July 23, 2024 ~ Sh PINEHAS. M SABA.

Shabbat Toledot - שבת תולדת


חובי מלכי סלח נשמת
ידך תנחני שמחים
שבתי שבתי פזמון ספר תורה

Two Separate Nations

שני גיים בבטנך - When Ribqa suffers from extreme fetal pain, she approaches God for answers. In Genesis 25:23, she is told that she is pregnant with what will become two nations. Instead of spelling "goyim" (nations) as גוים, the Masoretic Text uses גיים. This is an example of a "Qere VeKetib" (קרי וכתיב); referring to differences between what is written in the text and how a word should be read. Although both גוים and גיים are pronounced "goyim," the unusual spelling of גיים found in the Masoretic Text has puzzled many readers. A possible explanation for the two yods (י), which are small letters that appear parallel to one another, is that this symbolizes a set of twins. These twins, however, are destined to become so separate from one another that they will live totally separate existences; always remaining divided and never united. The above may be considered an example of how the scribal tradition uses the spelling of words to convey certain messages. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, November 10, 2018.

The Birthright

הנה אנכי הולך למות ולמה זה לי בכרה - What does Esav do so wrong to be warranted a villain? To be engaged in sport (איש ידע ציד איש שדה) is not a crime in itself, but it is what Esav does not do that is certainly noted. As first born to the Abrahamic tradition, Esav has the responsibility to focus on upholding the righteous ways of his forefathers. Instead, he ignores this and lives devoid of all spiritual pursuits. In Genesis 25, when Esav returns from the field, he sells his birthright to Jacob, his younger sibling, in exchange for a good meal. “What’s the point of the birthright,” he asks, “if I’m going to die anyways?” Apparently, only hedonistic pursuits mattered to him. From the 5 consecutive verbs (ויאכל וישת ויקם וילך ויבז), we see that even after the meal, Esav couldn’t care less about squandering the birthright, nor did he express remorse about the transaction. It is because Esav cares so little about the values that we hold so dear that he is not remembered fondly. Beth Torah Bulletin, November 18, 2017.


ויחפר את בארת המים אשר חפרו בימי אברהם אביו - During his lifetime, Abraham dug numerous wells; bringing prosperity to all. One year, however, Isaac, his son, was blessed with 100 times more produce (מאה שערים) than anyone else. In response to their hatred and jealousy, the local people vandalize all of Abraham's wells; attempting to erase any connection that he ever had with the land. Isaac defiantly responds by making it his responsibility to rebuild each well; restoring each one by its original Abrahamic name. These wells can be viewed as a metaphor for the heritage of Abraham, which include justice and righteousness, attributes that he strongly championed. We see Isaac's greatness not in his originality of carving his own independent road, but by him publicly defending Abraham's path; retracing his father's footsteps so that his teachings be perpetuated and never forgotten (Beth Torah, 12/3/16).

Qara Shemo

עַל־כֵּ֥ן קָרָֽא־שְׁמ֖וֹ אֱדֽוֹם - For the word pair "Qara-Shemo" in Genesis 25:30, is the emphasis on the first syllable of the first word, QAra, or the second syllable, qaRA? The answer is indicated by the position of the Ma'amid. In the Qoren Tanakh, Ish Massliah Tiqqun, and Simanim Tanakh, the Ma'amid is located under the Qof - indicating it should be read QAra-shemo. In the more ancient manuscripts of the Tanakh, however, such as the Leningrad Codex, and most probably the Aleppo Codex, the Ma'amid is under the Resh - making it qaRA-shemo. This was the pronunciation used by Mr Mickey Kairey on his recordings. As per Mr Norman Didia, the second option, qaRA-shemo, is correct, because the word pair "qara-shemo" is proceeded by the word pair "al-ken," with the accented syllable "ken." Pronouncing it QAra-shemo would interfere with "ken" in the same way "qaRA" interferes with "shemo." Therefore, there is no shift in the emphasis. Tiqqun Highlights, November 30, 2019.

Bringing Him Wine

וַיָּ֧בֵא ל֦וֹ יַ֖יִן וַיֵּֽשְׁתְּ׃ - Among the different cantillation notes, some are very rare. One rare cantillation note is the 'Tere Ta'ame,' also referred to as the 'Double Ma'arikh.' Apparently, this note appears to be a substitute for a Tebir and a Ma'arikh. Being that this note appears only five times in the Torah (Genesis 27:25, Exodus 5:15, Leviticus 10:1, Numbers 14:3, and Numbers 32:42), one cannot help but speculate as to what added significance it has. In the context of Genesis 27:25, with the Tere Ta'ame written under the word 'Lo' (ל֦וֹ), perhaps this note is meant to accentuate a very uneasy emotional state. In this text, Ribqa prepares delicacies of food for Jacob to present to his father, Isaac, in order to obtain the ultimate blessing. It appears, however, that Jacob, independently, takes the initiative to add wine into the meal. The 13th century Torah commentator Hezekiah Ben Manoah, also known as Hizkuni, writes that offering wine is a tactic that Jacob uses in order to blur his father's mind so that he would assume that he was his brother, Esav. According to this idea, the Tere Ta'ame comes to show Jacob's extreme uneasiness in performing the task of bringing his father wine in order to receive the blessing. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, November 21, 2020.

Maqam of the Week: MAHOUR

On Shabbat Toledot (Genesis 25:19- 28:9), services are conducted in Maqam MAHOUR according to ALL Syrian sources. This maqam, defined as 'defeated' in Arabic, can be described as a "high Rast," and is used when there is a victory or a reversal of fortune. This relates here, because Esav is defeated. In addition, the word 'Mahour' is similar to the Hebrew word 'Maher,' which means quick. This relates here, because in the narrative, Jacob acts very quickly. In the Red Pizmonim Book, this maqam is listed for only twice a year; Toledot and Balaq. HAZZANUT: Semehim: Yadekha Tanheni (page 149).