The Shabbos Table – Toldos: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: Avos, Toldos, & the True Zera Avraham

This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi (Hareini Kaparas Mishkavah), my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,

It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:

-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel

-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta


-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili

_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka

-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis

-Yonatan Menachem Mendel Ben Orly, Eli Aharon Michel Ben Chaya

-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and other tragedies.

-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael during this dire time, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.

The wounded should experience Refuah Shileimah, the captives should be returned safely, the fallen should experience Kevurah and Aliyah for their Neshamos, their Krovim should experience Nechamah, the Chayalim should be Matzliach and Minatzei’ach, and Am Yisrael should experience Geulah.




Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)







“Between Avos & Toldos”



Based on:


– Sichah – Toldos: Yitzchak Ben Avraham

– “Kal Mah She’ara L’Avraham, Ara L’Yitzchak” (Yomim MiKedem – Parshas Toldos, Page 193)

– “Zar’o Shel Avraham” (Yomim MiKedem – Parshas Chayei Sarah, Page 147)



The Relationship Between Avos & Toldos


*Parshas Toldos brings to our attention the very concept of Toldos, the offspring of an individual. In the case of our Parsha, the Torah describes the relationship between our Avos and their Toldos; “V’Eileh Toldos Yitchak Ben Avraham Avraham Holid Es Yitzchak”-“And these are the Toldos (progeny) of Yitzchak, Avraham bore Yitzchak” (Bereishis 25:19). What exactly is the relationship between Avos and Toldos?


Two Models of Avos V’Toldos


An important aspect of Hilchos Shabbos is the relationship between Avos and Toldos. The Gemara in Bava Kama (2A) provides for us two very different models for Avos and Toldos, between the Toldos of Shabbos and the Toldos of Tumah V’Taharah. When it comes to the Toldos of Shabbos, “Toldoseihen KaYotzei Bahen,” that by and large, what is true of an Av will be true of its Toldah. That certainly is not the case when it comes to Tumah, but rather, “Toldoseihen Lav KaYotzei Bahen.” That very Sugyah in Bava Kama raises the question with regards to Nezikin; is it more similar to Hilchos Shabbos, or does it resemble Hilchos Tumah?


Expansion vs. Emanation – Nachalas Dovid


Clearly, these examples of Shabbos and of Tumah provide two very different Hagdaros (frameworks, constructs) of Avos and Toldos. When it comes, for example, to cases of Shabbos, the Toldah is considered an expansion of the Av. Even though Zorei’a (planting) literally refers to placing a seed in the ground, the Sugya in Mo’eid Katan (2B) mentions the acts of weeding and watering as Toldos of Zorei’a, not because they share the same Tzurah (format), but because they share the common Meleches Mach’sheves (scheme), the same purpose. Thus, Zorei’a is expanded to include these Toldos as well, and their Halachos are the same. When it comes to Shabbos, the Toldah is an expansion of its Av.

I would not argue that the same is true for cases of Tumah and Taharah. Suppose you have a Meis (dead body), an “Avi Avos” (father of a father; grandfather) of Tumah (the highest level of impurity). One who comes in contact with the Meis becomes an “Av HaTumah,” a primary category, but a step down from “Avi Avos.” Contact with the Av HaTumah will be another step down, a “Rishon L’Tumah,” and so on. That is not an expansion of the Av. Each lower degree is not considered a Toldah by expansion of the Av. There is a residual Tumah that is transmitted from the Av to its Toldah. From where does the Tumah derive? The Tumah emanates from the Av. Since the Tumah is only an emanation of the Av, it is of a lesser degree. Thus, there are Toldos of expansion, and Toldos of emanation.

(Nachalas Dovid argues that in Nezikin, most of the Toldos are expansions of their model Avos. The one exception is Tzroros, a subcategory that emanates from the Koach of the primary category of Regel, resulting in a lesser degree of obligation.)


What Happened to Avraham Happened to Yitzchak 


The Midrash is bothered by the opening of our Parsha. “V’Eileh Toldos Yitchak Ben Avraham Avraham Holid Es Yitzchak”-“And these are the Toldos (progeny) of Yitzchak, Avraham bore Yitzchak.” Why the repetition?

But, perhaps the Torah is alluding to two models of Toldos, of expansion and of emanation. And which model was Yitzchak? No doubt, on one level, Avraham fathered Yitzchak; Yitzchak emanated from Avraham. (*But, so did Yishmael and Avraham’s other offspring.) Clearly, Yitzchak was much more. The life, the legacy, the mission statement of Yitzchak was an expansion of that of Avraham Avinu.

In this vein, Tosafos Shaleim comments that Toldos refer to the “Me’ora’os,” or the events that an individual experiences, and that indeed, if one were to compare the experiences of Avraham Avinu and Yitzchak Avinu, one would identify no fewer than fourteen parallels between the life of Avraham and the life of Yitzchak.

Thus, it is evident that in both senses, Yitzchak Avinu was a Toldah of Avraham Avinu.


“Zera” vs. “Ben”


Tosafos makes a stunning comment in Yevamos (22B, S.V. “Ben Ein Lo Ayein Alav”). In a complicated discussion about Yibum and Achilas Terumah, Tosafos differentiates between the terms “Ben” (lit., son) and “Zera” (lit., offspring). Why is it that with regards to Yibum, the Torah states that “Ben Ein Lo”-“he doesn’t have a son,” and yet, when it comes to Achilas Terumah, the Torah writes “Zera Ein Lo”-“he doesn’t have offspring”? What is the difference between “Ben” and “Zera”?

Tosafos mentions two “Nafka Minah.” (1) “Ben” is a limited term. “Zera,” offspring, is something enduring. It is not limited to one generation. It includes even B’nei Banim (grandsons). “Ben” refers only to a single generation. (2) The second difference is that “Ben” can refer to even a son who is Pasul (disqualified, illegitimate). However, “Zera” describes offspring that is classifiable as Kosher.


“Ki V’Yitzchak Yikarei Lecha Zera”-“For through Yitzchak will be declared your offspring” (Bereishis 21:12)


When we consider this Tosafos, it is clear that Yitzchak is considered the “Zera Avraham,” whereas Yishmael is mostly referred to as “B’no,” merely the son of Avraham. That is why the Gemara in Sanhedrin (59B) tells us that Bris Milah is only obligated on the children of Yaakov, Klal Yisrael; “L’Zaracha Acharecha”-“to your offspring after you,” not Yishmael and not Eisav. This, writes the Rambam in Peirush Mishnayos (Nedarim 31), is the reason why Eretz Yisrael belongs to Yisrael alone; “L’Zaracha Nasati Es HaAretz HaZos.”



*We should be Zocheh to emulate the model Avos from whom we both emanate and expand, and we should reap the privileges of being part of Hashem’s Bris as the true Zera Kosher, returning to Eretz Yisrael with the Geulah and the coming of Moshiach! Have a wonderful Shabbos!