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And Eisav saw that the daughters of Canaan were evil in the eyes of Yitzchak, his father…He took Machlas, the daughter of Yishmael…in addition to his wives, as a wife for himself. (28:8,9)

Thus ends part one of the narrative about Yaakov and Eisav.  Many commentators have devoted much to telling about their relationship.  Their apparent discord climaxed when Yaakov received the berachos in Eisav’s place.  This incident provoked Eisav’s anger, and hatred toward Yaakov, to the point that Eisav took it upon himself to kill Yaakov.  While Yaakov fled Eisav’s fury, Eisav decided to take another wife for himself.  Does the Torah present this in accurate chronological sequence or simply as an historical vignette about Eisav?  The Shem Mishmuel opines that Eisav’s decision to marry another wife was a critical component in…

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And Eisav was forty years old and he took a wife…and they were a source of bitterness for Yitzchak and Rivkah. (26:35)

Rivkah Imeinu is compared to a rose among thorns.  She remained righteous despite the thorn of evil which surrounded her: her father, her brother; indeed, her entire environment was replete with evil.  She rose above her environment, above the negative influences that permeated her background.  Chazal describe her exemplary virtue.  When Yitzchak married Rivkah and brought her home to his mother’s tent, the three blessings which had been present during Sarah’s lifetime returned: a lamp burning from one Shabbos eve to the next; her dough was blessed; a cloud signifying the Divine Presence hung over her tent.  All of these…

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Yitzchak loved Eisav for game was in his mouth. (25:28)

Eisav used guile to fool Yitzchak.  He was “tzayid b’fiv“, a hunter with his mouth. He ensnared his father with halachic questions.  He portrayed himself as a devout scholar, concerned about the intricacies of giving Maaser, tithing crops.  “How does one tithe salt?  How does one tithe straw?” he asked Yitzchak, knowing fully well that Maaser does not apply to these two substances. Chazal interpret the words “tzayid b’fiv“, to be descriptions of Eisav’s cunning. He used his mouth for subterfuge.  Should one assume that Yitzchak yearned for Eisav’s “hunt”?  Surely, he had sufficient sheep and cattle that he did…

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And these are the offspring of Yitzchak, son of Avraham, Avraham begot Yitzchak. (25:19)

This pasuk seems redundant.  Obviously, if Yitzchak is Avraham’s son, Avraham must have begotten Yitzchak.  The commentators respond with various explanations.  Ibn Ezra interprets “Avraham begot Yitzchak” as a reference to the fact that Avraham raised and educated Yitzchak.  Educating a child is equivalent to begetting that child, since one “creates” a human being through the process of education.  Horav Nissan Alpert, zl, suggests that by using this apparent redundancy the Torah addresses a question that plagues students of the historical narrative of the Patriarchs.  How would two brothers, Yaakov and Eisav, who were raised by the same parents, who…

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