This week, our Parshat HaShevua Toldos is being sponsored by Edo and Atara Lavi and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a complete Refuah Shleima for both Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel (Blass) and Shlomo Chaim ben Chaya (Scholnick). To the Lavi family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Our Parshat Toldos opens as a continuation of Torah’s description, near the end of Parshat Chayei Sarah, of the last years of Avraham’s life, his marriage to Keturah, the offspring she bore him, and the offspring and descendants of Yishma’el and where they dwelt. Our Parshat Toldot opens:
“And these are the offspring of Yitzchak son of Avraham. Yitzchak was forty years old when he took Rivka, the daughter of Betu’el the Aramean of Padan Aram, the sister of Lavan, the Aramean, to be his wife.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posukim 19-20).
We gain insight as to how the atmosphere of wickedness surrounding Rivka’s upbringing later served her well — that she knew how and when to be kind, and when cunning was called for, thus insuring that the righteous child — Yaakov, who learned and was nurtured with the attributes of his Mother, would receive the Brachot that Am Yisrael would descend from him and that the nations would serve his descendants.
There are multiple lessons and discussions to come out of both Torah’s description of Rifka Imeinu in Parshat Chayei Sarah, and in our Parshat Toldos. We gain insight as to how the childhood nurturing of Rivka Imeinu, in an atmosphere of wickedness, positioned and enabled her to rise above her surroundings, and thus to act l’Shem Shemayim to do chessed to Eliezer.
Near the end of Parshat Chayei Sarah, after Torah relates how Avraham’s servant traveled to Padan Aram in search of Yitzchak’s shidduch. Torah recounts Yitzchak’s first encounter with Rivka (as rendered in the “New Hirsch Chumash”, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 24, posukim 63-67):
“Yitzchak went out toward evening to mediate in the field. He looked up and saw camels approaching. Rivka, too, looked up and saw Yitzchak and she let herself slip from the camel..”
“She asked the servant: Who is that man there, who is walking through the field to meet us? The servant replied, He is my master! So she took the veil and covered herself.”
“The servant told Yitzchak all the things that he had accomplished..”
“Yitzchak brought her into the tent of Sarah, his Mother. He married Rivka, she became his wife, and he loved her, and only then was Yitzchak comforted for his Mother.”
Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the “New Hirsch Chumash” (page 542), cites Breish’t Rabbah 60:16 and comments:
With Sarah’s death, the feminine spirit and feeling departed from the home. Yitzchak then found his Mother again in his wife (hence, “When he brought Rivka into the tent, to him it was as if his Mother were there again.”) (Breish’t Rabbah 60:16)
This is the highest tribute that has ever been paid to the dignity and nobility of woman — and it is in the ancient history of Judaism.
But this author therefore finds it both fascinating and a wonderment that despite Rivka’s righteousness, we learn in the very next posuk of Parshat Toldos:
“Yitzchak entreated Hashem opposite his wife, because she was barren. Hashem allowed Himself to be entreated by him, and his wife Rivka conceived.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posuk 21 as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)
Rabbi Artscroll cites two Rashis and a Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer in commenting on this posuk (Artscroll Stone Chumash,page 125):
Yitzchak entreated. The root Ah-teir [entreated] denotes abundance; thus, the sense… is that Yitzchak prayed abundantly for Rivka and she simultaneously prayed on her own behalf. He was opposite her in the sense that he stood in one corner and she stood in the other one as they both prayed. (Rashi)
Also, Yitzchak took his barren wife to pray with her on Mount [Har] Moriah, site of the Akeidah. (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer 32)
“By him.” The implication of the masculine singular form is that Hashem responded to Yitzchak’s prayer, rather than to Rivka’s. There is no comparison between the prayer of a righteous child of a righteous person and that of a righteous child of an evil person. (Rashi)
Although it is much more difficult — and therefore meritorious — for the product of an evil family to become righteous, Yitzchak’s achievement was even more unique than Rivka’s. It would have been easy for him to become a carbon copy of his father… but Yitzchak did not content himself with that. He forged his own path toward the service of Hashem, and the merit of such an accomplishment is awesome.
This author reasons that it could have been that Yitzchak’s tefillah took precedence with Hashem over Rivka’s as Yitzchak was praying for Rivka whereas Rivka prayed on her own behalf. If so, this may come to teach or to reinforce the lesson of the power of one’s tefillot on behalf of another.
Rabbi Moshe Weissman provides some insight into Yitzchak’s and Rivka’s efforts in his sefer “The Midrash Says” (Sefer Breish’t, page 235), although not necessarily in agreement with the two Rashis or the above comment:
“When I was traveling around, someone addressed the following question to me, ‘Rabbi, why is it that so many Jewish couples are childless?’ ‘My son,’ I answered him, ‘Hashem loves them dearly and purifies them so that they should intensify their tefillot. He therefore lets them wait for children.'”
Rabbi Weissman then cites Avraham and Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Chana and their respective travails before bearing children.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.