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Insights to Parshat Toldot

Updated on October 1, 2016

Parshat Toldot (Generations)

Genesis 25:21 “Yitzach (Isaac) entreated HaShem opposite his wife, because she was barren. HaShem allowed Himself to be entreated by him, and his wife Rivka (Rebecca) conceived.” The Rabbis and other Torah Scholars like to point out the fact that Sarah, Rebbecca, and Rachel were all barren women. The question is why? If they are such righteous people, than why does HaShem let them suffer and remain barren for so long before he finally answers their prayers for sons. The answer is in this verse. It was not until Yitzach prayed for Rivka to have children that HaShem actually heard the prayers. In the Talmud in tractate Yevamot 64a says, “G-d desires the prayers of the righteous.” So the Rabbis say that this is the reason why they were barren so that they would turn to HaShem and open up themselves in prayer before Him.

Verse 25:22 “The children agitated within her, and she said, “If so, why am I thus?” and she went to inquire of HaShem.” This verse is causing me problems. There seems to be an incomplete thought going on here. There are two questions that I am left asking, one which means if so, what does this mean, and without understanding what this means than how can we understand the second part, why am I thus. Here in this verse, I am not able to give insights but instead questions. Another question that I have is how she went about inquiring of HaShem. There is no established tabernacle, no temple, so where did she go?

Verse 25:25 says, “The first one emerged red, entirely like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. I have always wondered about the name Esau and what it means. The Hebrew for this sentence is a word play. Admoni is the word used for red, this is also connected to the concept that man is taken from clay, and the word for hairy mantle is Aderet Sei'ar the words sound very similar to the word for a flock of goats. I have searched the dictionaries but have not found anything about the root for the actual name of Esau. The image is painted about Esau but no image is painted about Ya'akov. The midrashes that I have read say that they were exactly the same and this makes sense since they are twins. The differences became apparent when they became teenagers. The image is painted for Esau is a physical stereotype. In the story of King Shaul (Saul) he is mentioned as being tall and this is interpreted to mean that he was righteous, more righteous than anyone around him, a natural righteousness. The reason why Esau's description is given is because he was worldly. Where Ya'acov will be described as righteous and so his description is not at this point in the Torah. He is the spiritual one and he is not really described until he is given a new name by HaShem of Yisrael (Israel), meaning "wrestles" or "strives" with G-d, or prince of G-d.

Verse 25:26 says that Yitzach was sixty years old when Rivkah gave birth to the twins. It is important to note that the scripture is not written in a chronological order. The scripture is written in a fashion that it gives the main points of each Patriach in order. So the whole story of Avraham is told, then Yitzach, then Ya'acov, then Yoseph (Joseph).Of course since this is four generations they are interlinked, if the story was told in a chronological order it would be easier to see how old each of the patriarchs lived. It is difficult to understand the whole history of the generations when they are laid out one by one. However, if you can start to see the history in a chronological order then the story of Esau selling his birthright will start to make more sense because this is actual during the mourning period of Avraham. According to Bava Batra 16b Avraham died that very day that Ya'acov was preparing the traditional mourner's meal for Yitzach. Only one person did the scripture state that G-d hated and that is Esau it is mentioned in the book of Malachi, and it is probably this incident, since there is only one person in the scripture that is described as a friend of G-d which is Avraham, so Esau's sin of selling his birthright is a slap in the face or a spit in the face to Avraham and to HaShem. I believe that the ages and the genealogies are important in order to piece together the history for a chronological perspective.

Verse 26:5 says, "Because Avraham obeyed My voice, and observed My safeguards, My commandments, My decrees, and My Torahs." This is plural. There are two types of Torah. The written Torah which was handed down through Moshe (Moses) and the Oral Torah (Oral Tradition) which is the explanation about how to fulfill the Torah. There is a belief that Avraham had an in depth knowledge of Torah, written and Oral, and that this lessen each generation until they were enslaved in Egypt and continued until they knew next to nothing and then Moshe came and he started to teach them and bring them back up in the knowledge until they were prepared to receive the written Torah at Mount Sinai.

Now one might think that Ya'acov stole the birthright when he went into the tent with his father. Verse 27:33, says "Then Yitzach trembled in very great perplexity, and said "who-where-is the one who hunted game, brought it to me, and I partook of all when you had not yet come, and I blessed him? Indeed, he shall remain blessed!" The midrash says that he trembled because he realized that he had almost given the blessing to the wrong person. It is said that when Yitzach was bound on the alter that the angels cried and the tears landed in the eyes of Yitzach and then we was able to see into the spiritual realms and when Esau entered into the room Yitzach had a vision and saw that hell opened up underneath Esau and this is why Yitzach trembled.

Verse 28:1, "So Yitzach summoned Ya'acov and blessed him..." In the end HaShems plan worked out and the correct one was blessed but it takes a lot of digging to answer the questions.

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