Section WEEKLY Parasha Parashat Toldot Part 2 SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES

Weekly Torah Portion Toldot

The classic tale of deception and intrigue. But who is deceiving who? and who is really being fooled? Ya’akov dons precious garments and goat skins, but by doing so is he deceiving his father Yitzchak, or is he opening Yitzchak’s eyes for the first time to a lifetime of deception he has suffered at the hands of Esau, the real master of the bluff?

Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)
Parashat Chayei Sara is read on Shabbat:
MarCheshvan 29, 5774/November 2, 2013

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Selected verses from the Torah #4 IMPROVING RILATIONSHIPS

Rabbi Avraham Moyal PARASHAT TOLDOT

Parashat Toldot 433

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Permiso para Mentir – Halajà en la Parashà, Parshat Toldot

¿Cuando está permitido mentir? y ¿Cuando hay obligación de mentir?

En este episodio de la serie “Halajà en la Parashà” hablamos sobre este tema fascinante.

Compartido por el Rabino Bentzy Shemtov.

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Chabad.org
Cheshvan 27, 5774 · October 31, 2013
Inwardness: The Path To Posterity
Toldos; Genesis 25:19-28:9

Adapted from
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, p. 191ff; Vol. XXV, p. 123ff

A Lasting Legacy

All of us want to be remembered. We want our lives to bring something lasting into the world. This is the message of Parshas Toldos: that a person can leave a legacy that will continue to thrive after his passing.

Our Rabbis offer two definitions of the word Toldos:

a) Progeny,1 this includes a person’s biological children and his “spiritual children,” i.e., individuals whom he has taught.2 Both types of children perpetuate a person’s influence.

b) The chronicles of one’s life and experiences.3 When a person’s life is filled with inner meaning, stories about his life provide inspiration for people in coming generations.

A Fountain of Inner Strength

With whom does the Torah choose to associate the message of Toldos ? Yitzchak.4Two things reflect the nature of Yitzchak’s Divine service: a) unlike his father Avraham, he never left Eretz Yisrael,5 and b) his efforts were focused on digging wells.6

Avraham spread G-dliness in the lands in which he sojourned. He “proclaimed… to the entire world… that there is one G-d and it is befitting to serve Him. He would travel from city to city and from country to country, gathering people and proclaiming [G-d’s existence].”7

Yitzchak, by contrast, never traveled outside the Holy Land, and even within Eretz Yisrael, we do not find many stories of his efforts to reach out to others. His Divine service had an inward focus.

This is reflected in his preoccupation with digging wells. Digging a well involves removing layers of earth to uncover hidden sources of life-giving water. Spiritually, “digging” refers to the work of reaching one’s G-dly core and tapping it as a source of inner strength. Each of us has a neshamah which is “an actual part of G-d;”8 every entity is maintained by a G-dly spark. Yitzchak’s goal was to activate these inner potentials, bring them to the surface and, use them to initiate positive change.

In this manner, the awareness of G-d becomes an integral part of one’s life. It does not remain dependent on the teachings of others, but comes from one’s own insight. This in turn enables one to realize the G-dliness present in every element of existence.

In this context, our Sages interpret9 the verse,10 “Dwell in this land,” as “Cause the Divine Presence to rest in this land” help the world manifest its G-dly core.

Inwardness Which Leads Outward

This is surely a worthy path of Divine service, but why is it associated with the nameToldos, which means “progeny”? It would seem more appropriate to associate the concept of Toldos with the Divine service of Avraham, for he actively sought to communicate the awareness of G-d to others.

By naming this reading Toldos, our Rabbis underscore the fact that the inwardness of Yitzchak also produces “progeny.” Yitzchak’s Divine service and the positive influence it generated attracted the attention of others and motivated them to follow his guidance. In this vein, our Torah reading relates that Avimelech, king of the Philistines, and Phicol, his general, came to visit Yitzchak and told him: “We have seen that G-d is with you.”11

Yitzchak’s Divine service brought them to a recognition of G-d’s active presence in the world. Indeed, the awareness inspired by Yitzchak was more permanent than that generated by Avraham, for it came from the people themselves. Yitzchak’s internalized bond with G-d inspired the people around him to perceive G-d’s influence.12

To Communicate to Our Children

In the most complete sense, our desire to be remembered is focused on our children. We want them to continue and further our principles and values. And here a difficulty arises: Yitzchak’s children were Esav and Yaakov. Yaakov indeed perpetuated and enhanced Yitzchak’s Divine service. Esav, however, rejected Yitzchak’s path entirely. Moreover, this difficulty is compounded by the fact that a major portion of the Torah reading concerns itself with Esav. Indeed, on the phrase “And these are the toldos of Yitzchak,” the Midrash states13 that the word toldos refers specifically to Esav.

Although Esav’s conduct did not openly demonstrate that he was Yitzchak’s son, the connection nevertheless existed. This is reflected by our Sages’ statement14 that Esav’s head was buried “in the bosom of Yitzchak his father.” Similarly, our Sages explain15 that, in contrast to Yishmael, who is not considered an heir of Avraham, Esav is considered one of Yitzchak’s heirs. For the home of Esav’s soul, his head, contained powerful divine sparks associated with Yitzchak.

For this reason, Yitzchak desired to give his blessing to Esav rather than to Yaakov. As a father, Yitzchak was constantly struggling to motivate Esav to live up to his spiritual potential, and he thought that granting these blessings to him would further this purpose.16

The pattern which G-d invested in the world, however, is that Esav will not uncover his spiritual potential independently. Instead, it is Yaakov and his descendants whose Divine service reveal this resource. This is reflected in the labors of the Jewish people in the present exile, identified as “the exile of Edom (Esav)” to uncover the spiritual potential which Esav possesses.17

The final consummation of these efforts will come in the Era of the Redemption, when “deliverers will go up to Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esav, and the sovereignty will be G-d’s.”18 At that time, the powerful spiritual energies which Esav possesses will surface and be given appropriate expression.

A Source of Light for All Mankind

Our Sages relate19 that in the Era of the Redemption, Jews will praise Yitzchak, telling him: “You are our Patriarch.” For in that era, the inward thrust of Yitzchak will permeate all existence. “The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d. The Jews will be great sages and will know the hidden matters, attaining an understanding of their Creator to the [full] extent of mortal expression.”20

Although all Jews will then live in Eretz Yisrael, they will as their ancestor Yitzchak did influence mankind as a whole, motivating all to seek G-dly knowledge. “And it shall come to pass in the end of days that the mountain of G-d’s house will be established on the top of the mountains…. and all the nations shall flow unto it. Many people shall say: ‘Come let us ascend the mountain of G-d… and He will teach us of His ways.’ ”21May this take place in the immediate future.

FOOTNOTES
1. Rashi, Genesis 25:19.
2. See Sanhedrin 19b, Rashi, Numbers 3:1.
3. Seforno, loc. cit.
4. This is borne out by the fact that both Parshas Noach and Parshas Toldos begin with the words: Eleh toldos, “ These are the chronicles of….” Nevertheless,Parshas Noach is given that name because the lessons it teaches center on the concepts of satisfaction and repose (see the essay entitled “Genuine Satisfaction: Noach’s Legacy”). By contrast, Parshas Toldos, which focuses on the chronicles of Yitzchak’s life, communicates the importance of creating a posterity.
5. See Genesis 26:2-3, and Rashi’s commentary. See also Bereishis Rabbah 64:3.
6. Genesis 26:18ff.
7. Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 1:2, based on Sotah 10a,Bereishis Rabbah, the conclusion of sec. 54.
8. Tanya, ch. 2.
9. Bereishis Rabbah 64:3.
10. Genesis 26:2.
11. Ibid. :28.
12. In this way, Yitzchak’s “progeny” resembled him as children resemble a father.
13. Shmos Rabbah 30:3.
14. Targum YonasonGenesis 50:13. Toras Chayim 89d cites this statement in the name of the Zohar. See also similar quotes in Sotah 13a, Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 39.
15. Kiddushin 18a.
16. This provides every parent with a lesson in relating to children, even if, ח׳׳ו, their conduct like Esav’s is lacking. A parent should never give up, and should continue trying to develop his child’s inner potential foreover.Since “all Jews are responsible for one another” (Shavuos 39a), this lesson applies not only to our children, but with regard to every member of the Jewish nation. We must, to quote the Mishnah (Avos 1:12): “Love the created beings and bring them close to the Torah.”
17. Examples of the realization of Esav’s spiritual potential can be seen in the converts from among his descendants: the prophet Ovadiah, Onkelos, and Rabbi Meir (Torah Or, Toldos 20c).
18. Ovadiah 1:21.
19. Shabbos 89b.
20. Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 12:5.
21. Isaiah 2:2-3.
By Eli Touger    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author
Chabad.org
Cheshvan 27, 5774 · October 31, 2013
Esau and His Wives

A key point in the life of a person is marriage. This applies to any human being in the world. For the Jewish people, marriage is also central to one’s identity as a Jew. In this week’s Torah reading, Toldot, we read about the first intermarriage, which caused great grief to the parents of the Jewish partner. At the same time, we learn something about the beautifully positive dimension of a wedding.

Last week’s Torah reading made clear that Abraham was very concerned that his son Isaac should marry someone from Abraham’s own family, and certainly not a Canaanite.1 We thus see that even at this early stage of development of the Jewish people, there was a definite concern about who one should, or should not, marry.

In this week’s reading2 we read about the two sons of Isaac, Jacob and Esau. Jacob was a spiritual person while Esau, by contrast, was a man of violence.

Predictably, it was Esau who married out. The Torah tells us that when he was forty years old he married two women, both from the Canaanite tribe of the Hittites. Esau’s non-Abrahamic wives caused “bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebecca.”3 The Sages comment that they persisted in serving idols. It is interesting that Rebecca herself had been born into an idol-worshipping family. Yet as soon as she married Isaac she dedicated herself to service of the One G‑d, Creator of Heaven and Earth. By contrast Esau’s Hittite wives, although they were in Isaac’s home, offered incense to idols. Rashi says the scent of this incense provoked Isaac’s blindness.4

Later in the reading, Rebecca tells her husband Isaac about how worried she feels that their son Jacob might end up marrying a Hittite girl, like Esau.5 There were no other young women in the vicinity. This was one of the reasons why Jacob was sent away from home, north-eastwards, to find a wife from Rebecca’s family, as we see in next week’s reading.

An intriguing point is that one of the Hittite wives of Esau is called Yehudit. It sounds just like a Jewish name and indeed, the Talmud says that “anyone who denies idolatry is called Yehudi.” Rashi explains that really she had a different name, but Esau called her Yehudit in order to pretend to his father that she had truly adopted worship of One G‑d.6

These events took place over three millennia ago, yet they sound quite familiar in terms of our own time. Yet it is also interesting that Esau married a third wife, who was quite different. She was a daughter of Ishmael, and thus a granddaughter of Abraham. Her name was Mochlat, which means “Forgiveness,” and Rashi comments7 that from her we learn that bride and groom are forgiven all their sins on the day of their wedding.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe comments8 that the Torah is hinting that Mochlat’s own actions reflected this idea. She was indeed a genuinely fine and spiritual person. So why did Esau marry her? On one level, only because he wanted to look good in his father’s eyes. On another level, comments the Rebbe, Esau too had a spark of good, which explains why his father Isaac loved him. Eventually, through the course of history, that spark of good in Esau and his descendants will be revealed.

FOOTNOTES
1. Genesis 23:19-28:9.
2. See also 27:46.
3. Gen. 26:35.
4. Rashi to Gen. 27:1.
5. Gen. 27:46.
6. Rashi to Gen. 36:2. See Talmud Megillah 13a.
7. Rashi to Gen. 36:3.
8. See Likkutei Sichot vol. 5 p.163 ff and vol. 35 p.118.
By Tali Loewenthal    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Dr. Tali Loewenthal is Lecturer in Jewish Spirituality at University College London, director of the Chabad Research Unit, author of Communicating the Infinite: The Emergence of the Habad School and a frequent contributor to the Chabad.org weekly Torah reading section.
Chabad.org
Cheshvan 27, 5774 · October 31, 2013
Toldot

The Dual Service of Yitzchak

The Torah portion of Toldot begins by stating:1 “These are the chronicles of Yitzchak, son of Avraham. Avraham was Yitzchak’s father.” Our Sages inform us2 that the verse repeats “Avraham was Yitzchak’s father,” to tell us that Avraham and Yitzchak were similar.

The similarity between Avraham and Yitzchak is a bit difficult to understand in light of the fact that the spiritual service of the former involved the attribute of love (“Avraham who loves Me”3) while the service of the latter was performed in awe and fear of G-d (the “fear of Yitzchak”4).

More perplexing is the fact that with regard to Yitzchak we find two seemingly opposite aspects. While on the one hand his spiritual service was that of awe and fear, his very name denotes joy and laughter.5 His physical life as well was extremely bountiful — “He prospered mightily until he was tremendously wealthy.”6

This anomaly might be explained by the fact that although the spiritual service of Avraham and Yitzchak were entirely dissimilar — one serving out of love and the other out of fear — the difference existed only in the primary aspect of their service; they were not one-dimensional.7 Thus Avraham also served with awe, while Yitzchak’s spiritual service also contained love.

While this is indeed the case, Yitzchak’s very name is that of joy and laughter, so we must perforce say that these attributes were fundamental to his service.

How can this be?

One of the differences between love and fear is that love involves the attachment of the lover to the object of his love. Hence the individual who loves is not nullified before that which he loves; quite the contrary, he feels and is aware of himself, and senses that through his love he comes closer to his beloved.8 But a person is nullified before that of which he is in awe.

An example would be the relationship of a child and his parent, and a servant and his master. The child’s relationship to his parent is mainly one of love. This causes him to be drawn to his parent.

The relationship of a servant to his master is primarily one of awe and fear. This brings a feeling of self-abnegation and insignificance before his master, and an acceptance of his master’s yoke.

The same is true with regard to divine service. The relationship of the Jewish people to G-d is both that of children and servants — “You are children unto the L-rd your G-d,”9“They are My servants.”10 Contemplating one’s closeness to G-d (“You are our Father”11) arouses and reveals one’s love for Him; contemplating that He is our King arouses and reveals a feeling of awe and self-abnegation.

The ultimate purpose of awe, however, is not to generate a feeling of insignificance. Rather, because one feels oneself to be unimportant in and of oneself, one is better able to draw close to G-d.

In fact, a person can come even closer to G-d through awe than he can through love. For since love implies a continued awareness of self, and mortal man is necessarily limited, his closeness to G-d must be limited as well. It is only when a person nullifies himself through awe that he becomes able to receive a measure of G-dliness that transcends his human limitations.

The same is true with regard to Yitzchak. His spiritual service of awe and fear served as a prelude to the true and unlimited happiness, joy and closeness to G-d that can best be realized through self-effacement.

Thus, although the spiritual service of Avraham and Yitzchak were externally dissimilar, at their core they were essentially the same — a coming ever closer to G-d.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XXX, pp. 103-107.

FOOTNOTES
1. .Bereishis 25:19.
2. .Bava Metzia 87a; Tanchuma, Toldos 1; Rashi on this verse.
3. .Yeshayahu 41:8.
4. .Bereishis 31:42. See also Targum Onkelos and Targum Yonasan ben Uzeil, ibid., et. al.
5. See Bereishis 21:6 and commentary of Rashi ; Rashi Bereishis 17:19. See alsoTehillim 105:9, and Toras Chayim, Toldos, p. 5a, 5d.
6. .Bereishis 26:13. See also commentary of Rashi to this verse as well as to the previous verse.
7. See Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle XIII (119b), et al.
8. See Sefer HaArachim-Chabad I, erech Ahavah chs. 2-3, and sources cited there.Ibid., erech Ahavas HaShem, ch. 4, and sources cited there.
9. .Devarim 14:1.
10. .Vayikra 25:42, ibid., verse 55.
11. .Yeshayahu 63:16.
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