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Tuesday, Mar-Cheshvan 28, 5779 / November 6, 2018


Some of the highlights of this week’s Parsha, Toldot. We read about the birth of Yitzchak and Rivkah’s twins, Eisav (Esau) and Yaakov.


Esau, who was born first, sells his first-born rights to his brother, Yaakov, for a pot of lentils.


Esau, who in real life was a swindler and murderer, is able to fool his father, Yitzchak, that he was a righteous person.


There is a hunger in the land of Canaan (Israel), G-d tells Yitzchak not to go to Egypt, as his father, Abraham, did at the time of hunger, but to go to Gerar, which is part of Israel.


At the age of forty, Esau marries Yehudis and Bosmas. His wives behaviour and their idol worshipping was heartbreaking to Yitzchak and Rivkah.


When Yitzchak became old, his eyes became dim (blind). Not knowing that Esau sold his first-birth rights to Yaakov, and thinking that Esau is a righteous person, Yitzchak wants to bless Esau before he dies. He tells Esau to go out to hunt and bring him food to eat. After, he will bless him.


Rivkah, knew the true character of her son, Esau, but didn’t want to cause Yitzchak pain, by telling him who Esau really was. She tells Yaakov that she will prepare food for Yitzchak and Yaakov should pretend that he is Esau and thus receive his father’s blessing. After initially refusing to do so, Yaakov is convinced by his mother and goes along with her plan.


The plan worked and Yaakov gets the blessings. But then Esau comes with food and Yitzchak realizes that he made a mistake and gave the blessings to Yaakov. He tells Esau, “Your brother came with wisdom and took your blessings.” Yitzchak then reaffirms his blessings to Yaakov.


As a result of this episode, Esau decided to kill Yaakov after his father’s passing. With his parents’ blessings Yaakov leaves to go to his uncle Lavan. He would return 36 years later, with his family of twelve sons and one daughter.


Q. What is the significance of the pot of lentils?


A. It was the day when their grandfather Abraham passed away. It was customary for the mourners to eat lentils at the first meal after the funeral. Just as the lentils are round, so too, life is round (cycle).


Q. How old were Yaakov and Esau when their grandfather Abraham passed away?


A. They were fifteen years old. Abraham was one hundred when he had Yitzchak. Yitzchak was sixty when he had the the twins. Abraham passed away at 175. Thus, they were 15 at the time.