Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Soup for sale:
Before we begin this week’s heylige parsha of Toldois, where we find one brother scheming and successfully snookering his older brother, a plot successfully carried out by mother and son to deceive her husband and his father (same person) and other goodies, let’s chazir a few highlights from previous parshious and why not? It’s thanksgiving weekend, many of you have been off since early Wednesday afternoon, some got off at night, if you chap, and here we are celebrating along with the goyim. Life is beautiful.
In parshas B’reishis, we were introduced to Odom, his bashert Chava, and the snake. Shoin: you all know what happened next. We then met their two sons Kayin and Hevel who avada brought them much yidishe nachas. Shoin: you know what happened next. Later on in the parsha and after some hunting accident resulting in another death, we met Lemach. He was the genius of the generation taking two wives: one for baby making, the other, his pleasure toy. One medrish says the RBSO was not happy with his behavior.
A week later we met Noiach, Mrs. Noiach and their children who were the only ones singled out by the RBSO to survive the Mabul while all others perished. Unable, post Mabul, to deal with reality, he took to the bottle, got shikkur and was raped and/or sodomized by his own grandson. Yikes!
One shabbis later we met Avram and his eishes chayil, Sorai. After lying about their relationship, she ended up in the king’s boudoir. His plan to rid himself of his wife failed, they were reunited and lived happily after; not quite. Avrohom at 99 became a moihel and was his own first client. Ouch!
In Vayero, Avrohom at 100 and Soroh at 90 had a baby boy and named him Yitzchok. The RBSO told Avrohom (in a dream) to slaughter his only son and offer him up as a sacrifice. Yitzchok at 37 goes along with the plan. At the last second, the RBSO says: just kidding; they live happily after. We also met Loit, Mrs. Loit and their daughters. The Loits have the good fortune of being on the save list when the RBSO orders that the entire city they dwell in be destroyed. Following that debacle, Loit finds himself in a cave with his two single daughters. Wine appears miraculously, he takes to the bottle, gets drunk and shoin: They rape him over two consecutive nights, each gets pregnant, each delivers a child. The medrish makes him out to be the bad guy. One day down the road, the Moshiach will trace his yichus back to this incident. You can’t make this up.
Last week in Chaya Soroh, we met Rivka who according to some was a mature 3 year old when she, on her own, agreed to marry Yitzchok. Says Rashi: that a malach conveniently killed her dad and in the mayhem that followed, Eliezer hurried off with Yitzchok’s prospective kallah. Beautiful way to make a shidduch: murder, kidnapping and suspense. Makes sense if you’re trying to chap a 3 year old. Veyter. Yitzchok met her and loved her. Soroh died, Avrohom rightfully mourned for her, some say not enough. At 140 or so, he remarried. Some say his new wife was Hogor, whom he had previously married and divorced. They had six more children. According to some, Avrohom had many other concubines and other children. Impressive at any age but Avrohom was a stand-up guy, if you chap and the RBSO loved him. Does it get better than this?
And now, let’s learn this week’s Parsha of Toldois, which means generations. Three events dominate. Ershtens ( firstly), the fact that Rivka, like the first of our mothers, was nebech barren; second, Yitzchok’s interaction with king Avimelech and his commander in chief Phichol; third, Yakov swindling….err I mean buying Eisav’s birthright and the deceptive plot that led to ensuring that he received Yitzchok’s brochos (blessings). At first glance the three events don’t make much sense, even at second glance. Ober not to worry: the medrish and Gemora are always here to fill in the gaps. This week we’ll get more acquainted with Yitzchok and Rivka; their struggles to have children, Rivka’s pregnancy, all about the delivery of twin boys and some givaldige scheme concocted by Rivka and her favorite son Yankif, to outwit her husband’s favorite son Eisav out of his birthright. As always, time and space don’t allow that we cover each topic and I urge you to open the Chumash and learn the parsha, it’s over the top this week. Ready? Here we go.
After twenty years of marriage without children, Yitzchok and Rivka take to praying. We assume they also continued trying. Rashi tells us that only Yitzchok’s prayers were answered; Rivka conceived twins. Radak says that Yitzchok prayed intensely so that he would not have to take a second wife as his father did. Could be or is pshat that he was davening farkert? Efsher he wanted a second wife and a few pilagshim (concubines) just like his father? Ver veyst?
She struggled mightily during pregnancy, was in constant pain and went to see Shaim (Noiach’s eldest son) for answers. We’re taught that Shaim and his grandson, Eiver went into business together running a Yeshiva; it is after all a business, isn’t it? She’s told through prophecy that her suffering is but a microcosmic prelude to the world-wide conflict that will ensue between the two great nations brewing in her belly— Rome and Israel. The boys are born, Eisav first, followed by Yankif holding onto his brother’s heel.
Efsher you’re wondering why good people have trouble having children when the average shiksa and tinkele, get pregnant even when they use protection. Why does the RBSO make these good people suffer? Why were ¾ of our Emohois (foremothers) barren for many years? We already learned that Soroh was childless till 90 and in a week or so we’ll learn that mama Ruchil didn’t nebech conceive until her older sister had a bunch. Nu, you’re not alone. In the cases of Soroh and Ruchil, the husbands were not the issue; seemingly, they were chapping and seeding plenty. Ober says the heylige Gemora that the RBSO desires the prayers of the righteous. He’s even happy when oisvorfs like you mumble a few words in Shul during talking. Even though rational analysis suggests that the Emohois, mistama, more so than anyone else, deserved to have kinderlach, nevertheless, the RBSO showed that it had nothing to do with rational judgment and expectations. He’s in charge of di ganze velt (the entire world) and has a master plan.
Back to the twins: They grow up. Some say this means they became bar mitzvah (givaldige speech material) and by this time their personality traits are quite apparent. Eisav is a hunter, a man of the field. Yankif opts for the good and stress-free life in Yeshiva, a model since emulated in Lakewood and other fine institutions. We’re taught Eisav was the bad guy. Why was one good and one bad? Is hunting so gifelrich? Most of you chazerrim have been hunting and playing the field since your teens and loi olayni haven’t stopped. And why was the bad one older so that the younger one had to shvindel (outwit) him in order to get what was necessary for him to fulfill the RBSO’s plan? Why couldn’t Yankif be born first and get the firstborn rights from the get-go? Ver veyst? Raboyseyee, as I’ve told you many times: the RBSO has a master plan; we’re just puppets in the big theater. Who says we have to understand everything? You’ve got to believe; that’s all. Nu, back to the parsha.
The boys are now 15. Avrohom, their Zeidy dies, it’s the day of the levaya and the story gets interesting. Yankif is home cooking lentil soup, the traditional mourner’s meal. How traditional could it have been and who started this tradition, ver veyst? Efsher the first Tevya!? Next: Eisav, just back from hunting, is having a hard day. He’s ravenous. What’s pshat? Why was he taka so hungry? Nu, let’s find out.
Says the heylige Gemora (Buba Basra 16b) azoy: On this day, the day Avrohom Oveenu passed away, this wicked man transgressed five sins. He raped a betrothed woman, he murdered someone, he denied the RBSO’s existence, he denied the resurrection, and he belittled the bechoira (birthright). Avada you can chap why he’s so ravenous. Most people are taka in the mood for a snack just following regular sex with the eishes chayil. Zicher, es lust zich redden (surely it stands to reason) why he’s ravenous on this day; he’s put in a full day’s work. Bedding a married woman, raping and killing can sap one’s energy. In fact, the medrish tells us that the main reason for his extreme exhaustion was as a result of cohabiting with that married woman. Mistama she was demanding. In other words: Eisav is a bad guy!
Is that so? Avada not all agree that he was so giferlich. Says The Riva: that it was common for hunters to wander around the forest in search of prey for as much as four days at a time. As a result, they would often arrive home in a state of total exhaustion, literally dying of hunger and thirst. In other words: he was just hungry, is that a crime? According to others, however, Eisav arrived home after having killed Nimrod for his special hunting-clothes. Nimrod’s men were chasing after Eisav in their efforts to avenge their master’s death. He had managed to shake them, but it had left him utterly spent. Maybe he was just a murderer and not a rapist; is that so giferlich?
Ober (however) before we write him off completely, listen to another medrish which tells us that Eisav had excellent midos (character traits), saving graces. He is considered the paradigm of virtuous behavior in the great, perhaps among the greatest of all 613 mitzvois – kibud Av Ve’Aim (honoring parents). Moreover the heylige Toirah tells us that his dad, Yitzchok mamish loved him and that Eisav loved him back. He gave his father kuvid (respect) and served him faithfully. Says the Zoihar and who knew better, that the power of Eisav’s kibud Av, was greater than that of his brother Yankif. Says the Medrish: Reb Shimon ben Gamliel commented, “All my life I served my father, but I did not attain even one percent of the service performed by Eisav for his father. I was not particular about the cleanliness of my clothes when servicing my father. Only when I went out into the public eye did I take note of the condition of the clothes I was wearing. In contrast, Eisav was particular to serve his father in clean garments, but would not care if he walked into the market wearing rags.” Efsher that would explain why Yitzchok, later in the parsha, asked his favorite son to “go out to the field and hunt game for me, then make me delicacies such as I love, and I will eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die” (B’reishis 27:3-4). Ober chap nisht (patience please), that comes up later. Moreover, another medrish tells us that in reality, Eisav was supposed to be one of the Ovis (forefathers). Just as we had four Emohos (foremothers), so too, we should have had four Ovis; Avrohom, Yitzchok, Eisav, and Yaakov. Gevald!!
Next: Eisav begs his only brother for some lentil soup that Yankif is cooking. One would think that the Yeshiva bochur would gladly feed his twin brother but the heylige Toirah tells us that Yankif wasn’t in a giving mood, no freebies. Yankif was a skilled negotiator and proposed a deal. Said Eisav: “Please, stuff me now with this red, red stuff, because I’m really tired.“ He was shvach (weak), and about to pass out. All he wanted was to open his mouth and for the soup to be poured down his throat. One would think that a brother would do anything, even mouth to mouth, ober not Yankif. Said he: “If you want hot liquid, sell me your birthright today.” Yankif doesn’t need liquid soup, he wanted liquidity. He wanted the birthright and all that came with it! Said Eisav, “I’m going to die; what do I need this birthright for?” Said Yankif: “Swear to me today.” They made the deal and since that day, and ad hayoim hazeh (till today), Eisav hates his brother and the rest of us yiddin. All this hate for a bowl of soup? Yikes! Nu, can we really blame him?
We interrupt this amazing story of brotherly love with a sidebar story about Yitzchok having some run-in with Avimelech, King of Gerar. Yitzchok, like his father before him, was fearful that the king would desire his beautiful wife. Indeed the king did. Beautiful women seemingly bring problems. Solution: marry ugly! Avada the Oisvorfer paskens differently. What to do? He lied and said of Rivka: hey- she’s my shvester (sister). Hmm, haven’t we heard that story before? Indeed we have! Veyter. Ober this time the RBSO came to Avimelech in a dream and warned the good king about patchking with an eishes ish (married woman) and to keep his scepter in his pants. Avimelech says: not guilty! Yitzchok said: she’s but his sister. The RBSO as a preventive measure, punished the good king and all his servants by preventing them from relieving themselves and made them all impotent. Is it the same Avimelech who had Soroh over for a night and then made the pact with Avrohom? Ver Veyst?
Post dream we are taught: “And it came to pass as his [Yitzchok’s] days there lengthened, that Avimelech, king of the Plishtim, gazed through the window and he saw and behold…” Avimelech figured out that Yitzchok and Rivka are really husband and wife. The Toirah uses a clean vernacular. It says Yitzchok was `mitsachek’ (playing or jesting) with Rivka. Rashi says they were having sexual relations. How Rashi knew this? Ver veyst? Avimelech observes Yitzchok and Rivka laughing and concludes that indeed they are married! How he came to this conclusion, ver veyst? When was the last time you saw a man and wife laughing together? Typically, one is crying or wants to.
Would the holy Yitzchok and his eishes chayil have relations in front of the window for all to see? We are talking about our holy ancestors whom the RBSO described as too holy to leave Eretz Yisroel and they’re promiscuous? Is this pshat? The average married guy can’t get the eishes chayil near him unless it’s pitch black outside and inside, they’re in a bed, lights out, shades drawn and then it takes an hour of begging. Ober Raboyseyee, we shouldn’t chas vsholom think that Yitzchok and Rivka, despite what Rashi tells us, were acting carelessly during day hours in front of an open window. The Maskil L’Dovid points out that according to the Zoihar, the word `chaloin’ (window), means a crystal ball of sorts. In other words: Avimelech was spying on his guests with black magic and crystal balls. Yitzhok Oveenu was onto Avimelech and for his own protection, used the RBSO’s name to `black out’ Avimelech’s crystal ball. Amazing! The bottom line: everyone needs to pish and no one wants to be impotent. Rivka is returned, Yitzchok davens for their good health, and they’re all healed.
Unlike Avrohom who was enriched following Soroh’s ordeal, Avimelech doesn’t hand Yitzchok any riches when he delivers Rivka back. Yitzchok’s own mazel kicks in and he becomes fabulously wealthy. His fields are uniquely prolific and financially successful. Ober (but) Yitzchok’s financial success lead to jealousy with his Plishtim neighbors, antisimitten (anti-Semites) that they were. They fight over wells and water rights and eventually Yitzchok moved again, this time to Be’er Sheva. Not much has changed.
Yitzchok is getting up there in years, the end of his days are approaching. He calls for his favorite son Eisav to prepare him a feast so that he can bentch him. The plot thickens. Rivka, acting on a prophetic message, understands that this is not correct. Her favorite is Yankif. What to do? Rivka has an idea. Yankif will slip into Eisav’s hunting clothes and play Eisav. Says the heylige Toirah: “And Rivka took the precious clothes that Eisav had deposited with her …” (27:15). According to the Da’as Zekeinim mi’Ba’alei Toisfes- these were hunting attire with pictures of all animals painted on them. Whoever wore them had access to all the beasts, since they all tended to be attracted to them. And it was these clothes that Eisav coveted from Nimrod, who had received them in turn, from Odom. The day that Avrohom died and Eisav came running to Yankif, was the day that he had killed Nimrod to take his hunting clothes. This was, as we learned on page 2, one of the five sins committed that day. Eisav was now on the run, fleeing from Nimrod’s men who had given chase, to avenge their master’s murder. Mistama you’re wondering what Eisav was wearing that day while out hunting if he left his hunting clothing behind. Excellent kasha. Efsher it was all part of the master plan. Eisav forgets his clothing, Rivka sees them, Yankif wears them and the rest is, as they say, part of our glorious history. Gishmak!
Or efsher you’re wondering where Odom got such a beautiful set of hunting attire? Dick’s Sporting goods? Not to worry: says the P’ninim mi’Shulchan ha’Gro, quoting the Or ha’Tzvi that this outfit was custom made by the RBSO for Odom and his eishes chayil from the skin of the snake. Remember the snake? No? Go back to page one. Since the snake had originally been king of all the animals, it had a picture of each and every animal embossed on its skin. Whenever animals spotted their own picture on these clothes, all the animals would bow down to the snake in utter humiliation. In the end, people always submit to the snake, if you chap. After the snake sinned by slithering up to Chava, the RBSO stripped off its skin and made Odom’s and Chava’s shirts out of it. Well blow me down.
And speaking of Chava, listen to this bombshell. Says the Arizal that Rivka was a gilgul (reincarnation) of Chava, the first woman. For those who believe in gilgul, people are reincarnated in order to give the neshomo (soul) the opportunity to rectify the sins that it committed in an earlier lifetime. And what was Rivka here to correct? Nu, let’s roll back to page one again and recall that Chava, following her encounter with the snake, convinced Odom, her husband to partake of the forbidden fruit. And that’s how it’s been ever since, if you chap. Says Rashi that she did this for selfish reasons; she feared that following her demise, Odom would remain alive and would find another mate. Because Chava ensnared Odom, her descendant Rivka learned from her mistakes and rectified them. In contrast to Chava who caused Odom to eat something forbidden, Rivka saved Yitzchok from eating from the food that Eisav brought him which was not properly slaughtered, and according to some opinions was dog meat (Targum Yoinason ben Uziel 27:31). Moreover, her action enabled Yankif to receive the blessings to which he was (according to her) rightfully entitled. Some say that Yankif was the tikkun for Odom but that’s for another day. Yankif will still be featured for a few more weeks; let’s move on.
Yitzchok was, we are taught, also blind or nearly so. One pshat tells us that he became blind because of the smoke that came from incense which was burned for avoido zoro (idol worship) by Eisav’s wives. Eisav had wives like in plural? Eisav took two Chitti wives who were a source of bitterness to Rivka. Would your mother be happy if your shiksa wife was burning incense in the house? Says the Oznayim Letorah: Eisav like Lemach whom we met back in Parshas Berishis, also took two wives, one as his sex toy. Just about now, you must be thinking and klerring and asking the following: if Yitzchok was so affected by the incense from Eisav’s wives that it mamish blinded him, why wasn’t Rivka at all affected? Were they living in separate bedrooms? Ober says the medrish so gishmak (tastefully) that Rivka wasn’t affected because she was already immune to the incense having grown up in her dad’s house who was an idolater. Just another case where the medrish plugs a hole; gevaldig!
Another explanation is that when Yitzchok was tied to the altar at the Akeydo incident, the malochim (angels) cried. Their tears fell into his eyes and diminished his eyesight. The reason that Yitzchok had to become blind was so that he would confuse Yaakov for Eisav and give him the birthright blessings. Nu, do you see how beautiful medrish and learning can be? Just open your eyes.
The scheme worked. Yankif played Eisav and walked away with his father’s blessings, which Yitzchok confirmed even after he found out that he’d been had. Nu, maybe it was all bashert (predestined). Of course you may be left asking a few excellent kashis (questions) including: How is it that Yitzchok did not know Eisav’s true character? Was he not a prophet? And how is it that Yankif, the paradigm of truth, used deception, lies and trickery by saying that he was really Eisav and took the brochos from his only brother? Hey, I’m not done yet. Or, maybe you’re wondering why Yankif needed to come in disguise when Yitzchok was already advanced in years and nearly blind. Why did Yitzchok need to eat his favorite dish in order to bless Eisav? Was their entire relationship based on food? Ober Chazal already told us that Yitzchok loved Eisav, not because he enjoyed his food, but because Eisav was so zealous in Kibud Av (honoring his father). Ver veyst? The medrish has many answers to each and every question: go look them up. I’m moving on.
What did Eisav do after he lost his birthright and blessing? Nu, like any good man, he blamed it on his wives, he had two at this point. “Eisav saw that the daughters of Canaan were wicked in the eyes of Yitzchok, his father.” What to do? He went to uncle Yishmael’s house and took as a wife Machlas…”in addition to his wives” (Bereishis 8:8-9) He didn’t divorce the other wives; he simply added another one to his collection.
As Parshas Toldos comes to an end, Eisav, despite taking a third wife, is still not a happy camper and vows, one day, to kill his brother. Fearing for his safety, Rivka sends Yankif to her brother Lavan’s house where he may find a suitable wife. More trouble awaits, see you next week.
It appears that both Rivka and Yaccov saw the big picture and chapped that he was destined to play a major role in Jewish history. So he lied to his father, to Avimelech and shvindeled (tricked) his brother; twice. Sometimes in life, we need to zig and zag to get where we need to go, especially if the RBSO is orchestrating from above. Does the end justify the means? Ver veyst? Eisav couldn’t get past a bowl of bean soup.
A gitten shabbis