Thursday, November 24, 2011

Posts so far for parshat Toledot


  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...

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