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Parshas Toldos ~ Torah Gems

Toldos

I. Love

1. ‘And Yitzchok said about his wife, “She is my sister”‘ (*Bereishis 26.7) There are two types of love between two people. The first is that which one has for someone from whom he receives some enjoyment or other favor. The love comes because this person is of good character and acts towards him based on that. The love that he has is based on this good character. This is the love that a man normally has for his wife because he has enjoyment from her. In order for there to be this type of love there has to be a secession of this enjoyment, for if it was continual, he would have no enjoyment from it. (As *Chazal say, an enjoyment that is continual is not really enjoyment. There is another type of love, which is that of a brother for a sister. He loves her for herself and not because any type of enjoyment she gives him. In this love there is no secession. If she would also have good *midos, he would have enjoyment from these midos also [but they are secondary to his love of her.] From this we see that his love is greater then the enjoyment he has from her since from his love comes his enjoyment [and not vis versa]. In the first type of love, however, this is not the case. The enjoyment is greater then the love since the love comes from the enjoyment that she brings him. And this is why Yitzchok said about his wife ‘She is my sister’, since that was the level his love for her was on. (p. 108 Toras HaMaggid teachings of the *Rebbe Reb Ber, the *Maggid of Mizretch) * * * II. Looking at a *Tzaddik 2. ‘We see [lit. seeing we see] clearly that *HaShem is with you’ (Bereishis 23.1) It appears that we can explain this verse in the same manner I explained a different verse in the *Parsha of VaYaira. It says there: ‘And he saw…, and he ran to great them’, which means that their minds received enlightenment from him. This is because when a person looks at a Tzaddik, it adds spiritual light to the person’s soul. For that reason, Chazal say that one is required to see the face of his *Rebbe every *Yom Tov. When Avraham saw the men he realized they were Tzaddikim, so he ran to great them. [This realization came from just seeing them.] (See what I have said there on this idea.) That is the meaning of the verse here. It says the doubled language [seeing we see] which means from our seeing your (Yitzchok’s) appearance alone we gained another ‘seeing’. That is to say that from the appearance of your holiness our minds are enlightened, and a holy light shined upon us. This is why the verse ends, ‘HaShem is with you’. We see that the *Shechina rests on you. From this we were filled with a holy light that came from a holy man like you on whom the holiness of HaShem rests. And because of this we came to you. (p. 15 sefer Kedushas Levi from Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev) * * * III. Prayers that are Accepted 3. ‘And Yitzchok entreated of HaShem because of his wife who was barren and HaShem allowed Himself to be entreated of by him.’ (Bereishis 24.1) *Rashi says, ‘by him and not by her. This is because there is a difference between the prayers of a Tzaddik the son of another Tzaddik to the prayers of a Tzaddik the son of a wicked man.’ We can explain this according to what I have heard from Rebbe Zev of Zitomer. In the prayer where it says, ‘who chooses musical songs [Heb. Shirei] of praise’, he explained it to mean that the creator chooses the praises of those who consider themselves as extraneous [Heb. Shireiim]. These are those who when they are praying they consider themselves of little importance. To further understand this, we have to realize that the main method of serving HaShem is with humility, and to truly feel one’s own lowliness. This means that when one stands before HaShem to pray he considers that because of his actions he is not worthy to speak before Him, or to ask for anything, whether it be a small matter or a big matter. He only asks that he should be helped in the merit of his ancestors. This type of prayer is accepted by HaShem as the verse says. ‘HaShem is close to all who call on him, all those who call on him with truth.’ This means: to whom is it meant that ‘HaShem is close to those who call on him’, i.e. to accept their prayers. Those who call on him with truth, i.e. in the merit of his ancestors [and not their own merits]. When one is a Tzaddik the son of a Tzaddik he can pray for HaShem to hear him in the merit of his ancestors. But someone who is a Tzaddik the son of a wicked person cannot ask in the merit of his ancestor, but according to his own actions. Such a prayer is not answered by HaShem as quickly, because He ‘chooses musical songs of praise’, i.e. those who considered themselves as extraneous when they pray. [As was explained above.] Now, Yitzchok was a Tzaddik the son of a Tzaddik and his prayer was made in the merit of his ancestor. But Rivka, was a *Tzaddekus the daughter of a wicked man and she prayed to be answered in her own merit. ‘And Yitzchok entreated of HaShem because of his wife ‘ means that he prayed ‘because of his wife’. He did this because her prayers were ‘barren’ because she couldn’t pray in the merit of her own ancestors. Therefore ‘HaShem allowed Himself to be entreated of by him.’ This is because HaShem listens to those prayers of people who make themselves as if they were extraneous when they pray. This is the meaning of Rashi that the prayers of a Tzaddik the son of a Tzaddik are not like those of a Tzaddik the son of a wicked man. Because the former can pray in the merit of his ancestor he considers himself as if he was nothing and HaShem hears his prayers. This is however not the case with one who cannot pray in the merit of his ancestor. (p. 26 sefer Bas Ayan from Rebbe Avraham Dov of Veritch a *talmid of the Maggid of Chernobel) * * * IV. Service of HaShem 4. “And he called the name of the well ‘Contention’… and its name ‘Opposition’… and he called her name ‘expanse'” (Bereishis 26.20-22) This is the way that one progresses in the service of HaShem. In the beginning the *Yetzer HaRah tries to overcome him and convince him with all kinds of arguments that he should not serve HaShem. This is called ‘Contention’. [The Yetzer HaRah contends with him, in order to restrain him from serving HaShem.] After that, when he has overcome the Yetzer HaRah, it again arises against him to oppose him and cause him to fall. This is all done in order to weaken his hands in the service of HaShem. This is called ‘Opposition’. If he then overcomes the Yetzer HaRah, then HaShem will shine upon him. ‘And now HaShem has made room for us and we will be fruitful in the land.’ Therefore even though the wells that Avraham dug were closed up by the *Pilishtim and filled with sand, the well of Yitzchok will always remain. This is because Yitzchok’s wells were made by an extra exertions of his strength. And everything that a Jew achieves be serving HaShem by exerting himself will remain forever like an iron wall. The first letters of ‘Esek’ [Contention], ‘Satnah’ [Opposition] and ‘Rachovos’ [expanse] spell out ‘wicked’ [Heb. rashah] and also ‘gate’ [Heb. shaar]. This teaches that when one overcomes the Yetzer HaRah he changes over from being ‘wicked’ to entering the ‘gate’, as the verse says, ‘this is the gate of HaShem, only the Tzaddikim may enter it.’ (p. 19 sefer Beis Avraham teachings of Rebbe Avraham [II] of Solonim) ———————————————————————

Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant    sinner.
Bamidbar:
Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages    of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical    meaning to verses in the Torah.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their   higher spiritual stature.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the   Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud                  2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.

sefer (seforim): A Jewish religious book.

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible    b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law    c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

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