Learning Group–Parshat Toldot
(Haftara Shmuel I, 20:18-42)
1. [26:9] “…because I said, ‘Maybe I might die because of her'”. When Avimelech asked Yitzchak why Yitzchak had lied and said that Rivkah was his sister, Yitzchak answered, “Maybe I might die because of her”. When Avraham was in the same situation, he answered, “…because I thought, there is no fear of God in this place” [20:11]. Are the two answers really the same? Which is the better answer?
2. [27:19] “And Ya’akov said to his father, “I am Esav, your first-born…” How could the history of the Jewish people start with a lie? Is there any way to justify Ya’akov’s trickery?
3. [27:46] “Rivkah said to Yitzchak: I am disgusted with life because of those Hittite women.” Rivkah is again deceiving Yitzchak with this speech. She really wants to protect Ya’akov from Esav. This whole story is full of deception. However, the mission of this family in the world is to practise and teach the world “kindness and justice” [18:19]. How can such a pure mission come out of a beginning so full of deception?
4. [Haftara: 20:33] “…And Saul threw his spear at him…” Saul is the first king of the Israelites in the land of Israel, and it is obvious that his mind is unbalanced. Why does our tradition insist on telling us that our heroes are not always heroic and our leaders are sometimes far from perfect?
5. [Haftara: 20:42] “God will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.” Our tradition considers the love between David and Yehonatan to be a pure love, as opposed to other types of love. What is a pure love?
[27:28] “And God will give you…”
This pasuk can also be read in Hebrew as “And He will give you God…” That itself is the blessing—you will be worthy to serve God.
–R. Simchah Binem of Peshischa, 1765-1827, Poland.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer
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