Week of October 31 – November 6, 2021

25 Cheshvon – 2 Kislav 5782

Shabbos Parshas Toldos – November 6, 2021

This is the first full week of living in our new house at 2936 W. Glenlake.   Magnificent.

Recalling  Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik, TZL

This Shabbos was Avrumi Bernstein’s Au Ruf in Sidney’s basement Minyan.  The wedding is in Lakewood,

Purchased of A Letter in the Scroll by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, TZL

Purchased Rabbi David Fohrman’s Sefer on Bereshis

Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik

Recap of week:

This was the first full week of living in my new home at 2936 W. Glenlake.  I have been dreaming of moving into this home since I purchased it in 2012.  The house is beyond my expectations.  Rabbi Revach’s Shiurim continue to be amazing and I continue to fight with my Chavrusah.  Worked hard to buy things and organize the new home.  We made our final decision on kitchen cabinets on Wednesday and ordered them.  They will be completed in late January 2022.  We still have to pick out the countertops.  Originally we picked out a Corian tile, however I want to go with Ceaserstone, an Israeli company.  I want to picture the sweeping landscape of Israel and recall the theme song of the movie Exodus,   https://youtu.be/z_TfM0SwdJE .  The theme song with words –    https://youtu.be/QEYmomUuveU .    We also have to decide whether the countertops will have a one foot overhang for bar stools or a table. Friday I went to Rosenblums and purchased Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Sefer, A Letter in the Scroll and Rabbi David Fohrman’s Genesis, A Parsha Companion.  On Shabbos was the Auf Ruv of Avrumi Bernstein at our Shul in Sidney Glenner’s basement.  I know the Chassen’s father, Matt Bernstein, an attorney,  and finally met his mother, a Japanese convert.

Vort #1:

On Shabbos Parshas Toldos 1973 at his Shalosh Seudas Drasha, Reb Aaaron Soloveichik explained why Yitzchok wanted to give the Brachos to Eisav and not Yakov.  As I recall Reb Aaron said that Yitzchok felt that to survive, Klal Yisroel had to be strong and tough like Eisav and as far as Torah, he will teach Eisuv Torah.  This Hashgacha Pratis of the events as they unfolded was to show Yitzchok that Yaakov also had strength to become the foundation of the nation of Israel. 

Reb Aaron mentioned Onkelys in Todos Verse 27:13.   וַתֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ אִמּ֔וֹ עָלַ֥י קִלְלָתְךָ֖ בְּנִ֑י אַ֛ךְ שְׁמַ֥ע בְּקֹלִ֖י וְלֵ֥ךְ קַֽח־לִֽי׃

Onkeylis – וַאֲמֶרֶת לֵיהּ אִמֵּיהּ עֲלַי אִתְאַמַּר בִּנְבוּאָה דְּלָא יֵיתוּן לְוָטַיָּא עֲלָךְ בְּרִי בְּרַם קַבֵּל מִנִּי וְאִזֵּיל סַב לִי – tranlsated as “And his mother said to him, Unto me it hath been said in prophecy, that there shall be no curses upon thee, my son; only obey me, and go, and take for me.”   The way Reb Aaron interpreted it, or how I remember Reb Aaron explaining Onkolus that she told her son that I was told via prophecy that you are to go in and take the Brochos from Eisav.  Meaning that at this very moment Rivka had this prophecy.  I always wondered, how did Onkelys know that Rivka heard a prophecy to pull this deception.  On Friday, I purchased the Sefer written by Rabbi David Fohrman on Bershis from Rosenblum’s.  Reading his Torah on Toldos, it clicked.  The prophecy Onkelys mentioned in all likelihood is the prophecy she heard from Shem when she was pregnant that the elder son will serve the younger son.  Most commentators translate this to mean that the older son being Eisav will serve the younger son Yaakov.  Therefore she reasoned Yaakov was destined to receive the first born blessing from Yitzhok and seemingly she felt that the only way to do this is through deception.  Rabbi Fohrman has a different Mehalech and says that she did not plan to deceive Yitzchok. Yaakov was to go in and tell his father that I am Yakov and that the Borchos belong to me.  The plan went awry and Yakov ended up deceiving his father.

Vort 2:

I was listening to Rabbi Levertov’s Parsha class from Sante Fe, NM, where he is the Shliach.   There was one listener who challenged Rabbi Levertov a number of times and was saying ideas that smacked of bible criticism and interpreting the Avos in a bad light.  She sounded intelligent and was hard to refute.  Of course she went against Rashi and other Reshoman, but just reading the Chumash without Rashi she sounded intelligent.  At one point Rabbi Levertov said that we cannot ignore 3,000 years of Mesorah.  Her last complaint was that the Avos had bad communication skills because Rivka did not tell her husband about her prophecy.  Through siatta dismaya, I remembered an old Vort that I said many years ago as to why she didn’t tell her husband the bad news that one son will turn out evil.  Rivka upon hearIng this devastating news thought to herself, I will not let this happen.  I will bring him up in a spiritual atmosphere, teach him, and train him to be a Tzaddik, a righteous man.  We do know that Eisev had the potential to be a Tzaddik.  Some say that the original divine plan was for Eisuv to be the financial support for Yaakov and Klal Yisroel, with Yaakov being the spiritual heart.  A Yissachar-Zevulun relationship.   She did not tell her husband because she did not want her husband to prejudge Eisav.  She wanted Yitzchok  to treat him and educate him just like Yaakov.  This is the nature vs. nurture argument.  I think that this explanation is so obvious.

Vort #3:

 The Torah in Chapter 26 discusses Yitzchok’s stay in Gerar.  Yitzchok becomes wealthy and the Pelishtim become jealous of Yitzchok.   

Bereshis Verse 26:14 describes Yitzchok’s wealth. 

וַֽיְהִי־ל֤וֹ מִקְנֵה־צֹאן֙ וּמִקְנֵ֣ה בָקָ֔ר וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה וַיְקַנְא֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ פְּלִשְׁתִּֽים׃

and he acquired flocks and herds, וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה, so that the Philistines envied him.

When I read this Passuk, I thought that the translation of   וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה  would be that Yitzchok had many slaves.   I was surprised that Rashi said that וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה  means “much work.   Looking through the Reshonim, there are three different translations וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה

1 – much enterprise – Rashi

2 – slaves/servants – Ibn Ezra and the Ramban

3 – farmland / farm work to be done – Sferno, Rashbam, Raak

What does Rashi mean when he says “much enterprise”.  The world back in the times of the Avos and for thousands of years were agricultural societies and raising farm animals.  There was no industry creating jobs that we have since the industrial revolutions starting in 1840.

Rashi is telling us an aspect of Yitzchok’s responsibility to the world and fellow man.  Yitzchok built businesses to employ people, to give them jobs, and a living.  Yitzchok is generally considered a man of Gevurah.  Someone who closed himself from within and did not engage the world.  However, the Torah tells us that despite his lack of engagement with the world, he was a tremendous Ba’al Chesed.  The Torah’s tells us the same thing with the wells.  After being kicked out from Gerar, he goes back to dig wells.  Why would Yitzchok do this when he was kicked out from Gerar and as Rashi says that he went to the valley of Gerar, far from the city.   Verse16:17 and 18 say –  וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ מִשָּׁ֖ם יִצְחָ֑ק וַיִּ֥חַן בְּנַֽחַל־גְּרָ֖ר וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב שָֽׁם׃ 

וַיָּ֨שׇׁב יִצְחָ֜ק וַיַּחְפֹּ֣ר ׀ אֶת־בְּאֵרֹ֣ת הַמַּ֗יִם אֲשֶׁ֤ר חָֽפְרוּ֙ בִּימֵי֙ אַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֔יו וַיְסַתְּמ֣וּם פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים אַחֲרֵ֖י מ֣וֹת אַבְרָהָ֑ם וַיִּקְרָ֤א לָהֶן֙ שֵׁמ֔וֹת כַּשֵּׁמֹ֕ת אֲשֶׁר־קָרָ֥א לָהֶ֖ן אָבִֽיו׃

The reason is that Yitzchok knew that water means life and water is a major resource to sustain society.  He went back to Gerar to dig wells to give the people sources of water.    All major cities in the US are built next to water sources.  This Is in contrast to the leaders who closed Avrohom’s wells because of jealousy.  They deprived their citizens of an important resource and caused them hardships and told the people a nonsensical reason why they closed the wells.  While on the surface it seems reasonable, that an invading army may come and will have water to fight against us, the reality is that when invading armies come to Gerar, they can close up the wells at that time.  This is what politicians do.  They do not care if they hurt their own people and only care about their power.  

Rashi in explaining  וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה as “much enterprise” based on what I wrote is saying that Yitzchok observe the highest level of chairy, of giving people jobs, as the Rambam writes in Hilchos Matnas Aniem – the laws of giving charity –   שְׁמוֹנֶה מַעֲלוֹת יֵשׁ בַּצְּדָקָה זוֹ לְמַעְלָה מִזּוֹ. מַעֲלָה גְּדוֹלָה שֶׁאֵין לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנָּה זֶה הַמַּחֲזִיק בְּיַד יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁמָּךְ וְנוֹתֵן לוֹ מַתָּנָה אוֹ הַלְוָאָה אוֹ עוֹשֶׂה עִמּוֹ שֻׁתָּפוּת אוֹ מַמְצִיא לוֹ מְלָאכָה כְּדֵי לְחַזֵּק אֶת יָדוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת לִשְׁאל. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לה) “וְהֶחֱזַקְתָּ בּוֹ גֵּר וְתוֹשָׁב וָחַי עִמָּךְ” כְּלוֹמַר הַחֲזֵק בּוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִפּל וְיִצְטָרֵךְ:  

There are eight levels of tzedakah, each one greater than the other. The greatest level,

higher than all the rest, is to fortify a fellow Jew and give him a gift, a loan, form with him a partnership, or find work for him, until he is strong enough so that he does not need to ask others [for sustenance]. Of this it is said, (Lev. 25:35) [If your kinsman, being in straits,

comes under your authority,] and you hold him as though a resident alien, let him live

by your side. That is as if to say, “Hold him up,” so that he will not fall and be in need.

The following is a list of Reshonim and how they translate וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה.

First Translation:

1 – Rashi’s words –   ועבדה רבה. פְּעֻלָּה רַבָּה בִּלְשׁוֹן לע”ז אוברי”נא, עֲבוֹדָה מַשְׁמָע עֲבוֹדָה אַחַת; עֲבֻדָּה מַשְׁמָע פְּעֻלָּה רַבָּה: 

Artscroll translation of Rashi – “This means “much work”. “The word  עֲבוֹדָה  denotes one task but the word עֲבֻדָּה  denotes many varieties of work.”

Second Translation:

2 – Ibn Ezra – ועבדה. עבדים ושפחות שיעבדוהו והוא תואר השם או שם כמו סגולה: 

3 -Ramban:   ויהי לו מקנה צאן ומקנה בקר ועבודה רבה – אתונות וגמלים וחמורים ועבדים ושפחות

Third Translation:

4 – Sforno:   ועבודה רבה, soil ready to be worked

5 – Rashbam:       ועבודה רבה, work in the field and vineyards. The expression עבודה, unless defined differently, additionally, always refers to labour in the field.

6 – Radak:      ועבודה רבה, he also engaged extensively in agriculture. Compare Proverbs 12,11, עובד אדמתו, “tilling his own land.” Compare also Genesis 4,11 כי תעבוד את האדמה, “when you till the soil.”                                                     

The word עֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה  as defined by the Reshomin and how the various Chumasim translate these words.

Rashi – Much enterprise:

Artscroll – much enterprise

            Gutnick Chumash – much enterprise

            Mesoras Harav – much production

Ibn Ezra – slaves  –  Sefaria – large household

Ramban                   JPS – great household

                                Soncino – great household*

* See Soncino commentary

Sferno – Farmland/farmland to be worked – Rabbi Samson Rephael Hirsh chumash – much farmland 



Rabbi Roberts said that this is the meaning of the Rambam in Hilchos  Melachim 9, Halacha 1 

that says:     וְכֵן הָיָה הַדָּבָר בְּכָל הָעוֹלָם עַד אַבְרָהָם. בָּא אַבְרָהָם וְנִצְטַוָּה יֶתֶר עַל אֵלּוּ בְּמִילָה. וְהוּא הִתְפַּלֵּל שַׁחֲרִית. וַיִּצְחָק הִפְרִישׁ מַעֲשֵׂר וְהוֹסִיף תְּפִלָּה אַחֶרֶת לִפְנוֹת הַיּוֹם. וְיַעֲקֹב הוֹסִיף גִּיד הַנָּשֶׁה וְהִתְפַּלֵּל עַרְבִית. וּבְמִצְרַיִם נִצְטַוָּה עַמְרָם בְּמִצְוֹת יְתֵרוֹת. עַד שֶׁבָּא משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ וְנִשְׁלְמָה תּוֹרָה עַל יָדוֹ.

Yitzchok established the laws of tithing.  The Ravad argues on the Rambam and says it was Avrohom who established Maaser.   According to the Rambam one would not expect that Yitzchok established tithing because Yitzchok’s character trait is Geverah and not Chesed.  It was Avrohom whose characteristic was charity and chesed.  Yet, the Rambam ascribes tithing to Yitzchok.  The reason is as stated above.  Yitzchok worked to the benefit of society, providing water resources and an economy providing jobs.  He also felt that people should have to give away 1/10 of their property to help other people, to help society.

Added Insight:

Each of the Avos had their defining trait; Avraham’s was chesed, Yitzchak’s was gevurah (to be explained), and Ya’akov’s was emes/tiferes. The Immahos also had their defining traits, and these were the traits which complemented their husbands; Sarah’s was gevurah, Rivkah’s was chesed, and Rachel and Leah’s matched Ya’akov. At this point we shall explain what the trait of gevurah is and why it complements the trait of chesed. Chesed as a trait [this is distinct from the mitzvah of gemillus chesed] means the attribute of unlimited giving. The only problem that this can have is that giving without limits can be harmful. As every parent knows, giving a sweet to their children is nice, but too many sweets will cause tooth decay. Similarly, the Torah labels certain forbidden incestuous relationships as being ‘a chesed’[3] for this is when one’s desire for love and giving has spilled over and has not been contained or limited appropriately. This is where the trait of gevurah comes in. Gevurah limit’s the outflow of the trait of chesed to give it solid boundaries and essentially bring it into positive fruition – it is the ‘strict/harsh’ setting of limits.