by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
Ch. 25, v. 27: " Ish so'deh" - The Rosh says that "so'deh," sin, dalet, hei, is an acronym for Shofeich Dom Ho'odom.
Ch. 25, v. 27: "V'Yaakov ISH tom" - Rashi says that one who is not wise in conniving is called a "tam," a simpleton. How can we call Yaakov a "tam" when we see that the gemara M'gilloh 13b and the Medrash Breishis 70:13 (brought in Rashi 29:12 d.h. "ki") say that Lovon, the master conniver, had met his match in the person of Yaakov?
The Holy Chozeh of Lublin says that our Rashi is actually forewarning this difficulty. We know that even negative traits have their appropriate place and application. The Medrash Koheles ch. 7 goes so far as to say that it is sometimes the greatest cruelty to be merciful in given circumstances. If one is a "tam" then he can never respond with cunning, even when it is called for. Yaakov was not a "tam" but rather an "ISH tam." "Ish" means one who has mastery, as in Rus 1:3, "Elimelech ISH Noami," Elimelech the master of Noami, who forced her to leave Eretz Yisroel against her will during the famine. Yaakov had mastery over his simplicity. When called for, he rose to the occasion, even against the great swindler Lovon. One who can't do this, says Rashi, is a "tam," but Yaakov was an "ISH tam."
Ch. 25, v. 28: "Va'ye'ehav Yitzchok es Eisov ki tzayid b'fiv" - The Ruach Eliyohu (Rabbi Eliyohu Avron) explains this with the interpretation of the Holy Alshich on the verse in Mishlei 9:8 that says, "Do not rebuke a scoffer lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you." There are two ways a person can be told that he has not behaved properly. Either he can be told, "You behaved as a fool, totally improperly," or, " For a person of your stature, what you did was improper." Do not reprimand a person by calling him a scoffer, a fool. It will be ineffective, as he will hate you. If you admonish him through saying that you consider him wise, but that he acted in a manner unbefitting for his stature, then he will love you and accept your words. The Ruach Eliyohu applies this idea to our verse and explains that Yitzchok saw through Eisov's ruse, but ACTED as if he loved him, to trap him with his, Yitzchok's, mouth.
I believe we find a similar explanation in Rashi on Yehoshua 9:14 d.h. "va'yikchu."
Ch. 25, v. 28: " VA'YE'EHAV... ki tzayid b'fiv, v'Rivko OHEV'ES" - We find Yitzchok's love for Eisov expressed in the past tense and Rivka's love for Yaakov expressed in the present tense. The Kli Yokor explains that the word "ki" should be translated as WHEN, since Yitzchok's love was based on an object, it only existed at the time that he received the benefit. The Sheloh adds that Rivka, however, had a steady, unwavering love for Yaakov which was not dependent on an outside factor, hence the present term "o'hev'es" is used, as per the dictum of Pirkei Ovos 5:17, "Any love that is dependent on a matter, when the matter ceases to exist so does the love. Unconditional love lasts."
There was once a great Chassidic Rebbe whose son unfortunately did not follow the proper path of the Torah. Eventually his manner of behaviour, speech, and dress all reflected his downward spiritual spiral. He did, however, make a point of attending all public functions at which his holy father officiated. The chasidim were very displeased with this and felt it was an affront to the Rebbe to have his son in attendance, considering the very visible spiritual deviation of the son. They did not have the courage to approach the Rebbe with this matter. They held a meeting and decided that an elderly, scholarly chosid should approach the Rebbe as a representative of all his followers to suggest that the Rebbe's son not be allowed to attend tishen, etc.
With trepidation the chosid came to the door of the Rebbe's study and was about to knock when he heard a cry emanate from the room. He heard the Rebbe say, "Hashem, You know how much I suffer from my son's deviating from the proper path, and how much more I suffer when I see him on a constant basis, not looking or acting as a proper Torah-true Jew should. Yet I, a mere human being, don't banish him from my presence. You, Hashem, have endless patience. Why do You exile Your children from Your presence in the Holy Land?" Needless to say, the chosid never brought up the matter with the Rebbe.
In a similar vein, Rebbi Meir of Primishlan explains a gemara Shabbos 89b that explains the verse in Yeshayohu 63:16, "Ki atto ovinu" with the following story. Hashem approached Avrohom and told him that his children have sinned. Avrohom responded that they should be destroyed and this would create a sanctification of Hashem as everyone would see that transgressors are strongly punished. Hashem then raised this same point to Yaakov and received the same response. He then approached Yitzchok who responded that they are Hashem's children and responsibility as well, and should be forgiven. Yitzchok even took upon himself responsibility for their sins.
It is ironic that Yitzchok who represented "pachad Yitzchok," stringent judgement, was the only one who responded favourably. Why wasn't Avrohom, who was the pillar of mercy, or Yaakov, able to respond as Yitzchok did? Rebbi Meir of Primishlan answers that only Yitzchok was capable of responding favourably in the face of sin, because only Yitzchok kept his wayward son in his presence, in spite of suffering immensely from him, even to the point that he was blinded by the smoke of the incense offered to idol worship in his home by his daughters-in-law.
Our verse is saying that Yitzchok loved Eisov, "ki tzayid b'fiv," so that Yitzchok would have this strategy to allow later generations of sinners to be exonerated.
Ch. 26, v. 5: "Eikev" - The Baal Haturim points out that this word equals 172, the number of years that Avrohom kept Hashem's commands, from the time that he became aware of and recognized his Creator, at the age of three (N'dorim 32a).
The gemara Yoma 28b derives from our verse that Avrohom even kept Rabbinical decrees, including Eruvei Tavshilin. Why is this particular law singled out? 1) The GR"A answers that in the original text of the gemara the abbreviation E"T, ayin tes, appeared. A later transcriber mistakenly thought it stood for Eruvei Tavshilin, while it actually stood for Eruvei T'chumin. This is rightfully alluded to in our verse by the word "Eikev" which also had the meaning "heel," hinting to the restriction of walking a certain distance beyond one's domain, which can be altered with eruvei t'chumin. 2) The Chasam Sofer answers that the words "eruvei tavshilin" mean mixture of cooked objects, meat and dairy cooked together. It is indeed unique that Avrohom kept this law since Tosfos on the gemara Sanhedrin 4b d.h. "derech" say that there is a Torah restriction on Bosor b'cholov only when each on its own was originally permitted. Since before the Torah was given there was no verse to permit milk products, as they are an extract, "yotzei," from a prohibited object, namely a live animal, eiver min hachei (see gemara B'choros 6b), he really was permitted to eat this cooked mixture. Therefore the gemara Yoma stresses that he kept even this prohibition.
3) The Avnei Nezer quotes the Ramban who asks why there is a prohibition to prepare from Yom Tov to Shabbos, since Shabbos is greater than Yom Tov in all aspects. The Ramban answers that there is one point in which Yom Tov is greater. Yom Tov is established by a human court, while Shabbos is Divinely established. Human involvement to establish the right time for each Yom Tov is greater than a permanently set time, even if done so by Hashem. Therefore, it is prohibited to prepare on Yom Tov for Shabbos without making an eruv tavshilin. The Avnei Nezer says that since before the Torah was given, Avrohom kept the Shabbos out of his own volition, his Shabbos was equal to Yom Tov even in the area pointed out by the Ramban. Therefore, there should be no restriction for Avrohom even without an eruv tavshilin, and yet he still made one.
4) Another possible answer: There is a halacha that one may not cook food on Yom Tov to be consumed even that same day by one who does not observe Shabbos and Yom Tov (see Shulcan Oruch O.Ch. #512:1). An eruv tavshilin would therefore not be applicable in Avrohom's situation, since Avrohom did not have the possibility of unexpected Shomer Shabbos and Yom Tov guests arriving, which is a necessary component of the hetter created by the eruv. (See #527 and Ran, Ch. 3 of Gemara P'sochim). Yet, he still made an eruv tavshilin to go through the motions of a future Rabbinical mitzvah.
Ch. 26, v. 5: "Chuko'sei" - "Avrohom's descendants will multiply and be given this land in the merit of Avrohom's hearkening to My voice and fulfilling My safeguards, precepts, STATUTES, and teachings." Statutes may well be the most powerful tool to attain continuity of Torah values. We often tell our children what is proper and what is improper. They don't always see it our way. Sometimes they are blinded by their desires. Other times it is because of their not grasping the importance of our values. A simple example would be a young child not understanding that it is very dangerous to cross a busy roadway.
The best way to truly teach someone is not by lecture, but rather by EXAMPLE. Only if we keep STATUTES, mitzvos which have no obvious logic, can we teach our children to accept authority and cooperate even when they don't understand, since we are modeling that behaviour. By keeping the STATUTES of Hashem, Avrohom taught his descendants to follow Hashem even in matters which are beyond their comprehension. Therefore, statutes are a most integral part of assuring that Avrohom's children will fulfill the awe-inspiring task of being a "light unto the nations." They therefore received Hashem's promise to become populace and to inherit Eretz Yisroel.
Ch. 27, v. 9: "Shnei g'doyei izim tovim" - The Medrash 65:14 says that in the merit of these two goats which Rivka requested Yaakov to serve his father Yitzchok, he would receive the blessings, and the b'nei Yisroel would in the future benefit from the forgiveness brought about through the sacrifice of two goats on Yom Kippur (Vayikroh 17:5). What is the connection? The Beis Halevi answers that there was a strong disagreement between Rivka and Yaakov whether to even attempt to wrest the blessings from Eisov by tricking Yitzchok (see Medrash 65:15). Yaakov felt that since the blessings were for material success (there are opposing views on this point), he should not pursue them. The future generations would be better off with limited material opportunities, while wealth might otherwise distract them from their goal of pursuit of spirituality, as explained in the gemara Chagigoh 9a on the verse in Yeshayohu 48:10, "I have chosen you for the crucible of poverty."
Rivka felt that although Yaakov was basically right, there are two important benefits that could be realized with having material success. One is that many mitzvos can only be fulfilled if one has the funding for them. The other advantage is that if one has been granted the blessing of material success, if deprived of it, it is to be considered a punishment, and would be an atonement for some sins (gemara Bovo Basro 9a). The Beis Halevi compares ownership of material wealth, which should not be a goal unto itself, to possessions from which one may not derive benefit, by virtue of a vow. Yet, two benefits may be derived. One is that the object may be used for a mitzvah (see gemara Rosh Hashono 28a). The second benefit is that the object may be used to pay a debt (see gemara N'dorim 33a). With this approach, Rivka persuaded Yaakov to attempt to receive his father's blessings.
We know that long-term success in any matter requires a source of sanctity to support it. What is the source for the material success of the 70 nations? (There are medroshim which say that the 70 oxen of the mussaf sacrifice of the 7 days of Succos, Bmidbar 29:14-32, are the source.) The Beis Halevi says that its source is the scapegoat of Yom Kippur which is sent down a precipice. Its laws seem contrary to all laws of sacrificing at the Beis Hamikdosh. It is not slaughtered in the normal ritual manner that even animals for chullin, non-sacrificial animals, are slaughtered, nor are any other normal blood offering procedures followed, i.e. its procedure is done outside the Mikdosh compound, no receiving of blood in a holy vessel, no placing of blood on the altar. This is because it is a quasi-sacrifice, its benefit being for the nations of the world, which doesn't allow it to be processed at the Beis Hamikdosh in the normal fashion. Why is this sacrifice brought on Yom Kippur? He answers that since the dominant theme of Yom Kippur is to receive atonement for our sins, we specifically bring a sacrifice which brings success for the nations to have material goods. Since we are entitled to material blessings, our willingness to relinquish them, and even bring a sacrifice to that end, creates an atonement. This would not be so if Yaakov had not received the blessings, and had not had a claim of ownership of the material world. This is the connection in the Medrash, that the goats which would facilitate Yaakov's receiving the blessings would bring about an atonement through the scapegoat of Yom Kippur.
We find that Eisov comes at the moment of completion of Yaakov's receiving the blessings, and that he bitterly screams for a blessing from his father. His father gives him what is seemingly a blessing that is very similar to that of Yaakov. If so, why did Eisov harbour a burning hatred for Yaakov for so many years? The Beis Halevi says that we actually find that the Holy Zohar addresses this question (vol. 1, page 143b). He answers that there is a critical difference between the two. Yaakov's blessing is worded "v'yitein, and Hashem will GIVE you" (27:28), while Eisov's is worded "y'h'yeh, IT WILL BE" (27:39). The Beis Haleivi explains that Yaakov actually was the RECIPIENT and OWNER of the blessings. Eisov was told by Yitzchok, who saw through prophecy that the b'nei Yisroel would not be worthy in later generations, and would have to relinquish some of their material possessions to the b'nei Eisov, that he would end up receiving Yaakov's blessings, thus the fulfillment of "y'h'yeh." Eisov wanted actual rights to this, and was not satisfied with it only being passed on to him. He therefore hated Yaakov.
Ch. 27, v. 27: "K'rayach so'deh asher beiracho Hashem" - The gemara Taanis 29b says that this is a field of "tapuchim," usually translated as apples. (This was mentioned in the Rosh Hashono issue. According to the opinion that the blessings were given on Rosh Hashono, contrary to the Pirke d'Rebbi Eliezer which is quoted in Rashi that they were given on Pesach, this would be a source for the custom of dipping an APPLE into honey for the omen of initiating a New Year that is sweet.) However, the Tosfos on the above gemara d.h. "shel tapuchim" says that tapuchim here means ESROGIM. He brings no proof nor even an indication for this interpretation. Horav Avrohom of Broida says that this can be proven from the Medrash (5:9) which Rashi brings in parshas Breishis (1:11) on the words "eitz pri," that this was a command that the fruit trees should have the flavour of their wood similar to the flavour of its fruit. The trees did not comply and were later cursed (3:18). If all the trees were cursed, how could Yitzchok enliken the fragrance of his son to the fragrance of a field of trees BLESSED by Hashem, as they were all cursed? The gemara Succoh 35a says that the esrog tree's wood and fruit have the same flavour. We see that this is the one exception to the above non-compliance with Hashem's will. Now we understand how Tosfos knew that "tapuch" had to mean esrog, since our verse says that it was BLESSED by Hashem.
Possibly this can also be answered with a gemara Shabbos 88a that brings a verse in Shir Hashirim (2:3) where the Jewish nation is enlikened to a "tapuach." The gemara explains that just as a tapuach produces its fruit before its leaves develop, unlike all other trees, so also at the time of the giving of the Torah, the Jewish nation first said "na'a'seh,' we will do, before saying "nishma," we will hear, also unlike the response of the other nations. The Tosfos d.h. "piryo" ask that this is contrary to the facts. An apple tree produces leaves before its fruits develop. They answer that tapuach means an esrog. The gemara Succoh 35a, when attempting to identify the elusive "pri eitz hodor" (Vayikro 23:40), interprets "hodor" to mean "HADOR b'ilono mishono l'shono", a fruit which resides on its tree from year to year. This means that an esrog has the capability of staying connected to the tree from one year to the next if not harvested. Last year's esrog is indeed produced before the leaves of the coming year develop. This, say the Tosfos, is what is meant by the fruit preceding its leaves, specifically applying only to an esrog tree.
We see from here that the gemara uses the word tapuach for esrog. This might be why Tosfos in Taanis also assumed that tapuach means esrog. It is most interesting to note that if we take the numerical value of "b'ni k'rayach sodeh a"(sher), beis, nun, yud, kof, reish, yud, ches, sin, dalet, hei, and the alef of "asher," we have 2+50+10+20+200 +10+ 8+300+4+5+1 = 610, the same value as ESROG, alef, tof, reish, vov, gimmel, 1+400+200+6+3 = 610. The alef of "asher" can be left out and only complete words used if you add the "kollel" of 1.
Ch. 27, v. 31: " Va'ya'as gam hu" - The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel relates that when Eisov attempted to capture game for his father, he was unsuccessful. (The Medrash 67:2 says that even when an animal was caught in a trap, an angel opened the trap and the animal escaped.) Not wanting to come home empty- handed and risk the loss of his father's blessings, he killed a dog and prepared it for his father's consumption. The Pirush Yonoson says that this is alluded to in Yitzchok's shocked response 27:33 , "mi eifo hu hatzod tzayid," which can be interpreted as "Who is the one who brought a TRAPPER of game?" A hound is often used by trappers to help capture game.
Ch. 27, v. 39: "Mishma'nei ho'oretz" - Rashi says this refers to Italia of Yovon (Breishis Rabboh 67:6). How is this derived? The Rebbe Reb Heshel answers that since Yaakov received the blessing of "mishmanei HO'ORETZ" (v. 28) there was no place left on earth that could bring a blessing for Eisov. However, the gemara Shabbos 56b and Sanhedrin 21b say that when King Shlomo married the daughter of Paroh, the angel Gavriel forced a stick into the Mediterranean Sea. Silt collected upon it until it formed the land called Italia of Yovon, and that is Rome. Since this was a newly created land, after the time of the blessing, it is only possible for this particular land to be the source of Eisov's receiving blessings of the earth.
With this we can possibly answer a question raised on Breishis 1:9 which says, "yikovu hamayim v'seiro'eh hayabosho." The question is raised that once the waters assemble, it is understood that there would be areas of dry earth. A well known answer is that this alludes to the krias yam suf, meaning that the dry earth will be visible in the future at krias yam suf. Now we have a second answer, that this alludes to the land of Italia of Yovon that would be formed in the future.
The Sifsei Chachomim #70 avoids the original problem by saying that Yaakov received a blessing of the PRODUCE of the earth, (v. 28) u'mishmanei ho'oretz, dogon, tirosh; while Eisov received the actual EARTH as his blessing (v. 39).
Ch. 27, v. 41: "Yik'r'vu y'mei eivel ovi" - A number of interpretations:
1) I will hasten the death of my father if I kill Yaakov now, so I will have to wait for his natural death before killing my brother. (Rashi, Daas Z'zeinim)
2) I will wait for the death of my father so that he will not have more sons who might take revenge for my killing Yaakov. (Baalei Tosfos)
3) Even though it will hasten my father's death, I will kill Yaakov at the first opportunity. (Baalei Tosfos)
4) I will wait for the days of MOURNING after my father's death. During that time Yaakov will not be learning Torah (see Shulchan Oruch Y.D. #380:1) and without that merit I will be successful in killing him. (Kli Yokor)
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