Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Was Rivka a Virgin?
Nu, giloibt der Abishter (thank the good Lord)! This past shabbis while the Oisvorfer was in shul davening to the RBSO, and where the major topic of conversation was power – who had some, whose lasted longer than four hours, if you chap, and LIPA- at approximately 10:30AM, while the eishes chayil was mistama also davening biyichidus, (alone) as did Rivka Emainu in this week’s Parsha of Toldois, the lights, thanks to a crew from Phoenix, Arizona, flown in on a C-5 with their heavy equipment, finished re-hanging a few downed wires in the backyard and moments later, vayihi oir- and there was light. And while life has more or less returned to normal, especially for the shver and shviggermeister, whose house and space the Oisvorfer and his mishpocho invaded and shared for 10 days, for many, disruptions continue. Many houses remain uninhabitable with boilers and hot water systems in need of total replacement and in other cases, entire houses may need to be rebuilt nebech. The insurance carriers are tzittering in their hoizen (quaking in their pants), the only orthodox insurance adjuster the Oisvorfer knows is in heaven mamish: his ship has come in.
And in this darkness, a bright light of chesed was lit and remains illuminated. Over at Beth Sholom here in the five towns, which itself had no lights and power for at least 10 days, once the lights turned on, so did its chesed project. Beginning this past Monday evening at dinner time and at least through tonight and mistama longer, the Shul, under the givaldige tutelage of Rabbi Kenneth Hain, has been sponsoring free dinners which were and are being served by volunteers of every age group including the heylige Oisvorfer himself, and open to anyone, member or not, that showed up. Hot soup was served by a senior citizen with a big smile, while kids as young as six, were schlepping cases of soda and manning the stations. Food of every variety including chicken, cold cuts, chulent, kugils and many other side dishes, all fit for a king, was in abundance. Shout outs are due to the caterers, shop owners, bakeries and others that mistama donated thousands of dollars’ worth of provisions. More amazing than the actual donations, was the spot appearances of David Itzkowitz of Mauzone and Jack Brach of Brach’s who came by to make sure that there was enough of everything. Also to shul members and mistama others who donated funds to help offset some of the costs, to those who oversaw the initiative, to those who sat patiently at the various serving stations helping dish out the food with a smile and to all the volunteers, an incredible sight mamish. In fact, so many willing and able volunteers showed up on Monday evening, that the Oisvorfer was urged not to come. And speaking of hot soup, for one who yearns a bowl, in this week’s heylige and very exciting Parsha of Toldois, also the bar mitzvah parsha of the Oisvorfer’s youngest son, Maxwell Perry, a bowl of lentil soup, will forever change the course of Jewish history. Lommer lernin.
If the first few Parshios of Bereishis left you baffled and scratching your head about our illustrious history, the behavior of Odom, Chava and some snake, Noiach with yet another snake encounter while inebriated, Loit’s snake and his daughters, Avrohom Oveenu’s plots to rid himself of his eishes chayil, Yitzchok’s near brush with death on the Akeydo, wait until you read this week’s heylige Parsha of Toldois which records the births of Yankif Oveenu and his twin brother Eisav and oh so much more. Read the parsha, it’s mamish givaldige!
A few weeks back it was Avrohom Oveenu who favored his younger son Yitzchok over Yishmoel and in this week’s episode, it’s Rivka, Yitzchok’s eishes chayil and the love of his life, that will favor one twin son over the other. In a few week’s we’ll come to learn that Yankif Oveenu, the last of our forefathers, will also come to favor one son above the others and avada we all know how that turned out. Why all this happened, ver veyst but as the Oisvorfer has told you many times, it’s seemingly what the RBSO wanted in His master planning and avada whatever the RBSO wants, the RBSO gets! Shoin!
And now, let’s learn this week’s Parsha of Toldois, which means generations. After twenty years of marriage without children, Yitzchok and Rivka take to praying. We assume they also tried other more conventional methods of conception. Rashi tells us that only Yitzchok’s prayers were answered, more on that below; Rivka conceived twins. Radak says that Yitzchok prayed intensely so that he would not have to take a second wife as did his father Avrohom. 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. Says Rashi, who avada knew exactly what happened, that she 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. Mistama not what she expected or wanted to hear and one can imagine that such news didn’t ease her pain much. The boys are born, Eisav first, followed by Yankif holding onto his brother’s heel.
And while men all over the world are fighting to get in, if you chap, Rashi also tells us that while the boys were still in Rivka’s womb, they fought to leave that pristine environment. Yankif wanted to leave when his mother walked by a yeshiva while Eisav the minuvil in the making, felt the need to exit when Rivka walked in the proximity of an idol and made a dash for the exit. Efsher you’re wondering why Yankif would want to leave such a warm nurturing environment when another medrish tells us that during gestation and while inside the womb, a malach teaches the fetus the entire heylige Toirah? Isn’t a malach a better Rebbe than any human being? Taka an excellent kasha, answers anyone? Nu, avada there are answers proffered and among the most popular is that he Yankif was not happy with his chavrusa (study-mate) and wanted out.
The heylige Toirah tells us that Yitzchok and Rivka davened separately but that only his prayers were accepted. And says the Yalkut Shimoni something mamish shreklich: when Yitzchok went looking but did not find evidence that Rivka was a virgin, he suspected that Eliezer, his trusted servant, of chapping his 3 or 14 year old bride to be. What sort of evidence a 3 year old has, ver veyst. Nu, efsher that could explain why Yitzchok and Rivka davened separately; maybe they weren’t talking to each other?
Ober before we accuse Rivka falsely of such behavior at 3 or 14 years old, efsher we can explain pshat azoy: Rivka was completely innocent of the charges and that the reason that her prayers were not answered is because there was no need for prayer on her part: she was pure and innocent and as any 3 or 14 year old should be and because Yitzchok had suspected her of foul play, she was already guaranteed by the RBSO through laws of the Soita (later in Bamidbar) that she would be rewarded and give birth; gishmak mamish! Avada all this took place hundreds and hundreds of years before the Toirah and the Soita laws were given but hey, didn’t we learn that the heylige Ovois kept the entire Toirah anyway? Of course we did. Shoin! Yitzchok suspected his 3 year old kallah of being chapped by Eliezer, she was innocent mamish and according to the Toirah, one who is suspected falsely, is guaranteed to have children. And according to this thinking, Yitzchok needed to daven for children and his prayers were answered. Unfortunately this doesn’t answer why she had pain during her pregnancy since the lack of pain is also one of the rewards promised to those innocent of chapping charges, ober who says we have to have answers for everything in one parsha? Veyter!
Efsher you’re wondering why Rivka, feeling pain and angst went to a Yeshiva instead of scheduling a visit with her obstetrician, are you? Says the Medrish: Rivka Emainu went to the bais ha’medrish of Shaim’s Yeshiva because Shaim was a navi (prophet) and she figured that he would have givaldige insight into what was going on in her uterus. Ober there’s more to this story. Seemingly, Shaim was a great man, a spiritual giant who headed a yeshiva which catered to the people of that era who were actively seeking the word of the RBSO. Among the distinguished alumni of his yeshiva was none other than Yitzchok Oveenu. He was? Says Targum Yoinoson azoy: following the Akeydo, the malochim (heavenly angels) whisked him away from the danger zone and enrolled him into Shaim’s Yeshiva, (efsher for safekeeping), where he stayed for shono Aleph, Beit and Gimmel (3 years), efsher a forerunner of the post high school yeshiva model of today where they try hoodwinking the kids into believing that they need this extra time to work on themselves. Unfortunately, most kids are working on themselves since high school, if you chap.
And after seeing how well rounded and educated her husband was, she went to the same yeshiva to get answers about her pregnancy. Avada we all know from another Medrish that following Shaim’s leadership, he passed the family business over to his grandson Ever who continued to grow the yeshiva. Next week we’ll taka learn that Yankif Oveenu also enrolled in the very same Yeshiva. At the age of sixty-three, after leaving home with Eisav in pursuit, Yankif went to Ever’s yeshiva and spent fourteen years there studying various topics including trading soup for birthright and a few other tricks he taka needed to escape his shver Lovon’s house, ober chap nisht – that all goes down next week-. What taka happened to that yeshiva, ver veyst. Seemingly all was going well until some Rebbe got epes to friendly with one or more bochurim (students), began to chap the talmidim, and many years later when the mayseh became bavust (the abused student went public) and hit the fan and the Rebbe was exposed, if you chap, the Yeshiva, after massive judgments were levied against it and closed its doors. Veyter.
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 age 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 of prayer 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.
And efsher you’re wondering why the RBSO willed it so that both Yankif and Eisav would be born together and why Rivka needed to endure such giferliche pains during her pregnancy, you are? Nu, Chazal (our wise ones) teach us that the sword and the book came down from heaven bound together. Yankif avada represents the book and Eisav the sword. Therefore, they came down entwined together to teach you that it is impossible to have one without the other – the book needs the sword, because if not for the sword the book would not be kept.
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 where work is considered stressful and is strictly verboten. We’re taught Eisav was the bad guy. Why was one good and one bad? Is hunting so giferlich? Most of you chazerrim have been hunting and playing the field since your teens and loi olaynu 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 (funeral) 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? Next: Eisav, just back from hunting, is having a hard day, if you chap. 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). 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. Seemingly, such extra martial activity can mamish sap one’s strength and also make one hungry and efsher good enough reasons to abstain? Ver veyst. Bottom line: according to most, Eisav is a bad guy!
Is that so? Avada not all agree that he was so giferlich. Says The Riva: 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). 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” (Bereishis 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 Ovois (forefathers). Just as we had four Emohois (foremothers), so too, we should have had four Ovois; 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 chapping with an eishes ish (married woman) and to keep his royal 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. The bottom line: Rivka is returned, Yitzchok davens for the good health of the king and his people 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 Bereishis, 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; givaldige!
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 Yankif 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