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  Parashas Toledos from
Shabbos Delights
A collection of enlightening and stimulating comments on the parashah

By Rabbi Aryeh Leib Lopiansky 

Other Available Chapters
Parashas Bereishis 

Parashas Toledos

...If so, why am I thus... (25:22)  

Rivkah prayed long and hard to conceive. However, there was something so unusual about her pregnancy that she had regrets. What could have happened that, had she been aware of it earlier, she would not have desired to conceive?

The Gemara narrates that King Chizkiyahu did not marry by choice. He had perceived through ruach hakodesh [Divine inspiration] that although some of his descendants would be extremely righteous, others would be evildoers. The prophet Yeshayahu brought him a message from Hashem that he was sinning by not fulfilling the mitzvah of pru u’revu [procreation]. Although logically he was correct in not wanting to bring sinners into the world, that consideration did not override the obligation of having offspring (Berachos 10a).

The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 63:6) states that when Rivkah would pass by a yeshivah, Yaakov would react and try to push his way out of the womb. Whenever she would pass a place of idol worship, Eisav would in turn begin pushing. Rivkah thus realized that she was carrying one son who was a tzaddik and one son who was a rasha. Had she known the nature of the child beforehand, she would not have prayed to conceive, since it would mean bringing a rasha into this world. Since women are exempt from the commandment of pru u’revu, that would have been the proper thing to do.

Rivkah said, “Why did I exert so much effort?” Yitzchak, who was required to have children, would have been obligated to have them even if he would have had prior knowledge of Eisav’s nature. However, Rivkah, who was exempt, need not have prayed so diligently.    (Chidushei Maran Riz HaLevi)

l l l

...If so, why am I thus... (25:22) 

Rivkah was amazed that she was undergoing such a troubling pregnancy. It is not unusual for women to have difficulties at the time of pregnancy; why was Rivkah surprised?

The Gemara states that righteous women are privileged not to have to suffer the pains of pregnancy (Sotah 12a). Elsewhere, we find that Hashem created the Matriarchs barren because Hashem desires the prayers of righteous people (Yevamos 64a). Being childless, the Matriarchs would perforce pray to Hashem.

Rivkah was barren for many years. She therefore assumed that Hashem considered her a righteous woman and made her childless in order that she should pray. She was confident that being a righteous woman she would not have any suffering during her pregnancy! She was thus greatly shocked at the onset of her pain. What she meant by exclaiming, “Why am I thus?” was: “If I am really righteous, why am I experiencing pain; if not, why was I barren!”4     (Chanukas HaTorah)

4. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The Torah states that Rivkah posed this question to Hashem and received a response that the progenitors of two antagonistic nations are in her womb. One could suggest that according to the Chanukas HaTorah’s explanation of Rivkah’s question, Hashem answered that in actuality Rivkah is a righteous woman. However, what she was experiencing was not pain due to pregnancy, but rather a conflict between two warring nations!]

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