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Parshat Toldos - Appleman Family

10/30/2013 11:00:25 PM

Oct30

YIP Parsha Project

 
 

TOLDOS                                                                      Appleman Family

The parsha of Toldos presents us with a series of events which are aimed at righting a wrong.  It is the story of how one arrives at the truth, both to oneself and to the world at large.  The Torah introduces us to Yaakov and Eisav—twins who are opposite of each other both in appearance and philosophy.  Yaakov is a talmud chacham committed to continuing the mission of Avraham and Yitzchak.  Eisav is the skillful hunter, dedicating his life to the fulfillment of his physical impulses.  Rashi notes that Eisav’s cunning as a hunter extended to his personality:  he would ask Yitzchak Torah-based questions which gave the impression he was careful in his observance.  Eisav was also careful to fulfill the mitzvah of Kibud Av—he would make sure Yitzchak was well fed with the best meals.  Therefore we see Eisav presenting to Yitzchak a vision of a committed Jew, but beneath the surface he proceeds with his sinful ways.

We see Eisav’s intentions even more starkly in the episode of the selling of his birthright.  When Eisav comes home from a day of sinning, he demands Yaakov serve him a meal that Yaakov was in the midst of preparing.  This meal, according to Rashi, was being prepared for Yitzchak as the mourner’s meal, since Avraham had just died.  Eisav wants Yaakov to literally pour the meal down his throat.  Yaakov then realizes he has a chance to obtain the birthright, which conveys both spiritual and material blessings upon its holder.  The future of the Jewish people was at stake.  Therefore, Yaakov made Eisav swear to sell the birthright to him.  Eisav knew his “living on the edge” lifestyle would not make him the spiritual heir to the Abrahamic tradition.  It was a complete surrender to his impulses.  Therefore he sold it.  The Torah, in describing the sale, makes it very explicit:  after the sale was made, Yaakov served him the meal.  Eisav, ate, drank, got up and left.  Why did the Torah go into such detail about Eisav’s actions?  This was done in order to show that Eisav went along the sale whole-heartedly—even when he was satiated by his meal, he “got up and left.”  The Torah then adds one last detail to these events:  “And Eisav spurned the birthright.”  He held the whole concept of his spiritual responsibilities in complete contempt.

Rivka knew her youngest son, Yaakov was to be the rightful heir.  She had been privy to a prophecy which stated “the elder shall serve the younger.”  She saw firsthand the misdeeds of Eisav and the virtue of Yaakov.  Therefore, she now had to take action to make sure Yaakov received the blessing.  But her plan involved deception—Yaakov would be disguised as Eisav and fool the blind Yitzchak into giving him the blessing.  But Yaakov, the paragon of truth, was reluctant to go along with the plan.  Therefore, Rivka told Yaakov that she would take full responsibility for any negative consequences of the plan.  But didn’t Rivka realize that Yitzchak would find out that he was deceived?  And why use deception in the first place—wasn’t this one of the negative personality traits of Eisav?  Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch suggests an answer.  Rivka used deception to show Yitzchak that he was all along being deceived by Eisav:  If Yaakov, as an “Ish Tam” (wholesome man) can act like a “Ish Sadeh” (man of the field), so to Eisav can come across as wholesome.  In fact, after Yitzchak realized that he in actuality blessed Yaakov, he was overcome with “a great trembling.”  The truth flowed into him all at once and Yaakov was established once and for all as the rightful heir.

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Mon, November 11 2019 13 Cheshvan 5780