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Parshat Toldos

PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
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.

AND

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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PARSHA
FACTS

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)

Because Erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev coincides with Toldot, the regular Haftora is replaced with the Haftora for Shabbat Erev Rosh Chodesh, (a Shabbat whose morrow is Rosh Chodesh).
"מחר חדש", Shmuel Alef / Samuel I 20:18-42.

Shabbat Mevarchim Chodesh Kislev
Rosh Chodesh - Sunday - November 19.


פרשת תולדות
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!


YOU GET
WHAT YOU
PRAY FOR

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.

GOOD NEWS,
BAD NEWS,.....

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 news.

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!


WHAT A
DIFFERENCE

Twins 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.

HONOR
THY
FATHER

What a Difference 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.


RIGHTING
THE
"BIRTH-WRONG"

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.


LIKE
FATHER
LIKE SON

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.


WELL,
WELL,
WELL

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 hand.

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.


TIME TO
TAKE THE
BLESSINGS

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.


A BOUT
WITH
BLESSINGS

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!

Brachot So Yitzchok lets his guard down, eats, drinks, and smells the scent of the garment Yaakov is wearing. He then gives Yaakov the brachot.

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 brachot to?

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 Yaakov.

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 episode of:

Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Maven on Toldot


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