Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Posts so far for parshat Toledot


1. Eat this red lentil stew; it will put color in your cheeks!


1.  Did Avraham call anyone 'My Master' besides Hashem According to Meshech Chochma, he did not, and so was of the select few to be called an eved Hashem. But it is not so simple, according to Rav Yechezkel Abramsky's son. According to one opinion, Adonay at the start of Vayera is chol. Then, I weigh in with what I think is an even stronger counter-example, עַל-עַבְדְּכֶם.

2. Even at three, Rivkah didn't absorb from her negative environment -- But we may derive from here, notes Rabbi Chaim Hirschenson, that one must be careful in the chinuch of children. I consider how much of this lesson is to be derived from Rashi and how much from the underlying midrashim.

3. Who named YaakovRashi says it was either Hashem or Yaakov. What prompts the midrash, and how could one darshen this even as, contrariwise, one darshens the naming of Yishmael? The Levush HaOrah considers the question, and then I do too.

4. YUTorah for parashat Toledot

5. How to understand כַיּוֹם in Yaakov's request to purchase the birthright -- Shadal notes a girsological variation in Onkelos, and then points us to sefer Yud Aleph Resh, Savyonita, and Rashi and Ramban. Ramban discusses the meaning of the strange phrasing in Onkelos, זַבֵּין כְּיוֹם דִּלְהֵין.  I present and translate these sources.

6. The Torah Temimah on Esav's Five Sins Torah Temimah -- He explains the derashot in the gem
ara in Bava Batra, fixes a broken girsa in a way that turns out to correspond to manuscripts, and explains why Rashi goes to a distant location to explain an Aramaic word, rather than simply looking to Onkelos on our own pasuk. I weigh in on some of this at the end.

7. Is וְהֵבֵאתָ to be pronounced mile'eil or mileraShadal points to an interesting comment in sefer Yaar, that good manuscripts and Rashi support it being mile'eil, against our present reading.


  1. What in the world does נַחְשִׁרְכָן meanin all of its variants.
  2. Ibn Caspi on the Avos keeping the entire Torah -- He endorses the idea, kind-of. In one instance, as a restrained and coded rejection. In another, as a philosophical co-opting of the idea. Also, Chizkuni and my own approach to understanding the pasuk that sparks all this.
  3. Toldos sources -- further expanded and improved.
  4. YU Torah on parashat Toldot.
  5. Darshening pesiks in parashat Toledot -- One is indeed a pesik, and one should indeed be darshened. Though I argue on the details. There is a vertical bar after Machalat, and there is a derasha that has Esav's sins forgiven with his marriage. Does this bar indicate the need for distancing oneself from one's past actions? There is a vertical bar after the Shem Hashem in Avimelech's words to Yitzchak. Should this indicate that the wells ceased when Yitzchak left? Read on to find out!
  6. Rivkah darshens a pasuk -- An amusing remez from the Vilna Gaon.
  7. Did Avraham specifically keep eruv tavshilin or erev techuminAn analysis by the Gra.


  1. Why כי עקרה הוא is correct --  and how the Samaritan correction is a correction, rather than original.
  2. The meaning of Padan Aram -- Is the Aramaic or Arabic etymology better?
  3. Was Yaakov Avinu the first AskanWhile reading over parashat Toledot, it struck me that, at least on a peshat level, there is ample precedent for what the various askanim are doing. It is simply maaseh avos siman labanim.
  4. How to spell 'goyim' -- and how I would justify the Masoretic reading. Plus the strange, counter-intuitive vowel pattern provided by the Masorah, and its significance.
  5. The mercha kfula in parshas Shmini -- How shall we account for it? There is also a mercha kefulah in parashat Toledot, and this post considers all five of them in the Torah.
  6. Esav the Deceiver, pt i -- I try to address why Yitzchak and Rivkah's displeasure over his choice in wives doesn't prove that Yitzchak was in the know.

  1. My novel interpretation for the duplication of Betulah and veIsh lo yedaah, which I label ridiculous. Then it turns out that it is not so novel, as Maharal says a very similar thing. I have a post planned about just why I considered my own interpretation silly, which has to do with peshat in derash. {Update: See post #7, about how Rivkah was just big for her age.}
  2. The three-fold ambiguity of verav yaavod tzair -- syntactic, lexical, and spelling. And how this may be a deliberate ambiguity, such that the text is multivalent. Also, An earlier assertion of multivalence in verav yaavod tzair -- in Radak, alongside Ibn Caspi I mentioned earlier. Plus, some analysis.
  3. Did Hashem speak directly to Rivkah? For various commentators, it might depend on whether Hashem generally talks to women, as well as what doresh means and what vatelech means. Towards the end, I suggest that Rivkah prayed, and that Hashem responded to her in a direct revelation.
  4. Was the kiss on the mouth, or elsewhere? Trying to make sense of Ibn Ezra's assertion that neshika which is "to" someone is on the hand or cheek, while neshika directly is on the lips. I think it is more plausible, and grounded in sevara and dikduk, than some supercommentators give him credit for.
  5. Was Yitzchak poor? The dispute between Ibn Ezra and Ramban, and my thoughts on some elements of their dispute.
  6. Rivkah, just big for her age! My analysis of why I considered my suggestion (above) ridiculous, and an analysis of how my methodology in general differs from that of Maharal. I don't see the need to harmonize as much, and if the harmonization introduces surprising details which we would have therefore expected to see explicitly mentioned by Rashi, or the midrash, itself, then I would surmise that this was not the intent of the author of the midrash.
  7. The merits of a Baal Teshuva vs. those of an FFB -- based on Toledot, with Rivkah and Yitzchak's prayers.
  8. Did the Pilgrims wear tzitzis? Nope, it's Esav!
  1. In Shadal's Vikuach, he discusses how Ibn Ezra's interpretation of kulo kaaderet seiar goes against the trup.
  2. Cross-listed from Vayikra, Shadal's theory about small letters can help explain the small kuf in katzti bechayai -- it follows the word Yitzchak, which ends with a kuf. See inside.
  3. From Whence the 10 years before Yitzchak and Rivkah begin trying to have children? A discussion on how it comes from textual concerns, as opposed to imposed moral values.
  4. Two Whole Goats? Does Yitzchak really have that big an appetite? How are we then to understand the preparation of two goats for Yitzchak's meal, on a peshat level?
  5. Will that be one placenta or two? Rabbenu Bachya, vs. Ibn Ezra, vs. Rashi, on how many placentas there were, and whether Yaakov and Esav shared a single placenta. If they did, they would have to be identical twins, though I do not think Rabbenu Bachya necessarily realized that.
  6. Did Yaakov stray after his eyes in falling in love with Rachel, rather than just taking Leah and returning to his parents? I take issue with this explanation by Rabbenu Bachya, on a peshat level, but in the comment section, Rabbi Joshua Maroof (of Vesom Sechel) makes a compelling argument in his favor, on a peshat level, that the Biblical text does not look favorably on Rachel. Perhaps fodder for another post.
  7. Who or What Was Achuzat? The name of Avimelech's friend, or a group of people. I favor Rashi, even on the level of peshat.
  1. Is Esav the Bad Brother? Is Yaakov? The theme of sibling rivalry, and the danger of reading our own values into the text.
  2. Esav's mantle of hair, and its possible implications, such that it was worn by false prophets, or prophets in general, such that it might fit in with Esav's misleading nature.
  3. Is Edom equal to Rome and Christiandom? Shadal says no, and that the prophecies about Esav and Yaakov in this week's parsha have already been fulfilled. Plus a very large comment section. And then, in Is Obama a 'Dark Horse' Candidate to be Gog, I touch on this same topic, and discuss it with yaak of Yeranen Yaakov, in the comment section.
  • Further thoughts on the Sons of Ketura (2005)
    • A continuation of a post on Chayyei Sarah, in considering whether genealogical sections happened right then or whether some high level ain mukdam in terms of tracts with different purposes (macro and micro zoom levels) is at play here. In terms of Toledot, even though the first pasuk mentions Yitzchak's birth, he was clearly born before.
  • I Am | Esav (is) Your Firstborn (2005)
    • I consider various motivations as input into the midrashic statement that Yaakov did not lie by making this statement. The obvious religious motivation (making Avot paragons of virtue), philosophical motivations (given philosophical requirements of a navi being absolutely truthful, syntactic motivation, accentual motivation (trup), thematic motivation, motivation of textual parallels, and literary motivation. Thus is not (simply) a case of whitewashing actions of the Avot. Read for more details.
  • More Thoughts on "Anochi Esav Bechorecha" (2005)
    • In terms of the parsing of "It is I | Esav is Your Firstborn," I note how Hebrew is a pro-drop language, how including the pronoun is done usually for emphasis, and how this emphasis is read into the midrash.
  • The Parallelism of "Anochi Esav Bechorecha" (2005)
    • Discussing the parallelism between Yitzchak's question and Yaakov's answer. After demonstrating the parallelism, I question whether beni in this case means literally "my son" or more generally a kind address to one younger than you. Parallel to Rut, where Boaz calls her biti in a near identical address and response.
  • A Neo-midrash on Yaakov and Esav's Sibling Rivalry (2004)
    • Based on a Hebrew cognate in Amharic, on the word gadala, meaning to kill or fight.
  • And the Older Shall Serve the Younger? (2004)
    • or the younger shall serve the older? I think the former is what makes the only sense, on a peshat level, and argue on Rabbi Sacks' interpretation. Also, the meaning of rav and tzair.
  • Making A Break For It (2004)
    • The basis of Yaakov trying to get out to a bet midrash and Esav trying to get out to a house of idolatry, while yet in the womb.
  • Towards a Theory of Drash (2004)
    • That there is always a local, linguistic cause, as well as thematic reasons to choose a specific interpretation. The derash reinforces the message which is already present on the peshat level.
  • The Near Miss (2004)
    • Yaakov leaving the tent just as Esav arrives. And the midrash's textual basis.
  • Fetal Fighting (2004)
  • וַתֵּלֶךְ לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת-ה - A drash of lidrosh to mean bet midrash (2003)
    • How Rivka consults Hashem. A discussion and summary of several opinions
  • Esav's Wife: Easy on the Eyes (2003)
    • and the midrash linking Yitzchak's blindness to Esav's wife's idolatry. And how the new wife he took was a realization of this -- וַיַּרְא עֵשָׂו, כִּי רָעוֹת בְּנוֹת כְּנָעַן, בְּעֵינֵי, יִצְחָק אָבִיו. Check it out.
to be continued...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

YUTorah on Chayei Sarah

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Audio Shiurim on Chayei SarahRabbi Elchanan Adler: Choosing a Wife for Yitzchak
Rabbi Eli Belizon: What Is Really Going on Under the Chuppah
Rabbi Chaim Brovender: This thing is from God
Rabbi Avishai David: Finding the Right Spouse
Rabbi Dovid Ebner: The Bracha of Having Everything
Rabbi Ally Ehrman: You Can't Take It With You
Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein: Refua in halacha
Rabbi Aaron Feigenbaum: The Years of Sara's Life
Rabbi Joel Finkelstein: A Model Marriage
Rabbi David Fohrman: What Makes For A Successful Life?
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg: Superstition in Shidduchim
Rabbi Yehuda Goldschmidt: Be Consistent and Pass Every Test Big and Small
Rabbi Ephraim Greene: Lessons on Marriage from the Birkas Eirusin
Rabbi Yaacov Haber: Lev Tov - Shidduch
Rabbi Shalom Hammer: Positive realistic attributes
Rabbi Aryeh Hendler: From Arur to Baruch
Rabbi Jesse Horn: Tips for a better Tefilla
Rabbi Aharon Kahn: Eliezer Eved Avraham
Rabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky: Personal Bias in Avodat Hashem
Mrs. Ora Lee Kanner: Bakol, Mikol, Kol
Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg: Thoughts on Shidduchim and Marriage
Rabbi Binyamin Kwalwasser: What Makes You Tick?
Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz: So Much More Than Skin Deep
Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz: The Spirituality in the Food
Rabbi Eliezer Lerner: Creating the Right Enviornment for Growth
Rabbi Yoni Levin: The Mitzvah of Burying the Dead
Dr. Michelle J. Levine: Purchase, Possession, Perpetuity: Our Hebron
Rabbi Ben Leybovich: Handicapped
Rabbi Meir Lipschitz: Sarah's Death and Eulogy
Rabbi Dovid Miller: Being an Eved Avraham
Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger: Understanding Relationships Through The Actions of the Avos
Rabbi Michael Rosensweig: Divrei Sofrim: The Interface Between D’orayta and D’rabanan
Rabbi Yonason Sacks: Shvuous and Shomea Ke'oneh
Mrs Ilana Saks: Praying in the Field
Shay Schachter: Lifnei Iver:The times we are allowed to violate
Rabbi Hershel Schachter: Was what Rivkah did proper?
Rabbi Avi Schneider: Age Before Beauty
Rabbi Avraham Shulman: Nisyonos - Passing Life's Tests
Rabbi Eli Baruch Shulman: Kolo Shavin Letovah
Rabbi Baruch Simon: What Eliezer Taught Rivka About Being Part of Klal Yisroel
Mrs. Shira Smiles: Gauging Goodness
Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky: Living on through ones children
Rabbi Moshe Sokolow: Avraham's Purchase of Me'arat Hamachpelah
Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik: The Definition of Beauty
Rabbi Reuven Spolter: Inside vs. Outside the Tent
Rabbi Moshe Stav: אומר הרבה-אמונה
Mrs. Shani Taragin: Parshat HaShidduchim - Looking for Love in all the Right Places
Rabbi Reuven Taragin: Why Parshat Chayei Sarah is called Chayei Sarah
Rabbi Moshe Taragin: A Camel Ride!!
Rabbi Moshe Tzvi WeinbergOne Must Do Chesed with All of One's Strength
Rabbi Moshe WeinbergerA Place Called Be'er Lachai Ro'i
Rabbi Mordechai Willig: Middos for Marriage- Lessons from Rivka and Eliezer
Rabbi Andi Yudin: What Really Matters in a Spouse
Rabbi Ari Zahtz: Akeidas Sarah?
Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler: Is It All In The Genes?
Articles on Chayei Sarah
Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn: One Night In Tokyo
Rabbi Beinish Ginsburg: Avraham and Sarah are a unit
Rabbi Ozer Glickman: Redeeming Midrash
Rabbi Meir Goldwicht: Marriage Comes from Hashem
Rabbi Avraham Gordimer: Eliezer's Quest - Why?
Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb: Sarah’s Integrated Greatness
Rabbi Maury Grebenau: Kindness with Wisdom
Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg: שיחתן של עבדי אבות
Rabbi David Horwitz: After the Aqedah
Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl: Lessons From The Lives Of Eliezer And Lot
Parsha Sheets on Chayei Sarah
Yeshiva University High School for Boys: Shema Koleinu
Student Organization of Yeshiva (YU): Einayim L'Torah
YU-Torah miTzion Toronto Beit Midrash: Toronto Torah
Shiurim on the Haftorah of Chayei Sarah
Rabbi Ari Kahn: Avraham, David and Kingship
Rabbi Philip Moskowitz: Choosing the Right Leader for Tomorrow
Rabbi Avraham Rivlin: ויכסהו בבגדים ולא יחם לו
Rabbi Zvi Romm: Understanding the Story of Avishag Hashunamis
Rabbi Michael Taubes: Malchus Beis David and Birkas Hamazon
Rabbi Jeremy WiederLaining for Parshat VChayei Sarah
See all shiurim on YUTorah for Parshat Chayei Sarah
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

posts so far for parshat Chayei Sarah


1. What nekitas chefetz was there, if Yaakov was nolad mahul So asks Rav Chaim Kanievsky, further exploring the path set by Mizrachi. By Avraham, it was nekitas chefetz on the milah, and Avraham's very first mitzvah. Not so for Yaakov, on two counts. Rav Kanievsky's answer, and then I explore further.

2. Calculations regarding stolen blessings and mitzvos -- an elaborate construction from the Chasam Sofer.

3. YUTorah on Chayei Sarah

4. The small kaf in וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ -- Rabbenu Ephraim collects explanations. Could any of these explanations be peshat?


1. Chayei Sarah sources, 2011 edition.

2. YUTorah on parashat Chayei Sarah.

3. Eliezer makes a netilas yadayim and hamotzi -- But how does the Baal HaTurim know to add these additional details to the midrash?

4. A consistent explanation of shalshelet, across Tanach -- Considering explanations for the shalshelet in our parashah, as well as across Tanach. Rav Kanievsky has a consistent midrashic explanation. I give a drier, more technical explanation.

5. Darshening the pesik in ויהי | כראות -- Should we? I don't think so, because it is not a pesik.

  1. Chayei Sarah sources -- further improved and expanded.
  2. Was Sarah buried in the *Valley* of ChevronA variant text in the beginning of parashat Chayei Sarah, present in the Septuagint and Samaritan Pentateuch. And why I believe the masoretic text to be better.
  3. Was Sarah Imeinu evil and ugly at age 101 I don't think so. Therefore, a potential deeper meaning in the famous midrash.
  4. Why was it called Kiryat ArbaI believe that what drives Rashi is first peshat and second derash. But there are complications, in the form of an explicit pasuk which seems to contradict Rashi's peshat.
  5. Avraham Avinu's deceased daughter -- In which I discover a Chasam Sofer which deduces a neo-midrash I came up with myself.
  6. Does Rashi change the number of miracles?  No, he doesn't. But I like the methodology. A response to a DovBear post.
  7. Proving Rivkah's Virtue -- A fascinating midrash, in which Rivkah proves that she did not have relations with Eliezer on the way.
  8. Sated, or Sated with years? A little more information, to make a more informed decision of the merits of the Masoretic text vs. the Samaritan text, on whether it is 'sated' or 'sated with years'. A response to a DovBear post. But I misidentified the Peshitta text, due to a mixup. What appears in that post is NOT Peshitta.
  9. Rav Moshe Feinstein on Avraham's deceased daughter -- On previous occasions, I have discussed the midrash on Avraham Avinu's deceased daughter. Now, I present Rav Moshe Feinstein's take inside, and analyze it a little bit.
  10. The meaning of יִפֹּל מִצִּדְּךָ אֶלֶף -- In which I encounter a novel peshat in davening, but still prefer my own.
  1. Chayei Sarah sources -- links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraos Gedolos, plus links to more than 100 meforshim on the parsha and haftorah.
  2. Should there be a pasek between Nesi Elohim and Ata? The vast majority of precise manuscripts don't have it. Though Minchas Shai endorses it, I explain why I would not.
  3. The evolution of a derash -- how Midrash Rabba makes no mention of a krei / ketiv, but probably darshens Eliezer's hope for his daughter's marriage to Yitzchak from a different textual feature. Then, how Rashi and Yalkut Shimoni handle it. And then, what do we make of the derasha being of Eliezer's retelling, rather than the original narrative.
  4. Is it written Pilgashim or Pilagsham? A derasha based on deficient spelling, but we don't have this deficient spelling!
  5. If she was a virgin, isn't it obvious that no man had known her?! How different pashtanim deal with this duplication. Rashi, Rashbam, and even Ibn Ezra make something of the duplication, but I side with Ibn Caspi who says that the duplication is a linguistic feature, and should not connote anything on the level of peshat. And my own novel explanation of why veIsh lo yedaah was necessary. Which I now see was not so novel, unfortunately.
  6. Why did Eliezer run after Rivkah? According to Rashi and Ibn Caspi, and what this might demonstrate about their methodologies. I associate it with an even earlier pasuk than Rashi and Ibn Caspi do; and then I note the more general phenomenon of running in the perek, and attempt to explain that as well.
  7. The order of presents and inquiring after Rivkah's family -- and how different pashtanim (Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ibn Caspi) handle it.
  8. To whom does Avraham bow? The midrash modifying this might be going on different pesukim. If on a particular pasuk, then Ibn Ezra and Rashbam are arguing with Chazal, while Ibn Caspi supports them as a matter of peshat. And how this relates to Eliezer bowing down on hearing good news.
  9. Yeridas HaDoros, and whether Avraham muzzled his camels -- Rashi says yes, and Ramban says no. Also, how this relates to the donkey of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair.


  • A Three Year Old Rivkah -- Plausible? Obscene?
    • I discuss plausibility of a three year old marrying, and of a three year old able to carry a heavy water pitcher. Also, whether a three year old could carry on such a conversation with Eliezer. Also, would this be obscene? Note that Rashi says the actual consummation of marriage was years later. Plus more.
  • Use of Time-of-Day To Convey Drama and Mood
    • in Vayera, in Chayyei Sara, and in Rut. I think in Chayyei Sarah it adds to the drama of the romantic meeting of Yitzchak and Rivka.
  • The Account of Betuel's Death By Poision, part i
    • What apparent problem in the text does this midrash solve? What is the textual basis for the resolution? How does this midrash fit in with the overall theme of the parsha?
  • The Account of Betuel's Death By Poison, part ii
    • The same midrash, but with a different spin, as it occurs in Bereishit Rabbati from Rav Moshe haDarshan. In terms of a different poisoner (Lavan) and a different, fairly positive, motivation for the attempted poisoning.
  • Was the Servant of Avraham Eliezer?
    • An analysis of the identification of Eliezer with the servant of Avraham. Most obviously, Chazal's closed canon approach. But even on a peshat level, we show a reason to equate the two. Why would the Torah not mention it, if so. From the perspective of literature, other people in this narrative are deliberately not mentioned by name - Rivka, Lavan, Betuel - even though their names are known from elsewhere - and this for deliberate literary effect. Compare with the story of Moshe being born and placed in the Nile, where proper names are also deliberately omitted.
  • לוֹ, לוּ, לֹא אֲדֹנִי שְׁמָעֵנִי - part 1
    • Aleph and Vav are matres lectiones, "mothers of reading," and in reality can and do fill many vowel roles. What different perspective of the interaction between Efron and Avraham do we get it we revocalize all the above as לוּ and change the locations of pasuk break to always give us לוּ אֲדֹנִי שְׁמָעֵנִי? 
  • לוֹ, לוּ, לֹא אֲדֹנִי שְׁמָעֵנִי - part 2 (2004)
    • Further thoughts and developments on the same subject. Plus what Tg Yonatan does with this.
  • Waterloo
    • A joke which matches well with the two aforementioned divrei Torah.
  • Sarah's Daughter
    • The derivation of a midrash that states that Sarah had a daughter who died on the same day that Sarah died.
to be continued...


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