פ’ תולדות תשע”ט
Volume 26, Issue 6
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ויעקב איש תם ישב אהלים
“Yaakov was a straight person who sat in tents.” (25:27)
Rashi defines the word tam as a person who is not skilled in deceiving others. As is his heart so are his words. Yaakov was not called a tam, but an ish tam. That is, he was a master over the trait of being a tam. He was totally honest, a man of great integrity. But in those situations when it was appropriate to use cunning strategy to accomplish something, he was able to do so.
This, said the Rebbe from Lublin, is the way we should be with all traits. A person needs to be the master over all of his traits. Even the most negative traits have situations when they are appropriate. As the Sages say, “Whoever is compassionate when he should be cruel will eventually be cruel when he should be compassionate.” If a person fails to apply so-called negative traits in their proper times, he will end up applying them when it is wrong to do so. (Maayanah Shel Torah)
האדם האדם הזה
“That very red stuff…” (25:30)
These were red lentils that his father was supposed to have for the first mourner’s meal after Avraham’s death (see Rashi). Rashi also explains the connection between a plate of lentils and mourning. Adam and Chava ate lentils after Havel’s was murdered, as did Haran’s parents after Haran died in the fiery furnace (Midrash).
The mourner’s meal which Yaakov prepared occasioned a lively ideological discussion between the brothers, during which Eisav categorically denied belief in the immorality of the soul, in the resurrection of the dead, and ultimately, in the existence of G-d. Yaakov then asked him, “Since you claim that there is neither a future world nor reward in the hearafter, why do you value the birthright which calls for serving G-d?” So began the bargaining over the birthright. Yaakov had long suspected his brother of not caring about it and he was waiting for an opportunity to put him to the test. This opportunity came spontaneously on the day that their grandfather died. (The Call of the Torah)
וירא אליו ה’ ויאמר אל תרד מצרימה שכן בארץ אשר אמר אליך
“And G-d appeared to him, and He said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt. Reside in the land of which I shall tell you…” (26:2)
Rashi explains that Yitzchak had intended to go down to Egypt just as his father had done during the famine that took place in his time. G-d told him, “Do not go down to Egypt. You are an unblemished offering, and it would be inappropriate for you to leave the Holy Land.” The Chiddushei HaRim asks why is it so. An offering is only restricted from leaving the sanctified domains after it has been slaughtered and its blood has been sprinkled on the altar. Only then does it receive the special consecration that restricts it to the sanctified domains. Therefore, since Yitzchak was not actually slaughtered, why was he restricted in his movements?
The Chiddushei HaRim explains according to the words of Rashi (22:12) that G-d had never intended for Avraham to slaughter Yitzchak. His command had been “to bring Yitzchak up” on the altar. If so, once Yitzchak was brought up on the altar – as indeed he was – his sacrificial service was completed and he was thenceforth restricted to the sanctified domains of the Holy Land. (Parsha Anthology)
ויהי כי זקן יצחק
“And it came to pass when Yitzchak had become old…” (27:1)
The term zaken is an acronym for zeh kanah – this one has acquired (wisdom). Our verse, which states, “And it came to pass, when Yitzchak zaken (had become old),” therefore teaches us that he was a wise elder who studies in Yeshiva (Yoma 28b). (The Call of the Torah)
Rav Yisrael Meir HaKohen Kagan tz”l (Chafetz Chaim) would say: “Avimelech forcefully sent Yitzchak away with an admonishment: ‘Go away from us for you have become much too strong for us!’ (26:16). Here, the Torah reveals the true underlying motive for anti-Semitism throughout the ages. It is not sparked by envy of Jewish wealth and possessions, but by jealousy of Jewish spiritual values. The gentiles realize that we are ‘too strong for them’ – our spiritual power is what makes us greater than any other nation!”
The Dubno Maggid, Rav Yaakov Krantz zt”l (Ohel Yaakov) would say: “There are those Jews who excel in the category of ‘voice of Yaakov.’ They daven and learn Torah exceedingly well. But when it comes to matters of the ‘hands’ – giving tzedakah, helping others in the community – they have sadly, ‘the hands of Eisav.’
Rav Yeshayah HaLevi Horowitz zt”l (Shelah HaKodesh) would say: “Of all the superior character traits possessed by our ancestor Yaakov, the Torah chooses ‘an honest man’ as the highest praise, to teach us that nothing is more worthy of our respect and admiration than a life lived with honesty and righteousness. (Torah Tavlin)
The Divrei Torah sheet this week is sponsored by Debbi and Marc Geller and Nusie and Gitty Rosenberg in honor of their granddaughter, Jordyn Rosenberg’s Bat Mitzvah. For future sponsorship opportunities or to receive this publication, please call Steve Zuckerman at 516 652 5266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Lichter at email@example.com. Sponsorships in memory of or in honor of someone are $50.00 per issue.