This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Toldot (5765)
This week's section tells us about Isaac, the second of the three forefathers.
Isaac, more than the other forefathers is connected with Moshiach.
First because his name implies joy and laughter and Moshiach will bring joy to both the world and to HaShem (so to speak).
And second because Isaac's work of digging wells is indicative of how Moshiach will dig beneath the illusive surface of creation and reveal the living secrets of the Torah.
So it seems a bit out of place that the Torah tells us how rich Isaac was.
It relates that he was so wealthy that the people used to say:
"Better the excrement from the mules of Isaac than the gold and silver of Avimelech." (Rashi on 26:13)
At first glance this makes no sense.
First: The Torah is a book of life-lessons; of what importance is it how rich Isaac was or what people said about his mules?
Second: Why not just say that Isaac was richer than the king? Why even mention mule manure? It isn't a pleasant subject and it doesn't seem relevant!
Third: How could manure be worth more than gold and silver?
To understand this here is a story.
Rabbi Ruben Dunin had been brought up in a very atheistic, Israeli Kibbutz environment. He served in the army, learned to be a heavy tractor driver, made a good living and lived a typical 'secular' Israeli life as a 'fanatic'
atheist; firmly, religiously against G-d and religion.
But try as he could to scoff, he couldn't dispel his doubts that maybe there was something to Judaism after all. His searching eventually led him to a Chabad Chassid that suggested that he visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Brooklyn. Ruben took the suggestion, flew there for a month, saw the Rebbe and his life flipped around. He returned an avid and avowed Chassid.
He went to Yeshiva, learned Torah for a while and after several years became a well known speaker and, because he never lost the raw frankness and very-down-to-earth humor of the kibbutz, he was especially successful at 'Chabad Evenings' where non-religious Jews were the crowd.
The story is told that once he was addressing such an 'Evening' when one of the crowd stood, pounded on the table for silence and angrily shouted that Judaism was just a pack of medieval suppressions, an opiate for the masses invented by the Rabbis to keep the common folk in the dark etc. ect.
He demanded a logical proof for G-d's existence and threatened that if he didn't get one he would break up the evening and wouldn't let the Rabbi speak another word.
Rabbi Dunin paused until there was silence and asked his challenger if he was familiar with farm animals.
"Yes" was the reply. "In fact I was brought up in a Kibbutz. But what has that got to do with..."
"Good" the Rabbi said "then you'll understand what I'm talking about. Did you ever notice that goat manure is round and small?"
The bewildered Kibbutznik shrugged his shoulders and looked around as though to say 'Is he insane?'
"But cow excrement," continued Rabbi Dunin "even from small cows; calves the same size as goats, is larger and comes in a much different shape. Did you ever notice this?"
"This is ridiculous!" he shouted, "This has nothing to do with."
"Do you know why?" Rabbi Dunin calmly asked.
The other fellow protested. I want an answer to my question about G-d. and if not...!!
But when he saw that the Rabbi was serious he finally said "Alright! I'll answer your question. Err. Goats? Cows? manure? Alright. I have no idea!
Okay?! Now answer my question. I want a proof!! And I want it NOW!!!"
"Aha! Rabbi Dunin exclaimed, "You want a proof? .......About manure you don't understand. and you want me to explain to you about G-d?!"
The crowd burst into laughter. The challenger himself smiled and congratulated Rabbi Dunin on his 'victory' and then, when things quieted down the Rabbi continued.
He explained how far G-d is from our understanding.
"Pleasure is above understanding. It's is a spiritual feeling. That's why pleasure is incomprehensible because, as the writings of Kabala explain, pleasure is spiritual; it is a feeling of life.
"So are all the pleasures of this physical world; they're all spiritual in origin, but they are the lowest types of spirit. Something like how cats and dogs live from and enjoy the leftovers from humans, so we humans live and enjoy the 'garbage' of the upper worlds.
"Or in more esoteric terms; all the pleasures of this world emanate from the 'Shmorai Ofanim'; the 'manure' of the Angels!
"Angels are 'high' forms of life, not limited to little physical bodies like ours. Their pleasures are so much greater than here, that all the pleasures and riches of this entire world all together are what is leftover and filtered through the angels. So if the pleasures of this physical world are above understanding how much more so spiritual pleasures.
"But as great, infinite and incomprehensible as these spiritual pleasures are they are NOTHING compared to the CREATOR Himself!!
"That is why I brought the example of the goats and cows on the farm: How can we understand G-d if we can't even understand the 'manure' of this world!!
"But," he concluded, "G-d is also infinitely CLOSE and when we do even one of His commandments .. We give G-d pleasure and actually cause G-dliness to be revealed in this world. something like it was in the Holy Temple!! "
And that is exactly what Isaac achieved. He revealed the Creator in EVERY ASPECT of this physical world. even in the manure of his Mules!
And the populace sensed it!! They felt that all the gold and silver of their king. as precious as it was, was only part of the creation and NOTHING
compared to the G-dliness that Isaac revealed here.
This will be the accomplishment of Moshiach; to awaken ALL the Jews and reveal G-d HERE, as the Maimonides writes in the end of his master treatise "Moshiach will cause G-d to be revealed in this world like water fills the ocean."
And this was what Isaac BEGAN by digging the wells; transforming the meaninglessness of this world.... to joy and blessing. And that is CERTAINLY greater than ALL the RICHES of Avimelech; indeed of the entire creation!
It all depends on us to be a part of it. We must do all we can, in action speech and thought to bring ..
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