Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Toldos

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 This week’s Parshah, Toldos, begins by telling us,[1] “these are the generations of Yitzchok, the son of Avraham; Avrohom begot Yitzchok.”

Rashi explains the reason for this seeming redundancy, i.e., first, the Torah tells us that “Yitzchok the son of Avrohom,” and immediately after that, “Avrohom begot Yitzchok.”

Rashi cites the words “Avrohom begot Yitzchok.” He explains that since the Torah wrote, “Yitzchok the son of Avrohom,” it had to say, “Avrohom begot Yitzchok.” Why? Because the scorners of the generation were saying that Soroh had conceived from Avimelech. She had lived with Avrohom for many years and had not become pregnant from him. What did Hashem do? He shaped the features of Yitzchok’s face to resemble Avrohom’s. Therefore, everyone attested that Avrohom had begotten Yitzchok. Thus the Torah writes here, “Yitzchok, the son of Avrohom.” Here is proof that “Avrohom begot Yitzchok.”

According to this, we understand that Yitzchok “took after” his father, resembled Avrohom, to dispel the words of the generation’s scoffers. However, this leaves us with another question. It appears that Rashi is explaining that Hashem performed an extraordinary miracle here; he caused that Yitzchok looked just like his father. The fact is that it is a perfectly natural phenomenon. It is usual for a child to look just like his father!

There is an often-quoted Chassidic expression that[2] “our forefathers are a chariot.” This enigmatic phrase’s meaning is that the subservience of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov to Hashem is like that of a chariot to the one who rides it. The chariot has no will of its own; it turns only because the rider wishes to do so. So too, is the case with Avos. They have no intention other than Hashem’s. Each of them drew down into the world a different aspect of G-dliness in the world of Atzilus, the highest of all spiritual worlds. Avrohom was one with the Divine attribute of Chesed, which is kindness, giving. Yitzchok was one with the G-dly aspect of Gevurah, withholding. One might think that these two are mutually exclusive. However, the fact is that Gevurah must temper Chesed alone. Pure Chesed does not work. The same is true of Gevurah. That is why Rashi tells us that Yitzchok looked like his father, Avrohom. In other words, both are representations of the same, all-inclusive Hashem.

Have a good Chodesh and a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 20, p. 101 ff.

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 25:19.

[2]. The source of this saying is from both the Midrash and the Zohar. See Bereishis Rabbah 47, 6, Zohar volume 1, page 200, b, and Zohar volume 3, page 184, b.

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