Toldos 5782


Two perspectives on Yitzchak[1]

‏…והיה כאשר תריד ופרקת עולו מעל צוארך
…It shall be, that when the Jews don’t keep the Torah[2], you shall remove his yoke from upon your neck[3]

There’s an interesting verse in the book of Isaiah. It says[4]: “You (Hashem) are our Father, since Avraham didn’t know us, and Yisrael didn’t recognize us.  Forever Your name is Hashem, our Father, our Redeemer.” What’s interesting about this verse is Yitzchak is strangely absent. We also find two different explanations from our Sages to this verse. At first glance, they appear to be total contradictions, one saying the exact opposite of the other. However, if we delve into their proper meaning, it will become clear that they are actually saying the same idea, just from different vantage points.

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Vayeira 5782


Precious time[1]

ותרא שרה את-בן-הגר המצרית אשר-ילדה לאברהם מצחק: ותאמר לאברהם גרש האמה הזאת ואת-בנה כי לא יירש בן-האמה הזאת עם-בני יצחק
Sarah saw the son of Hagar, the Egyptian, who [she] had born to Avraham, playing. [Sarah] said to Avraham: “Expel this maidservant and her son, for the son of this maidservant shall not inherit with my son Yitzchak”[2]

Reading a rudimentary translation of the Torah would yield quite a shocking result. Sarah sees Yishmael, the son of her maidservant Hagar and her husband Avraham, playing. Her response? Kick him out! How can Sarah be so harsh? She also says that Yishmael shall not inherit with Yitzchak. What does this have to do with his playing? This is why it’s so important to read the Torah in its original language.

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Pesach 5780


You take half, and I’ll take the other half[1]

ויקח מצה האמצעית ויבצענה לשתים ויתן חציה (הגדולה) לאחד מהמסובין לשומרה לאפיקומן ונותנים אותה תחת המפה וחציה השני ישים בין שתי השלימות
Take the middle matzah and split it into two. Give the (larger[2]) half to one of those at the seder to guard it for the Afikoman, and they put it under a cloth. The second half place among the other two complete matzos[3]

Many people have the custom to have three matzos on their seder plate[4]. While there are practical reasons to have this number[5], there’s also symbolism in the number three. A famous explanation is that they represent the three forefathers: Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov[6]. The simple explanation behind this symbolism is that it was in the merit of the forefathers that the Jews were redeemed from Egypt[7]. The part of the seder known as Yachatz is where we break the middle matzah and save the larger half for the Afikoman. Is there any connection behind this symbolism, and the fact that it’s specifically the middle matzah that is broken?

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