Parshas Toldos-Appreciating Rashi

When I first came to learn in Eretz Yisroel as a young bachur, I learned in the Brisker Yeshiva of HaRav Dovid Soloveitzik shlita. One of the highlights of Yeshiva is Reb Dovid’s Friday night Chumash Shiur, where he would frequently instruct us regarding important lessons for life, interwoven with pithy observations regarding the weekly Parsha.

One of the more memorable occasions was a Parshas Toldos some 20 years ago. Towards the beginning of the Parsha, 26:2 to be precise, the Torah relates that there was a famine in Eretz Yisroel. Hashem appeared to Yitzchok Avinu and enjoined him to refrain from escaping to Egypt as his father had done under similar circumstances decades earlier. Rather, Yitzchok was required to remain in the Holy Land.

Rashi explains that since Yitzchok Avinu had achieved the status of being an “Olah Temima”, an unblemished sacrifice, at the Akeida, it was improper for him to exit to Chutz l’Aretz. The Brisker Rav, Reb Dovid’s father, asked in his Sefer on Chumash, “Where do we find relevance of the limitations on a Korban leaving its designated location alive? While it is forbidden to remove a sacrifice from the Beis HaMikdash or Yerusholaim, depending on its level, this exclusively applies after it was slaughtered.” He replied that the relevant defining factor it not specifically the life or death of the animal, it is whether its purpose has already been fulfilled. Once the Mitzva of shechting a Korban has been conducted, it may no longer be removed from its domain, until then there is no restriction. Regarding the Binding of Yitzchok, the commandment was never to “slaughter” him; Avraham was merely commanded to “bind” Yitzchok. Once that was completed, Yitzchok Avinu achieved the status of a fulfilled Korban that could not depart its boundaries.

However, Reb Dovid was not satisfied with this response. While this resolves the question of the timeframe, it leaves other serious issues unresolved. There are two basic categories of Korbanos, Kodshei Kodshim and Kodshim Kalim. The prior designation applies to an Olah or Chattas, and they may not be removed from the Beis HaMikdash. The latter classification includes the Todah and Shlomim which may not depart the city of Yerusholaim. Yet we never find any boundary in the laws of Korbanos restricting them specifically to Eretz Yisroel.

Furthermore, on 25:26 Rashi explains that Yitzchok refrained from following his father’s precedent in marrying a maidservant after 10 years of childlessness due to the Akeida as well. In Rashi’s words, “He did not wish to marry a maidservant, as he had been consecrated on Har HaMoriah as Olah Temima.” Reb Dovid dramatically flipped through the Rambam’s Laws of Korbanos and feigned surprise that there was no mention made in the entire Sefer of any prohibition applicable to a Korban marrying a servant.

My initial impression was that he was being humorous and theatrical, obviously Rashi simply meant to illustrate that Yitzchok Avinu was especially holy; until one of the senior Avreichim enlightened me to Reb Dovid’s intent.

Rashi is not known for his poetic language and colorful figures of speech. On the contrary, Rashi tends to be precise and succinct.

He explained that Reb Dovid wanted us to analyze every word in a Rashi to examine its exact import. We shouldn’t gloss over an unusual or extraneous phrase, dismissing it as a minor detail; we should strive to understand the significance of its choice.

While Reb Dovid did not answer his questions, and I never found a good answer to why Rashi did describe Yitzchok as an Olah Temima relating to these two decisions, his lesson that no word in Rashi is imprecise has remained with me for life.

5 thoughts on “Parshas Toldos-Appreciating Rashi

  1. “prohibition applicable to a Korban marrying a servant”.
    בפשטות יצחק לא נחשב כלל כקרבן ! רק היה לו כעין קדושת קרבן
    כהן אסור בשפחה משום שהוא משרת ה’ על המזבח
    יצחק גם עלה על המזבח וקיבל לפחות קדושת כהונה
    אולי זה כוונת רש”י

    • That was precisely my point.
      While the simple explanation would be that Rashi’s intent is simply that Yitzchok Avinu was holy similar to a Korban, Reb Dovid was not satisfied interpreting Rashi as employing poetic embellishments. He understood that Rashi’s words are always precise and measured, and there must be a more specific meaning for the choice of the words “Olah Temima”.

  2. When a bamah yachid was permitted then korbanos could be brought
    anywhere in Eretz Yisrael. So perhaps at the time of the
    Avos, the boundaries of Eretz Yisrael were equivalent to
    the boundaries of the Bais Hamikdosh or Yerushalayim
    once bama yachid were prohibited.

      • Zivachim 112 B
        The mishna states when the Yidem came to
        Gilgal then kadshim kadshim could be eaten
        within the Klayim and kadshim Kalim in any city in
        Eretz Yisael. Rash Kadshim Kalim – states because
        a buma could be built anywhere. So thats kadshim
        kalim on a buma kitana at the time there was a buma gedolah
        From Milah 3-4 Background to daf
        Kollel Iyan Hadaf
        “(c) BAMAH KETANAH – Any person, even if he was not a Kohen, could build a Bamah Ketanah anywhere in Eretz Yisrael and offer upon it his personal
        sacrifices. Only voluntary sacrifices could be offered on a Bamah Ketanah.”

        There is a voluntary korben Olah and clearly the akadah
        was voluntary (otherwise what was the nesayon-
        if it was a chov how would Avraham Aveniu have
        been able to proceed if he didnt listen to a direct
        tzivuy from Hashem?)
        So the borders of Eretzy Yisrael apply to an Oleh

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