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Face To Face

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Toldos

Nov 1, 2013

Parshas Toldos 5774


The Torah says, “Vi’eileh toldos Yitzchok ben Avrohom, Avrohom holid es Yitzchok.” These are the offspring of Yitzchok the son of Avrohom, Avrohom gave birth to Yitzchok.


Rashi comments on the reason for this repetition. Sarah Imeinu was barren of child for many years, up until the point that she was taken by Avimelech, King of the P’lishtim. The scoffers of the generation cast doubt on the lineage of Yitzchok. He is not the child of Avrohom Avenu. His father is Avimelech. What did Hashem do? He fashioned the form of Yitzchok’s face to be identical to that of the face of Avrohom Avenu, thus attesting to the parentage of Avrohom. Yitzchok is truly the son of Avrohom for there is testimony that Avrohom gave birth to Yitzchok.[1]


Yitzchok and Rivka were bereft of children for twenty years. The posuk says, “VaYe’etar Yitzchok LaHashem” – Yitzchok overturned and prayed to Hashem. The response to Yitzchok’s prayer was, “Vaye’aser lo Hashem” – Hashem overturned Yitzchok’s lot.[2]


Questions


At this point in time Yitzchok Avenu is sixty years old.


The testimony took place at the moment of his birth. Then, it was clear for all to see the resemblance between Yitzchok and Avrohom. The scoffers have no fuel for their mockery. Their voices have been silenced for sixty years.


Why bring it up at all?


Why is this the opportune time to point out the lineage of Yitzchok Avenu?


Certainly Yitzchok and Rivka had poured out their hearts during the past twenty years. What was unique about this tefillah?


Analysis


Yitzchok Avenu married at the age of forty years old. In imitation of his father, Eisav married at the age of forty.[3] Yet, Eisav married a Canaanite woman. The extremes that Avrohom Avenu went to in order to assure that Yitzchok would not marry a daughter of the Canaanites are well known.[4] If Eisav is indeed following in the steps of his father, would it not make sense to marry one from his own family as his father did?


Mori VeRabi, Rav Yonason David, shlita,[5] explained. There is an essential difference between Yitzchok and Eisav. Yitzchok is one of the Avos. The Avos are a unified group of three who through their life’s choices build a nation. Through their joint efforts, the nation has all the traits that it needs to fulfill its destiny. The offspring of the Avos possess the kindness of Avrohom Avenu, exacting justice of Yitzchok, and the compassion of Yaakov.[6]


They, in a sense, are creators.


Thus, the need exists to create along with a spouse of the same character traits, members of their own family.


Eisav was not an Av. He had nothing new to contribute. He replicated the middah of his father. Eisav was the paradigm of exacting justice. He took his father’s middah to the extreme. He was a murderer. He eliminated all those who he deemed not fit to live. He was totally devoid of kindness and compassion.


Eisav was not a builder. He was a follower. There is no need for him to marry one of his own.

In what way was Yaakov Avenu different from Eisav?


Yaakov was not solely a product of Yitzchok. He was a synthesis of the middah of his father Yitzchok and the middah of his grandfather Avrohom.


Hashem tells Avrohom, “Ki viYitzchok yikareh lecha zara[7] – Only through a part of Yitzchok shall your descendants be proclaimed. Yaakov Avenu is the grandson of Avrohom Avenu, Eisav is not.[8]


The Torah begins with the words, “Breishis bara Elokim es hashamayim vi’es ha’aretz” – G-d sought to create the world in the form of exacting justice. He saw that world could not withstand the scathing judgment of divine justice. Therefore, He forged a partnership, a union between justice and compassion.[9]


The world would be judged according to exacting standards, but the implementation of justice would be tempered by G-d’s compassion.


The middah of Avrohom was to bestow kindness even on the undeserving. The middah of Yitzchok was exact justice. Yitzchok worked his whole life to integrate his middah with that of his father’s. Only then would his middah be of benefit to the newly formed nation.


Yaakov Avenu is the product of this synthesis. His middah is rachamim. Rachamim is the combination of chessed and din. He is an Av, His wife was to be someone from his family.


Answers


As long as the middah of Yitzchok was non-tempered justice, he was undeserving of bearing a child.


Hashem forged the face of Yitzchok to be identical to that of Avrohom’s. The word for face is panim. Panim is the root of the word p’nimiyus – internalism. From his very birth Yitzchok was set upon a path to join his p’nimiyus with that of Avrohom Avenu.


At the age of sixty years old, he was successful. He reached a level of prayer where he overturned. The middah of din normally faces away from the middah of chessed. Yitzchok overturned the middah of din within himself. It would now work in tandem with the middah of chessed.[10]


He is now fit to give birth to Yaakov Avenu, the bearer of the middah of rachamim.



[1] Perek 25, posuk 19

[2] Perek 25, posuk 21

[3] Perek 26, posuk 34

[4] Perek 24, posuk 3

[5] Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Pachad Yitzchok

[6] Michah, perek 7, posuk 20

[7] Perek 21, posuk 12

[8] Meseches Nedarim, daf 31a

[9] Yalkut Shimoni, Breishis, perek 2, remez 19

[10] See Meseches Succah, daf 14a

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