Gifts from a Minimalist – Parashat Toldot

November 3, 2018 at 1:25 AM , , ,
“….And he said: Behold now, I have grown old, I do not know the day of my death…..” – Bereisht 27:2

״….ויאמר הנה נא זקנתי לא ידעתי יום מותי…״ – בראשית כז, ב

If a person is approaching the age at which his parents died, he should worry five years beforehand and five years afterwards. Yitzchak was one hundred & twenty-three years old. He thought, “Perhaps I will live to my mother’s age; she died at one hundred and twenty-seven. I am thus within five years of her age.” He therefore said, “I do not know the day of my death”: I may reach my mother’s age or perhaps my father’s. —Rashi

At the age of one hundred and twenty-three, Yitzchak was five years younger than his mother had been at her passing, and there was still a good chance that he would live another fifty years or more, as his father had. (In fact, he ultimately lived to 180, five years longer than his father.) Even his mother’s passing at the age of 127 had been due to unnatural causes, (from the news of the Akeida, the Binding of Yitzchak,) so it was safe to assume that he would live longer. Yet, Yitzchak began concerning himself with his end-of-life affairs at the age of 123, the youngest “likely” age for him to die, according to his calculations.

This degree of caution was not out of character for Yitzchak, whose dominant personality trait, according to the teachings of Kabbalah, was gevurah, discipline andrestraint. Yitzchak therefore viewed and gauged everything in life from a very cautious and moderate perspective.

Nevertheless, despite Yitzchak’s moderate and disciplined nature, we find that the blessings that he bestowed upon Yaakov and Eisav are the most extensive and richestblessings given in the Torah, from the “dew of the heaven” to “the fat of the earth”. This is especially true considering that the “dew of the heaven” is a reference to Heavenly and spiritual wealth as well.

Yitzchak’s paradoxical behavior serves as a lesson for us all, his descendants and spiritual heirs. Yitzchak teaches us that even if you are extremely disciplined and stringent in your personal behavior, this must have no bearing on how you relate and give to others.  Your relationship to your fellow Jew must always be one of affection and benevolence, generously sharing with him or her “from the dew of heaven and the fat of the earth”.


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—Likutei Sichos vol. 15, p. 220






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