Shabbat Parshat Toldot

Towards the end of last week's parsha, we see a fresh new union, a new love born, between Yitzhak and Rivka. When Yitzhak takes Rivka into his tent, there is a hope, a vision and a future for Yitzhak. The Torah says:

וַיְבִאֶהָ יִצְחָק, הָאֹהֱלָה שָׂרָה אִמּוֹ, וַיִּקַּח אֶת-רִבְקָה וַתְּהִי-לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה, וַיֶּאֱהָבֶהָ; וַיִּנָּחֵם יִצְחָק, אַחֲרֵי אִמּוֹ

And Yitzhak brought her (Rivka) into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rivka, and she became his wife; and he loved her. And Yitzhak was comforted for his mother.

This verse highlights the profound sense of mourning that Yitzhak was experiencing upon the death of his mother. After the Akeidah, there is no conversation between Avraham and Yitzhak within the Breishit narrative. He is alone. We appreciate that Yitzhak is in need of comfort after the death of his mother. Only after he meets Rivka and we are told that he is finally comforted after the death of his mother, do we sense that Yitzhak has been alone in his sorrow with no light and no hope. Perhaps that is why the Midrash Rabba (Parsha 60) comments that when Rivka comes into Yitzhak's life, the cloud tied to the door of Sarah's tent, the doors that were open wide, the blessing sent to the dough and the candle that burned from one Shabbat to the next from the time Yitzhak's mother was alive, returned. Teaching us that when Rivka comes into Yitzhak's life there was light, there was hope and he saw a future.

We already begin to see a uniqueness and beauty in the relationship that

they share.

Perhaps at the beginning of this week's parsha we see it one step further. The Torah describes a couple that is concerned for each other. There is a desire to not turn away, but facilitate the needs of the other. The love that Yitzhak feels for Rivka is displayed in his desire to not only have children with her, but to partner with her through their prayer to Hashem.

In Chapter 25, Verse 21, the Torah tells us of Yitzhak's prayer for children. He prays:

וַיֶּעְתַּר יִצְחָק לַה' לְנֹכַח אִשְׁתּוֹ, כִּי עֲקָרָה הִוא

Yitzhak entreated Hashem on behalf of (or facing) his wife, because she was barren;

Yitzhak praying "l'nokhah ishto" is interpreted by the Radak (Rav David Kimchi) to mean that Yitzhak prayed on behalf of his wife. Yitzhak's prayers were not only to have children with Rivka. But, out of a desire to stay with Rivka and not to follow the course his parents took initially, to take another wife in order to continue on his legacy of building a nation.

Rashi quotes a Midrash that when it says Yitzhak prayed "l'nokhah ishto," it meant that he faced Rivka when he davened to God. The Radak elaborates on this as well to explain something powerful about the relationship that Yitzhak and Rivka shared. Says the Radak: Praying "opposite" or facing Rivka enabled his heart to concentrate on her. This would deepen his Kavanah while praying. This was not only necessary for Yitzhak to enhance his own prayer, but, for Rivka to recognize that Yitzhak was concerned for the needs of his wife. Unlike his father, Avraham and son, Yaakov, each who prayed on behalf of their wives without a direct display with them or in front of them, Yizhak did not only pray for he and his wife to have a child, he prayed L'nokhah ishto. Yitzhak prayed in a manner visible to his wife, demonstrating to her that he was concerned for her needs as well as his own. We learn from l'nokhah ishto that we should not only feel concern and empathy for others. But, to make sure that the one we care about appreciates that we are thinking of them.

The beauty of the relationship of Yitzhak and Rivka is that there was an expression of the genuine love and concern for the other. We appreciate that Yitzhak was complete in his love and dedication to Rivka. Unlike the other Avot, they were a couple who were only married to each other. This dedication can serve as a model of communication of concern and feeling for the other when there is the profound need of support when feeling despair.

Displaying compassion in an unmistakable way ensures that the people we care about in our lives are aware of our love and concern for them. Of course, this may take a great deal of emotional energy for some. Yet, missing the opportunity to expose our feelings and keeping them hidden can sometimes run the risk of misinterpret of our reaction as unfeeling, indifferent or unsympathetic. This holds true for spouses, children, parents, siblings and friends. We must not take for granted that the words of love and support or direct expressions of concern and sympathy strengthen relationships and give the necessary chizzuk to the one receiving it.

Shabbat Shalom

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