Toldos: The Real McCoy


rabbi-nosson-greenbergBy Rabbi Nosson Greenberg

In this week’s parsha we learn of the birth of Yaakov & Eisav and their relationship with their parents, Yitzchak & Rivka. The passuk tells usVaye’ehav Yitzchak es Eisav kee tzayid be’fiv, Ve’Rivka oheves es Yaakov” -”And Yitzchak loved Eisav because of the trappings of his mouth, however, Rivka loves Yaakov”. [Rashi, quoting Chazal, explains that the phrase “trappings of his mouth” are a description of Eisav’s cunning line of queries to Yitzchak to have him believe that he, Eisav, was scrupulously religious.] The obvious question is: why is Yitzchak’s love for Eisav formatted in the past tense (vaye’ehav), whereas Rivka’s love for Yaakov is in the present (oheves)?

Perhaps we can suggest the following. A Montblanc Meisterstück racing-green alligator leather briefcase costs north of $45,000. A fake of the same name can be bought on selected street-corners in Manhattan for $30. The knock-off, though vaguely similar to the original, falls short in many areas especially in its durability. After a few weeks the cheap plastic alligator design begins to peel, the machine stitching unravels, the handles snap and clasps just don’t.

The religiosity that Eisav exhibited to his father was not real. Like a fake, it was OK for a while, it gave his father nachas, but like all knock-offs it did not last. Hence “Vaye’ehav” – his father loved him in the past tense.

Yaakov’s Torah on the other hand was stunningly perfect. The Torah gives us a two word description of Yaakov’s efforts in Torah – yoshaiv ohalim– a dweller of tents. Note that the word yoshaiv is spelled without a vav. In last week’s parsha when Efron was sitting at the gates to his city as mayor the word yoshaiv is also written sans vav. Chazal explain this is hinting to us that it was on that very day he had been elected mayor. Perhaps we can say the same with Yaakov. Though he had been learning for many years in the tents of Torah, in Yaakov’s eyes it was as if he was starting his first day at Yeshiva. [He epitomized the calling of Chazal (cited by Rashi to Devarim 26:16) that the acceptance of Torah and Mitzvos should be as if they had just been given to us this day.] His enthusiasm and excitement for Torah never waned one whit. His devotion to limmud haTorah was compatible with the subject matter, durable beyond time and exciting beyond comparison. And that fostered a similar style of love in his mother’s eyes.

Oheves – loving. Fresh, constant and timeless.



Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Nosson Greenberg is rov of Khal Machzikei Torah of Far Rockaway, N.Y., and maggid shiur at Yeshiva of Far Rockaway.

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