Too Close for Comfort

After trying to conceive for twenty years, in Parshat Toldot, Rivka finally became pregnant.

Rivka’s pregnancy was different from the pregnancies of the other matriarchs. In the cases of Sara, Rachel and Leah who were all barren, once they were able to conceive we don’t hear any details of their pregnancies. Each time the Torah simply states “vatahar vateled”, “she conceived and gave birth”.

Unlike the pregnancies of the other matriarchs, we have details about Rivka’s pregnancy.

Parshat Toldot 25:22 states: “vayitrotzetzu habanim bekirba”, “the children were running inside of her”. Breishit Raba 63:6 explains that when she would pass the doorways where Torah was being studied in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever, Yaakov would run and try to come out. When she would pass the doorways of idol worshipers, Esav would run and try to come out.

The Gemara in Nida 30b explains that the months in the womb are the best months of a person’s life. The unborn child learns the entire Torah from a malach (angel) while in the womb. HaRav Bunim of Peshischa asks: Why then was Yaakov in such a rush to come out? HaRav Bunim answers that it was very difficult for Yaakov who was destined to be a Tzadik (righteous person) to be stuck in such close quarters with Esav. In order to get away from Esav he was willing to give up the opportunity to study Torah with the malach.

The Chatam Sofer was very strict on making sure that his children would study with good friends. Yaakov felt that even Torah study from a malach would be dangerous if he had to be with Esav.

We can learn from here the importance of surrounding ourselves with good friends and influences in school, synagogue or our place of business while taking care to stay away from those who may be bad influences.