Drash Cards for Toldot (5780)
by Marc Mangel
• I have to backtrack a bit to the end of last week’s parsha.
• Abraham had other descendants, not just Ishmael, but Zimran, Yakshan, Medan, Midian, Yishbak, and Shuach (Ch 25, v 2), which is at the end of last week’s parsha. These were the sons of Keturah, whom Abraham married after the death of Sarah; Keturah is also identified as Hagar, whom he now married as a free woman.
• The Torah also lists some of the grandsons of Abraham in last week’s parsah. Verse 3: Yakshan was the father of Shevan and Dedan. Verse 4: The sons of Midian were Eifah, Efer, Chanoch, Avida, and Elda’ah. We know nothing about the sons of Medan, Yishbak or Shuach.
• In verse 5, the Torah tells us, however, that “Abraham gave all that he owned to Isaac”. As Batya beautifully told us last week, it was Sarah’s guidance and understanding that the future of the Jewish people lay with Isaac that lead Abraham to give everything to Isaac. From this, the Chazal tell us that Sarah was in some ways a greater prophet than Abraham.
• I want to riff off of Batya’s drash from last week. We begin today “These are the descendants of Isaac, son of Abraham”. They are Jacob (the younger) and Esau (the older). Twins, who struggled within Rebecca (Ch 25, v 22). During this difficult pregnancy, God tells her that “the upper hand will pass from one power to the other…the elder will serve the younger” (v 23).
• Thus, the time of their birth, Rebecca understood that the future of the Jewish people lay with Jacob, not Esau. But think about it – Jacob was really the conduit not the enacter
[Star Trek fans, remember the episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday”. From its Wikipedia entry: In the episode, the crew of the USS Enterprise travels back to 1960s earth. A USAF plane piloted by Captain John Christopher is scrambled to identify the craft. Fearing an attack, Captain Kirk orders a tractor beam to be used on the jet, which tears the plane apart. The pilot is transported aboard the Enterprise. Fearing Christopher could disrupt the timeline if returned to Earth, Kirk at first decides that the pilot must stay with the Enterprise. When Science Officer Spock later discovers that the pilot’s as-yet-unborn son will play an important role in a future mission to Saturn, Kirk realizes he must return Christopher to Earth after all.].
• As Esau and Jacob grow into men, we learn (Ch 25, v 28) “Isaac loved Esau for the game he provided and because of his cunning words, while Rebecca loved Jacob”.
• Isaac loved Esau for particular reasons, but Rebecca simply loved Jacob. The Sefat Emet (R. Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger) says that Isaac’s love for Esau “depended upon a particular thing. If that thing were to disappear that love would disappear.
• The Sefat Emet continues: “But Rebecca loved Jacob without any reason, and her love thus lasted forever” because it did not depend on any particular thing. God’s love of Israel is of the same sort – it does not depend upon anything.
• In her love of Jacob, Rebecca was mimicking God’s love of Israel. She understood that the future of the Jewish people lay with Jacob.
• In the Rebbe’s chumash, we learn that Esau had latent holiness that included the “sparks of the lofty souls of future converts to Judaism who would become great Jewish leaders”, including the prophet Obadiah, sages of the Mishnah, including Rabbi Akivah, and Onkelos (author of the Aramaic translation of the Torah). According to the Rebbe, Isaac sensed the great potential for holiness within Esau, and loved him for it – Isaac thought that if he could give Esau his blessing, it would unleash this latent holiness.
• But Rebecca saw that the future of the Jewish people lay with Jacob, which ultimately leads to the deception of the blessing read in a later portion of this parsha.
• We have to conclude that Rebecca was a greater prophet than Isaac.