Overview of the Weekly
To be read on 4 Kislev 5763 (Nov. 9)
Torah: Genesis 25:19-28:9;Haftorah: Malachi 1:1-2:7
Stats:Toledot, 6th out of 12 in Genesis, contains
0 positive mitzvot and 0 prohibitive mitzvot.
It is written on 173 lines in a parchment Torah scroll,
36th out of 54 in overall length.
Yitzchak married Rivkah when he was forty. When he was
sixty, Rivkah gave birth to twins, Esav and Yacov. At age fifteen, Esav
returned one day from hunting in the fields, tired and hungry, and asked
Yacov for some food. Yacov told him to sell him his birthright, which
he did. There was a famine in the land, but G-d told Yitzchak to remain
in the land. Yitzchak went to Gerar, near the border, where he said
to the people there that Rivkah was his sister, as he was afraid that
he would be killed because of her. When king Avimelech found out he
issued a decree that should anyone touch Yitzchak or Rivkah they would
be killed. Yitzchak farmed and became wealthy. The Philistines became
jealous and filled in his wells. Avimelech told him to leave.
Yitzchak eventually arrived in Be’er Sheva. He made
a peace treaty with Avimelech. When Esav was forty he married Judith
and Basemath. Yitzchak became old and his eyesight was fading. He told
Esav to prepare him a meal, and he would bless him before he died. Rivkah
heard this and told Yacov that she would prepare a meal for his father,
and he should take the blessing instead of Esav. Esav was furious, and
planned to kill Yacov after his father’s death. Rivkah heard of this
and sent Yacov away. Yitzchak blessed Yacov and told him not to marry
a Canaanite girl. Yacov left for the house of Lavan, Rivkah’s brother.
Esav understood that his father was displeased with Canaanite girls,
and married Ishmael’s daughter Machlat.
FROM THE CHASSIDIC REBBES (V:06-63
"The boys grew up, and Esav [Esau] was an expert hunter."
"Expert at deceiving his father into believing him to be pious
and a scrupulous observer of the commandments." - Rashi
Esav's hypocrisy is symbolic of our present Exile, in which the forces
of evil are not as readily identifiable as they were during previous exiles.
It is for this reason that our Exile is termed "Galut Edom"
("the Exile of Edom"), for the nation of Edom is descended from
Esav. When Moshiach comes, the "Deliverers will go up to Mount Zion
to judge the mount of Esav, and kingship will be the L-rd's."
A MYSTICAL CHASSIDIC DISCOURSE
FROM THE MASTERS OF KABBALAH (K:06-63
Selected with permission and adapted from the three-volume English edition
of Shney Luchot
HaBrit -- the Sh'lah,
as translated, condensed, and
annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (1565-1630), known as the 'Sh'lah' - an acronym
of the title, was born in Prague. A scholar of outstanding reputation,
he served as chief Rabbi of Cracow, and more famously, of Frankfort (1610-1620).
After his first wife passed away, he remarried and moved to Israel in
1621, where he became the first Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem. He
later moved to Tiberias, where he is buried, near the tomb of the Rambam.
We read in Samuel 1 16, 12 that David is described as “Admoni im yafeh
einayim v’tov ri’eeh”, “ruddy cheeked, bright-eyed and handsome.” The
first person to be described as Admoni (ruddy) was Esau; it is therefore
hardly a compliment to David to be similarly described. The essential
difference is that whereas Esau was Ayin ra (evil eye), represented all
that is negative associated with the eye, David was the reverse, and is
therefore described as Yafeh Einayim (bright eyes). In David’s case the
positive aspects of eyes are meant: the prophet therefore describes him
as tov ri’eeh. Solomon, who says in Kohelet 10,8: that “he who breaches
the fence will be bitten by a snake,” may have referred to David’s forbear
Peretz, whom the Torah had described as “bursting out” (Genesis 38,29).
The nachash (snake) referred to is the power of Esau. King Saul repaired
the fence partially when he defeated Nachash, king of Ammon, who went
to war against Israel as reported in Samuel 1 11, 1. David also accomplished
a great deal in this area during his reign. In the future, as the Messiah,
however, he will take revenge on the forces of Esau in the manner of a
serpent, as we know from Isaiah 14,29: “For from the root of a snake there
sprouts an asp.”
essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
(for a free weekly email subscription, click
This week's parsha tells how Yitzchok became blind in his old age
(27/1). For what reason did this happen? Certainly age was not the reason;
in the era of the forefathers, many people were in their physical prime
at Yitzchok's age , and blindness was not mentioned about anyone
else. Also, shortly before reading this verse, the Torah writes, "and
G-d blessed Yitzchok" (25/11). Shouldn't G-d's blessing prevent illnesses
and in particular blindness of which it is said, 'one who is blind is
as deceased' (Nedarim 64/2). If so, what was the reason for Yitzchok's
One of the reasons given is that Yitzchok favored Eisav, and G-d knew
that he wished to give the primary blessings to Eisav. In blinding Yitzchok,
G-d enabled Yaacov to receive the blessings since Yitzchok would not see
who he was blessing. If Yitzchok could see, he would undoubtedly bless
Eisav, so G-d's purpose was to reroute the blessings to Yaacov.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out a basic question: Why did G-d have to
make Yitzchok blind for Yaacov to be blessed? Wasn't there a more direct
way through showing Yitzchok how evil Eisav really was? If Yitzchok could
come that conclusion, then of course he would chose Yaacov to be blessed.
Also, this revelation about Eisav shouldn't have come as too much of a
shock. Yitzchok already knew that Eisav's wives were wicked women who
served idols. Even if Yitzchok excused Eisav as not being responsible
for his wives' sins or for unsuccessfully trying to change their ways,
this fact surely must indicate something as to Eisav's character. Also,
even Yitzchok admitted that Eisav 'does not mention G-d's Name very
often' (Rashi on verse 27/21). If so, why didn't G-d just show
Yitzchok that Eisav was a very sinful person and undeserving of the blessings?
The answer is that G-d did not want to say 'lashon hara'-bad speech-even
about an evil person such as Eisav. [Likewise, when Yehoshua asked G-d
for the name of the perpetrator of a sin, G-d answered 'Am I your tale-bearer?',
and Yehoshua had to discover the man's identity through other means (Joshua
ch. 7).] Therefore, the means for ensuring Yaacov's receiving the
blessings was through causing Yitzchok's blindness.
G-d Himself took extreme measures so as to refrain from lashon hara
about the truly evil Eisav. We are not G-d, Who knows everything; and
no Jew falls into the category of Eisav. From all this we learn that we
must go to great lengths to not speak badly of any other Jew. Lashon
hara kills three: the teller, the listener, and the one being spoken
about (Erachin 15b). The Ba'al Shem Tov explained that this killing
is spiritual, which is much worse than actual murder! (HaYom Yom).
May we all succeed in absolutely refraining from lashon hara and
in speaking only lashon hatov-positive speech-about fellow Jews.
May all this hasten the revelation of Moshiach, now!
Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter
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