Parashat Toldot

Yitzchok’s Love For Esav / A Father’s Love

Was Yitzchok actually fooled by Esav’s exterior Tzidkut as the pasuk seems to indicate? Why did Yitzchok love Esav, despite everything, his wildness, his uncertainty and his out marriages? Certainly not, says the Ben Ish Chai. Yitzchok knew exactly what Esav was all about. So why does the Torah single out his love for Esav over Yaakov, as opposed to Rivka who loved Yaakov?

The Ben Ish Chai teaches us important lessons in Chinuch from Yitzchok’s attitude. He says that Yitzchok loved Esav for the two reasons that written in the Pasuk (Toldot 25:28). First “Ki Tzayid B’Fiv”, because all of Esav’s tzidkus was merely to impress his father. Although Yitzchok was not at all taken in by this show, nevertheless he showered Esav with love in response, on order that Esav should at least outwardly act the part. Had he unmasked Esav, Esav would have no reason play the game and would act like the Rasha that he was. “Yitzchok loved Esav because Esav was his son, and that is what fathers do. They love their children unconditionally.” That does not mean that Yitzchok could not see the faults in Esav’s character. It does not imply that he thought Esav the right person to continue the covenant. Nor does it mean he was not pained when Esav married Hittite women. The text explicitly says he was. But it does mean that Yitzchok knew that a father must love his son because he is his son.

Yitzchok wanted to salvage what he can.

The second reason Yitzchok showed love to Esav, says the Ben Ish Chai, is because of the end of the pasuk, “V’Rivka Ohevet Et Yaakov”. Rivka did not play any games. She loved Yaakov the Tzaddik and was happy to give him all her love at the expense of the despicable Esav. Because of this, Yitzchok was afraid that if he too would outwardly favor Yaakov, Yaakov’s life would be endangered as Esav would seek revenge. Therefore Yitzchok balanced Rivka’s love for Yaakov with his own love for Esav.

Raising children is not easy, and much thought and Daat Torah(knowledge of Torah) needs to be put into not only our actions but our emotions as well.

As Rabbi sacks explains Whatever happens, a parent is still a parent, and a child is still a child. The bond may be deeply damaged but it is never broken beyond repair. Perhaps that is what Yitzchok was signaling to all generations by his continuing love for Esav, so unlike him, so different in character and destiny, yet never rejected by him – just as the midrash says that Avraham never rejected Ishmael and found ways of communicating his love. “Unconditional love is not uncritical but it is unbreakable. That is how we should love our children – for it is how God loves us.”

facts of life: take this serious

And Esav raised his voice and wept/ Two tears of Esav

Yaakov Avinu received the blessings from his father, Yitzchak Avinu. He had barely left the room before Esav returned with his father’s meal. Esav had been sent to prepare a special meal for his father, so that his father would bless him. Following his mother, Rivka Imeinu’s instructions, Yaakov entered the room first, giving the impression that he was Esav and preventing the blessings from falling into the hands of the evil Esav. Understandably, Esav did not react kindly to this scenario. Feeling that he was the victim of fraud, having been outsmarted by his brother, he let out a cry. (According to one Midrash, he emitted two tears; another source says it was three tears.) Esav was quite upset at the loss of the blessings. He conveniently forgot that he had sold the right to the blessings to Yaakov but that is to be expected of a rasha – evil person. Esav asked his father if he had any blessings left for him. Yitzchak intimated that his brother, Yaakov, had taken them all. When Esav began to weep, Yitzchak suddenly began to bless him with the “fat of the land and dew of the heavens.” He “gave” him Yaakov and his descendants if they were to wane from their relationship with the Torah (meaning if they slacken in their mitzvah observance). What happened from one minute to another? At first, Yitzchak indicated that he had no remaining blessings and suddenly he blessed Esav. The Chezkuni explains that originally Yitzchak had told Esav, “All of the blessings that I received from my father, Avrohom Avinu, I transferred to your brother, Yaakov. However, once you began to weep, I saw b’Ruach Hakodesh – through Divine Inspiration that Hashem had created for you (sort of) a new world of blessing in which you will be endowed with material wealth and reign over Yaakov if his descendants falter in their spiritual dimension.” It was all about Esav’s tears. We see how a sincere expression of emotion overturned a negative decree and engendered blessing, even after it had been sealed against him. We also cry. Indeed, throughout the millennia, the Jewish People have wept away an ocean of tears but have we cried for the same reason that Esav cried? Have we wept because we did not receive more of Hashem’s blessing or was it because we were in pain or in need? When was the last time we wept as a result of not understanding a page of  Gemarah? Have we ever cried because we are bothered that the honor of Heaven (kavod Shomayim ) is being impugned? Do we weep when Orthodoxy is disparaged by those who are either secular in practice or in theory? No, we only cry when we are in need. Esav has one over us; he cried for spirituality. Sadly, we do not.

simcha corner

The funniest joke ever told involves a hunter who calls 911 after his friend collapses from an apparent heart attack.The joke continues with the hunter telling the dispatcher, “I think my friend is dead.” The dispatcher replies, “I can help. But first let’s make sure he’s really dead.” The line goes silent, a gun shot is heard, and then the hunter gets back on and says, “Okay, now what?”


As a older man was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife’s voice urgently warning him, “Herman, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on route 290. Please be careful!”

“Hell,” said Herman, “It’s not just one car. It’s hundreds of them !!!”

something to think about

Rav Shmuel Vosner: Stopping After Eight Children?

Rav Shmuel Vosner was asked (Shevet HaLevi 4:161) if a 44 year old person with eight children must still have children or he may stop. One of his concerns was that the local school had mixed classes until the age of 14.  The man’s wife on the other hand claimed that she would undertake the burden of the chinuch and they can raise frum children even in that environment.

The questioner’s justification was based on, among other things, a Tshuvas Pnei Aharon that says that if proper Chinuch is hard to come by where you live, then it is sufficient to be Mikayem the Mitzva of Pru U’Rivu with a son and daughter and you need not fulfill the mitzva of “BaBoker Tanach…” (the mitzva to have as many children as possible).  He learns this from Chizkiya (Brachos10a) who became deathly sick because he refused to marry and have children since he knew B’Ruach HaKodesh that his children would be Reshaim (Menashe).  The gemara specifically says that he wasn’t Mikayem the mitzva of Pru U’Rivu and doesn’t say anything about “BaBoker Tanach…”

Additionally the questioner brings the Chofetz Chaim who was quoted as saying, “who said it is a bracha to have children if you don’t know how they will turn out?”

Rav Vosner says that he wouldn’t typically answer this question but there is a mitzva to help those who are mistaken.  He didn’t see the Tshuvas Pnei Aharon but the proof from Chizkiya is not valid for a number of reasons.  Moreover even if it were, says Rav Vosner, Chizkiya knew with 100% certainty that his children would be Reshaim.  Nowadays, there is no situation where we cannot say for sure how are children will turn out.

As for the quote from the Chofetz Chaim, says Rav Vosner, these are not things that we can rely on to pasken Shailos when we don’t know the background to this comment.

Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of ourability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. One should learn the tshuva to verify the accuracy of our interpretation.  Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on thistopic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.


First Aliyah: Rivka had trouble conceiving. Yitzchok and Rivka prayed for children, and after twenty years of marriage Rivka became pregnant. She was concerned about her exceedingly difficult pregnancy, and was advised by G‑d that this was due to two children – two nations – struggling in her womb. She gave birth to twin boys: a hairy, ruddy boy named Esav, and a second son, born clutching his brother’s heel, named Yaakov. Esav became a hunter, while Yaakov was an honest man who frequented the schools of Torah. Yitzchok favored Esav, while Rivka preferred Yaakov. One day, Esav came home from the field hungry, and pleaded with Yaakov to give him some of the stew he was cooking. Yaakov agreed to Esav’s request provided that he give him his birthright as firstborn in exchange—and Esav acceded to this barter. There was a famine in Canaan, and Yitzchok was escaping the famine by traveling to Egypt via Philistine when G‑d told him to remain in Philistine. G‑d also informed Yitzchok that he would visit upon him all the blessings He had promised to Abraham.

Second Aliyah: Yitzchok settled in Philistine. When the townspeople inquired regarding his wife, he told them that she was his sister, fearing that otherwise the Philistines would kill him in order to take Rivka. Eventually, Avimelech, king of the Philistines, noticed that Rivka was Yitzchok’s wife and though he reprimanded Yitzchok, he issued a decree that no one touch them. While in Philistine, Yitzchok sowed crops, and miraculously harvested a hundred times more than a field’s normal yield.

Third Aliyah: Yitzchok became extremely wealthy. He also re-dug some of the wells that his father Abraham had dug, but had since been stopped up by the Philistines. The Philistines eventually became envious of his wealth, and asked him to leave. Yitzchok complied, moving away from the city and settling in the Gerar Valley. There, Yitzchok’s servants dug two new wells but the Philistines contested his ownership over these wells. The third well he dug was uncontested.

Fourth Aliyah: G‑d appeared to Yitzchok and blessed him and assured him that He would always be with him. Avimelech approached Yitzchok and requested to enter into a peace treaty with him.

Fifth Aliyah: Yitzchok agreed to Avimelech’s request. On that day, Yitzchok’s servants informed him that they had successfully dug another well. At the age of forty, Esav married two wives. Their idolatrous ways anguished Yitzchok and Rivka. Yitzchok had now advanced in age, and he became blind. He summoned Esav and told him that he wished to bless him, but first he should go to the field and hunt some game for him to eat. Rivka heard this conversation and advised Yaakov to don Esav’s clothing and trick Yitzchok into blessing him instead. Rivka prepared meat and gave it to Yaakov to bring to his father. She also took hairy goatskin and put it on Yaakov’s smooth arms and neck. Yaakov approached his father and presented himself as Esav, and Yitzchok ate from the repast Rivka had prepared.

Sixth Aliyah: Yitzchok blessed Yaakov with the “dew of the heaven and the fat of the earth,” and granted him mastery over his brother. No sooner than the blessing ended, Esav arrived from the field, only to be informed by his father – who now understood what had transpired – that the blessing was already given to his younger brother. Esav was furious and Yitzchok comforted him with a minor blessing. Esav was determined to kill Yaakov, but Rivka, who got wind of this plot, asked Yitzchok to send Yaakov to Charan to find a wife. Yitzchok did so, and blessed Yaakov again before he departed.

Seventh Aliyah: Yitzchok sent Yaakov to his brother-in-law Laban’s home, to marry one of his daughters. Esav married again, this time to Machalat the daughter of Ishmael.