TOLDOS (generations)
GENESIS 25:19- 28:9

A short summary

A GENERATION DEPARTS AND A GENERATION IS COMING... (Ecc. 1:4-- as the generation which departs, so is the generation that comes, Ecc. Raba, 1:6)

This study is brought to you by Joseph and Hana Flamm, in honor of their revered teachers, Rabbis Adin Steinsaltz and Mordecai Gafni, from whom they have received so much inspiration. So much of Joe's own life reflects modern Jewish history, itself a reflection of the lives of the patriarchs. Born in Frankfort, he had to leave Germany, thank God, in 1939, and returned as a chaplain with the victorious Allied Troops at the end of WWII. He studied in the yeshiva of Heibe, Belgium, where Rav Shragya Shapiro taught him to doven word-by-word, and was ordained in England. Later the Flamms had a minyan for rabbis in their L.A. home, before making aliya; here, among other projects, Joe directed the Israel Museum's project to reproduce antiquities; their son Mark, an architect, is involved in the Divine task of building Jerusalem, including the new Aish Hatorah and Lindenbaum buildings.

TOLDOT is the tale of Yitzchak, Rivka, and their twins, Yaakov and Esav; it ends with twice-blessed pure Yaakov fleeing to Uncle Lavan's school of hard knocks in Aram-- to marry, to learn about life, and to escape Esav's murderous revenge. Rav Mordecai Gafni sees Yitzchak's affinity to Esav in their shared love of nature-- Yitzchak strolls among the plants in the field at eventide (Gen. 24:63, per Ibn Ezra); so Esav's a "man of the field", who, like Dad, best senses God in Nature, rather than in books and study halls-- this is the Rambam's Sifreian path to love of God in Mishna Torah; in his earlier Sefer Hamitzvos, he included the study of Torah as another path. Yaakov, however, is a (palefaced?) yeshiva bucher, "who dwells in tents", indoors (25:27; possibly healthier, per Consumer Reports-- less chance of skin cancer). But Spinozian Esav sees himself as just another creature of nature-- this attitude can lead to "natural" murder (cf. lions, rattlesnakes and Cain, who "serves the earth"-- 4:2; will secular man save his beloved drowning dog Muffins or his hated 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Jones, an Image of God, who's drowning at the same moment?).

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Being too "natural" may also engender animalistic promiscuity, sex-as-a-snack (cf. Gen. 9:20-1-- Earthman Noah profaned himself-- or "began"-- and planted a vineyard; he drank of the wine, got drunk, and was uncovered within the tent). But Yitzchak views God and Man as transcending Nature, holy; he may not murder fellow Divine Image humans; his sexual reproductive life is to be sanctified, part of his holy home and family. Besides being kind, his potential mate must distinguish between man and beast, when she offers and provides water (Gen. 24:14f). Gafni claims that Yitzchak, who represents g'vura, the self-limiting self-restraining gesture, really would have liked to himself be a spiritual "man of the field", to do his own creative spiritual thing out in nature; but his loyalty to good old dad, Avraham, and his mission made him repress his own trip, in order to firmly establish and ground Avraham's overflowing teachings. Yet, like all those who sacrifice their own dream for compelling moral and physical reasons, there lingers a yearning which is transmitted, often unconsciously, to their empathetic children. A former actress, now a returnee, may suddenly find that her Bet Yaakov daughter craves the theatre 20 years later. Generational transition and continuity is portrayed in a book I'm reading this week, Maise Mosco's engaging 3 part novel, New Beginnings: Inheritance, Consequences, and Reparations.

A husband or, more often,, a wife often sacrifices their own dream, their creativity and career, on behalf of their families, whom they put before themselves. The latter may or may not appreciate it. She works so he can get his PhD; if he lacks gratitude, he may abandon her and his family for a more interesting and exciting collegue. He works at a dreary job to bring home the kosher bacon-- if ungrateful, she may spend her mornings chatting up the milkman or local ne'er-do-well. Children of holocaust survivors often suffer when their parents' haven't faced up to, and worked out, their experience, especially with fellow survivors. So Yitzchak, after the Akada, runs off to share the experience with his brother Yishmael, down in Beer L'chai Roie; Yishmael also suffered a mini-akada, when his zealous religious father expelled him.

Did Avraham play baseball with his kids?-- Rav J. Soloveichik's dad didn't even hug him, even when he left Eastern Europe for the University of Berlin; he never had a bike-- whatever extra money the family had was given to help those even poorer; he never borrowed a bike from other kids, but couldn't explain why. But his father gave him day and night Torah tutoring (not just Tidbits), even waking him in the middle of the night to review to a difficult Tosafot; someone told me that the Rov said that he cried everytime he studied with his father as a child (can one of my readers verify this quote?). Those who miss or missed The Rov's Saturday Night Parsha talks in Boston, a highlight of my week for many years, should try Rav Gafni's psychological insights from Parshat Hashavua, Sundays 8:30PM at the Ezrat Yisroel Synagogue, Hildeshimer 17-- repeated Monday in Hebrew (if you like Rav Riskin's ambiance). Like tashlich, there's a fringe benefit-- meet and make hundreds of friends there.


A. BACKGROUND & OVERVIEW-- THE PASSIVE PATRIARCH: Avraham peacefully settled his affairs and died; the Torah then listed Yishmael's 12 sons, all princes, as God had promised Avraham. But none continue his Divine covenant, for their mother (major influence) was Hagar. Tho their lives would be of interest, Torah is NOT history or biography, even of patriarchs; it's sole theme is Man's encounter with God, from Adam to Messiah. Only covenantal aspects of the 3 patriarch's lives are discussed-- Avraham's tale begins only with his aliya at 75. Normal literary background details, e.g. settings, furnishings, weather and clothing, are omitted, unless they are of special significance, as the clothing of and appearance of Rachel and her descendants (Simi Peters, a great teacher, whom I met at a Nishmat Rosh Chodesh couples evening-- both Simi and the program are highly recommended).

We now turn to Yitzchak, the next link in God's chain from Eden to Messiah (Ramban). Only Avraham is a revered model leader for all 3 great Western monotheistic faiths. Islam abandons Yitzchak and distorts the very word of God, by favoring Yishmael (Rambam's Letter to Yemen). Christianity merges with pagan Esavian European civilization; its replacement theology denied Yaakov-Yisroel's eternal mission. Thus some propose that teachings centered about Avraham, viewed in Jewish tradition as a universal model teacher, be the basis for world peace (see Our Father Abraham, Marvin Wilson).

Yitzchak never leaves Israel or wages war; he doesn't go about preaching and teaching. He's a strong, kind, and quiet farmer, who rarely speaks in the Bible, not a roaming missionary shepherd. Tho a Tzadik, the son of a Tzadik, Avraham's servant Eliezer arranges his marriage to Rivka, a little ex-idolatress from Aram, his sole soulmate. Avraham and Yaakov are self-defining activists; Yitzchak's defined by others-- he's Avraham's son, Rivka's husband, and father of Yaakov and Esav; he's even passive in his own sacrifice, Avraham's great test. His God-given name never changes, unlike Avram's and Yaakov's. Rivka and Yaakov trick him out of blessing Esav-- Yitzchak seems blind to Esav's true nature. Avimelech abuses him. Is he only a weak link between Avraham and Yaakov?

STILL WATERS RUN DEEP: Yet we pray to the God of Avraham, THE GOD OF YITZCHAK, and the God of Yaakov; he too created a unique indispensable aspect of the man-God relationship. The Zohar labels Yitzchak's essence gevurah (might)-- self-mastery, inner order, and discipline; great structures of thought and ethics emerge from his deep probing of himself and God; chesed (kind outreach) is the essence of his extrovert Dad, Pioneer-Activist Avraham (see our Vayera study, C.). Quick outstanding performers often burn out, outlived and surpassed by those slow, deep, and hidden in their development; still waters run deep (cf. a race between tortise and hare, a firecracker and a yahrtzeit candle). Just as Yaakov only appreciates his father much later, so Israel finally proclaims: FOR YOU (who?) ARE OUR FATHER-- FOR AVRAHAM DIDN'T KNOW US, NOR DID YISROEL RECOGNIZE US; YOU, O LORD, ARE OUR FATHER; OUR EVERLASTING REDEEMER IS YOUR NAME (Is. 63:16-- Where's Yitzchak?).

YITZCHAK, OUR REBBE & LAWYER: Rav Yonatan applies this verse to the distant future; God will judge the Jews, who have sinned so much-- are they true descendants of the Patriarchs? Avraham and Yaakov DO NOT plead for them-- let God's name be sanctified by their destruction (cf. today's small Neturei Karta group)! God finds these patriarchs lacking in sensitive understanding, despite Yaakov's problems with his own kids. Only Yitzchak successfully debates God and saves Israel-- he reminds God that they're His devoted children, who proclaimed at Sinai: WE'LL DO AND (then) UNDERSTAND. Anyway, how much of man's 70 years could be sinful? He's not fully responsible the first 20 years (see our Chaye Sara study-- B.); 25 of the remaining 50 are nights, when he's harmlessly asleep-- one talmudic view contends nights are for sleeping, not learning (however, people don't sleep 12 hours and it depends with whom they're sleeping!-- apparently, the sins referred to are not sexual).

Yitchak continues-- 12 1/2 of the remaining 25 years are sin-free, spent praying, eating, and going to the lavatory (6 hours daily, a bit exaggerated today)-- he assumes that these "sinners" are devout Jews, who pray thrice daily and recite blessings over their glatt kosher food; their sins are apparently interpersonal-- internecine warfare threatens to destroy Israel today too. Gerlitz (The Heavenly City) portrays faithful Jerusalemites of yore boycotting a cohort's funeral-- his grandson went to the modern Alliance school! Similar stories, e.g. their treatment of Ben Yehuda, tho he disdained the past which they venerated, suggest that old Yerushalmi (and Safad) culture had a lot of devilish Hell intermixed with Heaven-- cf. today's ex-haredi young cruel criminal mobs (Sabab) and those who attack and curse the Women At The Wall-- nothing in Judaism says that the Wall is male property; kinder and broader members of the old yishuv often abandoned it (see In The Courtyards of Jerusalem, Brandwein, himself one of them).

No matter how pious a community may be, hate, anger and frustration (and unworldly over-piety) are inevitable consequences of a society which suffered constant abuse, illness, poverty, starvation, unemployment and persecution. When you meet nasty characters at the Wall, whose families have been here for 7-8 generations, try to understand where they're coming from, and thank God that you and your ancestors likely had it so much better. For the grisly facts of life in early 19th century Jewish Palestine, see Famous Travellers to the Holy Land-- their personal impressions and reflections-- compiled by Linda Osband. An example, 1854 in Jewish Jerusalem, will appear, the good Lord willing, in next week's study, Vayetze.

Yitzchak continues his plea for Israel, asking God to bear with the remaining 12 1/2 sinful years; if not, he'll take 1/2 upon himself, or even all! This second sacrifice of Isaac will also be a merit for Israel. This 50-50 division of sins is interpersonal and ritual, per Marshah's guess, those involving body and soul, per M'lo Haomer's; Etz Yosef differentiates sins caused by Esav's influence (e.g. New Year's Eve debacles, Shabbat Soccer) from those of Israel's own evil inclination (e.g. smoking, shoving on buses). Yitzchak "convinces" God! The Jews express their great gratitude-- FOR (only) YOU (Yitzchak) ARE OUR FATHER... but Yitzchak tells them to praise only God, engendering their true return to Him. The Jews then proclaim: ...YOU GOD ARE OUR FATHER, OUR EVERLASTING REDEEMER... (Shabbat 89b).

Hassidim stress salvation via tzadikim; but, per this passage, even the greatest may be limited in their devotion to, and understanding of, their flock and the world (cf. WWII, when many died, due to their rabbis' assurances that they'd survive the Nazis). Even Yitzchak may someday have to condemn Israel-- only God is Israel's ultimate salvation (Rif). The Patriarchs were unclear whether sanctification of God's Name would occur thru punishment, or via forgiveness, of the sinners; the Jews feared their ambivalence (Marsha). But when Avraham and Yaakov put God above their descendants, they give Israel merit, per Eyun Yaakov-- so Hezekiah's debasement of his wicked father brings about daddy's atonement (San. 47a). So Rav M. Sheinberger claims that stressing the bad side (everyone has one!) of otherwise great tzadikim, after their death, that their followers no longer so emulate them, prevents their being punished in the next world.

Avraham and Yaakov were indeed harsh with their own children when necessary-- Avraham expelled Yishmael, Yaakov cursed the holy wrath of Shimon and Levi; Yitzchak, however, saw good even in Esav, whose name = 376 = peace* (Baal Haturim); love covers all sins, but Yitzchak's compassion for Esav may harm Yaakov (Rivka's concern). Perhaps God turns to Yitzchak last, as he represents din, judgment and rigour, not "chesed", kindness and attachment; paradoxically, his transcending detachment enables him to view sinners with compassionate perspective. But one who's merciful, when he should be firm, will later be harsh, where he should be merciful (e.g. Saul, per Resh Lakish, Ecc. Rab. 7:16).

Per Rava, all 3 patriarchs lacked ultimate concern for their far-off descendants, who never even hoped for active intervention from Yitzchak (cf. Genesis Raba 78:8-- the most merciful patriarch was Avraham or Yaakov!). None prayed when told of Israel's future suffering; Yitzchak even gave Esav permission to rule Yaakov's superficially religious descendants. Only God has unlimited eternal mercy. So David warns against faith in even the greatest humans-- mortals, even mommy and daddy, are limited (Ps. 27, 146). Most Misnagdim seek God's mercy, rather than the tzadik's, quietly awaiting God's reappearance, rather than stressing the coming of Meshiach (Is Rav Lau today's best candidate?). Rava sees Is. 63:16 as a messianic call to Israel-- she must go back to the patriarchs, who will reprove her for leaving God's true path; he reads Is. 1:18: GO NOW (to the patriarchs, rather than COME to Me) AND LET US REASON TOGETHER-- GOD WILL SAY (at the end of days, rather than SAYS now). This follows Isaiah's condemnation of a ritually zealous, but morally perverse, Jewish society. When the Jews reply that they prefer reproof directly from God (YOU'RE OUR FATHER...), He assures them of His forgiveness-- THO YOUR SINS BE "KASHANIM" (AS SCARLET or OF MANY YEARS' DURATION), THEY'LL BE (WHITE) AS SNOW... Israel will learn directly from God, not Messiah, once he convinces them to make aliya (Gen. Raba 98:9)! Messiah will then teach the non-Jews (via satellite TV?).

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AND THESE ARE WHAT YITZCHAK, SON OF AVRAHAM, GENERATED**; AVRAHAM "WAS YITZCHAK'S FATHER" (Rashi) or "RAISED YITZCHAK" (Ramban; Gen. 25:19). Avraham's paternity is stressed; scoffers of the age claimed that Sara became pregnant only when abducted by Avimelech (Tanchuma). Others denied Yitzchak's relation to BOTH parents, claiming that he was a foundling (B.M. 87a, re 21:7)-- but they're not called "scoffers"!-- Natural skepticism at a birth to an elderly couple isn't evil; some proof, e.g. Sara's nursing their babies, must be given. Israelis who don't believe God cares about Shabbat cinema aren't evil, just ignorant of His revelation (unlike those who hate them). They must be taught with kindness, not screamed at (cf. untrained Ministry of Religions ushers, who yell at elderly women wandering into the men's section at the Wall). But one who accepts the super miracle, an elderly woman giving birth, yet denies a natural possibility, elderly paternity, is only a scoffer-- he wants to besmirch both the parents and the child (Rav J. B. Soloveichik). God made Yitzchak the spitting image of Avraham, quashing all such doubts. Per Ramban, the Torah stresses that Avraham "fathered"-- raised and trained-- Yitzchak to continue his Divine covenant; Yishmael is to be his honorable #2 son in spirit, tho #1 in body.

FATHERS & SONS- R. Bachye portrays the (rare today) relationship of: CHILDREN'S CHILDREN ARE THE CROWN OF OLD MEN, AND THE GLORY OF CHILDREN IS THEIR FATHERS (Prov. 17:6). Yitzchak proudly identifies himself as the son of a great trailblazing religious pioneer, Avraham; Avraham takes pride in being the father of his pious saintly successor. Many fathers are ashamed of sons like Yishmael and Esav, and sons of fathers like Terach and Korach.

Per Rav J. Soloveichik, that son most similar to, and loved by, Avraham and Yitzchak, is just that son who doesn't perpetuate Daddy's values. Yishmael shares Avraham's outreaching personality, but uses it mostly for commerce and pleasure. Successor to Adam's sin, over-absorption in pleasure, he perpetuates the Flood Generation; Cain's successor, Esav, embodies Yitzchak's iron discipline and order, self-conquest, but uses them to conquer others; he embodies the self-worshipping spirit of the Tower Generation. The DISSIMILAR son may unconsciously strive to obtain paternal identity and love by doing Daddy's will and adopting his values; the psychological chip off the old block takes Daddy's love for granted, and does what he feels like (cf. strong men and beautiful women-- see our Chaye Sara Study, B).

**We all "generate", i.e. affect future generations-- "... understand the years of A GENERATION AND A GENERATION" (Deut. 32:7). Our most obvious impact on the future is via our physical descendants, but every word we speak and deed we do or ignore doing may initiate an eternal chain reaction, the "butterfly effect". So "These are the generations of Noach-- Noach was a righteous man..." (Gen. 6:9) teaches us that the real progeny of righteous people are their good deeds (Gen. Raba 30). The future of mankind to this day is intertwined with how Yitzchak and Rivka related to each other and to their children, raised in such a hostile pagan environment. So we pray daily: "May He open up our hearts with his Torah, and place His love in our hearts, and to do His will and serve Him with a whole heart, THAT WE NOT EXERT OURSELVES IN VAIN AND NOT GIVE BIRTH TO CONFUSION"-- cf. Is. 49:4: "But I said: `I have exerted myself in vain, I've spent my strength for confusion and passing fancy...'" and 65:23: "They (redeemed Israel) shall not exert themselves in vain, nor shall they give birth to confusion, for they're the seed blessed of God, and their offspring are with them (no generation gap or premature death)".

THE BAD SEED: At 40, Yitzchak marries Rivka; perhaps late marriage enabled him and Yaakov to learn much more from their great fathers, to slowly achieve their necessary deep development. Later generations could marry at a normal 18-20. Rivka's AGAIN described as the daughter of Betual and the sister of Lavan; she's a rose among the thorns, the little bat tshuva from Las Vegas. But wicked Esav emerges from this holy union-- a son often resembles his mother's brother (Rashi, Ex. 6:23). God united strains of aggression from Rivka's family with strains of kindness from Yitzchak's-- their offspring synthesize strength and gentleness (cf. Sabras).

* First Yaakov develops strength with Lavan; only later will Esav achieve his potential for peace with Yaakov-- a strong State of Israel is the prelude to messianic peace (cf. the 2 stages of redemption-- first the State of Israel and Tzahal, then peace in the region: "God will GIVE His people strength, God will BLESS His People with peace"-- Ps. 29:11). Yitzchak successfully prayed for his barren wife-- we too must pray in crisis (Rav Eliyahu); God told her that 2 opposing kingdoms were sprouting in her womb, amidst conflict and turmoil. The elder, Esav, is to serve the younger, Yaakov. #1 son emerged, very red and hairy; he was named Esav, "complete" or "made"-- he's not yet called Edom, "Red".

Next Yaakov emerges, grasping Esav's heel (Akev). The down-to-earth skeptical Zohar doubts that a newborn baby's hand could hold a foot! (Rav Nachman banned other critical rational medieval works, e.g. the Guide, Ibn Ezra and Radak, but liked the Zohar). It means Yaakov will grasp Esav's serpentlike cunning and ultimately outsmart him: "and you (the snake) will strike him (the man) in the heel" (Gen. 3:15-- did Rabin and Peres expect civil war and breakdown in Gaza, finally ending Palestinian pretensions to be a people and state?). Yaakov's essence is absolute truth and integrity; yet he must sadly use cunning and trickery, as long as Esav's clones still strut powerfully (Munk-- so democracy must protect itself from potential dictators' abuse of freedom of speech; cf. the GSS infiltration of Eyal-- for whom was Raviv really working?). Yitzchak was then 60.

Esav became a great hunter and Yaakov a harmonious person, committed to the tents of family and study (Jews don't hunt, lacking the savage killer instinct of the British "nobility", etc.). YITZCHAK LOVED ESAU, AS HIS GAME WAS IN HIS MOUTH (or, per Ramban, AS HE WAS A VENISON ADDICT!) AND RIVKA LOVES YAAKOV (25:28), a Rabbinic lesson (Avot 5:16)-- love contingant upon getting something from the beloved, physical or psychological, will only endure as long as the need's satisfied; Yitzchak loved Esav AS... (past tense); but love of the essence of the beloved, for no "reason", endures forever-- Rivka loveS Yaakov (present tense-- even today), tho her love engenders conflict with Yitzchak. Such love is the bonding of eternal souls, joining the Oneness of God Himself-- ahava, love, = 13 = echad, one, with no divisions of place and time. So "the more she heard his voice, the stronger grew her love for him"-- Gen. Raba 63:10, explaining the present tense word "loveS" (Yafeh Toar). Physical pleasure wanes with experience, while the joy of a beautiful soul grows with deeper contact. A genuine religious experience endures (Rav N. Cardozo). Dr. David Viscott (Feel Free) describes neurotic object choice marriages, where each spouse gets what they lack from the other, e.g. an extreme introvert married to an extreme extrovert; such marriages are vital and endure as long as neither spouse abandons his/her extreme neurotic stance; but if she/he becomes balanced, they no longer need the other, and find him/her remote from their own attitudes and values.

Esau came home from the field and found Yaakov cooking stew; he's too tired or lazy to cook for himself or raid Yitzchak's ample frig; he asks Yaakov to "pour the red stuff" down his throat; people only now (not upon his birth) called him Edom (Red), due to his craving red food, symbolic of his pechant for bloodshed (Rashi). Yaakov asked Esav to sell his religious office of the firstborn; he agreed, proclaiming no need of it, as he was going to die anyway. He sold it under oath (for a good price-- Bamidbar Raba 6:2, Radak, not as misunderstood in Genesis, K. Woodward, Newsweek, 10.21.96). Yaakov ALSO gave him bread and lentils, perhaps the mourning meal after Avraham's burial, when the boys were 15. Esav left, disdaining the birthright (25:33)-- he didn't believe in man's Divine soul, in life after death. As a religious leader, he could only despise his own role-- cf. those avaricious rabbis today, who teach only with high "honorariums", with those who live simply and often teach free, e.g. the Chofetz Chayim, Rav T. Y. Kook, Rav M. Sheinberger, Rav B. Horovitz, etc.

So "rabbis", who themselves aren't sure of God's existence or concern, can be de facto professors, but not spiritual leaders; they can't fake it (Most Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis share the belief that the Torah, written and oral, isn't the unified word of God-- the documentary hypothesis, vs. the orthodox or truly traditional view-- see The Condition of Jewish Belief, AJCom). Modern man needs inspiration more than information, street rabbis more than pulpit rabbis (Rav S. Carlebach Ztz"l). One must be inspired to inspire; only words emitting from a heart enter another's heart. Reform Judaism still considers itself a religion, to which one can convert, rather than just humanistic Jewish culture, which anyone can join (and even live in Israel); but meaningful "conversion" must be to a definable religion, with clear required beliefs and practices; if it is such, the Reform Movement should defrock any rabbi denying these premises, however they are defined, and not accept any "convert", who won't accept their validity. Are homosexuality, eating pork, and denial of Divine Existence and Providence acceptable "alternative life styles" for Reform Jews? (U.S. and Israeli answers may differ).

Due to famine, Yitzchak migrated to Gerar, to Avimelech, king of the Philistines. Per Ramban, this was only the world's 2nd famine-- he apparantly assumes that the Torah contains all world history, a most difficult assumption! Is this famine connected with Esav's preceding mini-famine?-- if Yaakov had first given Esav food, then asked him to sell his despised firstborn priesthood, would the family have suffered famine? God told Yitzchak not to continue on to Egypt; He repeated the promises given to Avraham, who kept all of God's laws (26:2-5, perhaps from his own insights; only in Israel, per Ramban). "God's laws" may refer to our Torah; per Or Hachayim (Gen. 49:3), Avraham only practiced the Noachide Code; per Maharal, the patriarchs, except Avraham, kept only the positive laws (would Avraham freely eat meat and milk with the 3 angels?). Beautiful Rivka was taken to Avimelech's harem; following Sara's example, she identified Yitzchak as her brother. How did this affect Yitzchak, Yaakov and Esav?

After discovering that Rivka was Yitzchak's wife, Avimelech told his people to leave them alone (remembering God's punishments for taking Sara). Yitzchak planted crops and flourished. The Philistines envied him (cf. Spain, Germany, etc.) and filled Avraham's wells with dirt (idolatry vs. monotheism; Discos vs. Yeshivos). After exile to Wadi Gerar, Yitzchak reopened his father's wells, using their original names. Twice his servants dug wells, resulting in quarrels with local shephards, who claimed the water; he named them Contention (Esek) and Obstruction (Sitnah). The third time there was no quarrel-- he called it Spaciousness (Rechovot- 26:20-2). The 3 wells represent the 3 temples; the first two bring enemies to destroy them, due to internal Jewish quarrels and misconduct; the 3rd Temple will be built WITHOUT QUARREL AND FEUD... AND ALL WILL COME TO WORSHIP THERE (Ramban); when will even the Arabs agree?-- either when God will suddenly appear and build the Temple (perhaps together with Israel; cf. Rashi, Ex. 15:17), OR when the Jews of Israel will really shape up, becoming a true kingdom of priests AND holy nation (Ex. 19:6), elevating every realm of human activity-- then the Arabs may accept the nation of Israel as their "sheik", and even help build the indestructible 3rd Temple.

The 7th well, Be'er ShEva, also survives, and is the name of that city to this day (26:32-3), after Yitzchak names it such, meaning "the 7th well" (which he and Avraham dug); in Avraham's era, it had been called Be'er ShAva, meaning "the well of the oath (of covenant; Sporno)", referring to his abortive "agreement", sharing power in Israel with Avimelech, violated within one generation. Rav Azriel Ariel (in B'Ahava U'b'emuna) thus concludes that the name of an Israeli city endures only due to Yitzchak's settlement of the land, digging wells, not due to Avraham's treaties with other nations. Political agreements are of no eternal value; it is Yitzchak's stubborness in holding on to Eretz Yisroel, despite the difficulties and problems, after which the city is eternally named.

But Midrash Hagadol and Radak say that it's the same name; Radak claims that Yitzchak only extended Avraham's name of the well or district to the city which sprang up about it; YF: Yitzchak also makes a similar covenant and/or oath with Avimelech, in 26:28-30, but we aren't to question imaginative exegesis, tho we may debate the concepts propounded.

Premature attempts to build the Temple are also futile as-- a) we don't really know where and how (per Malbim, Zech. 4:4 and Rashash, B.B. 122a, it's 45 miles north of expanded Jerusalem) and b) if we can't even run the Wall properly, why try for the Temple?-- The Wall has ugly and broken furnishings, untrained guards who yell at the public, haredi fanatics who rip prayers for the State and soldiers from the few modern prayerbooks, there's no information booth, etc. The Ministry of Tourism might manage it far better than the Ministry of Religions, retaining a rabbi to decide religious ??.

Yitzchak went to Beersheba, where God renewed His promises; he made a pact with Avimelech, impressed by Yitzchak's material success (cf. Tzahal, Scitex). Avi concentrates on eating and drinking at Yitzchak's table, rather than imbibing his holy teachings (26:30; cf. Nadav & Avihu, Ex. 23:11; the PLO should concentrate on learning the 7 Laws of Noach from Israel, rather than just hi-tech). Esav married obnoxious Hittite floozies at 40. Yitzchak (as a result?) felt himself dying at 123; he asked Esav to hunt game and prepare it well, to cheer him up and arouse him to bless him. Rivka overheard; she told Yaakov to pretend to be Esav, disguised in his clothes, and to serve his father similar food-- thereby he'll acquire Yitzchak's blessing. Yaakov succeeded, despite his father's suspicions, and got Yitzchak's blessings of mastery and prosperity, intended for Esav. When Esav came, Yitzchak was terrified, but confirmed the blessing. Esav screamed in pain and asked to be blessed too-- he believed in blessings! Yitzchak first said that no blessings were left; he finally blessed Esav with wealth, military prowess, and the right not to obey Yaakov when Yaakov misbehaved (e.g. not making aliya, creating a secular Israel?). Esav hated Yaakov, plotting to kill him. Rivka convinced Yitzchak to send Yaakov to Uncle Lavan to marry, so he'd escape. Yitzchak tells him not to marry a Canaaanite and sends him off with MORE blessings! Esav then marries Machalat daughter of Yishmael, a reasonably "kosher" wife, tho not glatt.

THE VOICE WITHIN: Yaakov casts doubts upon Rivka's scheme to decieve Yitzchak-- "Perhaps my father will feel me (and know I'm only impersonating Esav), and I'll be in his eyes a M'TATEIA" (an imposter, deceiver or mocker, 27:12). Rav M. Gafni, drawing on Biblical, talmudic, and hassidic sources***, connects "m'tateiah" with idolatry-- when I deny my own inner voice, my Image of God, and impersonate that of another, I, in effect, deny God, my Creator; but to be myself, to represent my own unique letter in God's Torah, is to draw near to the Divine. If my "kol" (voice-- kuf, vov, lamed) loses its core, the vov, all that's left is Kal (light, not serious or dignified-- kuf-lamed)-- vov, = 6, represents the 6 days of Creation, the essence of which is God's creation of an infinite variety of unique souls, in His own unique infinite Image. One who is not himself, who is other (Acher), is not serious, weighty, significant, or dignified, despite her impressive demeanor (cf. actors).

*** see Gen. 21:9, 2Ch36:16, Derech Hamelech (Noach), Rav J. Soloveichik-- The Lonely Man of Faith and U'vekashtem Mishum (Hadarom, P.40), Orot Hatshuva 15:10, Orot Hakodesh 3-- Bakashat Haani Haatzmi, Tanya 3.


Could Yitzchak so dislike Yaakov that he didn't save him even one blessing? Rav J. Soloveichik says the opposite-- Yitzchak wanted Yaakov, "the perfectly wholesome man", to continue dwelling in tents of study, and to obtain only the blessings of holiness. Esav, "the man of the field", would take over the material blessings, run the world, and support Yaakov's kollel (he'd be honored annually at a black-tie red-lentil glatt kosher banquet, where he'd present tithes, even of his salt). But Rivka, from corrupt Haran, knew what happens when the wicked guide society, giving token honor and support to "pure" pious pastors. She was determined that Yaakov should STOP being isolated in holiness; he must fully partake of the blessings of this earth, reserved for Esav; otherwise, he'll never be able to guide it (Motti Alon for PM?). Yitzchak had indeed saved the holy blessings of Avraham and the land of Israel for Yaakov-- he refused to give them to empty-handed Esav. After Yaakov got the blessings of this world too (dew of heaven and fat places of earth), Rivka sent him off to be an apprentice of master-manipulator Brother Lavan. Yaakov's holy development of his blessings of nature brings blessings back to nature; he restores the original Edenic state of the universe (Zohar).

Per Rav Yehuda Henkin, Yitzchak too wants his covenant continued by one who combines Torah and worldly acumen (he's a good farmer!). But Yaakov has exhibited no worldly talents. Better to appoint Esav;-- he's always earned his own food (25:28); he'll keep the family going and later turn to Torah. Under ethereal Yaakov, they'll starve in no time. Rivka shows him Yaakov too can master the world; he just hasn't gotten around to it yet! True, he dwells in tents, but he's not innately "a man of tents"-- Esav's an unredeemable "man of the field". When Yitzchak hears the voice of Yaakov, accompanying the alleged hands of Esav, he brings him near in joy at the combination (whenever the voice of Yaakov is interrupted, the hands of Esav are reinforced-- Zohar Gen. 171a). Finally, tho aware of Yaakov's trick, Yitzchak is happy-- Yaakov too can survive the pre-Messianic rat race; he's Yitzchak's FIRST son to truly blend Torah and Life!

D. THE HAFTARA (Malachi 1:1- 2:7)

Malachi proclaims Yaakov's superiority to Esav; but Malachi (most say he's Ezra) then reminds the Jews that they're far from realizing their potential, tho the Temple's rebuilt; God reminds them of His universal glory; he contrasts their second-rate service with the ideal they're to show other nations (cf. the undignified Wall). The tribe of Levi doesn't just supervise ritual; it's to teach and guide Israel in truth, justice, and peace-- mission impossible, unless the Levite's a true angelic messenger of the God of Hosts (2:7; e.g. Rav Grossman in Migdal Haemek, who denies giving the Falk Israel Center permission to hold a disco night to get Russian youth to listen to Torah messages; but some kiruv activists praised the Center for its courage and vision at "a time to act on God's behalf"). But no mortal, especially one who's an activist, is truly angelic, 100% right-on, even Levi!-- so the Belzer rebbe explained that "angels of the Lord of Hosts" view themselves as part of God's team, each with his necessary, tho often opposite, function; each respects the other; so one shouldn't follow a Torah teacher unless he, as an "angel of God's hosts", respects other teachers, tho their team-role may be the opposite. A true representative of Torah shouldn't really care if one learns from him or his Yeshiva or Rebbe-- just that he learn Torah in the way most suitable for his own unique personality and background.

So some readers prefer our creative, speculative, way-out annotated parsha sheets, others Phil's Torah Tidbits down-to-earth clearcut studies of the basics; still others have no time or patience for either magnum opus, and read Machon Meir's short and sweet sheet. Those on "the other side" may not want to expose themselves to any of these religious Zionist publications; they can read Ohr Somaach's new improved Ohrnet or Chabad studies; but religious Zionists are usually open to read everything. All tastes are valid and A-OK, IF they don't try to stop others, with different tastes, from doing their own thing.


Genesis Raba 63 claims that embryo Esau tried to escape Rivka's womb whenever she passed houses of idolatry, embryo Yaakov whenever she passed houses of study-- but what about MORAL FREE WILL? Does God create them good and evil? Chatam Sofer, who unsuccessfully, perhaps unwisely, fought modernity, stresses the possible bad influences of an unholy neighbor, even in the holiest setting-- if Yaakov try to flee the womb, tho a holy angel teaches him Torah there (see Nida 30b), it's only because he can't learn Torah in holiness, if Esav studies there too!-- but did the same rabbis author both midrashim? Perhaps tiny Yaakov just sought study mates?

But Malachi proclaims here that God LATER loved Yaakov and hated Esav, tho they were brothers from birth-- conduct, not ancestry, is the basis for God's love. Still, if He created their natures as He wished, how can He love or hate the natural results? The Talmud indeed concludes that the evil inclination begins to rule man only from birth-- R. Yehudah admits that Antoninus, not he, was correct in this matter; Rabbis have no authority in such scientific ?? (San. 91b, expounding Gen. 4:7; see Introd. To Agada, Avraham b. Maimon). However, Avot d' R. Natan 16 posits an embryonic evil impulse, only countered by the good impulse at 13; so Piaget claims abstract thinking and principles only appear with adolescence; previous "goodness" is only due to fear or a desire to please (see our Chaye Sara study, B).

Maharal's Approach: Fetus Esav's inclination to idolatry was a natural quasi-magnetic attraction of similar elements. True, his natural affinity to "earthiness" is a root of idolatry; but he CAN conquer it and has no special "temptation" to it; he just turns to it as an embryo naturally changes position for comfort. Rav Gafni even claims that Esav's earthy spirituality can be the highest of all, if properly developed. Others say that God indeed takes into account Esav's natural state; He hates him only for doing much MORE evil than his nature requires, e.g. the Holocaust Crusades of the Church, successor to the Roman Empire of Esav-Edom; they were followed by constant pogroms of later European Christian Civilization, led by anti-semitic leaders, e.g. Luther. Esav's culmination is the Holocaust. The Vatican wouldn't recognize Israel for 26 years; it didn't protest the Holocaust and befriended Hitler's would-be successor, PLO.

Hirsch too explains Malachi: God hates the PRINCIPLE OF ESAU-EDOM- the worship of force, the glory of war, and the passion for world conquest; this was embodied in the Roman Empire, which destroyed the Temple, and the heirs to its spirit. The YAAKOV PRINCIPLE posits justice, right, love, and sanctity of life as the goal; Yaakov often has fallen from this high standard (e.g. Yigal Amir), which is to radiate from Israel; he's been exiled to shape up. Ultimately this principle will permeate humanity from the revived State of Israel. True, there's clear discomfort or incompatability between the 2 fetuses-- AND THE SONS STRUGGLED WITHIN HER (25:22)-- but there's no need to posit that Esav's wicked at this stage. David also emerges all "red" (2 Sam. 16:2)-- an aggressive, bloodshedding personality; but he used it for good, fighting wars to defend God and Israel; Esau used it selfishly, to conquer and aggrandize. Similarly a passive gentle peaceful nature can be used for good, to patiently work with the emotionally depressed; it can also be used for evil-- pacifism in response to Hitler & Arafat, e.g. The Quakers. Per Freud, certain emotions or needs must be expressed by an individual, consciously or unconsciously; but Ziggy does NOT say HOW; this is left to one's freewill and values-- thus Freudian determinism may not contradict Torah.


"The beast and bird, their common charge attend-- the mothers nurse it, and the sires defend; the young dismissed, to wander earth and air, there stops the instinct and there ends the care. A longer care man's helpless kind demands-- that longer care contracts more lasting bands" (Pope, 1735)

Stephen Jay Gould (EVER SINCE DARWIN) notes 2 basic HUMAN traits. 1) Man's born INCOMPLETE (cf. mila). A de jure baby is still a de facto embryo! As most precocial primates, humans have large brains, long life, and small litters; yet our babies are as helpless and undeveloped at birth as those of lower altricial animals, with large litters-- the ends of fingers are not yet ossified; our brains continue rapid growth after birth. ALL births are premature-- human gestation should be about 18 months. Per Portmann, this reflects man's first unique trait-- she's A LEARNING & DEVELOPING BEING (cf. mila); an incomplete embryo leaves the dark unchallenging womb to imbibe the rich extrauterine environment of sights, smells, sounds, and touches. A fully developed brain would be too large for the pelvic canal.

So Rav J. Soloveichik sees Eve's burden as far more than giving birth (see our video "Miracle of Life"); much harder is the continued "birthing", TRAINING, of a child. Yeled or Yalda, "child", means one constantly being born; an adolescent (na'ar or na'ara), beyond passive "birthing", is to train herself, tho "noar", "wavering", not really stable. Solomon urges parents to reprove and punish at this crucial stage, tho Ms. Teeny Bopper appears stubborn and evil (Prov. 23:13; see R. Bachye, Introd. to BO). Education must jibe with the child's own nature and goals (Prov. 22:6), not parents' social status-- know your child (Rav Y. Schwartz, "The Eternal Jewish Home").

2) FAMILY FORMATION, the other basic human trait, is the basis of civilization; it lets children slowly develop their highest potential. Thus the child is civilized man's real father! Sexual maturation and the resulting need for independence are delayed in humans (Gould). Some (e.g. Maimon, his descendants and his Slobadkian fellow travellers) indeed say the later we marry, the better parents we'll be, if not broken by the strain of waiting.

Yaakov feels inadequate, incomplete; he strives for holiness and wholeness in these 2 tents of human development-- home and school. Avraham's his true father figure (Gen. 28:13). Esav was born ruddy, covered with hair; this explains his name, which may mean: "something completely made". Indeed his self-image is that of an animal-- he feels complete, preprogrammed to follow his instincts. FINISHED ESAV, man of the open field, is satisfied with himself; he thus acts more like an ape than a human.

ESAV'S SCION?: Even mature humans have physical characteristics of juvenile and fetal monkeys, e.g. ventral pointing of the vaginal canal and strong unrotated nonopposable big toes. Yet only man faces his sexual partner-- I'm also to meet and unify with my mate's soul as a Divine Image, as we physically merge in awe to create and rear a child. The exception to this rule is the orangutan; it shares other uniquely human aspects-- really long hair (not pelt), basic monogamy, no genital swelling, prolonged copulation, and 9 month gestation! Neither walks on knuckles or is normally ambidexterous; both have heavy molar enamel, widely separated pectoral breasts, and steady secretion of estriol (The Red Ape, J. Schwartz; see TOP's video on orangutans-- monkeys and corresponding white fig trees have 3 years maturation, per gestation tables in B'chorot 8).

This red hairy animal so like a man, but for education and a child-oriented family, may thus reflect Esav! Enoshian man began to lose his Divine Image when he drifted from direct contact with the God of Infinity to impersonal admiration of the God of nature and science (M.T. A.Z. 1). He began to resemble a monkey (Mid. Rab. 23, Eruv. 18a)-- thus some folks now claim a common bloke-chimp ancestor! One might postulate even greater devolution, due to devilution, by some of Esav's worst descendants, retaining some human characteristics. R. Jose posits semi-human status to certain monkeys (Kel. 28:5); Tower of Babel rebels became monkeys (San. 109a). An aged man resembles a monkey (Yal. Koh. 247). Macrobiotic master Osawa indeed claims that primates are descendants of humans, but whose essential diet was fruit, rather than grain; Rambam, ill for years, shares Osawa's grain preference.

MONKEYSHINES Monkeys link man and animal (Shevet Yehuda), sharing menstruation (Chatam Sofer, Y.D. 70, Maase Tovya Olam Katan 11, R. Bachye, Tazria). Talmudic monkeys were used as servants (Eruv. 31). After 3-4 cups of wine, man acts like a monkey (Tan. Noach). A monkey in a dream is a bad omen (Ber. 57b; does one so express a desire to be wild?). Some rich Japanese eat brains of live monkeys, vs. Noachide law! BODILY differences among ALL animals may indeed be illusory. All animals in a sense live the same amount; basic bodily processes are speeded up for those with shorter life spans. All breathe about the same number of breaths. Human uniqueness is in the M-F Divine Soul, which can transform the body into an awesome image of Divinity.


Chana Henkin, who also invited me to speak at Nishmat, develops Rivka's image; her video talk is available at TOP. Eliezer asks her to do acts of kindness beyond all fairness and reason; rather than politely telling him to help himself, she does even more than asked, shleping about 250 liters of water for 10 camels. As Avraham and Sara, she overflows with irrepresible kindness; she assumes that Eliezer must be incapacitated or exhausted to make such a request (Avraham's #1 servant probably bore an aura of holiness, prompting such a positive analysis). She's "liberated" from the social reactions of her more callous collegues, who consider her a fool for knocking herself out. She leaves her family and background to go after Eliezer and her inner guiding light; she even disputes her husband's decision, when she thinks God wants otherwise. As Avraham, she's liberated to follow her own soul, rather than the herd (engendering Divine Providence, per Rambam's Guide). Only Torah so frees one from his own primal drives and social pressures.


Truly grand rabbi Shlomo Riskin had to suddenly cancel his 1995 Judith Yellin Memorial Lecture on Israel and Democracy at the Falk Israel Center; but, to ensure an equally high level discussion, he got David Dishon of The Shalom Hartman Institute to speak in his stead. The large crowd greatly appreciated Dishon's comprehensive coverage of the culture of dissent in Jewish tradition-- it engendered Israeli democracy, despite the lack of democratic tradition in Israel's founders' lands of origin, and in their socialist outlook; Dishon noted the extreme tolerance of Bet Shamai and Bet Hillel, despite their equally extreme controversies, a model blend of peace and truth, so necessary for modern democracy-- they intermarried and ate in each others' homes, at least trusting each other to alert them if they'd be violating their own contrary standards in doing so; cf. the abuse of Torah and groundless hate in allegedly pious society, when fans of Rav Shach and Rav Landau won't eat food supervised by each other. Rav Shach's chief mashgiach later left truly traditional Judaism.

So Zechariah (8:16-7; cf. 7:8f, Micha 6:8) writes: "These are the things you should do-- speak TRUTH, each man with his neighbor, yet judge a judgement of PEACE in your (common) gates; let no man (even) devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor (cf. Eyal) and love no false oath (cf. Shabak, Raviv-- did he have friends guarding the parking lot? Was he a counter-counter spy?), for all these are things which I hate-- the word of God". The talmud posits innate tension between truth and peace-- where there's striving only for truth, there's no peace, and where there's striving only for peace, there's no truth, as we all see truth differently, subjectively. Rav J. Soloveichik claimed that only Torah, called "words of truth and peace" by Esther (9:30), can blend both into a higher truth and a higher peace.

Dishon contrasted society's need for stability and uniform law with its equally pressing need of social and legal criticism and dissent. If a member of the lower courts disagreed with his collegue's decisions, the case automatically went to a higher court, where the dissenter was required to present both his own and the majority's reasoning-- a sine qua non for dignified dissent is that each side also try to understand the reasoning of the other. While, in some respects, Bet Shamai were sharper intellects than Bet Hillel, the law generally follows the latter, who always cited their opponent's opinion first; Bet Hillel sometimes didn't exercise their perogative, as a majority, to decide issues, when they sensed great strength in their opponent's argument, tho they opposed it. As long as dissenting scholars obeyed the law, determined by majority vote, and urged other to do so, they were free to continue to express their disagreement. While the Torah is NOT a culture of dissent, Moshe being the sole absolutely clear and authoritative arbitrator of issues, God tells Israel to follow the majority of scholars and judges once he's gone, initiating the Talmudic process. When Rambam wanted to consolidate Jewish legal authority via his Mishneh Torah, without bringing sources or dissent, many commentators both probed his sources and disputed his conclusions, to bring him back to Jewish tradition.

Dishon's teachings are a true model for a civilized Israel, whose citizens won't attack and disdain those with different views, nor defy the law. They complement the similar observations of the N'tzev, quoted last week; both are based on a sensitive reading of the Torah and Talmud. But a few right wing die-hards refused to stay and hear Dishon (their great loss), whom they didn't know, as Hartman Institute is viewed as leftish; but Dishon dealt with the Jewish-democratic duty to disagree and express one's disagreement, encouraging even anti-Oslo activism, within the bounds of civilized discourse. Dishon's talk was also a balancing tikkun for the Israel Center, which often features extreme right wing speakers, who lack elemental respect for the left; in "Roots, Schmoots", Howard Jacobson tells how he was turned off to Torah by the Kahanist ambiance at an advertised NCSY talk. Arye Gallin of Root and Branch has brought broader speakers to the Falk Center, e.g. Rav Gafni and Dr. Eugene Korn of Hartman. May such tolerance, a good response to Rabin's murder, also help reconnect the Hartman Institute with mainstream Orthodoxy, for their mutual enrichment. Rav Norman Lamm is for it!


Despite Judaism's stress on tolerance, it posits absolute standards of both belief and behavior -- cf. science. In modern Israel, where Judaic ignoramouses and heretics far outnumber faithful and learned Jews, the latter, responsible for the former, must discuss and decide their tactics; a prerequisite is knowledge and understanding of "the other side". An engrossing upbeat recent Emunah symposium, Morals and Morality, A value system, chaired by Ruth Broznik, explored the problem. On-fire religious psychologist Aviva Cayman discussed Ivri-- the Whole World on One Side and Avraham on the Other; she presented two lists of basic life beliefs and assumptions; the first was common expressions and views of "the whole world", prevalent in modern Western Israeli culture: "Follow your heart, I gotta be me/ do your own thing, Live and let live, You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours, Revenge is sweet, The ends justify the means, All's well that ends well, I'm a good judge of character, Familiarity breed contempt, Love conquers all, Tell it like it is, It's my body, and Live for today.

Aviva's second list was that of "The Other Side", Jewish perspectives in 4 realms, the opposite of the first list: I. AUTHORITY: Concept of Hashem, hashgacha, sacrifice, reward and punishment, humility vs. ego, power, limits of knowledge, imitating Hashem and holiness. II. BODY: Created in Divine Image, Neshama, ownership, death, food and sexuality. III. RELATIONSHIPS: Fear and love of Hashem, power of speech, marriage, parenting, money, chesed. IV. TIME: Kedusha, Shabbat, Yom Tov, prayer, tshuva, olam haba. She urged all good Jews to arouse the consciousness of the non-observant to change their lists, lives and sides. For example, modern man unquestionably accepts that he must follow his own heart and desires, whereas the Torah warns us : "Guard yourselves, lest your heart be deceived" (Deut. 11:16), and "do not turn aside, following your heart (emotions) and your eyes (sights and insights; Numbers 15:39)". We stress altruistic, not reciprocal, kindness; we condemn revenge.

Aviva, a hard act to follow, was followed by Rav M. Gafni, an even harder one, who strongly disagreed with her. He claimed that several of her allegedly secular beliefs and values were really basic Jewish values, and that we fail to influence secular Israelis due to a lack of appreciation of their present depth, quests, and spirituality-- our efforts resemble a "white man's burden" to civilize the savages; we can learn from them too! The secular Israeli with a good profession, improving the quality of life, and ready to sacrifice his life in Tzahal, that others may live, may indeed be an exemplar for most haredi men. Gafni, who also stresses individuality (B., The Voice Within; may he find his true mate soon), claims that we are indeed to develop and follow our own hearts-- "Love God your Lord with all your heart..." (Deut. 6:5), "... TO love God your Lord and to serve him, with all your heart and all your soul" (Deut. 11:13, mistranslated in The Living Torah as "... and IF YOU love..."); Hassidic sources stress that God's own heart, His Essence, resonates in a sensitive human heart, the source of true religious faith. Perhaps stressing the differences, Aviva's approach, or the comman denominator, Gafni's, calls for a situation ethic, good judgement as to which will be effective in a given situation; a weak groupie person might have to see black and white, good guys vs. bad guys, in order to become a returnee; such an approach may turn off someone more settled and sophisticated, who seeks balance and harmony. Some need Pardes prose, others N-Na-Nach-Machman narishkeit.

HEART, MIND, SOUL & GOD: Our major source and focus in exploring the pros and cons, the benefits and dangers, of emotion, sensual earthiness and intellect may well be the recital of Shma, the declaration of God's Oneness (and therefore of all aspects of his Creation), and its surrounding verses and blessings; they're recited each AM & PM, stressing the love between Israel and God. Shma also appears in the kedusha of musaf, but is absent from the afternoon prayer of few words, mincha, allegedly initiated by Yitzchak, the strong silent man of few words and sublimated earthy sensuality (Rav Gafni-- but this assumes that the Avot didn't just pray at that time, but also scripted the entire service, rather unlikely). The seemingly contradictory verses cited all appear either in the first paragraph of Shema, Deut. 6:4-9, addressed to each unique individual, or in its second and third paragraphs (Deut. 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41), addressed to the community of Israel.

YF: This itself may resolve the problem-- the commandments to love God and place His words upon our hearts, involving emotion and understanding, are subjective, addressed only to the individual as such. Deut. 11:16 and Num. 15:39 appear in the second and third paragraphs of Shma, addressed to the community, rather than the individual. It's communal groupie emotion, that of the mob, which is suspect; but that emotion which truly emanates from the deepest depths of the individual's own heart and soul is Holy of Holies. But the second paragraph, in the plural, also says: "It will be, if you truly heed my mitzvos, which I command you this day, to love God your Lord, and to serve him with all your hearts and with all your soul", implying that there is a holy communal heart and soul too. But that just refers to the objective communal observance of mitzvos, not their intimate experience; it too develops part of each individual heart-- also, "In the multitude of people is the glory of the king" (Prov. 14:25).

Some of Aviva's solutions to the above conceptual gap are finding a common language, loving all people (ahavat chinam), modeling Torah as peaceful and pleasant, and bringing people closer to the Divine. The third Emunah speaker, Michael Cohen of Heritage house, wore a colorful knit kippa, with little holes to allow some contact between his head and the outside world. He stressed the bottom line in kiruv rechokim-- for orthodox Jews to be really nice, friendly, warm and helpful to all folks, a possibly heretical position in some "frustarted frum" groups. Cohen makes it a point to wish a friendly Shabbat Shalom to all on Shabbat, and to give lost non-observant drivers clear directions. While he has his halachic doubts about doing so, he's hesitant, in the name of peace, to really probe the halacha, in the name of truth. He, as I, feels that the chances of such wandering non-observant Jews eventually keeping shabbat are so much better if they're treated kindly and pleasantly by those already observant. But I think that halachic logic is also 100% on Cohen's side-- the Shabbat violating driver will only drive more if you don't give him clear directions!! So the secular Jew in a cinema on Shabbat violates less halachot-- no smoking, writing, driving, etc. Cayman and Cohen's principles are put into practice by Gesher, Common Denominator, Du Siach, the Elul Bet Midrash, and many similar groups, which focus on common Jewish values, rather than on differences, among all Jews. Over 10,000 participants and volunteers have joined CD (02-500-0919) in this common task to date. The Power of Words is the topic of CD's next meeting, Monday, Nov. 18, 8 PM, at Zionist Confederation House , Yemin Moshe (10Sh; beware of the dangerous unbarred windows).

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