This week we begin with big wishes of mazel tov to our friends Shevy and Richie Cooperberg upon the beautiful wedding earlier this week of their daughter Bonnie to Dan Klein. Nothing the Oisvorfer has ever seen or heard can compare to the spirit and beautiful sound of up to 500 men singing Im Eshkochaich in unison post chuppah. It was lights out, mamish!
Mazel tov again to Beverly and Leon Mehl upon the upcoming wedding this Sunday of their son Alex to Eden Glaser of Bergenfield, New Jersey. The Mehls have been close friends for kimat 30 or more years.
Mazel tov as well to Yaffa Leah and Seth Schreiber upon the upcoming marriage, also this Sunday, of Yehuda whom we’ve had the pleasure and privilege of watching grow up, to Nicole Goldstein, daughter of Brenda and Stan Goldstein of Woodmere. Of course, it’s challenging to dance at so many weddings at one time and an old Yiddish expression states that one cannot dance with one tuchis at two weddings; we will, however, try.
Though the Oisvorfer does not ever shout out birthdays, an exception will be made and we wish a very happy birthday to the Oisvorfer’s new mechutin, Allen Perl –bo bayoim- today mamish, whose beautiful daughter Ariella married the Oisvorfer’s amazing son Zachary last Sunday. The wedding is over and we’re still talking; a good sign mamish. Happy Birthday!
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
The first ever yeshiva:
Being that Parshas Toldois is the sixth parsha of twelve in Sefer B’reishis , let’s begin with a mid-sefer review. Previously in Sefer B’reishis ….It all began but five weeks back where in prarshas B’reishis we met Odom, his eishes chayil Chava, and the conniving Nochosh (snake). Shoin, we all know what happened next. We then met their two sons Kayin and Hevel who avada brought their parents much yidishe nachas. Shoin: you know what happened next. By chamishi (5th portion) we met Lemach. Who is he? Nu, says the heylige Toirah and this is a quote mamish “and Lemach had two wives.” And says Rashi and who knew better, azoy: one for baby making, the other, his pleasure toy. Gishmak! Lemach was seemingly an innovator in his time; millions have, over the generations since, emulated his ways. One medrish says the RBSO was not happy with his behavior. Lemach was a happy man and why they call a fellow with two wives, one strictly for pleasure, a Lemach, ver veyst?
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 (flood) while all others perished. Unable, post Mabul, to deal with reality, he took to the bottle, got shikkur and was either raped or sodomized, or both by his own grandson. Another medrish says he was castrated. Nu, at least they didn’t kill him. Yikes! Yet more nachas from the mishpocho.
One shabbis later we met Avrohom and his eishes chayil, Soro. After lying about their relationship, she, Soro ended up in the king’s boudoir. Why poor Soro needed to endure this suffering, ver veyst. A similar scenario was repeated a week later (parshas Vayero) with a different king. Avrohom’s plot to rid himself of his wife failed, they were reunited both times and lived happily after; not quite. Avrohom was given a second wife by wife number one, had a child named Yishmoel, whose descendants remain our enemies ad hayoim hazeh (until today). 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 boys, Yishmoel and Yitzchok, were not meant to be together. Avrohom, at the request of his first wife, banished the second wife and their son Yishmoel who was left to die due to malnutrition. The RBSO declared that Yishmoel was to be judged ‘ba’shaer hu shom’ -as he was at that time- an innocent child- and ordered one of His malochim to save him. The RBSO told Avrohom (in a dream) to slaughter his beloved son Yitzchok and offer him up as a sacrifice. Yitzchok at 37 said ok dad, let’s do it. At the last second, the RBSO said He was just kidding; they lived happily after, though some say Soro’s neshomo (soul) flew out of her body upon hearing of her husband’s shenanigans. She died. We also met Loit, Mrs. Loit and their daughters. The Loit’s had the good fortune of being on the save list when the RBSO ordered that the entire city they dwelt in, Sedoim, be destroyed. Following that debacle, Loit found himself in a cave with his two single daughters. Wine appeared miraculously, he took to the bottle, they took to him and shoin: he got drunk, his fabulous daughters raped him over two consecutive nights, each got pregnant, each eventually delivered a child. While he made out with them, the medrish made him out to be the bad guy. One day down the road, the Moshiach will trace his yichus (pedigree) back to this incident. Not the last time, greatness will come from an illicit relationship, something to keep in mind, if you chap. Gishmak mamish! Is there any reason to read and learn anything but the heylige Toirah? You can’t make this up.
Last week in Chaya Soroh, Soro died, Avrohom paid full price for a fitting burial place, rightfully mourned for her, some say not enough. We met Rivka who, according to some, was a mature three 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, the world’s first shadchan, (matchmaker) skedaddled out of town off with Yitzchok’s prospective prize kallah. Murder, kidnapping and suspense; taka a most beautiful way to make a shidduch! On the other hand, when the kallah is but three or even fourteen as one medrish will opine, drastic measures are at times called for. Yitzchok met her, knew her and loved her, note the order of events. Some say this is a good model though to emulate. At 140 or so, Avrohom remarried. Some say his new wife, named Kitura, was really Hogor, whom he had previously married and divorced. Luckily this was before matan Toirah when one could divorce wife number one, marry number two and remarry number one. Did you chap all that? They had six more children. According to some, Avrohom had many other concubines and other children, he had at least some – so says the heylige Toirah. 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? Let’s learn parshas Toldois.
As we begin reading Parshas Toldois we find Yitzchok and Rivka happily married, living in Israel with Yitzchok involved in providing for his young family. The emes is he had no family yet as nebech, mama Rivka like ¾ of our emois (foremothers) was barren for a good while. Why 3 of our 4 emois were barren is a subject way too deep for you oisvorfs. The Oisvorfer has been pondering this issue for many years. A basic answer proffered and central to our emunah in the RBSO (Jewish belief) and as the heylige Gemora points out (with regard to Rivka and Yitzchok’s inability to have children at first; Yevamos 64a), righteous people suffer often to make them pray to the RBSO, for the RBSO desires their prayers. This is not just because the RBSO wants them to daven, but also because He desires a close relationship with them. As to the rest of us…He’s patiently waiting for us to see the light.
The heylige Toirah tells us that Yitzchak was 40 years old when he married Rivka who as we established last week was either 3 or 14, ver veyst? After 20 years and some davening, separate seating avada, Rivka became pregnant. Did she have a sonogram to determine what she was having? Zicher nisht. Instead, because she was experiencing rumbling, she went to yeshiva where according to the rebbes and the administration, all questions are answered. Twins, she was told! She really went to yeshiva? They had yeshivas back then? Nu, let’s find out. Seemingly there was at least one operating yeshiva, so says the Medrish and who knew better, and it appears that even our foremothers were associated with this very institution. They were? Was the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever the first ever co-ed yeshiva, ver veyst?
As it turns out, this is not the only reference to a yeshiva in the heylige Toirah. In fact, there are at least a few references to a yeshiva by the name of Yeshiva of Shem and Ever and in this week’s heylige parsha, Rashi will tell us that when Rivka had contractions, instead of seeing her obstetrician or gynecologist, she went to yeshiva to gain some insight into her unusual pregnancy. Says the heylige Toirah: the twin fetuses were rumbling inside of her, her pregnancy difficult. Says Rashi (25:22) quoting the medirsh and who knew better, azoy: the struggle between the twin fetuses within Rivka was exacerbated by Yankif trying to exit her womb when “she would pass in front of the doorways of Yeshiva Shem and Ever.” Similarly, the same pain struck her when she passed the temples of avoido zoro (idolaters). Troubled and nervous, she consulted Shem, Noiach’s son, mistama the rosh yeshiva and we are told, also one of the greatest prophets of her time. And says the medrish (Yalkut Shimoni Toldois 110) azoy: Rivka seeking answers in a yeshiva teaches us that whoever seeks out the presence of a Toirah scholar is equivalent to one seeking out the Divine Presence Itself. Gishmak. On the other hand, when a rebbe in yeshiva seeks you out, be on the lookout!
Efsher you’re wondering why Rivka didn’t ask her husband Yitzchok for advice on the pregnancy. What compelled her to run to Shem and Ever? Why ask a Novee for pregnancy advice? Is this not overkill? Ober let’s recall that Rivka chapped that one of the forces in her womb, the one that kicked to get out when passing a church, desired earthly pursuits, and in order to control these desires, she needed to consult with someone who knew the ways of the world. Seemingly, Yitzchok, holy person that he was, was removed from the outside world. Accordingly, Rivka went directly to Shem and Ever. From them she learned crucial lessons to guide her sons through the challenges of everyday life.
As an aside next week, we’ll learn, also from Rashi, that Yankif Ovenu did a fourteen year stint over in that very yeshiva. One medrish will tell us that Yitzchok too attended the same yeshiva, interestingly enough, also for 14 years. Suddenly your child asking for shono beit (2nd year) doesn’t seem all that outlandish. In a few weeks, when we meet everyone’s favorite Toirah hero, Yoisef, Rashi, commenting on the two words of of בן זקונים, will tell us that Yankif, his father, taught Yoisef all the Toirah he learned from Shem and Ever. Ober efsher you’re still befuddled by this entire medrish and wondering out loud or to yourselves as to what the hec they were learning? Did they have books, a machberes? Didn’t this entire episode take place hundreds of years before Matan Toirah, before the Mishna was codified, the heylige Gemora written and way before the printing press? Indeed it did! And the answer? Ver veyst.
Ober says Chazal (or wise sages) azoy: not to worry because our Ovois (forefathers) observed the gantze heylige Toirah kula (the entire Torah) before having received it. And in order for them to have kept all the mitzvois in the heylige Toirah, mistama they had to study it first, or, on a continuous basis. Hence the need for the Yeshiva and of course this would explain why Yankif was there 14 years and why maybe Rivka went there for answers on her pregnancy; isn’t all knowledge found somewhere in the heylige Toirah, whether written or oral? Gishmak. Ober did this really happen? Ver veyst?
And where was this yeshiva located? Nu, that depends on who you ask. Legend and the official Tzefas website have it that Noiach’s son Shem and his great-grandson Ever, set up a Beis Midrash or the very first yeshiva in a cave over in Tzefat (Israel), way up north, which is still its original location. Today it’s avada nothing more than a tourist attraction and efsher an address for government funding and lunch programs, ver veyst. Depending on which story you believe, Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yankif, all attended this illustrious yeshiva in a cave. There are avada medroshim that support any theory about who attended and when. Why not? On the other hand, says another medrish, that the yeshiva was located down south, over in Be’er Sheva. Where was it, ver veyst? Maybe it had a second branch, ver veyst?
And who are you to ask what they were learning? If the medrish says they were learning, avada we have to assume that this could have happened. Shoin! Case closed. How, is none of your business! When you write a Medrish, you can think of an answer. In the meantime, you are nothing but a giferliche oisvorf who learns little and thankfully you has the heylige Oisvorfer to teach you a few nuggets. Ober what were they taka learning? Also not a kasha: Who said that wisdom and righteousness only began with matan Toirah? Didn’t mankind have mitzvois before? Wasn’t Noiach already schooled in kosher vs. non kosher animals? And wasn’t the mabul 700 years before matan Toirah? And weren’t the B’nai Noiach given the seven ‘Noachide Laws,” including prohibitions against stealing, killing, idol worship, etc. Seemingly, according to legend and the medrish, Noiach’s mishpocho decided that there’s no business like yeshiva business and directed the first ever academy either over in Be’er Sheva or in Tzefas. And said Reb Simcha Wasserman azoy: ‘The Code of Hamurabi’ (18th century B.C.E.) is one of the oldest known legal codes on record. Hamurabi was most likely a dropout from the academy of Shem and Ever. Mamish gishmak!
As mentioned above, though not mentioned in the heylige Toirah, it appears that Yitzchok Ovenu also attended the same yeshiva. He did? When and says who? Ober leave it as always, up to the medrish to plug a few holes by backing into the story. Plugging holes is what the Plishtim (philistines) did later in the parsha, sadly we’ll have to skip over that part for now; it won’t kill you to learn the entire parsha. Efsher you recall from learning this parsha once before in your lifetime that the heylige Toirah is silent mamish as to what happened to Yitzchok following his near death experience on the akeydo. The last time we heard from or anything about him and until the beginning of this parsha, his father Avrohom had, at the last second, been instructed not to harm his own son. Ober all we read is that Avrohom returned to the youths waiting at the foot of the mountain. Where was Yitzchok? He has disappeared mamish. He seems to have been a no-show at his mother’s levaya (burial). Nu, maybe we can kler that he was too busy davening mincha, ver veyst. On the other hand, if your father tied you up like a sheep and tried slaughtering you with a machete, would you be hanging around? Where was he? Says the Ibn Ezra azoy: because Yitzchok was being directed by his father in all matters, it was not necessary to mention him coming down from the mountain, nor about his attendance or mourning for his mother; we just assume it all happened. Ober not all agree and some suggest that Yitzchok and Avrohom were physically separated following the close encounter with the big knife and were you Yitzchok, mistama you would have disappeared as well.
Says the medrish (Bereishis Rabba 56:11) azoy: says Reb. Berechya in the name of a few other Rabbis azoy: Avrohom sent Yitzchok to Shem’s yeshiva to learn whatever was in the curriculum ober without his iphone and ipad due to poor wireless reception in the cave, Yitzchok never got the news of his mother’s passing. Seemingly he was safer with his rebbe than with his father. Is that even possible? Bazman hazeh (in our times), the heylige Toirah is readily available and says the heylige Gemora (Kiddushin 66a) azoy: “The Toirah lies, bound up in a corner. Whomever desires – let him come and learn it!”
Shoin: our mid-sefer Bereishis review took up four pages and let’s quickly look at one other incident in this week’s parsha. As in real life, the good times don’t last forever, the recession hit, financial conditions began to worsen in the entire region, also affecting Yitzchok. What to do? Yitzchok decided to do precisely what his father did – pick up and move to another country where life is easier, where he would be able to enjoy prosperity and financial security, not a terrible plan. Not only does Yitzchok make up his mind to leave, but is already on the road when the RBSO appeared to him and says: Don’t go… sojourn in this land… and I will be with you and bless you. Who can say no to such a plan? Especially so when it comes directly from the RBSO and not through some mikubil (make believe messenger of the RBSO).
Yitzchok and Rivka settled among the Plishtim. What happened next? Recalling his father’s bag of tricks, though they didn’t work, Yitzchok decided to try one more time and told King Avimelech that Rivka was his sister. His sister? Isn’t it about time that he tried epes a new plan? How many times was Avimelech going to fall for this trick? Didn’t he already know that every time a Jew came to town with a beautiful woman who was his wife, he’d claim that no- she’s my sister? Let’s read the Toirah- follow along you laytzonim (clowns).
|, לְאִשְׁתּוֹ, וַיֹּאמֶר, אֲחֹתִי הִוא: כִּי יָרֵא, לֵאמֹר אִשְׁתִּי, פֶּן-יַהַרְגֻנִי אַנְשֵׁי הַמָּקוֹם עַל-רִבְקָה, כִּי-טוֹבַת מַרְאֶה הִוא.||7 And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said: ‘She is my sister’; for he feared to say: ‘My wife’; ‘lest the men of the place should kill me for Rivka, because she is very beautiful to look upon.’|
|ח וַיְהִי, כִּי אָרְכוּ-לוֹ שָׁם הַיָּמִים, וַיַּשְׁקֵף אֲבִימֶלֶךְ מֶלֶךְ פְּלִשְׁתִּים, בְּעַד הַחַלּוֹן; וַיַּרְא, וְהִנֵּה יִצְחָק מְצַחֵק, אֵת, רִבְקָה אִשְׁתּוֹ.||8 And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Avimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was laughing (or sporting) with Rivka his wife.|
Mistama you know that the word ‘metzachak’ means laughter and seemingly, according to the heylige Toirah, that’s what Yitzchok and Rivka were doing. Sounds innocent enough ober Rashi and others were not quite tizfriddin (satisfied) with this pshat. Why? Because married couples are typically not found laughing, period end discussion. Avimelech should have known that married couples don’t do things like that, even without a window. This could only taka happen between friends or prior to marriage. Ober (but) this is what the Toirah says. Ober another possible pshat is that they were sporting and that’s how a few translate this word. Ober, were Yitzchok and Rivka playing ball? Seemingly not! When was the last time you and the eishes chayil were sporting? Which married man can be found being metzachek with his eishes chayil? That, as we all know from experience only happens before marriage or with the pilegesh: Unheard of, unthinkable and mistama can’t be p’shat.
As expected, other midroshim didn’t accept this answer and suggest that Avimelech wouldn’t be fooled by seeing them laughing; they say p’shat is azoy (like this). What they were doing by the window was having relations (sexual ones), if you chap, and from this act, the genius Avimelech figured out that Rivka was taka Yitzchok’s wife. This sounds like p’shat. Says Rashi and who knew or imagined better azoy: Avimelech saw them having relations at the window. Is it possible that Yitzchok Ovenu and Rivka Emaynu were engaged in such activity in front of an open window? Ver veyst. And this is how he, Avimelech, figured out they were husband and wife? What kind of an idiot was this Avimelech?
Ober the heylige Toirah does indeed tell us that they were sporting and who are we to ask questions or judge. They were married and why not? In any event, King Avimelech summoned him and angrily berated him for identifying Rivka as his sister, when in reality she was his wife. Yitzchok apologetically explained to the king that he was afraid the men in Grar would kill him because of her beauty. Avimelech bit and warned his people not to harm Yitzchok and Rivka, not even touch them; a close call but both escaped unharmed and Rivka was not defiled .
Efsher you’re wondering why were our Ovois were so cavalier when it came to putting their neshei chayil (wives) in harm’s way? Ver veyst? The good news is that this time and unlike her mother-in-law Soro, Rivka was not abducted, nor taken to the king’s palace for an overnight and grand tour. Interestingly enough when Avrohom tried this “she’s my sister routine” twice before, he didn’t just got back the eishes chayil, but also walked away with parting gifts. Efsher you recall that he gave some of those gifts to the kinderlach he sired through his concubines. Gishmak. Paroy and Avimelech loaded Avrohom up with all sorts of material wealth but here in the this week’s parsha, Yitzchok gets no remuneration from Avimelech; it’s mashmeh (appears) that gifts from the king only come along with an overnight stay if you chap.
Ober raboyseyee let’s always keep in mind that the RBSO is mamish the best and although Avimelech didn’t hand him any riches, Yitzchok’s own mazel kicked in and he became fabulously wealthy. His fields were uniquely prolific and he, financially successful. Ober (but) as we learned above, Yitzchok’s financial success led to jealousy with his Plishtim neighbors, antisimitten (anti-semites) that they were. They fought over wells and water rights and eventually Yitzchok moved again, this time to Be’er Sheva, efsher to be closer to the yeshiva he left behind.
Nu, the parsha has so much more to give and teach ober the heylige Oisvorfer chaps that your attention spans are quite limited. Open the heylige Chumish and learn the parsha: it’s givaldig!
A gittin shabbis
The Oisvorfer Ruv