PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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NO MITZVOT IN THIS PARSHA
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 106
NUMBER OF WORDS: 1432
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 5426
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
| In our
last episode, Sarah died and Yitzchok found a bride. Avrohom sent
his trusted servant, Eliezer, back East to find Yitzchok a shidduch
in Charan. All went well at the well where Eliezer waited for Yitzchok's
future bride to offer him water. That future mother of Bnei
Yisroel turned out to be none other than Rivka, who happened
to be Avrohom's nephew's daughter!
As our Parsha opens, Yitzchok and Rivka have been married
twenty years but still have no children. Just when it looks like
a repeat from the pages of Sarah's childless life, Yitzchok's
prayers are answered - boy oh boy, are they answered!
For months Rivka walks around with a battle of the bulge going on in
her belly. Whatever she's carrying, it knows what it wants ... or does
it? Whenever she passes a Shul or Yeshiva there is a tug and kick in that direction. Fine. But when she passes a place of idol worship
there's a tug and jerk in that direction. Is it indigestion? What kind
of zaniness could possibly stand between her and the child she has
waited for, for so many years? Is it a split personality? No time for a
shrink. Rivka decides to visit the local prophet of Hashem.
The prophet takes one look at Rivka, and in the name of Hashem, gives
her the scoop - the double scoop, that is! There's good news and bad
The good news is that she's not only having one baby, she's
having two! The bad news is that they are engaged in a struggle
between good and evil. But the good news is that good will conquer
evil in the end. However, the bad news is that Rivka will have
to live with 'World War Three' in her belly for nine months!
Well, Rivka finally gives birth to the twins. These fellows
are very different right from the start! The first one to be born
is as hairy as a fur ball and red like fire. They name him Esav,
which means "complete" (fully developed). The next one out is as
smooth as a baby's bottom. Strangely, his hand is wrapped around
Esav's heel. Hashem tells Yitzchok to call him Yaakov,
which means "heel." As time goes on, Yaakov's grasp at the heel
of Esav will come to symbolize an eternal struggle.
As Esav and Yaakov grow older, they grow more and more apart.
Esav is a hunter; Yaakov is a student at the Yeshiva of Shem
and Ever. Esav is a murderer and defies all that Avrohom and Yitzchok
stand for. The trouble is that Yitzchok doen't know this. Yitzchok
thinks that Esav is a gem of a boy. That's because Esav is careful
to honor his father. Each day when Esav returns from hunting, he
personally prepares a gourmet meat platter for his father. In his
finest clothes, he serves his father these scrumptuous meals, hiding
his true dastardly nature.
You can really learn a lot about honoring your parents from
Esav. But you'd better skip everything else this fellow has to
offer! Luckily Rivka sees Esav for who he really is. Her favorite
is Yaakov. She is determined to make sure that each of her sons
get what they deserve.
| One day when the
twins are 15, Esav comes back from the hunt empty handed, exhausted
and hungry. He heads for the kitchen and finds Yaakov cooking up
some red lentils. On that day, their grandfather Avrohom has died
and Yaakov is preparing a special mourner's meal for those sitting
Shiva. Esav eyes the food and makes a desperate attempt
to get a bite. "I'm exhausted," Esav cries. " You've just gotta
give me a swallow of this red stuff (and some of the red wine too.)"
Yaakov sees this as the perfect opportunity to right a wrong. You see,
Yaakov was supposed to be the B'chor but Esav was born first, so he's
got the rights of the firstborn coming to him. That includes a double
portion of the family wealth and, more important, special brachot from
his father. Yaakov knows that he is meant to have the brachot and to be
the B'chor. After all, what would Esav do with a bunch of brachot? He
barely believes in Hashem! This hunting dry-spell is Yaakov's ticket to
birthright destiny. So here's what Yaakov does...
"Sure I'll give you some of my delicious concoction, Esav," Yaakov says,
"but I want one little thing in return - your birthright!"
"No problem," replies Esav. "Just lift the pot of soup to my mouth and
shovel the red stuff down my throat!"
So Yaakov feeds Esav and walks off with a pretty sweet deal - the
privileges of the first born. Esav heads back out to the fields to hunt,
all the while making fun of Yaakov and the birthright.
When famine hits Canaan, Yitzchok considers heading for Egypt like his
father did. But Hashem nixes that idea. Yitzchok is different from his
father. Yitzchok was born in the promised land, Eretz Yisroel (currently Canaan). Ever since he was
offered up as a sacrifice, Hashem has considered Yitzchok to be pure. He
cannot be allowed to leave this holy land. In a dream, Hashem appears to
Yitzchok, guaranteeing him protection. He reaffirms the promises He made
to Avrohom. Yitzchok's descendants will multiply into a great nation and
inherit the land of Canaan. Satisfied with this promise, Yitzchok
settles in Gerar, near the capitol of Pelishtim.
Rivka is a very beautiful woman. Yitzchok is afraid the Pelishtim will
kill him if they find out he is her husband. So he pulls an "Avrohom"
and tells them that they are brother and sister. Word gets back to the
king, Avimelech. Is it the same Avimelech who made the pact with
Avrohom? Who knows? Avimelech means "king", just like "Pharoh" (in Egypt). What we
do know is that no Avimelech will be plagued twice! He observes Yitzchok
and Rivka and concludes that indeed they are married!
Avimelech calls Yitzchok over for a little talk: "What's the big idea of
claiming that you two are brother and sister? I almost ended up taking
Rivka over to my palace! You think my palace needs to be pulverized
with plagues?" Yitzchok explains that he was afraid of being murdered by
the Pelishtim. Since they'd never bring a married woman to the king,
they'd undoubtedly kill her husband first! Avimelech realizes that
Yitzchok and Rivka are holy people. He guarantees Yitzchok and his
family protection. The citizens also honor their new neighbor. And the
whole region benefits from their presence. Even the famine seems to slip
away into the distant past.
Yitzchok becomes very wealthy while living in Pelishtim. His harvests
are always packed with produce and, because he gives a tenth of his
field to the poor, Hashem rewards him with one hundred times the normal
produce year after year. Everything is fine and dandy until Avimelech's
servants get a whiff of Yitzchok's riches. They pour dirt down the wells
that Yitzchok inherited from Avrohom. But Yitzchok patiently orders his
own servants to dig out the wells again. Avimelech hears about the well
incident and predicts trouble heading his way. So he politely asks
Yitzchok to leave the capitol of Pelishtim before things get out of
Yitzchok packs up and moves further out to the edge of the kingdom. Once
again he's thinking of wells. Yitzchok has his servants dig a well until
they strike water. Well, word gets back to Avimelech's servants and they
complain "there's no pact between Avrohom and Avimelech with these new
wells. Maybe Yitzchok can get rich on Pelishtim money, but he can't just
go around digging up OUR country and claiming the water for himself!"
Imagine their surprise when they try drawing water from these new water
holes and come up with an empty bucket! Well, no use defending a dry
well! The Pelishtim make a quick deal with Yitzchok and sell him
ownership of the well. At least they'll make a quick buck! Only when
Yitzchok has the papers in hand does the well spring a leak again.
Yitzchok names this well "Aisek" which means "fight," since the
Pelishtim fought over the ownership of the well.
After the first well is settled, Yitzchok has his servants dig
another well. Then it's deja vu all over again! The Pelishtim
claim it's 'Palishtimian' property and, once again, the well dries
out until it's back in Yitzchok's hands. This well is called "Sitna"
which means "disturbance." By the time Yitzchok strikes well number
three, Avimelech's servants know better than to bug Yitzchok.
This well is called "Rechovot" meaning "Hashem has made
room for us" or "relief".
With all these wells in hand, Yitzchok isn't the most well-liked guy in
Pelishtim. Hashem appears to him and tells him not to fear Avimelech and
the Pelishtim. So it's on to Be'er Sheva, the spot where Avrohom dug his
original wells. As soon as Yitzchok leaves Pelishtim, all the wells dry
up and other troubles begin. Avimelech realizes with all the tumult that
he should have treated Yitzchok in a more respectful manner, so he and
his general Phicol and some Pelishti townspeople meet with Yitzchok.
They apologize to him and ask him to renew the peace treaty they made
with his father, Avrohom. Yitzchok agrees, and they depart in peace.
Many years pass. Esav has married two Chiti women. Yitzchok has grown
old. His eyes have grown weak over the years and he his practically
blind. Fearing that he will die soon, he calls Esav to the tent.
Yitzchak commands Esav to head out to the fields, catch an animal,
slaughter it kosher and prepare a meal for him. After Yitzchok eats, he
will give over the brachot of the first born. Now remember, Yitzchok
doesn't know that Esav sold his birthright to Yaakov.
Rivka overhears Yitzchok's instructions. She is determined to get Yaakov
those brachot. She knows prophetically that Yitzchok's made the wrong
decision. Somehow she must trick her husband into thinking that Yaakov
is Esav. So she cooks up two young goats. Everyone knows that young
goats taste like wild game, right? But what about Yaakov's arms?
They're smooth as silk! Esav has hair all over his body. Rivka covers
Yaakov's arms and neck with goat skins so Yitzchok will think Yaakov is
his hairy son Esav. She also gives Yaakov one of Esav's garments so
he'll smell like he's been out hunting.
| Yaakov takes the prepared meal
and heads over to Yitzchok's tent. As Yaakov enters, Yitzchok calls
out "Who is there?" Yaakov has to think quick. He replies "It is
I. Esav is your first born" (not really a lie, if you think about
it). "Please rise and sit up, eat from my dish so that you may bless
me." Now Yaakov's got two things working against him here. Even
though Yitzchok is blind, he's not deaf. He knows Yaakov's voice
when he hears it. First of all, Yaakov's voice is sweet. Secondly,
Esav not only growls when he speaks, but he talks like a rough and
tough hunter. Better take a closer look at this Esav! Yitzchok calls
Yaakov over and feels his skin. He says "the voice is Yaakov's voice,
but the hands are the hands of Esav!" Rivka's plan works out just
right. Yitzchok is fooled by the goat skin after all!
So Yitzchok lets his guard down, eats, drinks, and smells
the scent of the garment Yaakov is wearing. He then gives Yaakov
In his bracha, Yitzchok prays, "May Hashem give you of the best dew from heaven and the best springs from the earth. May you have much grain and wine. Nations of the world will serve you, and bow to you. You will be a
master over your brothers, and your mother's sons shall bow to you.
Those who curse you are cursed, and those who bless you are blessed."
Well, that's what Yaakov has come for and now that he's got it, it's
time to split, especially since Esav is right down the path heading
straight for the tent! Yaakov slips behind the tent flaps just as Esav
comes through the door with a luscious wild animal platter. "Here I am,
father, your son Esav with some yummie wild animal stew, just as you
asked. Now hand over the brachot, old man!"
"That's Esav alright," Yitzchok exclaims. "But who did I give the
Esav quickly realizes that he's been busted! He thought he could sell
his birthright and still keep the brachot. He begs his father to take
the brachot back from Yaakov. But Yitzchok has seen Hashem's hand at
work. He knows that it was Hashem who "birthrighted" a wrong and landed
Yaakov the brachot he really deserved.
Even though Yitzchok's brachot make Yaakov the master, there is a
consolation prize for Esav. Yitzchok proclaims that all the brachot he
gave Yaakov will only come true if Bnei Yisroel will keep the laws of
the Torah. Whenever Bnei Yisroel do not keep the Torah and Mitzvot,
Esav's descendants will overpower and rule over the descendants of
These brachot manage to stop Esav from killing Yaakov for the moment,
but he swears that when his father dies, Yaakov will be first on his hit
list. Rivka and Yitzchok don't want to take any chances. So they send
Yaakov packing. Yaakov's destination is good old Charan, where his evil
uncle Lavan (Rivka's brother), lives. There he will hide out and find a
wife from Rivka's family. By the time he returns, Esav will forget the
whole ordeal -- or will he?
What evil lurks around the bend waiting to trap Yaakov? How long can he
last on the run? And is life by Lavan better than battling with a
brother? These questions and more will be answered in the next exciting
the Midrash Maven on Toldot
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