Genesis – Select a Chapter
22 But the children struggled in her womb, and she said, “If so, why do I exist?” She went to inquire of Hashem,
כב וַיִּתְרֹצֲצוּ הַבָּנִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ וַתֹּאמֶר אִם־כֵּן לָמָּה זֶּה אָנֹכִי וַתֵּלֶךְ לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת־יְהֹוָה׃
23 and Hashem answered her, “Two nations are in your womb, Two separate peoples shall issue from your body; One people shall be mightier than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”
כג וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה לָהּ שְׁנֵי גיים [גוֹיִם] בְּבִטְנֵךְ וּשְׁנֵי לְאֻמִּים מִמֵּעַיִךְ יִפָּרֵדוּ וּלְאֹם מִלְאֹם יֶאֱמָץ וְרַב יַעֲבֹד צָעִיר׃
24 When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.
כד וַיִּמְלְאוּ יָמֶיהָ לָלֶדֶת וְהִנֵּה תוֹמִם בְּבִטְנָהּ׃
25 The first one emerged red, like a hairy mantle all over; so they named him Esau.
31 Yaakov said, “First sell me your birthright.”
לא וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב מִכְרָה כַיּוֹם אֶת־בְּכֹרָתְךָ לִי׃
32 And Esau said, “I am at the point of death, so of what use is my birthright to me?”
לב וַיֹּאמֶר עֵשָׂו הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ לָמוּת וְלָמָּה־זֶּה לִי בְּכֹרָה׃
2 Hashem had appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land which I point out to you.
ב וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו יְהֹוָה וַיֹּאמֶר אַל־תֵּרֵד מִצְרָיְמָה שְׁכֹן בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֹמַר אֵלֶיךָ׃
3 Reside in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; I will assign all these lands to you and to your heirs, fulfilling the oath that I swore to your father Avraham.
GUR ba-A-retz ha-ZOT v’-eh-YEH i-m’-KHA va-a-va-r’-KHE-ka kee l’-KHA ul-zar-a-KHA e-TAYN et kol ha-a-ra-TZOT ha-AYL va-ha-ki-mo-TEE et ha-sh’-vu-AH a-SHER nish-BA-tee l’-av-ra-HAM a-VEE-kha
ג גּוּר בָּאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וְאֶהְיֶה עִמְּךָ וַאֲבָרְכֶךָּ כִּי־לְךָ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתֵּן אֶת־כָּל־הָאֲרָצֹת הָאֵל וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת־הַשְּׁבֻעָה אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָם אָבִיךָ׃
26:3 Reside in this land, and I will be with you and bless you
Yitzchak is warned that despite the famine in Eretz Yisrael, he is not to escape the hardship by fleeing to Egypt. Though Avraham went down to Egypt when there was a plague in Israel, and Yaakov likewise descended to Egypt towards the end of his life, God told Yitzchak not to leave the Land of Israel. Due to the unique spiritual status he acquired after being offered on the altar, Yitzchak was the only one of the three forefathers to never step foot outside of the Holy Land.2 comments
4 I will make your heirs as numerous as the stars of heaven, and assign to your heirs all these lands, so that all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your heirs
v’-hir-bay-TEE et zar-a-KHA k’-kho-kh’-VAY ha-sha-MA-yim v’-na-ta-TEE l’-zar-a-KHA AYT kol ha-a-ra-TZOT ha-AYL v’-hit-ba-r’-KHU v’-zar-a-KHA KOL go-YAY ha-A-retz
ד וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת־זַרְעֲךָ כְּכוֹכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם וְנָתַתִּי לְזַרְעֲךָ אֵת כָּל־הָאֲרָצֹת הָאֵל וְהִתְבָּרֲכוּ בְזַרְעֲךָ כֹּל גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ׃
26:4 I will make your heirs as numerous as the stars of heaven
Why are the children of Avraham compared to the stars? The poetess Chana Senesh was born in Hungary in 1921 and in 1939 she emigrated to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. Senesh was a brave heroine who volunteered to leave her beloved Palestine in 1944 in order to fight with the partisans against the Nazis. Unfortunately, she was caught, tried for treason and eventually executed. In one of her beautiful poems she wrote, “There are stars whose radiance is visible on earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for mankind.” Like the stars in Senesh’s poem, the Jew’s role in this world is to light the way for mankind, despite the darkness we have encountered throughout our history.2 comments
5 inasmuch as Avraham obeyed Me and kept My charge: My commandments, My laws, and My teachings.”
ה עֵקֶב אֲשֶׁר־שָׁמַע אַבְרָהָם בְּקֹלִי וַיִּשְׁמֹר מִשְׁמַרְתִּי מִצְוׂתַי חֻקּוֹתַי וְתוֹרֹתָי׃
7 When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say “my wife,” thinking, “The men of the place might kill me on account of Rivka, for she is beautiful.”
10 Abimelech said, “What have you done to us! One of the people might have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”
י וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִימֶלֶךְ מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לָּנוּ כִּמְעַט שָׁכַב אַחַד הָעָם אֶת־אִשְׁתֶּךָ וְהֵבֵאתָ עָלֵינוּ אָשָׁם׃
11 Abimelech then charged all the people, saying, “Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall be put to death.”
יא וַיְצַו אֲבִימֶלֶךְ אֶת־כָּל־הָעָם לֵאמֹר הַנֹּגֵעַ בָּאִישׁ הַזֶּה וּבְאִשְׁתּוֹ מוֹת יוּמָת׃
12 Yitzchak sowed in that land and reaped a hundredfold the same year. Hashem blessed him,
13 and the man grew richer and richer until he was very wealthy:
יג וַיִּגְדַּל הָאִישׁ וַיֵּלֶךְ הָלוֹךְ וְגָדֵל עַד כִּי־גָדַל מְאֹד׃
14 he acquired flocks and herds, and a large household, so that the Philistines envied him.
יד וַיְהִי־לוֹ מִקְנֵה־צֹאן וּמִקְנֵה בָקָר וַעֲבֻדָּה רַבָּה וַיְקַנְאוּ אֹתוֹ פְּלִשְׁתִּים׃
va-YO-mer ah-vi-MEH-lekh el yitz-KHAK lekh me-ee-MAH-noo kee ah-TZAM-tah mee-MEH-noo m’-OHD
26:16 Go away from us, for you have become far too big for us
The story of Yitzchak among the Philistines alludes to the history of the Jewish people during their lengthy exile, hosted by various foreign nations. Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin points out that Yitzchak is one Jew in an entire country, yet the Philistines claim that there is no room for him. As a successful farmer, Yitzchak is not an economic burden on his hosts, and yet the Philistines banish him. They could have learned agricultural techniques and benefitted from his water, but they instead choose to ignore the valuable contributions he could make, and they clog the wells he has dug. Similarly, many Jewish inventors and innovators have been expelled from their host nations throughout history. The only safe place where the Children of Israel can flourish is in the Land of Israel.2 comments
18 Yitzchak dug anew the wells which had been dug in the days of his father Avraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Avraham‘s death; and he gave them the same names that his father had given them.
19 But when Yitzchak‘s servants, digging in the wadi, found there a well of spring water,
יט וַיַּחְפְּרוּ עַבְדֵי־יִצְחָק בַּנָּחַל וַיִּמְצְאוּ־שָׁם בְּאֵר מַיִם חַיִּים׃
21 And when they dug another well, they disputed over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.
כא וַיַּחְפְּרוּ בְּאֵר אַחֶרֶת וַיָּרִיבוּ גַּם־עָלֶיהָ וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמָהּ שִׂטְנָה׃
22 He moved from there and dug yet another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he called it Rehoboth, saying, “Now at last Hashem has granted us ample space to increase in the land.”
va-ya-TAYK mi-SHAM va-yakh-POR b’-AYR a-KHE-ret v’-LO ra-VU a-LEY-ha va-yik-RA sh’-MAH r’-kho-VOT va-YO-mer kee a-TAH hir-KHEEV a-do-NAI LA-nu u-fa-REE-nu va-A-retz
כב וַיַּעְתֵּק מִשָּׁם וַיַּחְפֹּר בְּאֵר אַחֶרֶת וְלֹא רָבוּ עָלֶיהָ וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמָהּ רְחֹבוֹת וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי־עַתָּה הִרְחִיב יְהֹוָה לָנוּ וּפָרִינוּ בָאָרֶץ׃
23 From there he went up to Be’er Sheva.
כג וַיַּעַל מִשָּׁם בְּאֵר שָׁבַע׃
25 So he built a mizbayach there and invoked Hashem by name. Yitzchak pitched his tent there and his servants started digging a well.
כו וַאֲבִימֶלֶךְ הָלַךְ אֵלָיו מִגְּרָר וַאֲחֻזַּת מֵרֵעֵהוּ וּפִיכֹל שַׂר־צְבָאוֹ׃
27 Yitzchak said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you have been hostile to me and have driven me away from you?”
כז וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם יִצְחָק מַדּוּעַ בָּאתֶם אֵלָי וְאַתֶּם שְׂנֵאתֶם אֹתִי וַתְּשַׁלְּחוּנִי מֵאִתְּכֶם׃
28 And they said, “We now see plainly that Hashem has been with you, and we thought: Let there be a sworn treaty between our two parties, between you and us. Let us make a pact with you
כח וַיֹּאמְרוּ רָאוֹ רָאִינוּ כִּי־הָיָה יְהֹוָה עִמָּךְ וַנֹּאמֶר תְּהִי נָא אָלָה בֵּינוֹתֵינוּ בֵּינֵינוּ וּבֵינֶךָ וְנִכְרְתָה בְרִית עִמָּךְ׃
29 that you will not do us harm, just as we have not molested you but have always dealt kindly with you and sent you away in peace. From now on, be you blessed of Hashem!”
כט אִם־תַּעֲשֵׂה עִמָּנוּ רָעָה כַּאֲשֶׁר לֹא נְגַעֲנוּךָ וְכַאֲשֶׁר עָשִׂינוּ עִמְּךָ רַק־טוֹב וַנְּשַׁלֵּחֲךָ בְּשָׁלוֹם אַתָּה עַתָּה בְּרוּךְ יְהֹוָה׃
30 Then he made for them a feast, and they ate and drank.
ל וַיַּעַשׂ לָהֶם מִשְׁתֶּה וַיֹּאכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתּוּ׃
31 Early in the morning, they exchanged oaths. Yitzchak then bade them farewell, and they departed from him in peace.
לא וַיַּשְׁכִּימוּ בַבֹּקֶר וַיִּשָּׁבְעוּ אִישׁ לְאָחִיו וַיְשַׁלְּחֵם יִצְחָק וַיֵּלְכוּ מֵאִתּוֹ בְּשָׁלוֹם׃
32 That same day Yitzchak‘s servants came and told him about the well they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water!”
לב וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וַיָּבֹאוּ עַבְדֵי יִצְחָק וַיַּגִּדוּ לוֹ עַל־אֹדוֹת הַבְּאֵר אֲשֶׁר חָפָרוּ וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ מָצָאנוּ מָיִם׃
2 And he said, “I am old now, and I do not know how soon I may die.
ב וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה־נָא זָקַנְתִּי לֹא יָדַעְתִּי יוֹם מוֹתִי׃
3 Take your gear, your quiver and bow, and go out into the open and hunt me some game.
ג וְעַתָּה שָׂא־נָא כֵלֶיךָ תֶּלְיְךָ וְקַשְׁתֶּךָ וְצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה וְצוּדָה לִּי צידה [צָיִד׃]
4 Then prepare a dish for me such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my innermost blessing before I die.”
ד וַעֲשֵׂה־לִי מַטְעַמִּים כַּאֲשֶׁר אָהַבְתִּי וְהָבִיאָה לִּי וְאֹכֵלָה בַּעֲבוּר תְּבָרֶכְךָ נַפְשִׁי בְּטֶרֶם אָמוּת׃
7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare a dish for me to eat, that I may bless you, with Hashem‘s approval, before I die.’
ז הָבִיאָה לִּי צַיִד וַעֲשֵׂה־לִי מַטְעַמִּים וְאֹכֵלָה וַאֲבָרֶכְכָה לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה לִפְנֵי מוֹתִי׃
8 Now, my son, listen carefully as I instruct you.
ח וְעַתָּה בְנִי שְׁמַע בְּקֹלִי לַאֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מְצַוָּה אֹתָךְ׃
9 Go to the flock and fetch me two choice kids, and I will make of them a dish for your father, such as he likes.
ט לֶךְ־נָא אֶל־הַצֹּאן וְקַח־לִי מִשָּׁם שְׁנֵי גְּדָיֵי עִזִּים טֹבִים וְאֶעֱשֶׂה אֹתָם מַטְעַמִּים לְאָבִיךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר אָהֵב׃
10 Then take it to your father to eat, in order that he may bless you before he dies.”
י וְהֵבֵאתָ לְאָבִיךָ וְאָכָל בַּעֲבֻר אֲשֶׁר יְבָרֶכְךָ לִפְנֵי מוֹתוֹ׃
12 If my father touches me, I shall appear to him as a trickster and bring upon myself a curse, not a blessing.”
יב אוּלַי יְמֻשֵּׁנִי אָבִי וְהָיִיתִי בְעֵינָיו כִּמְתַעְתֵּעַ וְהֵבֵאתִי עָלַי קְלָלָה וְלֹא בְרָכָה׃
13 But his mother said to him, “Your curse, my son, be upon me! Just do as I say and go fetch them for me.”
יג וַתֹּאמֶר לוֹ אִמּוֹ עָלַי קִלְלָתְךָ בְּנִי אַךְ שְׁמַע בְּקֹלִי וְלֵךְ קַח־לִי׃
14 He got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared a dish such as his father liked.
יד וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיִּקַּח וַיָּבֵא לְאִמּוֹ וַתַּעַשׂ אִמּוֹ מַטְעַמִּים כַּאֲשֶׁר אָהֵב אָבִיו׃
16 and she covered his hands and the hairless part of his neck with the skins of the kids.
טז וְאֵת עֹרֹת גְּדָיֵי הָעִזִּים הִלְבִּישָׁה עַל־יָדָיו וְעַל חֶלְקַת צַוָּארָיו׃
17 Then she put in the hands of her son Yaakov the dish and the bread that she had prepared.
יז וַתִּתֵּן אֶת־הַמַּטְעַמִּים וְאֶת־הַלֶּחֶם אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂתָה בְּיַד יַעֲקֹב בְּנָהּ׃
18 He went to his father and said, “Father.” And he said, “Yes, which of my sons are you?”
יח וַיָּבֹא אֶל־אָבִיו וַיֹּאמֶר אָבִי וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֶּנִּי מִי אַתָּה בְּנִי׃
20 Yitzchak said to his son, “How did you succeed so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because Hashem your God granted me good fortune.”
כ וַיֹּאמֶר יִצְחָק אֶל־בְּנוֹ מַה־זֶּה מִהַרְתָּ לִמְצֹא בְּנִי וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי הִקְרָה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְפָנָי׃
23 He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; and so he blessed him.
כג וְלֹא הִכִּירוֹ כִּי־הָיוּ יָדָיו כִּידֵי עֵשָׂו אָחִיו שְׂעִרֹת וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ׃
24 He asked, “Are you really my son Esau?” And when he said, “I am,”
כד וַיֹּאמֶר אַתָּה זֶה בְּנִי עֵשָׂו וַיֹּאמֶר אָנִי׃
25 he said, “Serve me and let me eat of my son’s game that I may give you my innermost blessing.” So he served him and he ate, and he brought him wine and he drank.
כה וַיֹּאמֶר הַגִּשָׁה לִּי וְאֹכְלָה מִצֵּיד בְּנִי לְמַעַן תְּבָרֶכְךָ נַפְשִׁי וַיַּגֶּשׁ־לוֹ וַיֹּאכַל וַיָּבֵא לוֹ יַיִן וַיֵּשְׁתְּ׃
26 Then his father Yitzchak said to him, “Come close and kiss me, my son”;
כו וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו יִצְחָק אָבִיו גְּשָׁה־נָּא וּשְׁקָה־לִּי בְּנִי׃
27 and he went up and kissed him. And he smelled his clothes and he blessed him, saying, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of the fields that Hashem has blessed.
כז וַיִּגַּשׁ וַיִּשַּׁק־לוֹ וַיָּרַח אֶת־רֵיחַ בְּגָדָיו וַיְבָרֲכֵהוּ וַיֹּאמֶר רְאֵה רֵיחַ בְּנִי כְּרֵיחַ שָׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר בֵּרֲכוֹ יְהֹוָה׃
28 “May Hashem give you Of the dew of heaven and the fat of the earth, Abundance of new grain and wine.
v’-yi-ten l’-KHA ha-e-lo-HEEM mi-TAL ha-sha-MA-yim u-mish-ma-NAY ha-A-retz v’-ROV da-GAN v’-ti-ROSH
כח וְיִתֶּן־לְךָ הָאֱלֹהִים מִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם וּמִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ וְרֹב דָּגָן וְתִירֹשׁ׃
27:28 May Hashem give you of the dew of heaven and the fat of the earth
The Zohar, our primary mystical text, says that this blessing is what has sustained the People of Israel throughout the millennia. If so, why was Yitzchak the one who gave the blessing and not Avraham or Yaakov? Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the influential Hebrew songwriter of the 20th century, explained that both Avraham and Yaakov spent part of their lives outside Israel. Therefore it was only Yitzchak, who never once left the Holy Land, who was worthy of bestowing this powerful blessing.3 comments
29 Let peoples serve you, And nations bow to you; Be master over your brothers, And let your mother’s sons bow to you. Cursed be they who curse you, Blessed they who bless you.”
כט יַעַבְדוּךָ עַמִּים וישתחו [וְיִשְׁתַּחֲווּ] לְךָ לְאֻמִּים הֱוֵה גְבִיר לְאַחֶיךָ וְיִשְׁתַּחֲוּוּ לְךָ בְּנֵי אִמֶּךָ אֹרְרֶיךָ אָרוּר וּמְבָרֲכֶיךָ בָּרוּךְ׃
31 He too prepared a dish and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father sit up and eat of his son’s game, so that you may give me your innermost blessing.”
לא וַיַּעַשׂ גַּם־הוּא מַטְעַמִּים וַיָּבֵא לְאָבִיו וַיֹּאמֶר לְאָבִיו יָקֻם אָבִי וְיֹאכַל מִצֵּיד בְּנוֹ בַּעֲבוּר תְּבָרֲכַנִּי נַפְשֶׁךָ׃
33 Yitzchak was seized with very violent trembling. “Who was it then,” he demanded, “that hunted game and brought it to me? Moreover, I ate of it before you came, and I blessed him; now he must remain blessed!”
לג וַיֶּחֱרַד יִצְחָק חֲרָדָה גְּדֹלָה עַד־מְאֹד וַיֹּאמֶר מִי־אֵפוֹא הוּא הַצָּד־צַיִד וַיָּבֵא לִי וָאֹכַל מִכֹּל בְּטֶרֶם תָּבוֹא וָאֲבָרֲכֵהוּ גַּם־בָּרוּךְ יִהְיֶה׃
34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst into wild and bitter sobbing, and said to his father, “Bless me too, Father!”
לד כִּשְׁמֹעַ עֵשָׂו אֶת־דִּבְרֵי אָבִיו וַיִּצְעַק צְעָקָה גְּדֹלָה וּמָרָה עַד־מְאֹד וַיֹּאמֶר לְאָבִיו בָּרֲכֵנִי גַם־אָנִי אָבִי׃
35 But he answered, “Your brother came with guile and took away your blessing.”
לה וַיֹּאמֶר בָּא אָחִיךָ בְּמִרְמָה וַיִּקַּח בִּרְכָתֶךָ׃
36 [Esau] said, “Was he, then, named Yaakov that he might supplant me these two times? First he took away my birthright and now he has taken away my blessing!” And he added, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
37 Yitzchak answered, saying to Esau, “But I have made him master over you: I have given him all his brothers for servants, and sustained him with grain and wine. What, then, can I still do for you, my son?”
39 And his father Yitzchak answered, saying to him, “See, your abode shall enjoy the fat of the earth And the dew of heaven above.
לט וַיַּעַן יִצְחָק אָבִיו וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו הִנֵּה מִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ יִהְיֶה מוֹשָׁבֶךָ וּמִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם מֵעָל׃
40 Yet by your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother; But when you grow restive, You shall break his yoke from your neck.”
מ וְעַל־חַרְבְּךָ תִחְיֶה וְאֶת־אָחִיךָ תַּעֲבֹד וְהָיָה כַּאֲשֶׁר תָּרִיד וּפָרַקְתָּ עֻלּוֹ מֵעַל צַוָּארֶךָ׃
41 Now Esau harbored a grudge against Yaakov because of the blessing which his father had given him, and Esau said to himself, “Let but the mourning period of my father come, and I will kill my brother Yaakov.”