Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 11   No. 6

This issue is sponsored in honour of
the birth of Choresh n.y.
son of Moshe and Livnat Lopian n.y.
great-grandson of
Rabbi and Mrs. Chaim Wilschanski sh'lita
of London/Har Nof

Parshas Toldos

How Old Was She Really
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

"And Yitzchak was forty years old when he took Rivkah ... " (25:20).

When Yitzchak returned from Har ha'Mori'ah, Rashi explains, Avraham was informed that Rivkah was born. At that stage, Yitzchak was thirty seven. So he waited three years, until she was of a marriageable age, and then he married her.


The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. (mi'Ba'alei Tosfos) however, takes Rashi to task from a Sifri, which concludes that Kehas, Rivkah and ben Azai all lived to the same age. Kehas, the Torah specifically writes, died at the age of a hundred and thirty-three. In that case, that was the age at which Rivkah died, too.

Assuming that Yitzchak married Rivkah when she was 3, as Rashi maintains, she will have been 23 when she gave birth to Ya'akov and Eisav. Add to this the 63 of Ya'akov when he was blessed (as Rashi himself writes at the end of the Parshah), the 14 years that he studied in the Yeshivah of Sheim and Eiver, the 20 years that he spent with Lavan and the 2 years that he spent on the journey home, at which point in time he received news of his mother's death. In total, this makes Rivkah 122 at that time, 11 years short of the 133 mentioned by the Sifri.

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. therefore concludes that Rivkah was 14 years old when she married. We will then have to explain that, when G-d informed Avraham about Rivkah's birth, it was not because she was just born (in fact, she was already eleven at the time), but because the time had arrived for Yitzchak to start thinking of marriage, and Rivkah was his Barshert.


One problem with the Da'as Zekeinim M.T.'s explanation is why Avraham waited three years before sending Eliezer to find him a wife. And this is exacerbated if, as Rashi explains at the end of Vayeira, the news of Rivkah's birth came to alleviate Avraham's worries. Avraham reckoned, Rashi explains there, that if Yitzchak had been Shechted at the Akeidah, what would have happened to the great future G-d had promised him? So he figured that he had better marry him off to one of the daughters of Aner, Eshkol or Mamrei. And this was when Hashem informed him that Rivkah was available. Why did he not send Eliezer off to Charan there and then?

And even if the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. does not concur with the latter Medrash cited by Rashi, he will still need to explain why Avraham procrastinated for three years. Why would the same Avraham Avinu about whom the Pasuk testifies "And Avraham arose early in the morning", for the sake of a Mitzvah, bide his time here?

Rashi, based on his own view of Rivkah's age, answers the question beautifully. Avraham did indeed intend to marry off Yitzchak immediately, and so he would have done, had Hashem not informed him about Rivkah. And it was only after He did, that Avraham had no option but to wait three years until Rivkah was ready to marry. But according to the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., there seems to be no logical reason as to why, once he knew about Rivkah, he did not send Eliezer to Choron immediately.


Another problem with the explanation of the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. is one that he himself raises from the Gemara in Kesuvos. The Gemara in Kesuvos (57a) learns from the episode with Rivkah, that a besulah (a virgin) is given twelve months from the time of the betrothal to prepare for her wedding. That is fine according to Rashi, who says she was three at the time of the betrothal. But according to the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., who gives her age as fourteen, she was no longer a besulah, but a bogeres (the post besulah stage), and the time between the betrothal and the wedding allowed a bogeres, is not twelve months, but thirty days (like that of a widow). So it appears that the Gemara does not concur with the opinion of the Sifri, in support of Rashi's opinion, that Rivkah was three years old when Yitzchak married her.


Parshah Pearls

A Splitting Image

"And these are the generations of Yitzchak, son of Avraham, Avraham bore Yitzchak (Avraham holid es Yitzchak)" (25:19). Rashi explains that the Torah testifies as to the striking resemblance that Yitzchak bore to Avraham, in answer to those mockers who were saying that Yitzchak must have been the son of Avimelech ... .

That explains why the numerical value of "holid" is equivalent to that of 'domeh', which means 'similar', as the Rosh remarks.


Like Chalk and Cheese

"And Yitzchak Davened to Hashem opposite his wife (le'Nochach ishto)" 20:21.

"le'Nochach ishto", observes the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, has the same numerical value as 'eish ve'kash', a hint to the Pasuk in Ovadyah, which compares the house of Eisav to straw and the house of Ya'akov to fire.

It is feasible to say that Eisav inherited his character-traits from his mother's brother Lavan (in accordance with Chazal, who say that most children turn out to be similar to their maternal uncles), and Ya'akov, from his father Yitzchak.

In that case, the current D'rashah is particularly apt.


Padan Aram

"And Yitzchak was forty when he took Rivkah ... from Padan Aram? (25:20). Because there were two Arams, explains Rashi, Aram Naharayim and Aram Tzovah (Syria), the Torah refers to it as Padan Aram, which means a pair ... .

The Rosh queries this explanation however, on the grounds that, if Padan refers to the two Arams, then why is only one of them called Padan Aram, and not the other?

He therefore explains that Aram Naharayim is called 'Padan Aram', not because of the two Arams, but because of the two rivers between which it was situated. As a matter of fact, 'Padan Aram' has the same meaning as 'Aram Naharayim'.


The Long Galus

"And the older one will serve the younger one" (25:23).

This is how Unklus translates the words "ve'rav ya'avod tza'ir". Others point out that the words also lend themselves to the opposite meaning ('and the younger one will serve the older one'), reflecting the ongoing battle between Ya'akov and Eisav, already hinted in the previous phrase (see Rashi there).

The Rosh explains "ve'rav y'avod tza'ir" to mean that the younger one will be subservient for a long time (hinting to our lengthy Galus).


Eisav Missed the Boat

"And the first one emerged ruddy" (25:25).

When Yitzchak saw how red Eisav looked, he thought that his blood must not have become properly absorbed in his system, which explains why he declined to circumcise him at eight days, since under such circumstances, it is highly dangerous to do so. Da'as Zekeinim M.T., quoting a Medrash.

When after a year or two, Eisav's appearance did not change, Yitzchak realized that this must be Eisav's natural colour. But still, he held back, arguing that if Eisav missed being circumcised at eight days like he was, then he may as well wait until he turned thirteen, and to circumcise him then, like his brother Yishma'el. But when it came to the crunch, Eisav refused to go through with it.

This Medrash clearly argues with the Medrash that Eisav was born already circumcised.


The Youthful Apostate

"And the boys grew up" (25:27).

As long as Ya'akov and Eisav were small, one could not really tell the difference between them ('Boys will be boys!'). But the moment they turned bar-Mitzvah, things changed. One went off to the Yeshivah of Shem and Eiver, the other, to serve idols (Rashi). That was when their actions began to reflect their characters.

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. cites a Rashi later in the Parshah (Pasuk 30), that Avraham died five years before his time in order to spare him the anguish of seeing his grandson Eisav straying from the path. And at that stage, Eisav was (not thirteen but) fifteen (as is clear from the fact that Avraham was 100 when Yitzchak was born, 160 at the birth of Eisav, and 175 when he died), leaving a two-year discrepancy between Rashi's two statements.

Perhaps, the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. suggests, Eisav did indeed stray from the path when he was thirteen, but that was on the quiet, in a way that left Avraham unaware of his evil deeds. It was two years later, when he was fifteen, that his evil ways became publicly known.


The World's Number One Murderer

"And Eisav was an expert hunter, a man of the field (Ish Sadeh)" ibid.

The word "Sadeh", points out the Rosh, is the acronym of 'Shofech Dam Ha'adam' (who spills the blood of man). Need more be said?


Eisav the Red

"Pour some of this red, red dish (ha'Adom, ha'Adom ha'zeh) down my throat ... that is why he was called Edom ... " (25:30). This suggests that Eisav became known as Edom, because of the red lentil-broth to which he referred.

But surely, asks the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., it would have been more appropriate to call him by this name on account of his ruddy appearance from birth?

So this is how he reinterprets the Pasuk, based no doubt, on the double expression used by Eisav - "Pour some of this red dish down my throat, because I too, am red ... that is why he was called Edom (since he referred to himself as red, not because of the lentil-broth).


Going Cheap

"Sell me your birthright 'like the day' (25:31). See also Rashi.

'What it's worth to you now', Ya'akov meant to say (Da'as Zekeinim M.T.). He was referring to the double portion that a firstborn inherits after his father's death. And taking into account the possibility that he might die before his father, this would be considerably less than the birthright's real value (entailing a method of evaluation known as 'Tovas Hana'ah') ...


You Got it Right, Brother

"And Eisav said, behold I am going to die ... " (25:32).

'Every day I am out in the forest hunting wild animals, Eisav replied, and am constantly only one step away from death. It is indeed highly probable that I will not inherit our father, so what use is the birthright to me?

You can have it for a song!'


(Part 10)

Eizehu Mekoman


(adapted from the Eitz Yosef)

The Burned Bulls and Goats (cont).

Please note that the final paragraph in "Additional Information" in last week's issue should have read as follows: "And on the Golden Mizbei'ach - four times, once on each corner, but not seven times on top (like the Kohen Godol did with the blood of the bull and the goat of Yom Kippur)".


All the bulls and goats (the Chata'os Penimiyos) that we discussed until now, are burned in the Beis-ha'Deshen (a designated spot outside Yerushalayim). The burning may be performed even by a Zar and even during the night. Any 'wood' may be used, even straw or stubble.

Note also, that the latter category of burned bulls and goats (those that do not pertain to Yom Kipur) could not be burned on Shabbos (since the Mitzvah is not fixed for that day).


The Chata'os

The Sin Offerings incorporating both communal and private ones: These are the communal sin-offerings (the 'Chata'os Chitzoniyos'; the 'Chata'os Penimiyos' have already been discussed) - the goats of Rosh-Chodesh and of the Yomim-Tovim. Their Shechitah takes place on the north side of the Azarah, and so does the receiving of their blood in a K'li Shareis, which is sprinkled on the four K'ranos (blocks).

How is this done? The Kohen begins to ascend the ramp, but turns right to the Sovev. He then sprinkles the blood (with the finger) on all four K'ranos, beginning with the south-eastern Keren, then on the north-eastern Keren, on the north-western Keren and finally, on the south-western Keren. The remaining blood he pours on the southern Yesod.

And the bodies of the Chata'os are eaten by male Kohanim, prepared as they pleased, for the remainder of the day and until midnight of the following night.



(adapted from the Eitz Yosef)

The goats of Rosh-Chodesh and of the Yomim-Tovim: which must be in their first year, and whose blood is sprinkled on the Mizbe'ach ha'Olah.

Chata'os ... ha'Yachid: These comprise a she-goat for serving Avodah-Zarah be'Shogeg, a she lamb or goat for Tum'as Mikdash ve'Kodashav (as a Korban Oleh ve'Yored) if the owner can afford it (a poor man brings birds, a very poor man, flour). And the same applies to an ordinary person who committed other sins punishable by Kareis if transgressed be'Meizid (irrespective of one's means).

A king, in the latter case, brings a he-goat, and a Kohen Gadol, a bull (as discussed earlier).

All of these require 'Semichah' in the Azarah, confession, skinning and burning the Eimurin (the fat pieces and other parts that are not eaten) with salt. Whenever the Chatas consists of a lamb, the fat-tail is included in the Eimurin.

And he turned towards the Sovev: an Amah-wide ledge that surrounds the Mizbei'ach three Amos from the top, and which one reaches by means of a small ramp, leading from the large ramp that stands in front of the Mizbei'ach. It is necessary for the Kohen to stand on the Sovev, since the K'ranos, on which he sprinkles the blood of the Chatas are nine Amos from the ground, and the Sovev, six.


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