Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Toldos II

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In this week’s Parshah, Toldos, Rivka, Yitzchok’s wife, did not have children until[1] “Yitzchok prayed to Hashem … Hashem accepted his prayer, and Rivka his wife conceived.” She gave birth to two very different twins, Yaakov and Aisov.

The Torah tells us that[2] ” The youths grew up. Aisov was a man who understood hunting, a man of the field. However, Yaakov was an innocent man dwelling in tents.” Rashi explains that it was not until they got older that people could see just how different they were.

What does it mean that Aisov understood hunting? Rashi cites the words “who understood hunting” and explains it as follows.“(He knew how) to trap and deceive his father ‘with his mouth.’ He would ask him, ‘Father, how do we tithe salt and straw[3]?’ His father thereby thought that he was scrupulous in his observance of the commandments.” In other words, he understood how to hunt, how to fool his father into thinking that he was a Tzaddik.

Commentaries[4] ask how Aisov could fool Yitzchok by asking him how to tithe salt and straw. Yitzchok might have understood from this that his son is ignorant! He should have encouraged his son to improve his studies. Why should he think that his son is scrupulous in Mitzvoh observance?

We can understand this based on Rashi’s earlier comments to the verse[5] , “and he (Avrohom) gave him (Malkiztedek) a tithe from everything.” Rashi comments on the “Ma’aser – Tithe,” which Avrohom gave; “a tithe from all that was his because he was a Kohen.” In other words, Avrohom tithed all of his possessions without exception.

Aisov told his father that he was following in his grandfather Avrohom’s example. Straw and salt, by themselves, have no value. However, when combined with other things, they are of enormous importance. Bland food becomes delicious by adding salt. So too with straw. It is indispensable for making bricks. Aisov was asking Yitzchok a question that (inaccurately) showed his righteousness. “Father, I would like to tithe all of my property. How am I to evaluate the worth of salt and straw? Should I look at their inherent value or consider their potential value as tools to accomplish something else.

We are all children of Yaakov. As such, we must follow in his path of “dwelling in tents,” the tent of Torah study. In this manner, we will undoubtedly merit Moshiach now!

Have a good Chodesh and a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

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

DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

לזכות
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 25:21.

[2]. Ibid, ibid. 27.

[3]. According to Jewish Law, there is no need to tithe either salt or straw.

[4]. See the Maskil LeDovid’s comments on this verse.

[5]. Parshas Lech Lecho, Bereishis 14:20.

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