Weekly Reading Insights: Toldot 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Toldot

To be read on 2 Kislev 5766 (Dec.3)

Torah: Genesis 25:19-28:9; Haftorah: Malachi  1:1-2:7  (because the second verse mentions Yaakov & Esav)

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


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:0666/Toldot)

Now look at the verses: First, it states, "He smelled the fragrance of his garments," but then Isaac sensed something else and said, "see, the fragrance of my son," for he became aware that the scent was because of Jacob, [not merely the scent of spices clinging to his clothes. Then Isaac declared, "the fragrance of my son] is like the fragrance of a field which G-d has blessed," [referring to the scent the Garden of Eden.] Now how was Isaac familiar with "the fragrance of a field that G-d had blessed" [the scent of the Garden of Eden?]

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:0666/Toldot)

Therefore, Rebecca was worthy of giving birth to twelve tribes, but because she said, "what is this [in Hebrew, 'zeh'] for me?" (ibid. 25:22) because of the pain of her pregnancy, and also because Esau destroyed her womb, her son Jacob was privileged to father the twelve tribes [instead of her].

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

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From Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) Ibn Atar (S:0666/Toldot)

You have to appreciate that in the period under discussion [prior to the revelation at Mount Sinai], the holy souls had not yet been separated from the regions in which they were imprisoned. Seeing that Abraham's family was recognized as a place where holiness had found a foothold, both he and Sarah being the first proselytes, anyone who would subsequently convert to Judaism would be called either Abraham if a male, or Sarah if a female.

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


"Isaac loved Esau...but Rivka loved Jacob." (25:25)
Isaac was a "perfect offering," whose "style" of Divine service was somewhat removed from the material world and its concealments. Rivka, by contrast, had grown up in household surrounded by devious people. When Esau asked his father how to "tithe salt," it was beyond Isaac's imagination that his son was being deceitful. Rivka, however, with her experience in the ways of the world, recognized that it was only a scheme to impress his father, and "loved Jacob" for his quality of truthfulness.
(Der Torah Kval)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"He (Yitzchak) dug another well…" Gen 26:20-22

Each of the 3 wells which Yitzchak dug symbolized one of the Holy Temples, for just as the water of a well gives life, so too the Shechinah (Divine Presence) in the Holy Temple gave life to the world.
* The first well, Aisek (literally "argument") stands for the first Temple which the non-Jewish nations attacked and finally destroyed.
* The second well, Sitna (literally "hatred") stands for the second Temple. During that time the nations had a great hatred toward the Jews, and finally destroyed the Temple .
* The third well, Rechovot (literally "wide" or "broad") stands for the third Temple. When Mashiach is revealed and he builds the third Temple, there will be peace in the world and tremendous rejoicing as we are led into the Redemption -- may we see it very soon! This third well will be revealed when the Redemption comes, as it is written (Zechariah 14:9), "On that day, living water will come out from Jerusalem."
In speaking of the 3rd well, the Torah concludes, "For now G-d has made things wide for us and we will be fruitful in the land." This refers to G-d making the borders of the Land of Israel wider (Deut. 19:8) and all the nations serving Him together when the Redemption comes.

[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:0666/Toldot)

The Torah states that Rebecca loved Jacob, and Isaac loved Esau because "'tzayid' was in his mouth" (see Gen.25:28). One translation of "tzayid" is hunted meat and is obviously a reference to the main difference between Esau and Jacob. Esau was a "man of the fields", a hunter, whereas Jacob was a "man of the tents", who studied Torah. The Torah does not paint a positive picture of Esau, so how could Isaac have been so easily fooled when granting the blessing of the firstborn?

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

The Mei Hashiloach approaches the problem on a different level. He writes that Isaac really did love Esau more, as the verse infers, for the reason that Isaac saw more potential in Esau. Specifically, Isaac perceived Esau's wildness as an indication of his potential to do great things. The Mei Hashiloach writes that some people take risks in life 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 Isaac's love for Esau over Jacob. Kabbala explains how Isaac would say that Esau had the potential to bring the redemption faster than Jacob. But in the end, Isaac realized he was mistaken.

The Divrei Meir says that, in fact, Isaac was smarter than everyone, and the blessings as delivered were all part of his plan. The Talmud says that in the Future, Isaac will say to G-d, "half on You and half on me", telling us that Isaac will defend the Jewish people before G-d. Isaac loved Esau - even with all of his failings - in order that he should be able to claim "even though Esau 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 phrase, "tzayid in his mouth". "Tzayid" can also be translated as "sustenance". Isaac loved Esau 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

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