This weeks parsha is parashat toldos. The parsha discusses the story of Yaakov and Eisav’s birth. It continues to focus on the confusion of the beracha of the bechor (first born). Before any of this, however, it first talks about Rivka, and how she was barren.
The third pasuk of the parsha, Perek chaf hey (25) pasuk (21), says “vaye’etar”, that yitzchak begged Hashem for children. Then the pasuk continues to say that “vaye’ater”, that Hashem gave in to Yitzchaks pleas and give him children.
Rash picks up on the lashon of the root “ater”. He says that ater is used in a beseeching context. Any time in the Torah that the shoresh of ater arises, it means that someone begged someone else.
Now, how can we understand the fact that Hashem, the one and only decision maker of the entire planet, was persuaded and gave in to Yitzchaks begs? Hashem decides everything, how did he decide to give in to the pleas and change his mind and allow Yitzchak to have children earlier then originally planned?
It is known that when a tzaddik passes, a new tzaddik is born. Avraham was the tzaddik that was leaving this world and Yaakov was the tzaddik that was coming into this world. Also, many people say that Avraham passed away because he was not supposed to be alive or the birth of his rasha, evil nephew, eisav.
Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld uses these two ideas to come up with an answer as to why Hashem allowed Yaakov and Eisav to be born earlier than originally planned. He says that it was planned that Avraham would never see his grandchildren. It is for two reasons that he wouldn’t see them.
One, that Avraham and Yaakov could not be on this world together because they are both very powerful tzaddikim who couldn’t live together. Also, that Yaakov was the tzaddik that would be born when Avraham, another tzaddik, died. And second so that Avraham would not see the horrible things Eisav would come to do throughout his lifetime. Eisav’s was one of the worst people of his generation and Avraham, the holiest man on the earth at the time, should not have to see this horror. His whole life Avraham worked on converting people and doing chessed and eisav, his own grandson stood for the exact opposite beliefs. This would have pained Avraham to no avail.
So, how does this answer our original question of why hashem gave in to Yitzchaks begging? Hashem loved Avraham, he spread the ways of Hashem and monotheism. Hashem was bee hesitant to take Avraham from his precious world. He knew that when Rivka became able to have children that she would be pregnant with Yaakov and Eisav and that for a few reasons discussed before, Avraham would need to die when she gave birth to them.
For these reasons it seems like Yitzchak really did beg Hashem very much and Hashem did need to be persuaded. It is said that Avraham would have had five more years of life if not for Yitzchaks begging.
Even though it may seem like what Yitzchak did was selfish, he taught us a good lesson. He showed that no matter what the scenario is and no matter who you’re going against, you can always push for what you want and push for what you believe is right.
Student studying in Lev HaTorah