Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Toldot
Rabbi Mansour 2010 5771
Shabbat Morning Class
"??????? ????? ????? ????? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?? ?' "
"And the children struggled together inside her; and she said if so why me? And she
went to inquire to Hashem"
"????? ?' ?? ??? ???? ?????"
"And Hashem said to her, there are two nations in your womb"
After intense praying, Rivkah was finally pregnant. After a while she began to feel
unbearable pain and she asked, "why me"? Why did I pray so hard for this?! "She went
to ask Hashem"; Rashi explains that she went to the emissary of Hashem; Shem (the
son of Noah). Shem informed her that she was having twins, and that they both will
prosper into great nations.
Rashi explains that when Rivkah passed a house of Torah, she would feel her
baby kicking and trying to "run" out of her womb. When she would pass a house of idol
worship, she would also feel kicking and the baby trying to escape. She did not realize
that she was having twins, she thought that there was only one baby inside of her! This
terrified her; would she be having a schizophrenic child that one day wants to serve
Hashem and the next worship idols?! Shem calmed her by explaining that in fact there
were two children in her womb. Each would take their separate paths, one for the good
and one for the bad. This calmed Rivkah to a degree. At least she would have one of
her children as a Sadik, as opposed to one very confused child.
Shem told Rivkah that she has two ???? in her womb. The word ???? (nations) is
spelled in the Torah without the Vav (instead of ???? it says ???? ), the word ???? means
literally "proud ones". Rashi explains that these proud ones refer to Rebbi (Rabbi
Yehudah Hanasi or "Rabeinu Hakadosh") and Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius- the Roman
Ceasar). They were going to be the descendants of Yaakov and Eisav and this is what
Shem informed Rivkah to calm her.
It is understood why knowing that such a great Sadik as Rebbi (the redactor of
the Mishnayot, and to whose credit all of the Torah Shebeal Peh is today) was
destined to come from her would gladden Rivkah. What needs to be clarified is; why
would her knowing that Antoninus- a roman Caesar- was destined to come from her
make Rivkah feel better?! It seems that when she was informed about both she felt
better, but why would her knowing of a descendant - that was a non Jewish Romancalm
To understand this, we need to explain the history and relationship between
Rebbi and Antoninus, and the deeper connection between Rebbi and Yaakov Avinu
and the connection of Eisav with Antoninus.
Antonenus lived in the same time as Rabeinu Hakadosh, and would sneak out
via an underground tunnel to study Torah with Rebbi. This needed to be done in
private. It would have been a great disgrace for the Romans to find out that their leader
was studying the Jewish religion! He would study with Rebbi daily and even serve him.
Eventually Antonenus circumcised himself and converted. Tosafot (Avodah Zarah 10b)
mentions the Midrash that says that this relationship began when they were both just
infants. The Roman Caesar issued a decree that banned circumcision. Raban Gamliel,
the chief Rabbi of the Jews had a baby and circumcised him. There was a Jewish
informer that told the Caesar of Raban Gamliel’s disobedience of his edict. The Caesar
summoned Raban Gamliel and his wife to bring their baby to the palace. Raban
Gamliel and his wife arrived at the palace, and waited in the antechamber to be called
in by the Caesar. While they were waiting, the wife of the Caesar entered the
antechamber, and sensed the distress of the wife of Raban Gamliel. What is the
Matter? ; asked the Caesar’s wife. The wife of Raban Gamliel explained that they were
summoned to the Caesar because they violated his command by circumcising their
son, and they were now facing almost certain death! The wife of the Caesar also had
an infant, and offered to save Raban Gamliel, his wife, and child by temporarily
switching her own baby with theirs! This way, when the Caesar would inspect the baby
he will find that it is not circumcised! She did this, and when the Caesar found the baby
to be uncircumcised he killed the informant and ended up abolishing the decree. These
two babies were Rebbi and Antoninus.
Tosafot says " ??? ???? ??? ???? "-"the milk of the mother can either bring purity
or impurity". He explains that after the wife of the Caesar switched her baby with
Raban Gamliel’s wife, the Caesar’s baby began to cry. Raban Gamliel’s wife nursed
the baby in order to soothe him. It was from these pure drops of milk that Antonenus
suckled from the mother of Rebbi that enabled him to end up studying Torah and
converting. We see how powerful the effects of the milk of a Sadeket! We also see this
by Sarah Imenu. When she gave birth to Yishak, there were some people who doubted
that it was really her baby. Avraham Avinu advised her to offer to nurse other people’s
babies, and in this way everyone will see that she indeed bore Yishak and was nursing
him. People brought their children for Sarah to nurse (some came to test her to see if
she can indeed nurse and some came to give their child the merit of nursing from the
holy Sarah). It says that any child that nursed from Sarah ended up having a
descendant that converted to Judaism, and all the converts throughout history come
from the children that nursed from the milk of Sarah Imenu. Sarah was nurturing and
giving sustenance to the holy spark that was destined to come from these babies.
Rabeinu Hakadosh was deeply connected to Yaakov Avinu. The Ben Ish Chai
explains that Rabbi was actually the Gilgul (reincarnation) of Yaakov. This is hinted to
in his name ?' ????? ????? , the word ???? stands for " ??? ???? ?? ???? ????? " (he is the
spark of Yaakov Avinu).
We find this connection hinted to in several places. For example; Rebbi stated
the Mishnayot with the laws of Shema of Arbit ( ????? ????? ?? ??? ?????? ), and Arbit
was the Tefilah established by Yaakov Avinu. In addition, we see that the first three
Berachot of the Amidah correspond to the three Avot. The first Berachah corresponds
to Avraham Avinu, as it ends "Magen Avraham". The second corresponds to Yishak
Avinu, it ends with " ???? ????? " because Yishak was "revived" from the dead upon
being taken down from the alter at the time of Akeidat Yishak. The third Berachah
corresponds to Yaakov Avinu, it ends with ??? ????? . Rebbi was also called ?????
Another example of these connections is that each one of the Avot represented a
different aspect of Hashem. Avraham Avinu represents Hesed, Yishak represents
Gevurah, and Yaakov represents Tiferet. If we analyze the Pirkei Avot we find that the
first mention of Rebbi’s name is the beginning of ' ??? ? when it says; "??? ???? ??????
??? ???? ?????? ?? ????? ?? ???? ????? ????? ?????? ?? ?? ????"
"Rebbi says; what is the best path a man should choose? Whatever is ????? (lit;
adornment)" etc. We see the connection between the attribute of Yaakov and the
advice of Rabeinu Hakadosh.
Antonenus on the other hand, was connected to Eisav Harasha. Eisav was
almost entirely evil. He did however have a little bit of good in him. We see this in his
death, when his head rolled into the Mearat Hamachpela to be buried with the Avot
and Imahot. His head represented the little bit of good that he contained, and therefore
merited burial in the holy Mearat Hamachpela. The good in Eisav finally materialized in
his descendant Antoninus. Antoninus was the Gilgul of Eisav, except in him the good
of Eisav came out! The Megaleh Amukot says that this is hinted to in the prayer of
Moshe Rabeinu to enter Israel, when he prayed " ????? ?? ????? "-"may I pass over and
see". The words ????? ?? stand for:
????????? ??? ???? ????? ?????- ????? ???" " –"Antoninus and Eisav in the time of Rebbi
were one spark".
Antonenus actually served Rebbe, and in his time the Pasuk was fulfilled; "???
???? ????" -"the older one will serve the younger one". The descendant of Eisav-the
older son, served the descendant of Yaakov- the younger son.
The Gemarah hints to the eventual emergence of Eisav’s good when it says
(Niddah 9a) " ?? ???? ????? ??? "-"the blood of a woman turns into milk". After a woman
gives birth, her blood - that would normally make her impure as a Niddah- turns into
milk to nurse the baby. For this reason as long as the mother is nursing she does not
become Niddah. [A Niddah waits seven days before she can become pure, so too the
Jews waited seven weeks as a nation before they received the Torah. After seven
weeks the Jews received the Torah on the holiday of Shavuot and on Shavuot we eat
dairy products to allude to the cessation of Tumah (the Tumah represented by blood)
and the purity that we’ve reached (the purity is represented by the milk -dairy)]. When
the Gemarah says that the "blood turns to milk" it is hinting to Eisav (who is
synonymous with [Edom] red-blood), turned to milk. The milk is the purity of
Antonenus, when the "blood" of Eisav finally turned into the "milk" of Antoninus.
This explains why Rivkah was satisfied with the report that Rebbi and Antoninus
would be the descendants of her children. She realized that she would have a wicked
child in Eisav. She was worried about this, and was also concerned about the pure milk
that she would feed him. The milk of Rivkah was "extra holy". Where was the holiness
in Eisav that her milk would helped nourish?! When she found out that there would
indeed be some good that comes from Eisav, she was happy. Her milk would be used
to nourish the spark of goodness that was hidden deep inside of Eisav, and it would
help eventually bring out his righteous descendant Antonenus.
There is still one more point that needs to be clarified. At the time Rebbi and
Antoninus were switched as infants, Antoninus nursed from the wife of Raban Gamliel
as mentioned. However when Rebbi was in the hands of the wife of the Caesar, he too
became hungry and nursed from her!! Regarding the milk of a non Jewish woman the
Halacha states that, strictly speaking it is permitted. However it is not suggested
because it will create in the baby a tendency to sin, and it "blocks" his heart from being
sensitive to the will of Hashem. We see that as an infant, Moshe Rabeinu refused to
nurse from the non Jewish Egyptian women who attempted to nurse him. If this is so,
the question is; how could it have transpired that Rebbi should nurse from a non Jew?!
How can it be that the Sadik Rabeinu Hakadosh nursed from an impure source?!
One explanation is based upon a Gemarah in Shabbat (53) that tells the story of
a righteous man whose wife passed away leaving him with an infant. Having no money
to pay for a wet nurse, a miracle occurred and the man grew breasts and was able to
nurse his own son! The Rama Mifano explains that the man in this story was a
reincarnation of the wife of the Caesar! She merited to nurse Rebbi, and now "came
back" and had a miracle occur to her to be able to nurse her own son! This miracle was
"measure for measure". She gave the child "miracle" milk that was not tainted, so too
later on she experienced a miracle with milk! We see from here that in fact, her milk did
have purity to it, as she ended up becoming a Jew! This is why he was called Rabeinu
Hakadosh,- to show that he remained Kadosh even after drinking her milk! This was
because the nature of the queen was good, which she displayed by having
compassion on Rebbi.
There is another explanation, and in order to understand it, we need to first
explain a different episode in the Parasha.
Rivkah instructed her son Yaakov to pretend he was Eisav in order to take the
Berachot. She dressed Yaakov in the garments of Eisav in order that Yishak would not
feel Yaakov’s smooth skin. Why was it necessary for her to dress him Eisav’s clothes?
Why not simply place something rough on him, or for that matter put any type of
clothing that would make his skin feel hairy?
The explanation is that Rivkah knew that Yaakov’s trait was Emmet-truth, as it
says " ??? ??? ????? ". Yaakov was so truthful, that there was no way that he would be
able to trick his father into giving him the blessings. For this reason Rivkah chose to
dress him with the clothes of Eisav. "The clothes make the man". The clothes of Eisav
had an impurity to them. Rivkah purposely dressed Yaakov in them so that - through
the impurity of Eisav's clothing - Yaakov would deviate slightly from the Path of perfect
Emmet. This of course was necessary in order that Yaakov would receive the
blessings that he needed for the entire Jewish nation.
A similar concept existed here. Rabeinu Hakadosh was the first Rabbi to write
down the oral Torah. Until his time the laws of the Torah were strictly oral from father to
son. It was not allowed to be written. Rebbi realized that if he did not compile and write
down the oral Torah in his time, the Torah would be forgotten forever! The Pasuk says
?? ????? ??' ???? ?????" "-"there are times that one must transgress for the sake of
Hashem". Rebbi realized that he had to be the one to permit the writing of the oral
torah in order to preserve it for the future generations. This explains why Hashem
allowed Rebbe to drink from the milk of a non Jew as an infant. Like Yaakov, Rebbe
needed to be "injected" with something impure to make him deviate slightly, and
"transgress". Thus, by drinking the milk of a non Jew, Rebbi was able to "transgress"
the law by putting the oral Torah in writing. This too was crucial for the continuation of
the Jewish nation. The entire oral Torah today is to the credit of Rebbe!
Rebbi’s mouth benefited from the milk of the non Jew because it was the ????
???? ?? -the oral Torah that he needed to preserve by transgressing the law that it not
We find however that even though there was good reason for Rebbe to drink
from the milk of the Caesar’s wife, he still suffered because of it. The Pasuk says; "????
???? ????" –"his teeth white from milk". We see from this Pasuk that the teeth are the
part of the body that benefits most from milk. Rebbe suffered for thirteen years with
intense toothaches. This was on account of his holy mouth benefiting from the milk of a
non Jew - even though it was for good reason! He suffered for thirteen years
corresponding to the thirteen principles of the Torah that the oral Torah is based upon.
It was his Tikkun for having written down the oral Torah which came about from
drinking the milk of a non Jew.
We see how careful we must be with what we ingest, and how the slightest bit of
impure or unkosher food or drink can affect us negatively! It says that if one sees a
child that is misbehaving in school, he should check into the food the child is eating!
Perhaps he is being fed a non kosher product that "clogs" the spiritual sensitivity of his
heart! Unkosher food creates an evil nature inside of a Jew, and because of this we
must be vigilant on every level to insure that we maintain the highest level in kosher