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Tuesday, Kislev 1, 5781 / November 17, 2020


Today isRosh Chodesh Kislev. Kislev is the third month of the year, when counting from Rosh Hashana. It is the ninth month when counting from Nissan.


The Hebrew calendar was set that certain months have always one day Rosh Chodesh and some two days. The month of Kislev, however, varies.  In some years, Kislev has one day Rosh Chodesh and in some years two days Rosh Chodesh.  This year Kislev consists of one day Rosh Chodesh.


The eight day holiday of Chanukah is always on the 25th of Kislev, in the Hebrew calendar. In the secular calendar, Chanukah begins this year, Thursday night, December 10.


This week's Parsha, Toldot, begins with the birth of the twins, Eisav (Esau) and Yaakov (Jacob), who were born to their parents, Yitzchak and Rivkah, after being married for twenty years. 


The Torah tells us that when the twins grew up, “Esau was a hunter, a man of the field; and Yaakov was a quiet man sitting in the tents." Our sages explain that “The Tents” here refers to the study halls of Shem and Ever. Shem was Noach’s son and Ever was Noach’s grandson.


Yitzchak, who was blind, wasn't aware of the true character of his older son and he loved Esau, but Rivkah loved Yaakov. When Yitzchak told Esau to bring him food so that he may bless him, Rivkah prepared the food and had Yaakov bring it to Yitzchak instead so that Yaakov would be blessed.


In the end Yitzchak blessed them both, however we find a striking difference between the blessing to Yaakov and the one to Esau.


The blessings which Yitzchak gave to Yaakov begin, "May G-d give you of the dew of the heavens and of the fat of the earth." But when Yitzchak later blessed Esau, he reversed the order, saying, "Of the fat places of the earth shall be your dwelling and of the dew from heaven above."


Q. Why, in the blessing, to Yaakov Yitzchak mentions heaven first, and to Esau earth first?


A.  Our sages explain that the blessing to Yaakov and through him to his descendants - the Jewish people, was that to them heavenly andspiritual matters should come first. In other words, the performance of Mitzvot ("heaven") should be the goal and objective of a Jew. Earthly matters should be secondary, only a means to spiritual highs.


Yitzchak blessed Yaakov that heavenly matters (Torah and Mitzvot) be his goal, focus, and guideline, even when dealing with worldly matters.