Toldot: Father and Son

About children seeking their father's blessing.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

"And these are the generations of Yitzchak ben Avraham; Avraham was the father of Yitzchak."

So begins our sedra, with this strange introduction. Why is it strange, you ask? Well, first, there is the double
Yakov will try to earn father's blessing through spiritual excellence, Esav through material gifts.
phraseology used. If Yitzchak is the son of Avraham, isn't it obvious that Avraham is the father of Yitzchak? Rashi - who is also bothered by this - explains that, facially, Yitzchak was the spitting image of his father, repudiating the cynics who intimated that Avimelech (who had taken Sarah) might be the real father of Yitzchak.

But why would it be so hard to believe that Avraham had fathered a child? It is Sarah - who delivers a child at the age of 90 - who is the miracle parent. Let's not forget that Avraham will go on to father six more children after Sarah dies.

Secondly, why does this statement appear in our sedra, rather than in last week's parshah, which ends with the section, "And these are the generations of Yishmael, son of Avraham"? Wouldn't Yitzchak's genealogy more logically belong there?

I want to suggest that our sedra's entire theme is all about children seeking their father's blessing and approval. Yitzchak emulates Avraham every step of the way. Like his father, he also tells Avimelech that Rivka is his sister, he digs the same wells Avraham dug, and then he gives them the same names his father gave them.

Later, twin sons are born to Yitzchak. They are very different, but they have one thing in common - both are desperately seeking Abba's approval. Yakov will try to earn father's blessing through spiritual excellence, Esav through material gifts; but both equally crave acceptance and respect from their father.

And don't we all? Isn't our father right at the top of our list of heroes, and don't we want - need - to be close to him?

I had the great z'chut of knowing and studying a bit with Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z.t.l., a great scholar and Jewish
I hung up the phone and cried.
thinker who died in 1983 at the young age of 48. One day, several years ago, I received a call asking if I could relate what Rabbi Kaplan was like and tell a few stories about him. I asked who was calling and, to my amazement, the voice answered, "I am his youngest son. Father died when I was just an infant and so I know very little about him as a person. And I need to know - after all, he is my father."

I spoke to the young man about Rav Aryeh z.l. for a while, and then I hung up the phone and cried. I cried for Aryeh, who never knew this child; I cried for his son, who struggled to know the man who fathered him; and I cried for all the fathers and sons who go through life never really knowing each other, never searching for one another - until, alas, it is too late.

So don't wait until the last minute, when it's too late; make every day a reunion!

Dedicated to the refuah shlemah of Rabbi Moshe Nachman ben Devora.