Parashas Toldos

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Was Yitzchak a Greater Tzadik than Rivka?

Taste of Halacha

“Midvar Sheker Tirchak”, from a matter of falsehood, distance yourself.  The “SMAG” counts this as one of the positive commandments of the Torah.  The Rambam learns this is a command specifically to judges.  However the Chofetz Chaim explains even according to the Rambam we learn from here that everyone must stay far away from falsehood.  Therefore if a person says a lie about someone else he transgresses a biblical command not to invent a bad name, “motzee shaim raa”, about another.  There are situations that require a misleading statement to be made in order to bring peace between people.  We learn this from the fact that Hashem told Avraham.  “Why did Sora laugh saying, “I am old”, even though she really said “my husband” is old”.  From here we learn “shemishanim mipnay hashalom”; we may make a change for the sake of peace.

 Taste of Talmud

In tractate Horiyos the laws of the communal sin offering are laid out.  The basic rule is that when the court makes an erroneous decision and the majority of the nation acts in error based on this decision, then a cow must be brought to atone for this sin.  The Talmud asks, “Who pays for this cow?  According to Rabbi Yehuda communal money is used and every tribe must bring their own cow.  Rabbi Meir however says that the cow is brought by the court and only one cow is brought.  According to Rabbi Shimon every tribe who did the sin must bring a sin offering and the court must bring one as well.  What kind of majority is needed for this obligation?  According to R’ Shimon Ben Elazar it is considered a majority if seven tribes followed the erroneous decision even if this does not constitute a majority of the population. I.e. a majority of the Electoral College!

 Taste of Parasha

“Yitzchak davened to Hashem concerning his wife for she was barren and Hashem turned the decree over “for him” and Rivka conceived”.  Rashi explains that it was in the merit of Yitzchak’s prayer, not Rivka’s, that the decree was overturned.  Why?  Yitzchak was a tzadik the son of a tzadik whereas Rivka was the daughter of a Rasha.  Rav S. Z. of Kelm asks, “why don’t we apply the rule that the level of righteous Baalei Teshuva is greater than that of Tzaddikim from birth!?  So we would expect Rivka’s prayer to be more effective!  Rav E. E. Dessler answers, if a person born into the lap of righteousness learns from the great effort a baal teshuva expends in going from his, spiritual 0 to 60, and instead of sufficing with his, G-d given spiritual 60, he goes to 120, he can reach a higher level.  This is why Yitzchak was on a higher spiritual level than Rivka.  He started out on a high level and put in as much effort as Rivka had, to grow closer to G-d. Therefore G-d turned over the decree “for him”.

About tasteofyeshiva

RABBI YAIR FRIEDMAN teaches at The Torah School of Greater Washington, and Yeshiva L' Baalei Batim. He is the owner and director of Camp Gevaldig LLC.
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