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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3


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GENESIS — 25:19 begot

The term leitzanus refers to ridicule and cynicism directed toward a person or against any concept of positive value.   The Torah considers it one of the most destructive character traits in existence, since the mockery of a cynic destroys the very fabric of man’s fear of Heaven.   The “leitzanim” said that Yitzchak was conceived from Avimelech and not Avraham (this verse, Rashi). The implications of their cynicism involve the disintegration of the entire legacy of Avraham Avinu. Aside from the devastating nature of leitzanus, there is a Torah prohibition against it derived from the verse (Devarim 6:7), You shall speak of them [words of Torah] and not other things (Yoma 19b, Chavas HaShemirah, Ch. 9). This teaches us that our basic agenda is to lead a Torah life (all our activities—physical, financial, recreational—are to be in conformance with Torah, and we are to dedicate ourselves to. Torah study and practice as much as possible given the constrictions of daily life). Words of no positive value and destructive to ourselves and our endeavor to follow Hashem are to be excluded from our speech. Aside from the prohibition of the leitzanus itself, it leads to many other sins.  The trait of leitzanus brings on Divine retribution even in this world and ultimately results in the destruction of the cynic.   The cynic enjoys his mockery; he cannot accept any reproof (which he will merely mock as well). Therefore the only hope for him is Divine retribution, for that he will be unable to mock. (See Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter 5.). Avodah Zarah 18b; Mesillas Yesharim Ch. 5. The Sages taught that someone who engages in leitzanus falls into Gehinnom. Avodah Zarah ibid. Furthermore, the leitz is one of four categories of people who will not merit to bask in the Divine Presence. Sotah 42a. The other three are people who regularly engage in lashon hara, flattery, and falsehood.   The prohibition against leitzanus includes reading heretical writings as well as any books and periodicals containing leitzanus, obscenity, profanity, etc., since they all debase and demoralize the Divine soul. Chavas HaShemirah ibid. Television and radio programs can easily fall into this category. EHRMAN 137

GENESIS — 25:22 said

How can you identify successful prayer? It might bring a renewed commitment to values or righteous action. It may bring fresh insight and perspective, or provide a fresh experience of your connection to the larger wholeness of the world, to the Jewish people and/or to the community. It may create an inner calm and/or connect you to G-d’s presence. Prayer that goes beyond keva (the required structure and words) to kavana (intentionality, directedness, mental focus) will have spiritual significance. … The earliest examples of prayer in Jewish tradition are original, private cries from the heat.   Rebekah cries out to G-d during a difficult pregnancy with twins who seem to wrestle within her. AGTJL 47

GENESIS — 25:23 people

R. Elazar said: “Even fetuses in their mothers’ womb curse the flatterer, as it is written Proverbs 24:24: ‘He who says to the evil-doer: “You are righteous,” will be cursed by the nations, will be abhorred by the leumim’ and ‘leum’ means a fetus, as it is written: ‘Uleom mileom ye’ematz’ “ [“leom” in this context being understood as a fetus]” Sotah 41b TEMIMAH-GEN 117

GENESIS — 25:23 people  

R. Shimon Chasida said: “A teacher who withholds a halachah from his student is cursed even by fetuses in their mothers’ womb, as it is written Proverbs 11:26: ‘He who withholds bar shall be cursed by leom.’ ‘Leom’ signifies a fetus, as it is written: ‘Uleom mileom ye’ematz,’ and ‘bar’ connotes Torah, as it is written Psalms 2:12: ‘Desire bar’ [in context, ‘Torah’]” Sanhedrin 92a TEMIMAH-GEN 117

GENESIS — 25:23 serve

Was Jacob right to take Esau’s blessing in disguise? Was he right to deceive his father and to take from his brother the blessing Isaac sought to give him? Was Rebecca right in conceiving the plan in the first place and encouraging Jacob to carry it out? These are fundamental questions. What is at stake is not just biblical interpretation but the moral life itself. How we read a text shapes the kind of people we become. Here is one way of interpreting the narrative: Rebecca was right to propose what she did and Jacob was right to do it. Rebecca knew that it would be Jacob, not Esau, who would continue the covenant and carry the mission of Abraham into the future.   She knew this for two separate reasons. First, she had heard it from G-d Himself, in the oracle she received before he twins were born: [this verse]. Esau was the elder, Jacob the younger. Therefore it was Jacob who would emerge with greater strength, Jacob who was chosen by G-d. Second, she had watched the twins grow up. She knew that Esau was a hunter, a man of violence. She had seen that he was impetuous, mercurial, and man of impulse rather than calm reflection. She had seen him sell his birthright for a bowl of soup. She watched while he “ate, drank, rose, and left. So Esau despised birthright” Genesis 25:34  No one who despises his birthright can be the trusted guardian of a covenant intended for eternity. Third, just before the episode of the blessing we read: “When Esau was 40 years old, he married Judith daughter of Berri the Hittite and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.   They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebecca” Genesis 26:34 This too was evidence of Esau’s failure to understand what the covenant required. By marrying Hittite women he proved himself indifferent both to the feelings of his parents and to the self-restraint in the choice of marriage partner that was essential to being Abraham’s heir. The blessing had to go to Jacob. If you had two sons, one indifferent to art, the other an art-lover and aesthete, to whom would you leave the Rembrandt that has been part of the family heritage for generations?   And if Isaac did not understand the true nature of his sons, if he was “blind” not only physically but also psychologically, might it not be necessary to deceive him? He was by now old, and if Rebecca had failed in the early years to get him to see the true nature of their children, was it unlikely that she could do so now? This was, not just a matter of relationships within the family, since G-d had repeatedly told Abraham that he would be the ancestor of a great nation who would be a blessing to humanity as a whole. And if Rebecca was right, then Jacob was right to follow her instructions. This was the woman whom Abraham’s servant had chosen to be the wife of his master’s son, because she was kind, because at the well she had given water to a stranger and to his camels as well. Rebecca was not Lady Macbeth. She was the embodiment of lovingkindness. She was not acting out of favoritism or ambition. And if she had no other way of ensuring that the blessing went to one who would cherish it and live it, then in this case the end justified the means. This is one way of reading the story and it is taken by many of the commentators.   SACKS 33-35

GENESIS — 25:27 became

Possibly the most important educational principle for a Jewish parent to adhere to is the nation of bringing up each child according to his or her unique personality, character traits, and talents.   [Hirsch commentary, this verse].   To demonstrate this, Samson Raphael Hirsch asks a simple but difficult question.   We can understand why one of Abraham’s children, Yishmael, went off the proper path, since although he had Abraham for a father, his genes and environment were somewhat tainted by having the maidservant Hagar for a mother.   However, how is it possible to understand why one of Isaac’s sons, Esau, went off the proper path?   After all, both parents, Rebecca and Isaac, were righteous, and the home environment was a proper Jewish one?   Hirsch answers that a clue is provided by th[is] verse that says that the brothers Esau and Jacob grew up, and only then it indicates that Esau was a hunter while Jacob dwelt in the tent (of study).   It is clear, according to Hirsch, based on this verse, that both Esau and Jacob, born as twins, were raised in precisely the same environment and with the same methodology.   Rebecca and Isaac raised both of their children identically, and that was their mistake.  They did not take into account that Esau possessed a different personality from Jacob and needed his own special environment in order to be raised to become a righteous human being.  Esau rebelled against this upbringing, which did not suit his personality and temperament, and turned to the evil path.  Had Isaac and Rebecca realized Esau’s unique personality traits early on, they could have raised him differently and he could also have become righteous like Jacob.   AMEMEI 208

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