of us.

The voice is the voice of Yaakov (27:22) – Ramban suggests that Yaakov even disguised his voice but could not speak the crude style of Eisav. Why not? Rav Pam ztl. explains in the name of Rav Moshe Sturnbuch Shlita that there were certain steps that Yaakov just would not take. To speak crudely like Eisav was out of the question and Yaakov would rather be found out than speak to his father crudely. Rav Pam added that we see how important the manner of speech is for each person – for that defines who and how we carry ourselves our entire lives.

And Hashem will give (27:28) – Rashi notes that the Beracha begins with a Vav in order to show that he should return and give it again. The Eish Kodesh of Piacetzna asks where it comes back to be given again? He explains that like the one who loses an object who constantly looks out after it, Hashem too looks for us – not only when we are in plain sight but even when we appear lost – he turns around and seeks us.

Haftorah: A son will honor his father and a servant his master (Malachi 1:6) – How did the Possuk begin with a Kavod and end with Mora? We know that a son too, has the obligation of Mora as well as Kavod. Servants too, have the obligatory actions of Kavod but they do them as Yirah. Rav Yaakov Kamenetzsky ztl. notes that there is a difference between Kibbud and Kivod. The former is active – references the activities that must be done even if motivated by Yirah. The latter is a reference to motivation – kulchem chayavim b’Chivodee.