Toledot 5774 – Gilayon #823


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Parshat Toldot


the words of her oldest son Esau were reported to Rebecca, she sent her

youngest son Jacob and said to him: Your brother Esau is consoling himself by

planning to kill you. Now my son, listen to me. Flee at once to Haran, to my brother


(Genesis, 27:42-43)


Were reported to her… The

Holy Spirit reported what Esau was planning in his heart.

Consoling himself… was

consoled by the brotherhood between them. Otherwise he would have been totally

estranged and killed him. And in Midrash and Agaddah: You are already dead in

his eyes and he drank a cup of consolation over you. And literally: The

language of consolation is one of consoling him with the blessings when he

kills you (Rashi,

ibid). And, if you say that even in the Midrash this is the language

of consolation, then it is not the language of calculated thinking, then we

interpret it as being consoled by the blessings and not as a cup of


(Siftei Chachamim, IBID))



– From console, comfort. The reason is his consolation could kill.

(Ibn Ezra, Ibid)


Consoling himself

– It is known that when the grammatical form "hitpael" is used that

it can signify an imagined action, that is not true, like "One man

pretends to be rich," (Mishlei). Pretends to be rich and is not, and so also

with pretends to be poor, blessed, estranged and others, and here too,

consoled. He pretends to be consoled, content and affable with you, as if he

holds no grudge about the blessings, but inwardly, he is plotting to kill you

and only to save himself from you, he is hiding his animosity. And this is

proof that Rebecca knew this from the Holy Spirit, as Esau presented himself as

beloved and certainly would not reveal his true intentions to anyone.

(Reggio, Ibid)




Binyamin Salant

The story of Jacob is

one of the oldest in the Bible. Continuing over seven parshiyot and 27

chapters, his life's path is complete with encounters and departures. In the

Book of Genesis, there is a repeated phenomenon of departures. So it is between

Abraham and Lot, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and

Esau. The first words of departure before their birth are when Rebecca and her

sons go to seek God (Gen

25:22-23), and she is answered with the prophetic

response, "And God said to her," and on this it is already said by Baal

Ohr HaHaim: "This text has many interpretations," and so it has:


by way of a messenger. Rashbam: by way of a prophet. Raba: by way

of a prophet or Abraham. Radak: The prophet is Abraham. Rambam:

by the way of an angel.1


A Mysterious Happening

The answer – prophecy

is styled as poetic and it has in it parables and mystery.


nations are in your womb

One nation shall be Mightier

than the other


two nations will separate from Your


and the older will serve


It is not clear; which

nation will be stronger and when? Who is the older and who is the younger? Who

will serve whom? There are those that interpret this as an omen for the future.

So says the Rashbam: "All the future was told to her" and so

says the Radak: "This is the difference… God gave her a sign of

what the future holds which is in the Midrash Aggadah2". He replies to

Rebecca with a detailed description which ends with the tidings: "And Shem

son of Noah answered in the name of God My daughter, know that I am about to

reveal to you something mysterious, and you, my daughter, must be careful that

no one knows of what I speak to you about: Two nations are in your womb.

And how shall you carry them? The nations of the world cannot carry their

weight, to have them sit together in peace – how can your womb support them?"

Will be

separated from your body… to two worlds, each to a world of his own

making. One will pride himself on his world and the other will be proud of his

world of the Torah, and the other boasting of his transgressions. One appoints

Solomon to build the temple and the other appoints his enemy, who conflicts

with him and destroys him.

And one nation shall

be stronger than the other – Seventy nations minus two were created

in the world and now two more emerge from you that complete the seventy nations

of the world, but two are not equal. When one is up, the other is down. In the

time that Esau establishes a lineage of kings, Jacob establishes a lineage of

prophets. One boasts of his words and the other boasts of his kingdom. And both

of them, Israel and Rome will despise outsiders, as all the nations despise

Esau, the Red, being the Romans, and all the nations despise Israel…and

both of them rule the whole world. However, first the descendents of Esau will

rule by force, and in the end, in the world to come, the descendents of Jacob

will rule the world.

The elder shall rule

the younger – When? When Israel

does the will of God, but when Israel

does not do God's will, the older will rule the younger.

Until the fulfillment

of the message, in the end of days, the nation will have a series of setbacks

and failures, "And all the nations will despise Israel" (see above)

"And when one falls the other rises". (Megila 6:1)

Two nations

– Rashi: "Not nations but kingdoms". And RSR Hirsch defines

the two nations: "Ethics and power will be posed against each other's

paths (continuing from there) "nation from nation – The entire

history is none other than this one struggle: Who will have the upper hand, the

hand with the book or the hand with the sword, the way of Jerusalem or the way

of the Caesars. (Megila,


When Jacob summarizes

his path in life when he meets Pharaoh: "My days have been short and hard…"

This sentence may explain the obstacles that Jacob overcame when he fled from

Esau and is exiled to Laban in Haran.

And from there he flees again. Jacob's way is characterized by hard and

tortuous struggles, from attaining his birthright, the blessing, to attaining a

wife, attaining his possessions, the struggle with the man-angel, which maybe

is the deciding struggle for his image and the image of Israel. And this is how Hosea

describes Jacob's way…"The Lord once indicted Judah, and punished Jacob for his

conduct, requited him for his deeds." (Hosea 12:3)

With all this, Jacob's way is accompanied by encounters with angels, from the

beginning with the dream of the ladder, he received two promises, the promise

of the land to him and his seed (28:14) which is the

promise of Abraham in his blessing to his father Isaac (28:4)

and the promise of watching over him:"I am with you: I will protect you

wherever you go" (28:15).

Rashi comments "because he feared from Esau and Laban" .

And we are amazed, is

this a dream or reality before us? On this the Rambam replies:3 "Jacob's dream is

a prophetic parable of which every word in the parable has meaning."

The Rambam continues4

"The witnessing of the angels is just the witnessing of the prophecy,"

and still, according to the Radak "There are many opinions about

the interpretation of this dream" Rasag: "As if it were a

ladder" Raba: "A ladder is always a symbol…"Radak: In

the name of the Midrash (B'R

68:18) "God showed him the giving of the Torah at

Sinai," (Sinai and sulam=130 in gematria). The Radak continues that here

there was a revelation: "How awesome is this place, because God revealed


These are just some of the opinions that try to interpret the dream…


The Struggle – The Revelation

Jacob is granted a

special relationship with the angels who escorted him and when it is said, "Jacob

went on his way, and angels of God encountered him," (32:1)

The Rashbam explains: "They encountered him to protect him."

After the promise of protection comes a unique puzzling encounter: "Jacob

was left alone. And a man wrestled with him..." (32:35)

and on this subject there are many commentaries who were stumped by this

incident. The Rambam (ibid, part 2, p 281-2),

after he mentions Abraham's meeting with 'three people' as the 'revelation and

secret of secrets', (he continues) I also say about the encounter with Jacob "The

man wrestled with him" that that was in the image of revelation…"

The Ramban (32:26):

"The whole incident is an allusion to the future generations…"


The Conflict Between Israel and the

Nation in the Future



with a shrewd outlook on the past and present, states, "That in this book

there are many historical things that happen in the past and will happen again

in the future…" and he continues: "The central subject of this

parasha is the struggle between Israel

and the nations. There are hints of things to come, the future destiny of the

nation." He continues about the encounter of Jacob and "the man,"

who he calls "The man wrapped in mystery" and continues, "The

mystery that hovers over this story, the refusal to identify himself; these are

the clear signs of the historical struggle that will be between Israel

and the nations in every generation…"


in the continuation, regarding the bidding farewell of the angels from Jacob: "A

farewell of this nature, in reality means: We will meet again. The struggle

will continue in the coming future."6 Soloveitchik, in another place, (Chapters in the Rav's

Thought, page 169) adds: "Jacob emerged as the winner

in this glorious formidable encounter" and he continues by asking "If

this is the case, is this not just the story of an individual? Is not the story

of all of Israel

enfolded here, an entity that has an "absurd" struggle for existence

and life over thousands of years?"


The Man Cloaked in Mystery

From the general we

will move to the particular, and to the questions: Who is the man? What is the

meaning of the struggle? In light of the many explanations that deal with the

identity of the "man" we can say that there is no absolute decision…

In the Gamara (Hulin 92:1)

"Rabbi Shmuel Bar Nahmani says he resembled a stranger…"

Rabbi Shmuel Bar Aha…."He

looked like a scholar." And in the Midrash (B"R 77:2)

R. Hiah Bar Hunia says: "He look to him like a shepherd." R. Hiah Bar

Hanina says:" an officer of Esau." (Ibid, 73:3)

And in The Legends

of the Jews7

"this shepherd was the angel Michael, the most important angel." In

light of this, it seems to us that Louis Ginsberg's comment, is, that, in fact,

we really don't know who the man is.


Jacob on his Own

Possibly it means that

the word alone means that the struggle was within Jacob's soul. And that

is how the Rambam's (see above) explanation can be understood, that the

encounter was in the image of the prophecy, that is to say, in the dream. This

is also the way of Radak and Ralbag. Radak explains, "This event…is

only imagination. He thought there was a man and there wasn't…," and

also the Ralbag "and he imagined in the prophecy the angel of God,

as if there was a man, and we agree there was wrestling in his sleep…"To

this commentary (Rambam, Radak, Ralbag) that the struggle was a dream in his

sleep…we should add that from here it can be understood how in this sentence

there is only one word that separates between "alone" and "the



approach is interesting8

because it testifies to the complexity that appears in the other commentaries.

Do we have here a prophecy, a dream or a physical, sensual struggle? And he

writes, "And Jacob had a battle with his officer that is with his evil

inclination (Yetzer Hara) within his body…" Nonetheless, he writes, "And

the angel was dress in a worldly way (because it was a tangible prophecy) (this

is in the original, probably the compilers comment), Because the angel presents

himself as a person…as opposed to what the Malbim continues:" His soul

remains alone and isolated with the spiritual illumination…and then he

summarizes his commentary with the dual meaning: "Our matter at hand is

that he has no essence and does not exist, he puts on an image and takes off an



As a Man Embraces his Friend

Because the verb 'and

he wrestled' is a personal verb, it has two interpretations in the Gamara (Hulin, 81:71)

and both by R Yehoshua Ben Levi: "We should read: When he

wrestled with him" (32:25),"

as a man embraces his friend." In the continuation, the Gamara brings the

second version of R. Yehoshua Ben Levi: "Wrestled with him, teaches that

they kicked up dust from their feet up to the throne of honor."


translates "And wrestled" as rare word in Aramaic ואישתדל (from trying) and Ramban already

testified that Onkelos also translated like this in Exodus 22:5, "If

a man seduces.." Rashi explains here that in Aramaic, trying is like

seducing in Hebrew. Ramban does not agree with Rashi and thinks that Onkelos'

intention was from the language of "tricking" which is in A.Z.

Melamed's book.9

In the introduction to Avigdor Shinan's book10, according to Shinan, caress-catch, while Even

Shoshan, in his dictionary, defines caress – embrace.11

It is interesting to

note that many artists (Dore, Delacroix and others) depict in their drawings a

struggle between Jacob and the angel, while Rembrandt12 in his paintings depicts a meeting of embracing

without a struggle.


We know that the

man-angel did succeed in his struggle, as it says, "And he saw that he

could not overcome him." (32:36) Rabbi Berhia said: We don't know who

won, the angel or Jacob. (B"R

7:3) And when the angel says, "You have striven with beings

divine and human, and have prevailed, (32:29), Soloveitchik has

this to say, (see

above, p.11), "Jacob emerges as the winner in this

glorious formidable encounter" and continues, the struggle is for all of Israel,

"a struggle for existence and life over thousands of years."

1. In guide to

the Perplexed, Schwartz Edition, Part 2, 41, in the continuation the Rambam

explains that a prophet is alos called an angel, see p.404

2. The Legends of the Jews. Louis Ginsberg,

part 6, Isaac and Jacob,page 65

3. In the introduction to Guide to the Perplexed,see

also part 1,15

4. Ibid,part 2. Chaperter 6,p281-282

5. Divrei Hashkafa, from a pamphlet of the

Education and Cultural Department of Toarah Education in the Diaspora, in the

chapter ‘Jacob and Esau', Parshat Vayishlach, p 21-25

6. Ibid. On page 24 he gives a reason for

anti-Semitism as a result of the relationship between Israel and the nations: "There

is no logical basis."

7. Ibid,, page 125,also page 248, the legend

is based on another legend where it is also said, "Michael was appointed

to be an officer of Israel"

and on page 249,Ginzberg writes that there is no final decision on who the

angel was.

8. Hamlbim, Pardes Yerushalaim, 1956 ,


9. Mifrashei Hamikra, Darchaihem veshitatam,


5734,part 2, p.981,798.

10. Mikra Achad, vetirgumim harbeh, TA:

Hakibbutz Hameuhad, 1993. Page 47

11. The verb "gafaf" caress appears

several times in Sanhedrin. See Mishna Sanhedrin page 60:2. Also Steinsaltz

defines caress as embrace.

12. Rembrandt lived in a Jewish area of Amsterdam in his later

days and probably heard of this idea from his Jewish friends.


Salantm, Member of Kibbutz Saad



Third Temple Will

Be Built Only Through Peace

They did not fight

over the third well, because the third Temple will be built by the Messiah of

whom it is said, In token of

abundant authority and of peace without limit (Isaiah 9:6),

for there shall only be peace and truth in his day, that is why it was

called Rehovot, for then

God will expand (yirhav) their borders. When conflict is afoot or two sides

combat each other, even if they be in a city as large as Antioch it will not offer enough room for

them to live together. Even the most spacious location will be too small for

them and will not be able to bear them, as is, in our iniquity, our custom to

this day. The opposite will be true when there is peace upon Israel. Even

though we will be fruitful in the land and many will be its inhabitants, in any

case the Land shall be spacious for them and no one will trouble them… for in

a time of peace, we shall

increase in the land, for they will have no cause to leave it.

(Kli Yakar 26: 22)



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