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Vol 30.16 - Toledot 1                                          Spanish French Audio  Video

Hebrew Text:

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Chumash-Toldot

Summary:
(5746) Rashi (Gen. 25:19: Rashi beg. of parsha): "The Holy One, blessed be He shaped the features of Isaac’s face to resemble Abraham’s" - Comparison between the service of Isaac to the service of Abraham, even though Abraham's characteristic is Kindness and Isaac's characteristic is Severity; The reason that Isaac is named for Happiness (Simcha) (Rashi Lecha 17:19, Vayeira 21:6 Vol XXX)
 

Translation:

1."And these are the generations of Isaac the son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac. (Gen.25:19)”. Chazal explain that the repetition of the passage teaches us that besides that he was “Isaac the son of Abraham” it is emphasized that “Abraham begot Isaac” because his (Isaac’s) face resembled Abraham’s face - because the scorners of the generation were saying that Sarah had conceived from Abimelech, … the Holy One, blessed be He shaped the features of Isaac’s face to resemble Abraham’s (Rashi, Midrash Tanchuma, Toldot 1]

And the commentators ask: this subject, i.e. the repudiation of the scorners of the generation that said “Sarah had conceived from Abimelech” would have been more fitting at the depiction of Isaac’s birth – So why did the Torah wait until now – Parshat Toldot – to repudiate their statement?

It appears that even though the reason for the “features of Isaac’s face resembling Abraham’s “was to “repudiate of the scorners of the generation” – this (also) is relevant to a fundamental and existential aspect, even after the repudiation of their words, to Isaac’s essence and service .

 

Therefore, this subject comes specifically at (the beginning of) Parshat Toldot, because the quintessence of this Parsha - “these” – is the story of the “generations of Isaac” – the experiences of Isaac.
 
( Parshat Chayei speaks concerning the Abrahams experiences; from Parshat VaYetzei the story begins regarding Jacob; Parshat Toldot depicts the experiences of Isaac., so much that one of the commentaries of “And these are the generations of Isaac” is that it is the “childhood of Isaac and his experiences”)
 
And this is the emphasis of the passage, that in the story of the aspects of Isaac (“generationsof Isaac”) it is important to know that “Abraham begot Isaac” that “Isaac was similar to Abraham”

2. Concerning the aspect and service of Isaac we find a contradiction.
 
It is known that the character of Isaac is the character of Fear (Yirah) “Awe of Isaac”. For this is the difference between the service of Abraham and Isaac: The service of Abraham was with the character of Love and Kindness “Abraham my beloved”; and that of Isaac - the character of fear and awe.
 
On the other hand, many aspects of Isaac show the connection and relation to the character of Love and Kindness.
 
    1) His beginning (the time) of his birth: Chazal state that “Isaac was born on Pesach” and it is known that the three Holidays correspond to the three Fathers – Pesach to Abraham, Shavuot to Isaac and Sukkot to Yaakov.
 
Therefore the birth of Isaac was on the holiday corresponding to Abraham.
And it’s understood simply that this is not a coincidence, but rather because this is so because of the essential aspect of Isaac’s birth. For since the existence of Isaac is “Similar” to Abraham (Love and Kindness), also his birth was (simply) on the “holiday” of Abraham.
 
2)   
His name:  Isaac is from the word “laughter”- according to the posuk:” "G-d has made joy (laughter) for me (Gen 21:6)”, which is an aspect of happiness. And happiness is an opposite tendency from the characteristic of fear and awe; nevertheless he was called  Isaac, with a name depicting Simcha
 
3)   
His general aspect – “And the man became great ..until he had grown very great (Gen 26:13)” – which is the epitome of kindness and greatness.

4)     “And I will increase his seed, (through that which) and I will give him  Isaac”
And more.
 
3. It is seemingly possible to explain this according to what is known that although the service of Abraham and Isaac were two separate and opposite paths – The intent is that the main service of Abraham was with the characteristic of Kindness; but not that he was limited by it. Rather it included the character of Severity (Gevurah) and Fear, as is explained about Abraham: “now I know that you are a God fearing man (Gen 22:12)." And the same was with Isaac, that his service was inclusive also of the characteristic of Kindness, but his main service was in the characteristic of Fear.
 
Accordingly one can explain that the intent of the passage:
 
“Abraham begot Isaac” that the Holy One, blessed be He “shaped the features of Isaac’s face to resemble Abraham’s “ was not only to describe his physical visage , but also to describe the spiritual “similarity of visage”. In other words- his character and his service, and it comes to tell us that in the service of Isaac there is contained the service of Love (of Abraham)
 
However, seemingly this explanation isn’t sufficient. For since the name of Isaac is commonly and always refers specifically to happiness, one must say that this is the main aspect of Isaac
And moreover, the difference between Rejoicing (GIlah) and Happiness (simcha), is known. GIlah depicts an emotion of happiness that is not so revealed [which is why it is possible to “rejoice” (GIlah) together with fear and quaking, as it states: “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with quaking( psalms 2;12)”], however Simcha is revealed happiness. Accordingly the fact that he is called Isaac corresponding to the (revealed) emotion of “laughter” shows (not on rejoicing which is inclusive of Fear “rejoice with quaking” but rather) specifically revealed happiness.
 
And from this it is understood that, the fact that Isaac was “similar” to Abraham is not just because of the inclusiveness of the characteristics (that even the service of Isaac included characteristics of Love) but that Simcha is a special and main aspect of Isaac.
 
4. One can say the explanation is:
 
Of the differences between Love (the characteristic of Abraham) to fear (the characteristic of Isaac): The aspect of love is bringing close the Lover to the Loved one. This (closeness) does not have within it a tendency of subjugating the Lover towards the object of his Love (Loved one). On the contrary, with love the existence of the one who loves is felt; it is “he” who is coming close. This is not so with Fear, whose aspect is nullifying the person and destroying his power and existence towards the one he fears.
 
An example to this is the difference between a Son and a Servant:
 
The relationship between a son to his father is fundamentally (primarily) love between them –therefore the love of a son to his father does not nullify the “existence” of the son, rather the way he is (exists), he has closeness (and love) towards his father. However the relationship between a slave and a master, is connected (primarily) which the characteristic of Fear, ( the fear of a slave of his master) whose aspect and outcome is nullification- for he accepts upon himself the yoke of his master, and bends and nullifies himself to him.
 
Similar is the service of G-d:
 
It is known that the Jewish people are “either like sons or slaves”, “You are children of the L-rd, your G-d (Dev 14:2)  and “My Servants (Num 24:42)”: This contemplation of the closeness of Hashem to the Jewish people that “You are our Father” arouses and reveals the Love to G-d. The contemplation that G-d is “our King” inspires and reveals Fear and nullification.
 
The difference between these two characteristics (Love of G-d and Fearing Him) in their effect on the Soul of man is: Love inspires ones coming close to G-d; Fear inspires man to have feelings of nullification and humility before G-d.
 
5. We find in the characteristic of “Bittul” (nullification) and lowness, that not only does this require carefulness ( Zehirut) to avoid becoming a “doormat” ( trampled on [by people at large. Cf. Eruvin 98a {tread upon "by many... leading to abasement" (Rashi) G-d forbid – but moreover the nullification should serve as a preface and preparation to approaching G-d. In other words, the purpose of fear and nullification is not that a person should come to the conclusion that he is “nothing” and nothing else, but on the contrary, since he is null, he has the ability to come close to G-d.
 
And moreover, the characteristic of coming close to G-d, through the prefacing of nullification is stronger than coming close to G-d through Love alone. For since the characteristic of Love is connected with feelings of self worth (that he is coming close to G-d) , and since man is a limited being, therefore, even the measure of his amount of his coming close to G-d is also limited. Specifically when one nullifies himself (through arousing his soul with Fear) does he prepare himself to be a vessel (kli), to the revealing of G-dliness above boundaries and limitations (as the passage states: “With the lofty and the holy ones I dwell, and with the crushed and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the crushed. (Isa 57:15)”. For the Loftiness of HaShem and his holiness resides specifically with those who are “crushed and humble”.
 
We find an example of this (previously paragraph 4) concerning a servant and his master, that Chazal state: “the servant of a king - is a king (himself), in other words, because, specifically, that he is a servant, - he is ( becomes) a “vessel” to and through which reveals the strength of the King. For he has no entity and strength of his own, at all. His only strength is that (of the strength) of the king, which is revealed through him
 
6. And this is one of the explanations of the request: “And my soul should be like dust to all, open my heart to Your Torah” – for seemingly these are two contradictory terms: “My soul should be like dust to all,” a is complete nullification, like dust that “everyone tramples on”; and “Open my heart to Your Torah” is the just the opposite, an aspect of “existence” ( a heart that feels and understands) . Moreover, - an opening of the heart which is a movement of spreading and expanse (the opposite of nullification). How is it, therefore,  possible to say that the way to open ones heart in G-d’s Torah is through prefacing “my soul should be like dust to all”?
 
But this in itself is the answer. Without this prefacing of: “My soul should be like dust to all”, when man’s preparation to absorbing words of Torah is only through the exertion of his mind and intellect, and nothing else – it is impossible to reach a true opening of the heart “in Your Torah”. For the Torah is the wisdom of G-d, infinitely above the (limited) intellect of man – and man, with his own ability, is only able to understand a very limited part of it.
 
However when a person nullifies himself, until he feels himself like dust - “my soul should be like dust to all” - specifically through this he is able to be prepared to receive the G-d’s Torah – even to understanding and grasping (it - hasaga) and more than that, in a way of “Open my heart in Your Torah” - to reach a true expanse of “opening of the heart” and to absorb “Your Torah” (-of G-d, the way it is above man’s intellect). Namely, because in this opening of the heart, there is no feeling of self worth (which prevents absorbing G-d’s Torah which it is completely above the existence of man) – and the whole aspect is opening the heart of holiness.
 
7. Accordingly one can say regarding Isaac:
 
The Fear of Isaac, was a preface and preparation to the Simcha, and opening of the heart in the service of G-d, which comes through Bittul( nullification). Therefore he is called Isaac – from the words Laughter and Simcha, which shows on expanse and spreading (until a spreading that does not have boundaries, as is knows that “Simcha breaks all boundaries) – For with the Fear and Bittul (nullification) of Isaac, an overpowering of force (Chayut) was revealed, a true expanse of Holiness (“Open my heart in Your Torah”)
 
And this is the lesson of the passage:  “And these are the generations of Isaac, the son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac” , that Isaac was “Similar” to Abraham ( and that he was born specifically on Pesach, the holiday corresponding to Abraham) -Since the aspect of the service of  Isaac with the characteristic of Fear was coming close to G-d; But since it was a coming close without limitation ( above the existence of creation) it came specifically through Fear and Nullification
 
And this aspect, that the spiritual service of Isaac was Simcha and opening of the heart, which shows a movement of expanse, expresses itself also in his life, of a soul in a body. For we find specifically by Isaac expanse (also) in utter physicality. And this theme is in most of the Sidra (Torah Portion).

 The beginning of the story (about Isaac himself) is the command of G-d to him:” "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land that I will tell you. (Gen 26:2)” which was not given to Abraham and Yaakov. And the reason is – because “You are [specifically as] a perfect burnt offering (Gen. Rabbah 64:3)”.  Specifically, Isaac was sanctified with such holiness that: “the Holy Land is not fitting for you (ibid)”. (Fitting to what was discussed above that through Isaac’s Fear and Nullification, he became a vessel to the Holiness which is above creation).
 
And through this he received a multitude of blessings from G-d, And as the Torah elaborates concerning the blessings that Isaac merited in Gerar, so much that “And the man became great, and he grew constantly greater until he had grown very great. (Gen 26:13)”. A greatness above limitation and boundary.
 
Afterward the Torah discusses the wells that  Isaac dug, that they were closed and stopped -“so he named it Rehoboth (expanse), and he said, "For now the L-rd has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.(ibid 22)" – Expanse of holiness.
 
And afterward the Torah elaborates on the blessings of Isaac, which are very sublime that: “we do not find blessings like these, not by Abraham and not by Yaakov” until even the blessing of Moses are not like the blessing of  Isaac – because specifically through the characteristic of Fear and Nullification of  Isaac comes expanse, overpowering of force (Chayut) and Shefa (Flowing) above limitation and boundary.
 
8. The explanation of the connection between the characteristic of the Fear of Isaac to the concept of “Expanse” on a deeper level is:
 
Chazal sate that the “Fathers are the chariot” for just as a chariot is null to its rider who “drives” it according to his will, so too were the Avot (Fathers) whose entire aspect and actions were “driven” by G-d ( Ratzon HaElyon)
 
And so it was concerning the characteristics of the Avot – this with kindness, this with Severity etc - for the intent is not that the cause and source of their character was because it was the nature of their souls, rather, because they were a “vehicle” to this characteristic above: Abraham was a “vehicle” to the characteristic of Supernal Chesed (Kindness) and all his actions fit with this characteristic. Therefore his service was (primarily) with the characteristic of Love.
And so too with Isaac who was a “vehicle” to this characteristic of Supernal Severity. Therefore his service was (primarily) with the characteristic of Fear.
 
9. Concerning the characteristic of Supernal Severity (Gevurah) it is explained that at its root and source, its aspect is not Judgment (Din) and Contraction (Tzimtzum) (withholding of life force (Hashpaa), but rather Strength from the term “overpowering” (Tagvurot). The overpowering of vitality (Chayut) (like the overpowering of rain).
 
And the difference between the characteristic of Chesed and the characteristic of Gevurah is, that since the characteristic of Chesed’s aspect is influence (hashpaah) on another, it therefore manifests itself in a way that the recipient can receive it. Whereas, the characteristic of Gevurah is influence with overpowering force (influence befitting the “mashpia” (Giver)) [ but from this level it descends and spirals afterwards into Contraction (Tzimtzum) and Severity (Gevurah) ( withholding of life force (Shefa) in actuality. Specifically, when the recipient does not have the ability to contain such a great flow]
 
Therefore, not only is the aspect of Supernal Gevurah and Din, not because of Judgment (Din) itself, G-d forbid. For the whole purpose of Din is only kindness. [As is known regarding the punishments in the Torah, that their purpose is not to punish, G-d forbid, but to polish and refine man so that he will atone for his sin. Which is why the entire Torah, including the aspects of punishment, - is called a “Torah of Kindness”] – Moreover, the essence of the characteristic of Gevurah, above, at its root and source, is not that of Din and withholding of flowing (vitality -Shefa), but on the contrary, specifically an overpowering of influence.
 
10. And from these two of G-d’s characteristics, Chesed and Gevurah, the two characteristics, Love and Fear are drawn down and descend into man to serve G-d.
 
From characteristic of Supernal Chesed, which is the influence of G-d’s Kindness according to the level of creation, and what they are able to receive, is drawn to man the feeling of Love. For when one feels the Kindness of G-d, like a reflection, it awakens man to come close to HaShem.
And from characteristic of Supernal Gevurah, which is an overpowering of influence ( above Creation’s limitation and boundary) it awakens in man the feeling of Fear and Bittul, through which he can then receive also an overpowering of influence (Shefa) ( Like explained above, that the nullification of - “my soul should be like dust to all” is a vessel to “Open my heart in Your Torah”)
 
It is therefore understood that the characteristic of Fear of Isaac is not a contradiction to the characteristic of Love of Abraham – for the aspect and purpose of the Fear and Bittul is in order to enlighten him with an overpowering of Supernal Kindness and that he should come close to HaShem with a greater vigor and strength (“yeser s’ais v’yeser oz”)
 
And this is the reason that we find, specifically, by Isaac, a multitude of blessings that “we do not find blessings like these, not by Abraham and not by Yaakov” as above – because specifically through the characteristic of the Fear of Isaac is drawn an overpowering of influence above limitation and boundary.
 
Blessings of: “much good to the house of Israel, which He bestowed upon them according to His mercies and according to His many kind acts (Isa 63:7). Much good (Rav Tov) physically and Much good (Rav Tov) spiritually, physically and spiritually (also) together.
 
And specifically with the best of visible and revealed (b'tov hanirah ve'ha'nigleh), below ten tefachim, simply, really, (l'matah m'asarah tefachim k’pshuto, mamash
 
(M’Sichat Shabbat Parshat Acharei 5741)

 

Links:
www.torah4blind.org/hebrew/ror-06.pdf

http://www.insidechassidus.org/winter/189-parshas-toldos/1293-complete-sichos-toldos.html  (Audio)

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