Dvar Torah Toldos – Of Radish and Lettuce:

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    Toldos – Of Radish and Lettuce:

    ויאמר ה’ לה שני גיים בבטנך

    And Hashem said to her, “Two nations are in your womb” (Bereishis 25:23).

    When confronted with a difficult pregnancy and the inconsistent behavior of the child within her womb, Rivkah said, “Im kein, lamah zeh anochi – If so, why is it that I am?” After that, she went to seek out the word of Hashem (ibid. V.22). She was then informed that she was carrying twins.

    Rashi (based on Avodah Zarah 11a) explains that the word גוֹיִם is written גֹייִם, which, without nekudos, would be pronounced like גֵאִים – exalted persons. This is referring to Antoninus (Eisav’s descendant) and Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi (Yaakov’s descendant), who both descended from Rivkah: “she’lo pasku mei’al shulchanam lo tzenon ve’lo chazeres lo bi’mos hachamah ve’lo bi’mos hageshamim – from whose table neither radishes nor lettuce were lacking, neither in the summer nor in the winter.”

    Why would Rivkah care if two of her future descendants will have lettuce and radishes on their tables? Any two commoners can access these vegetables; they are not expensive!

    Although lettuce and radishes are for us rather inexpensive foods, the Maharsha explains that they are usually seasonal. It is a sign of the great wealth of Antoninus and Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi (who was also known as Rebbi) that they had them on their table all year long.

    While Antoninus and Rebbi were fabulously wealthy (see Avodah Zarah 10b; Pesachim 119a; Sanhedrin 110a), how would hearing about their wealth comfort Rivkah?

    The Pardeis Yosef (p.173) explains this in the following vein. Radishes are used as an appetizer. They are sharp and whet the appetite for the upcoming meal. Lettuce is a great source of roughage and can serve as an after-the-meal digestive aid. In most cases, the two would not be on the table at the same time. Radishes are the appetizer or first course, and lettuce is part of the last course. Why are Antoninus and Rebbi described as always having these foods on their table?

    Rivkah was not being told of the wealth her grandchildren would have, but of how they would use that wealth. At the end of his life, Rebbi lifted his hands and said that he never derived hana’ah, enjoyment, from This World. How could that be, if his table was always set with foods that weren’t even in season? From here we see, says Tosafos, that the produce was there only for his guests (Avodah Zarah 11a).

    Normally, if a guest walks into our home and we are up to a particular course in the meal, that person will be offered a serving of whatever we are up to. Even if he makes Kiddush and washes while we are well into the main course, he will bentch together with us and the table will then be cleared.

    Rebbi, however, had a revolving door of talmidei chachamim at his table; Antoninus, although a descendant of Eisav, learned from Rebbi and also had many guests at his table. These two exalted personages didn’t have a set time for the hungry people to come. By the time the first guest was nearly finished and eating the lettuce/dessert, there was a new setting on the table for the latest person looking for a meal, and he would be served the radish/ appetizer, just like at a restaurant or a hotel.

    This, then, is the comfort to Rivkah. Not that she will have wealthy grandchildren, but that they will be grandchildren who follow in the footsteps of Avraham and Sarah and use their resources properly, for hachnasas orchim.

    Reb Eliezer

    It teaches how adversary nations should act as it says om mileom yeemotz, when one is up, the other is down by having the leaders eat together with an appetizer in the beginning and romaine lettuce at the end of the meal as an antioxidant/antiacid.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Maasei Hashem explains that when Aisov asked to be fed, Yaakov Avinu wanted him to sell his birthrite. Yaakov Avinu knew what was told the Rivkah Imenu, verav yaavad tzair, the old serves the young, saying, if you want me to serve you, I must be the older.

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