Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.


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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why Me?

Another quick pshat [idea] on this week's parshah of Toldos.

At the start of the parshah, Rivkah is pregnant with twins Yaakov and Esav. She's having a very difficult pregnancy, with the babies "wrestling withing her" [Gen 26:22]. Rivkah then cries out "lama zeh anochi", a concise yet ambiguous Hebrew expression which is given a variety of translations by various commentators - e.g., "Why is this happening to me?", "Why did I want to be pregnant?", "Why go on?".

My father Z'L had his own unique and rather straightforward explanation of Rivkah's remark. The gemara tells us that for many halachic purposes, "oobar yerech imo" - a fetus is regarded to have the status of a 'limb' of its mother. For example, the calf found inside a shechted cow does not require its own slaughter, as it's rendered kosher by that of the mother. Similarly, abortion, while certainly subject to a rather complex set of halachic rules, is not treated as murder, as the baby is not regarded as a separate individual until after birth.

Therefore, since her babies were considered a part of herself, Rivkah was simply saying "lama zeh anochi" - why am I doing this?!

Additional note: My dad also theorized that Rivkah originated the Lamaze childbirth method, as evidenced by her words when pregnant, "lamazeh anochi". ;-)

3 Comments:

At 11/21/06, 11:22 PM, Blogger ilan said...

Or, alternatively, going on the same logic, "why is this [baby part of] me?"

 
At 11/22/06, 9:48 PM, Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Ouch. Nothing like a bilingual pun, quoth this BA in French. :)

 
At 11/22/06, 9:52 PM, Blogger Elie said...

I knew you'd appreciate it Shira, after all you call your hubby "The Punster"! My dad would have given him a run for his money. I grew up inundated by puns; I used to think everyone's dad made them.

 

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