“It’s a boy! . . . And Another Boy?” by Hillel Hochsztein


In this week’s Parashah, Rivkah feels kicking inside her womb and inquires of Hashem, Who tells her that two great but separate nations are in her womb. Then, “VaYimleu Yameha Laledet, VeHineih Tomim BeVitnah,” “And her pregnancy was completed, and behold there were twins in her womb” (BeReishit 25:24). Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky notices that the word, “Hineih,” “behold,” which is normally used to signify something unbeknowst becoming revealed, is used in the Pasuk. However, what is new about this? Rivkah was already told that she would be having twins! Rav Kaminetzky explains that until that point, twins were always boy-girl, but now we see that she is giving birth to boy twins, which was very unusual back then.

But, again, what is the Chidush? When she asked Hashem about the unusual kicking in her womb, He told her that there were two great nations growing in there. Doesn’t this imply that they were boy twins, one boy to father each nation?

Perhaps Rivkah thought that “two great nations” meant that her unborn son would start a new nation, and her unborn daughter would have a son that would lead the second nation. But when they are born, she sees that they are actually boy twins. There are a few flaws with this answer. First of all, the information she received regarding the kicking was quite clear. Hashem told her, “Shenei Goyim BeVitneich,” “Two nations are in your womb” (25:23). If indeed she was having one boy and one girl from whom there would be a second great nation, Hashem would have said that two nations will come from your womb, not that they are in your womb.

Maybe Rivkah thought that she would have one child from whom two nations would be born. At first glance, this can’t be, because the Torah writes, “VaYitrotzatzu HaBanim,” “The boys kicked” (25:22). If there was one son, the word, “Banim” would have been singular. However, this argument isn’t necessarily valid. The Torah might simply be using dramatic irony. We might be reading that the two boys were kicking in her womb, but she didn’t know that it was two children. If she had known, she wouldn’t have needed to inquire of Hashem: all twins kick painfully in the womb.

Finally, the exclamation, “Behold!” might be related to the information from Hashem. Rashi explains that when Rivkah went to speak to Hashem, He responded by sending a messenger. Until this point in the Torah, there had never been a messenger to give the direct word of Hashem; conversation with Hashem was always direct. Hashem called out to Adam, commanded Noach, and even appeared in a dream to Avimelech, but He never sent a messenger. Thus, Rivkah might have been skeptical of the news of twins because she was given that information through a messenger of Hashem. And then, when she gave birth, “Behold,” what the messenger had told her was indeed true: she gave birth to twin boys, and they were, in fact, very different.

Being Perfectly Flawed by Eli Ginsberg

Constructive Criticism by Yonatan Kaplan