Friday, November 20, 2009

Parshat Toldot - פרשת תולדות

I've had an hectic week, so I only have a short D'var Torah this time - sorry!

This week's Parsha opens with the words, "וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק, בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם: אַבְרָהָם, הוֹלִיד אֶת-יִצְחָק - And these are the generations of Yitzchak, Avraham's son: Avraham begot Yitzchak."

There is a golden rule in the study of Torah that, as the Torah is perfect, there are no supefluous words anywhere. Each and every word has a meaning. Why, therefore, are we twice told that Yitzchak was Avraham's son?

This week I head Rav Machlis of Ma'alot Dafna in Jerusalem propose an interesting insight as to why the seemingly needless repetition is warranted. The first mention, "יִצְחָק בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם," is meant to reer to Yitzchak. We may learn from these words that Yitzchak defined himself as "Yitzchak, the son of Avraham." Yitzchak's respect and love for his father extended to him determining himself by his father.

The next phrase, "אַבְרָהָם, הוֹלִיד אֶת-יִצְחָק - Avraham begot Yitzchak" can be understood to the father referring to himself by mentioning his son. While it is inspiring for the son to realise his position by defering to his father, I find it beautiful, and rather poetic, that Avraham Avinu found himself to be fulfilled through his son. Of course the positions of father and son should never be confused, and the son must always defer to the father, but I personally find this expression of Avraham and Yitzchak's relationship to be a true measure of the appreciation and depth of their love for one another.

Another thing I'd like to point out is the episode detailed at the beginning of the Parsha; that of Rivkah's pregnancy with Ya'akov and Esav. There we learn that Rivkah was deeply troubled by the distubances she felt inside of her. As Rashi explains, each time she passed by a place of Torah learning she would feel an almost violent movement in her belly. Perlexingly for her, the same experience would be repeated when she passed by a place of idol worship.

If we look closely at the wording, we can see that the Pasuk uses the unusual word "ויתרוצצו," which Rashi renders as meaning either running or as crushing. Notable by it's absence is the expected translation/explanation of the word; that the two brothers are fighting one another - for they are not!

I'd like to proposed the following: The two nations may be opposed to one another, but they are not essentially enemies. Rather, Esav's tafkid, (like that of every creation in the world,) is that to be an agent and aid the Jewish nation when we are not doing our job properly. Similarly, it is instructive to note that while we are commanded to destroy our arch-foes, Amalek, there is no imperative related to our having to hate them. We have no need to hate those who act against us.

From Yerushalayim, wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!

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