This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Toldot (5767)
This week we read about how the patriarch Yaakov (Jacob) tricked his blind father Yitzchak into blessing him rather than his evil brother Aisav. (Rivka dressed Yaakov in Aisav's magical garments and put goat skins on his arms and neck to disguise him as hairy Aisav)
But we see something strange. Before actually blessing Yaakov the Torah writes that:
"(Yaakov) drew close, (Yitzchak) kissed him, smelled the fragrance of his garments and said, 'See the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that G-d blessed.'" (27:26)
This sentence, at first glance makes no sense.
First of all, if he smelled his garments why did he say the smell of my son? The Torah could have just left out the part about the garments.
Second, why did he say SEE the smell?
Third, why did he compare the smell to a field? And what is a 'field that G-d blessed'?
Rashi explains that Yitzchak was referring to the smell of Heaven but this is also not clear, why didn't Yitzchak just say "Son, you smell like heaven?" why all the allegories?
To understand this here is a story. (Siporim Moraim pg.120)
Once, the first Rebbe of Chabad, Rebbe Shneur Zalman (the author of the book 'Tanya') was traveling with a large group of his Chassidim and were forced to spend the Shabbat at a wayside inn run by a simple Jew.
The prayers and the very presence of such holy men was an unforgettable experience to the innkeeper but was most impressed him was the long speech the Rebbe gave after the morning prayer.
The Chassidim stood in silence as the Rebbe sat before them, closed his eyes and spoke for almost an hour; a long and deep speech about love. Namely what types of contemplation (his'bo'ne'nus) can arouse the emotion of LOVE to G-d in the hearts of men. He went into great detail explaining Love like fire, like water, from the depth of the heart, from the essence of the heart etc.
It was wondrous! The talk was filled with kabalistic ideas that seemed to transport the entire room and everyone in it into a different world. But the innkeeper, although he listened intently to every word the Rebbe said and watched the awesome faces of the Chassidim, didn't understand a word.
After he finished and the Chassidim began to sing a beautifully deep melody the Rebbe turned to him and said, "I see you are pained because you don't understand."
The Chassidim finished their song and the Rebbe explained.
"It's really much closer than you think. Let me explain in more direct terms.
"Certainly you are familiar with the simple Mishna about marriage namely that if a man gives an eligible woman money (or any valuable item) on the condition that she is his wife then, according to the Torah, they are married, correct?"
The innkeeper nodded 'yes'.
"In other words, money joins a bride and groom. Now tell me," The Rebbe continued, "have you ever read the book Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim) written by King Solomon?"
The man shook his head yes. It was a custom in many congregations to read it every Shabbat (being that it is only eight short chapters).
"Well," the Rebbe said, " 'Shir HaShirim" is an allegorical love song between G-d and the Jews often comparing them to husband and wife. Every time it mentions "the bride" it really is referring to the Jewish people whose 'husband' is G-d. So then this idea of money connecting a bride and groom must be very deep. Correct? It allegorically means something that can 'join' G-d and the Jews!"
The innkeeper thought a minute, raised his eyebrows and again nodded 'yes'. The Rebbe continued.
"So what is this 'money' that joins us to the Creator? It can't be just regular coins like in a physical marriage. It must be something more spiritual, right? Well, the word for 'money' (Kesef) is similar to the word for 'Love' (Kisuf). In other words what joins or 'marries' us to G-d is Love. And that is what I was talking about!
"But it's not so simple.
"In the Talmud, (Kidushin 2a), when it explains this law it asks; "How do we know that accepting money can finalize marriage? ("Kesef, Manalon')
In other words "Where can we get this love?"
"And it answers, "We derive 'money' from 'Field"
[When Abraham bought the gravesite for his wife he said , 'Kach' (take) MONEY and give the 'field' (23:13). Then, later in the Torah (Deut. 24:1), this same word; 'Kach' is used for 'taking' a wife]
"Field, means humility, Money means love. And here again there is a deeper meaning; 'The way to get the 'love' of G-d is by making yourself like a FIELD."
"In other words" Concluded the Rebbe, "By feeling humility and gratitude to G-d for our very existence we can come to love and be 'married' to the Creator. And you have that humility."
The innkeeper became a devoted and emotional Chassid.
This answers our questions.
Aisav represents the power of pure egotism, evil and destruction in the world the opposite of G-d and His Torah. But his father, Yitzchak thought he could change and bless him and thereby do away with war and all misfortune for all time.
But when Yaakov came in wearing Aisav's garments, Yitzchak realized he was wrong; he smelled the garments and realized that only Yaakov had the power to elevate and correct such evil.
So he blessed Yaakov himself; "I see the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that G-d has blessed."
Blessing means G-dly energy and joy and as we learned in our first story, Joy can sweeten even the most destructive powers.
'The field' Yitzchak referred to is, as we learned in our second story, humility and surrender to the Creator, which is what connects the Jews to G-d.
He gave Yaakov the power of Joy and blessing to inspire humility in all mankind and connect them to the Creator. (He will bring even Tzadikim to Tshuva).
That is why Yitzchak said "I see", Because he was referring to the ultimate purification of the creation, (including of Aisav), when all mankind will 'see' G-dliness together (Isaiah 40:5).
And this is all very relevant to us. Through joy, humility and the desire to make a better world we will receive all of Yitzchak's eternal blessings and 'see' how even one good deed, word or even thought can bring....
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