Parshat Toldot

A Student Publication of the Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Toldot            4 Kislev 5763              November 9, 2002               Vol.12 No.5

In This Issue:

Dr. Joel M. Berman
Willie Roth
Ari Michael
Food For Thought

Rabbi Howard Jachter

This week's issue of Kol Torah has been sponsored by the Kol Torah Staff in honor of Rabbi Jachter.

You Don't Have to be Stuck

by Dr. Joel M. Berman

In Parshat Bereishit (4:10), Hashem tells Kayin, after he kills his brother Hevel, that Hevel's "bloods", "Demei Achicha", are screaming to Hashem from the ground. Rashi explains that the Torah says bloods and not blood to demonstrate that not only did Kayin kill his brother but all of Hevel's descendents as well. Rabbi Solnica Shlita and I recently learned another explanation in Gemara Sanhedrin (37b). According to this Gemara, Kayin was not sure how to kill. He beat his brother until he found "the place where the Nefesh goes out," i.e. the neck. There was blood everywhere. This, according to the Gemara, is what the Torah means by the "bloods of your brother." The Gemara continues that the ground opened and swallowed up the Hevel's blood.

The earth opened one other time, for Korach and his congregation (Korach 16:32). Immediately before being swallowed by the ground, Korach's sons did Teshuva in their hearts. In merit of having repented on some level, the Torah tells us that a special place high in Gehenom was saved for them. The Gemara in Babba Batra (74a) records how one thousand five hundred years later an Arab merchant brought Rabba bar bar Chanah to a small smoking hole in the ground in the desert. From this hole, Rabba bar bar Chanah could hear Korach's sons screaming continually, "Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth and we are liars."

A question immediately arises. How long will they have to repeat "Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth and we are liars?" Why can they not get past this? Why can they not stop? Rabbi Yochanan Wosner Shlita told me that Heaven accepts no checks, only receipts. After 120 years of working on ourselves, we arrive in Heaven as finished products -- we cannot further improve. We are stuck, like Korach's sons.

Rav Hirsch, provides a way out. If, for example, you influence someone to become a Baal Teshuva. It requires little imagination to see how widespread your influence really is. This new Baal Teshuva will begin keeping Torah and doing Mitzvot. His children and their children will be keeping Torah and doing Mitzvot because of you. This, according Rav Hirsch, is what is meant by "bloods of your brother." These very Mitzvot will be continually screaming heavenwards (like Hevel's bloods) but this time in your defense.

In this week's Parsha it says "And these are the generations..."(25:19)
An alternate translation of Toldot is accomplishments. There can be no greater accomplishment than being a good influence on those around you, just as Yitzchak, the son of Avraham, was a good influence on his surroundings.

Avraham Jr.
by Willie Roth

In this week's Parsha the Torah says Ele Toldot Avraham Avraham Holid Et Yitzchak, "These are the children of Avraham, Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak." On this Pasuk, Rashi asks why does the Pasuk repeats Avraham Holid Et Yitzchak, wouldn't it be enough just to say Vaeleh Toldot Avraham? Rashi says that after Hashem changed Avraham's name, Yitzchak was born to emphasizes Avraham's new name. A second explanation of Rashi is that people were saying that Avimelech was the biological father of Yitzchak, because when Sara was living with Avraham she was not pregnant. However, when she was with Avimelech for one night, the next Pasuk says that Sara was pregnant. In order to prevent people from saying this, Hashem made Yitzchak look exactly like Avraham and the Pasuk says Holid Et Yitzchak.

Two questions can be asked on this statement of Rashi. First of all, why are the Rabbis worried about the people who spread false rumors? Also, if Avraham had children before Yitzchak, and Sara was the one who could not have children, then why does the Pasuk focus on Avraham and not Sara?

Rav Yosef Dov Soloveichik explains that a parent has a responsibility of raising a child, and to pass down the parent's values to the child. This is what Avraham was trying to do. Avraham was trying to start the spread of monotheism in place of polytheism. He was trying to pass down this idea to his son Yitzchak. However, some people said that this task was impossible. Therefore they said that Avimelech fathered Yitzchak, meaning that Avraham would not be able to fulfill his task and the ideas that Avimelech believed in, polytheism, would stay with Yitzchak. So, the Torah emphasized Avraham Holid Et Yitzchak, that Avraham shaped the personality of Yitzchak, and that Avraham's ideas were passed down to Yitzchak. Therefore Hashem made them look the same and share the same ideas.
Adapted from a shiur given by Rabbi Yosef Adler.

Challenging Conceptions
by Ari Michael

This week's Parsha begins with the Pasuk Ele Toldot Avraham Avraham Holid Et Yitzchak. The word in this Pasuk that gives Parshanim the most difficulty is the word Toldot. The traditional explanation of Toldot is that it comes from Vlad, offspring. However, based on this explanation, the Pasuk would appear to be repeating itself, since it subsequently says that Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak.

Rashi attempts to explain the Pasuk based on the Midrash. He says that the first half of the Pasuk refers to Binei Yitzchak. The second half of the Pasuk then comes to validate Yitzchak as Avraham's son, due to Avraham's advanced age at the time of Yitzchak's birth.

The Abarbanel challenges Rashi's approach with the fact that if the Torah wanted to validate Yitzchak's conception, it should have come right after Yitzchak's birth, not forty years later. Therefore, the Abarbanel explains that all of Perek 26 discusses the children and grandchildren of Avraham. It began with Bnai Ketura, to be followed by Bnai Yishmael. Then, the Torah is up to Yitzchak. The second half of the Pasuk serves to explain how Yitzchak followed the principle of Maaseh Av Siman Labanim. For example, both married their cousins at age 40 and had wives who were barren. The rest of the Parsha serves to illustrate how that rule fits.

However, a third explanation may be given based on a different explanation of the word ToldotIn Perek 2 Pasuk 4, the Torah says Vaele Toldot Hashamayim Vihaaretz Baheibram. From this Pasuk it is clear that Toldot does not mean children, but rather legacy or that which came after the item, and is what the item is remembered by. Therefore, our Pasuk may be saying that the legacy of Yitzchak is that he is a Ben Avraham. The Peirush Yonatan Ben Uziel on Devarim 6:4 says that the Pasuk of Shema is a statement Bnai Yaakov made to Yaakov before he died. They said, "Do not worry father, we will follow ' because He is the only God, and our God." Similarly, Yitzchak is following in his father's footsteps by recognizing Hashem as the only God in the world and trying to spread that message to everyone else, which is his legacy.


Food For Thought
by Jerry Karp

1) If the Torah tells us in 25:20 that Bituel was from Peden Arem, why does it add that he is an Arami?

2) Why is the simple statement Vayeshev Yistchak Bigrar not added to the end of the Pasuk preceding it, as is the case with other places in the Torah in which someone does what Hashem instructs?

3) Why is the link between Machlet and Avraham mentioned in the last Pasuk of this week's Parsha?

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