Weekly Reading Insights: Toledot 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Toledot

To be read on 29 Cheshvan 5765 (Nov. 13)

Shabbat Mevorchim - Blessing the New Month
Genesis 25:19-28:9; Haftorah (for Erev Rosh Chodesh): Samuel 1 20:18-42

Toledot is the 6th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 6th overall, and 9th 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 his Canaanite wives, and married Ishmael’s daughter Machlat.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:06-65/Toledot)

Furthermore there is a direct correlation between each and every one of the 248 limbs of man and the different created beings in the world. Exactly as a person is an organic whole, divided into different limbs, so is the world an organic whole, divided into different entities. When the world is rectified, it functions precisely as one unity.

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:06-65/Toledot)

His mother then told him that the time had come to rectify this aspect of the sin of Adam. She therefore told him, "Listen to my voice." In so doing, she was rectifying Adam's sin [of listening to his wife, as it is written:] "And to Adam, [G-d] said, 'Since you listened to the voice of your wife...'" (Gen. 3:17)

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:06-65/Toledot)

The whole point of granting life to David was to repair the damage done to G-d's universe by Adam, without which a Messianic age and all its benefits to mankind would not be needed. Adam's divine image, needed to be restored first and foremost through the constructive lives of the Patriarchs.

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


"These are the generations of Isaac... and they called his name Esau." (25:19;25)
Esau is symbolic of the forces of evil and impurity, which were created for the purpose of the Jew transforming them into goodness and light. (In fact, it is due to this inner, positive reason that the Torah refers to Esau as "the generations of Isaac.") The Hebrew name Isaac is related to the word for laughter. When "Esau" is successfully changed into good, G-d "laughs," as it were, and derives great pleasure from the transformation.
(Sefer HaMaamarim 5738)

"They departed from him in peace." (26:31)
Even after having partaken of a meal with the tzadik, Isaac, Avimelech still departed convinced of his own self-importance. This is something that a Jew would have been unable to do. A Jew, when in the presence of a tzadik, realizes his own shortcomings and is humbled.
(Reb Bunim)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:06-65/Toledot)

"The boys grew up, and Esav [Esau] was an expert hunter." (Gen. 25:27)

"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."

(Lubavitcher Rebbe)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:06-65/Toledot)

The Torah depicts our forefathers and foremothers as very much human. Just as we relate to our lives and its challenges on a number of levels (for instance dealing with an issue at hand, also taking into account the short and the long term impact of our actions), so also the Torah can be interpreted on a variety of levels, adding depth to our understanding of the people involved and their situation.

This is demonstrated with the description of the relationship between Yitzchok and Eisav. The verse (25/28) says that Rivka loved Yaacov, and Yitzchok loved Eisav because "tzayid was in his mouth". One translation of tzayid is hunted meat, and is obviously a reference to the main difference between Eisav and Yaacov. Eisav was a 'man of the fields', a hunter, whereas Yaacov was a 'man of the tents', who studied Torah. The Torah does not paint a positive picture of Eisav, so how could Yitzchok be so easily fooled?

While Rashi cites the Midrash inferring that Yitzchok was being misled, the later commentaries do not accept it so easily. The Alshich says that 'meat in his mouth' refers to a love that was conditional, based on something physical, while the love of Rivka for Yaacov was without any conditions. Of course, the Alshich writes, Yitzchok had this unconditional love for Yaacov, too, since he understood his true essence. That the Torah specifies Yitzchok's love of Eisav with 'meat in his mouth' hints to us that Yitzchok knew Eisav's true essense also.

Mai HaSheluach attacks the problem on a different level. He writes that Yitzchok really did love Eisav more, as the verse infers, but for a reason. Yitzchok saw more potential in Eisav. Specifically, Yitzchok perceived Eisav's wildness as an indication of his potential to do great things. The Mai HaSheluach writes that in life, some people take risks and others play it safe. Those that take chances may fail but, when they do succeed, they accomplish much more that those who are cautious. This was the basis of Yitzchok's love for Eisav over Yaacov. Kabbala explains how Yitzchok would say that Eisav had the potential to bring the redemption faster than Yaacov. But in the end, Yitzchok realized he was mistaken.

The Divrei Meir says that, in fact, Yitzchok was smarter than everyone, and the blessings as delivered were all part of his plan. The Talmud says that in the future to come, Yitzchok will say to G-d, 'half on You and half on me', telling us that Yitzchok will defend the Jewish people before G-d. Yitzchok loved Eisav-even with all of his failings-in order that he should be able to claim 'even though Eisav was filled with faults, I did not stop truly loving him as a father must. But you Almighty are not limited like flesh and blood. Your love is unlimited! How much more so must You love the Jewish people who are your firstborn, even though they have sinned grievously.'

This is the meaning of the verse, 'tzayid in his mouth'. 'Tzayid' can also be translated as 'sustenance'. Yitzchok loved Eisav so there would be sustenance, or a compelling argument in his mouth, to argue for the sake of Jewish people on our Day of Judgment. May we all take the commandment of loving our fellow Jew by judging one another favorably, and may G-d always judge us positively, too.


Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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