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Pop Quiz: How many years were Abraham, Yitzhak and Ya'akob all alive at the same time?


by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"And Esav came from the field and he was tired." (Beresheet 25:29)

Rabbi Nissan Alpert z"l points out that this is the first time the Torah uses the word "ayef" - tired. When a word is introduced to us in the Torah in a certain context, we are supposed to learn from that usage and apply that same meaning all over.

Abraham was one of the busiest men we have ever seen. He traveled from place to place, building altars, serving guests, being tested and passing those tests successfully, and we never find that he was tired. He lived for 175 years and had a full and very involved life and yet the Torah never describes him as tired. We know from our own experiences of great people who are very busy, involved in a million things, and we never perceive them as tired. The lesson here is that someone who is involved with a spiritual dimension to his life has the energy for many more things than someone who is just existing a mundane life. Esav was busy doing sins on the day he sold his birthright and he was not rejuvenated by anything spiritual of any meaning. Therefore, he was "tired." If we fill our lives with meaning, if we have spiritual contact in the things we do, we will have the spice and sparkle which will keep us from getting stale. Only someone who lives a life of materialism, without letting Hashem into his world, will become "tired" easily. Let us be like Abraham and have the energy for much more in our lives. Shabbat Shalom.


by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Yitzhak entreated G-d concerning his wife for she was barren."

As we learned in last week's perashah, Yitzhak married Ribkah. However, Ribkah was unable to have children. Yitzhak struggled in prayer for twenty years before Hashem fulfilled his request to have children from Ribkah. Yitzhak knew he would have children because Hashem promised Abraham that "through Yitzhak you will have seed," but Yitzhak wanted it to be carried out through Ribkah. Finally Ribkah conceived, once again confirming that our nation is born only through miracles, that not only was Sarah barren, but also Ribkah. That miracle continues today as well, giving us confidence that our nation will never cease to exist.

The word "vaye'etar" is an interesting term. Rashi says it comes from the word "atar" which denotes wealth, which tells us that Yitzhak prayed abundantly for Ribkah. The Midrash says that Yitzhak poured out his prayers in "wealth." Rabbi Schwab explains that Yitzhak didn't limit his prayers to Ribkah alone, but he was rich in his prayers. He prayed for all of the barren women in the world that Hashem should have mercy and grant them the gift of motherhood. For this is praying in wealth, not limiting his prayers to himself, but to spread to all the needs of the world - just as the wealthy man doesn't limit the scope of his wealth to himself only.

This concept is an ongoing lesson that the Torah teaches us time and time again. To be a good Jew is to be less and less concerned about yourself, and more and more concerned for others. As we pray in earnest, let's make our prayers wealthy, for wealthy prayers are hard to turn down. Shabbat Shalom.

Answer to pop quiz: Fifteen years.

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