Pearls of Rashi – Toldos

This week we read the Parshah of Toldos. It tells us that our matriarch Rivkah gave birth to twins, our forefather Yaakov, and his brother Aisov; as we are taught[1] “her days to give birth were completed, and behold, there were twins in her womb.”

These twins were not identical in any way, shape or form. This was clear even before Rivkah gave birth to them. The Torah tells us that even when she was still carrying them[2] “the children struggled within her …” The struggle between the offspring of Yaakov and Aisov has indeed lasted until our time; it will continue until the ultimate Redemption.

In describing both sons, the Torah says that[3] “the youths grew up. Aisov was a man who understood trapping (hunting), a man of the field, whereas Yaakov was an innocent man, dwelling in tents.” Rashi cites the words from this verse “who understood trapping,” and explains as follows. “He knew how to trap and to deceive his father with his mouth. He would him, ‘Father, how do we tithe salt and straw?’ As a result of this his father thought that he was scrupulous in his observance of Mitzvos.”

As we have written many times, Rashi’s focus is to teach the beginning student the simple meaning of each verse. This being the case, many of the commentaries who explain Rashi raise a question. Why does Rashi not explain the verse according to its simple meaning? Why does Rashi explain Aisov’s understanding of trapping to mean that he trapped, or fooled his father. It would seem that he could just as well explain it to mean exactly what it says, that he was knowledgeable in hunting!

The Rebbe explains this by looking at the verse itself. First it says that “Aisov was a man who understood trapping.” Only then does it tell us that he was “a man of the field.” In order to trap and hunt animals, one must first go out to the field. The fact that the Torah first tells us of his ability to trap, means that the Torah is discussing a different type of trapping, i.e. tricking his father.

We each have an Aisov, an evil inclination within ourselves. Each of us must go “out into the field,” into the world, in order to bring G-dliness into it. At every turn the evil inclination tries to deceive us, to cause us to forget our mission as Shluchim, Hashem’s emissaries in the world. We need ceaseless vigilance in order to reach our goal despite Aisov’s trickery. In that manner will we bring Moshiach now!

Wishing everyone a good Shabbos.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 25, Page 116

Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 25:24.

[2]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 25:22.

[3]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 25:27.

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