Weekly Reading Insights: Toldot 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Toldot

To be read on 4 Kislev 5764 (Nov. 29)

Toldot is the 6th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 6th overall, and 36th out of 54 in overall length.
Genesis 25:19-28:9; Haftorah: Malachi  1:1-2:7  (because the second verse mentions Yaakov & Esav)
Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

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 his Canaanite wives, and married Ishmael’s daughter Machlat.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:06-64/Toldot )

This is the hidden reason behind sickness in a person's life and tragedy at a national level. It is the manner in which G-d causes the elevation of the spiritual over the physical. It also explains the higher spiritual powers of the handicapped and explains why fasting and ascetic practices have the same effect.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:06-64/Toldot )

Now, when Isaac and Rebecca were praying [to G-d for children], they were addressing these two attributes [of divine mercy]. This is why the expression "entreated" is used [instead of the more usual "prayed"]. As our sages say: "Why are the prayers of the righteous compared to a pitchfork? To indicate that just as a pitchfork turns the grain from place to place in the barn, so do the prayers of the righteous turn the mind of the Holy One, blessed be He, from the attribute of judgment to the attribute of mercy." (Sukka 14a )

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:06-64/Toldot )

Of Esau, the Torah reports, "Esau went to a land" (Gen. 36:6). He had to leave the Land of Israel because that land "vomits" people who behave in a grossly incestuous manner. Isaac was the model of refinement in every respect. The reason G-d blessed him in such an extraordinary fashion was to demonstrate the fact to one and all that sexually pure conduct unlocks all the bounty of the land of Israel to those who dwell in it.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"And they called his name Esau." (25:19;25)

The name Esau is derived from the Hebrew word meaning done or completed. Esau felt whole, satisfied and comfortable with his spiritual status, and was thus lacking any desire to elevate himself. Jacob, by contrast, is derived from the word meaning heel. No matter how high a spiritual level Jacob achieved he considered it as nothing, and was consistently motivated to elevate himself further.

(Shem MiShmuel) (Sefer HaMaamarim 5738)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:06-64/Toldot )

Rabbi Yitzchok Ginsburgh explained the difference between life before and after marriage. Before the wedding, the bride and groom can easily grow 'vertically', approaching G-d's Essense, taking on new levels at will. After the wedding, when the two souls are united, it is not so easy to grow vertically. The emphasis is to spread holiness outward as opposed to personal elevation. The growth is 'horizontal', touching the world with
G-dliness through all of the new mitzvahs the couple can now fulfill that were unavailable to them before. Where do they get the strength to fulfill all of these new mitzvahs?

Jewish custom is that the Shabbat before his wedding, the groom is called up to the Torah, called having an 'aliyah'. The word 'aliyah' literally means to ascend. It is a Chassidic tradition that only then, during this state of spiritual elevation, is when the groom is invested with the strength to be a married person. A similar transformation happens to the bride at the 'bedekin', when a veil is placed on her face, just prior to the wedding ceremony.

The community celebrates this event with a Kiddush, and by some, also a farbrengen, which serves to escort the young man on his way to his new station in life. Likewise, from that Shabbat until the wedding, the bride and groom are always accompanied by another person, as a form of protection. Also, during the week following the wedding, the bride and groom are both always escorted as one honors a king and queen to their every destination. Similarly, as part of the mitzvah of hospitality, not only should we provide food and lodging for a guest, we should also escort him some small distance when leaving our home. Even in the world at large it is customary to escort someone going on a long or important journey, he is escorted at least part of the way. What is the significance of escorting someone?

The Shlah connects the idea of escorting someone with this week's Torah portion. The Jewish nation is called 'Knesset Yisrael'. 'Knesset' means a gathering and refers to the special power of the Jewish people, who are gathered together and united on a soul level. This special unity gives us a secure position before the Almighty in His Divine palace, which is also called the 'heavenly city'.
There is a spiritual state, called 'outside', relating to the verse, "Esav, man of the field"(25/27). Anytime a Jewish person leaves the security of one spiritual level, he moves out of the spiritually developed 'city', into the limbo of the wilder 'field'. In the field, all routes are considered dangerous because a person is tapping into the dimension of Esav and his field. This is the basis for travelers or guests to be escorted by loved ones or hosts, to strengthen their ongoing connection to the spiritual security of the 'city'. Even if a person in transit is physically separated from the 'city', his soul is still connected. Since he is still in the 'city' in a spiritual way, no danger can befall him.

Through this, Esav's field is transformed to the holy field of Yitzchok, as it says, "Yitzchok went out to meditate in the field" (24/63), and that Yitzchok smelled "the fragrance of the field blessed by G-d", on Yaacov. This is the holy apple field which the Zohar describes, and the Sages say is actually the Garden of Eden. From the above we understand the importance of the mitzvah to escort someone physically on their journey. This is also why the Rabbis emphasized thinking Torah thoughts when traveling, because this also connects us to the Divine city.

This Shabbat is the "ufruf" (Shabbat preceding wedding) of my son Yaacov, and his bride, Sara. As they leave the security of their family homes and move into their status as an independent couple, may our escorting them create an eternal spiritual connection to the Divine city, protecting them and nurturing them wherever they go. So too, wherever each of us go, may we maintain our connection to the Source.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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