Weekly Torah Portion: Toldos
27 Cheshvan 5778 – November 16, 2017
The Torah in this week’s Parsha deals with the twin brothers, Yaacov and Aisav.
Even in utero the different personalities of the twins were discernible. When their mother would pass a house of Torah study she felt Yaacov’s fetus kicking to get out and when she passed a place of idol worship she felt Aisav’s fetus kicking to get out.
When the twins were born, their differences became apparent. Yaacov was born circumcised, while Aisav was not. Aisav could not have his Bris performed on the eighth day because of his ruddy complexion, and when he got older, he refused to have one performed.
Until his mid-teens, Aisav’s wayward ways were not so apparent. However, when he was fifteen years old, on the day that his grandfather Avraham died, Aisav’s wickedness became noticeable. On that day he sold his first-born right to his brother Yaacov.
Aisav did not inform his father Yitzchok of the sale and was able to fool his blind father that he was righteous and devout, for whenever he was in the presence of his father he acted religiously.
Aisav’s mother Rivka knew otherwise, for she was raised in a home of idolaters and was quick to recognize Aisav’s bad traits and character; however, she chose to keep this damaging information from her husband Yitzchok.
When our forefather Yitzchok was ready to bestow the patriarchal blessing, he selected his eldest son Aisav to be the recipient. Our Sages tell us that the day was actually the date that would become Passover, and Yitzchok instructed Aisav to capture and prepare special food in honor of the occasion.
Upon hearing this, Rivka instructed Yaacov to stand in for Aisav. She prepared the Pascal lamb and other delicacies. She also had Yaacov don Aisav’s clothing and placed goat hide on his neck and arms so that he would feel like Aisav who was hairy.
When Yaacov approached Yitzchok, his voice made Yitzchok suspect that he was not Aisav, so he told him to draw close to feel him.
Our Sages tell us that Aisav never evoked G-d’s name even in front of his father. The commentator Rokeach explains that his father thought that Aisav, in his piety, did not say G-d’s name because he was afraid that he might slip and say G-d’s name in vain. When Yaccov approached Yitzchok he mentioned that G-d assisted him in preparing the delicacies so quickly. This further aroused Yitzchok’s suspicion that it might not be Aisav.
The Torah tells us that Yitzchok smelled a pleasant aroma when Yaacov entered. Our sages tell us that this aroma was from Gan Eden – the Garden of Eden – which accompanied Yaacov. Thus Yitzchok bestowed the patriarchal blessing on the deserving son Yaacov, while still thinking that he was Aisav.
Just as Yaacov was exiting, Aisav came in. Our Sages explain that Aisav was an expert hunter. Animals were drawn to him. However on this day, G-d orchestrated that animals fled from him in order to give Yaacov time to receive the blessings. The only game that Aisav was able to catch was a dog and he prepared it for his father. Of course his father did not eat from it since he was already full from Yaacov’s meal.
When Aisav approached his father, Yitzchok asked him who he was, for he had already given away the blessing. Aisav then realized what happened and while giving out a great bitter cry he bemoaned the fact that he sold the birthright to Yaacov. When Aisav drew close, Yitzchok had a vision of Gehenim – hell, and thus everything became clear to Yitzchok. Yitzchok shuddered at the thought that he might have possibly given the blessing to the undeserving Aisav.
Shem Mishmuel points out something very interesting. Yitzchok who was blind utilized his other senses to determine the identity of the person who stood before him for the blessing. He heard his voice, felt him, tasted his food and smelled him.
It was actually the pleasant aroma that convinced him. What is special about aroma?
Bnei Yisochar explains: When Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the forbidden tree of knowledge, we find that they utilized four senses. Adam listened to Eve, they ate, touched, and saw the fruit. These senses that were involved in the sin were forever dulled from their original spiritual precision. However, the one sense that was not associated with the sin was the sense of smell. It was therefore the Heavenly aroma of Yaacov that Yitzchok smelled that convinced him that he was the worthy one.
The Rebbe of Pershischa relates that the Torah that we have in our midst can never be contaminated by the negativity of sin or by our dispersion – it is totally pure. King David states – “Torah of G-d is complete.” Through Torah and its study we connect directly to the Almighty without interference.
Commentators add that the holy day of Shabbos also comes directly from G-d without any impediment, and therefore is a remarkable source for all our blessings!