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ברך עלינו... את השנה הזאת

Bareich Aleinu… es ha’shanah ha’zos. Bless on our behalf… this year.

Some people have difficulty confronting the present. They either live in the past: glories of yesterday; the successes that represent everything but the present – or they dream of the future: new relationships; new projects; new deals. The present is reality; it bespeaks responsibility, obligation, things we must do – now – not tomorrow. Bless on our behalf… this year. We are urged to live in the present, not wallow in memories of the past or dream fantasies of the future. Life is now. Serving Hashem is now. We must live in the present and make plans for the future,…

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ויהי כי זקן יצחק ותכהין עיניו מראות

And when Yitzchak grew old, his eyesight failed and he could not see. (27:1)

One is hard pressed to believe that our Avos, Patriarchs, succumbed to the natural frailties of ill health and infirmity that are often associated with the aging process. Yet, here we see Yitzchak Avinu, the Olah Temimah, perfect sacrifice, becoming a victim to old age. The Rashi (quoting Midrash Rabbah 65:10), to which we are all acquainted, explains that Yitzchak’s waning eyesight, his premature myopia, had not been naturally induced; rather, he was a victim of the “side-effects” of the Akeidah, Binding. Apparently, when he was lying bound on the Altar of the Akeidah, and his father, Avraham Avinu, stood poised…

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יעקב איש תם ישב אהלים

But Yaakov was a wholesome man, abiding in tents. (25:27)

Rashi explains that a tam is wholesome, a person who is not adept at deceiving. Thus, Yaakov Avinu is called a tam, because he did not deceive. Deception went against his grain. We find, however, in the following parshah, when Yaakov meets Rachel Imeinu, Va’yaged Yaakov l’Rachel ki achi avihah hu, “And Yaakov told Rachel that he was her father’s brother” (Bereishis 29:12). Rashi clarifies this statement, quoting the Midrash, “If he (Eisav) comes for deceit, I, too, am his brother in deceit; but, if he is a decent person, I am also the son of Rivkah, his decent sister.”…

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ויעתר לו ד'

Hashem allowed Himself to be entreated by him. (25:21)

Hashem “allowed” Himself: Was it so difficult to listen to Yitzchak Avinu’s pleas? We pray and pray, and, unbeknownst to us, what we ask for might not be good for us – or, it might adversely affect someone else, someone very dear to us. Horav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zl, explains that this is what happened concerning Yitzchak Avinu’s prayer. Avraham Avinu lived to be 175 years old – five years short of Yitzchak’s lifespan. Why did Avraham live five years fewer than Yitzchak? Rashi explains that Hashem spared him the pain of watching his grandson, Eisav, go off the derech,…

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ויעתר יצחק לד' לנכח אשתו כי עקרה היא

Yitzchak entreated Hashem opposite his wife, because she was barren. (25:21)

We are accustomed to mentioning the Avos and Imahos, Patriarchs and Matriarchs, in one breath, as if they were all the same. When we stop to think, we recognize that there was one area in which they were not all the same. It appears at first glance that Avraham Avinu was not an akar, sterile man, since he fathered Yishmael. This is questionable from the pasuk in Bereishis 15:2, “What can You give me, seeing that I go childless?” Later in 16:5, however, Sarah Imeinu says to Avraham, “The outrage against me is due to you!” Rashi explains that Sarah…

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