Yitzchak and Rivka waited many years to have kids, until they davened.

The Medrash is quoted saying that Yitzchak didn’t take a Shifcha - maidservant- like Avraham did (Hagar) because he knew that he was an Olah Temima (from being brought up on the Akeidah). Thus because of that he couldn’t take a shifcha . I dont know why that should be a reason not to be allowed to take a shifcha - I’ve looked around , no answers. This Medrash is quoted in earlier seforim, see this sefer Divrei Shmuel (ספר דברי שמואל מאת הרב שמואל זנוויל בן חנוך מלובלין) for one such example: enter image description here

So, seemingly Yitzchak was aware he was an Olah Temima.

Yet later in the parsha, when the famine came, Hashem comes to Yitzchak and tells him, “dont go down to Mitzrayim, because you are an Olah Temima” (see rashi).

Which is it? Was Yitzchak independently aware of the fact that he was an Olah Temima? Why did Yitzchak know on his own that he couldn’t take a shifcha due to being an Olah Temima , yet he didnt know that he couldn’t go out of eretz yisroel, because of him being an Olah Temima.

Both the Be’er Yitzchak and the Re’em explain that the prohibition for Yitzchak, as an Olah Temima to leave the land of Israel is because the Land had the category of an Azara - the sanctum of the Temple, where it is prohibited to take out Kodshei Kedoshim, and if you were to remove the Olah, it would become invalid.

To buttress the question further, why would Yitzchak independently rule out taking a Shifcha due to being an Olah Temima, despite there being no internal halachic reason vis a vis being an Olah Temima. Yet not rule going down to Egypt. Seemingly not taking into account his being an Olah Temima, thus necessitating G-d himself to pre-empt Yitzchak going down.

What is the reason to be distinguish between these two situations?

Was Yitzchak aware of being an Olah Temima or not?

  • 2
    yitzchok might have been aware that he was an olah temimah, but figured that just like a famine forced Avraham to go down to Egypt, it was the same for him. G-d therefore had to tell him that being an olah temimah meant also not going down to egypt
    – Menachem
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 19:34
  • @Menachem that sounds like an answer that you could provide Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 10:18
  • @ShoelU'Meishiv are there any authorities, rabbinic or pre-rabbinic, that suggest Yitzchak (as in the case with his father Abraham or his grand-child Yisrael) was given a Shifcha?
    – ninamag
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 6:18
  • the ramban quotes this medrash Commented Nov 19, 2020 at 16:27

2 Answers 2


I don't have a source for this answer, but Yitzchok knowing that he was an Olah Temima, doesn't mean that he knew that as an Olah Temima, he was not allowed to go to outside of the Land of Israel.

Rashi on 26:2 says that Yitzchak's reaction to the famine was to assume that it was a sign he should go to Egypt like his father did when there was a famine. That was why G-d told him not to go to Egypt because an Olah Temima shouldn't leave the Land of Israel. So if Yitzchak already knew he was an Olah Temima, it would stand to reason that he did not think an Olah Temima was not allowed to leave the Land.

[Note that a real Olah Temima is not allowed to leave the Courtyard of the Temple (see Mizrachi on the verse). Since Yitzchak was offered as on Olah Temima on exact future spot of the Altar (Rambam, Hilchot Beis Habechirah 2:1 ), and then left that spot, perhaps he thought that the spacial limitations of an Olah Temima did not apply to him.]

Note a similar rational applied to Yitzchak's thought to leaving Israel by the Lubavitcher Rebbe here:

2 Isaac had considered going down to Egypt, just as his father Abraham had: Having been raised by his father to believe in Divine providence, Isaac assumed that the famine was meant to induce him to journey outside the Land of Israel in order to disseminate Divine teachings there, just as his father had done.54

But God told Isaac not to leave the land, thereby affirming that his particular mode of bringing Divine awareness to the world differed from Abraham's. Abraham taught through outreach, traveling to his audience and tailoring his message to his listeners' ability to grasp. Isaac, in contrast, was to focus on intensifying his own Divine consciousness and that of his own immediate milieu. The force, clarity, and vigor this inner work would give Isaac a magnetic charisma that would draw the outside world to him and make them aspire to emulate him.


R' Moshe Luria explains (Kabbalistically if you're into it):

(please excuse the use of the original Hebrew terms, I don't translate them on purpose)

  1. Why Yitzchok didn't take a servant:

    • A פרי like grain has two קליפות - a coarse one that comes off easily and a fine one.

    • Yaakov was the targeted פרי to start עם ישראל from. So it took two rounds of taking out the (קלי' (סייגים - one with Yishmoel and one with Eisov.

    • For Yishmoel the use of a servant was allowed as he was the coarse קלי'.

    • After Yitzhok came out Olah Temimah (ללא סייגים) he knew that the second round will bear a פרי that the קלי' דבוקה לפרי, so it has to come out of [one woman, namely] Rivkah. That's exactly what Rivkah wandered "ויתרוצצו בנים בקרבה" as she thought it was one son that has the "left-overs" of the קלי'. But turned out there were two boys.

  2. About going down to Egypt (and abroad in general):

    • THere's a difference in Tikkunim in the Land of Israel and abroad. In general, the Tikkunim abroad are more physical (בחי' עשיהת, by actually being present and doing some actions) and those in Israel are more "theoretical" (בחי' אצילות, by learning Torah with כוונות).

    • Those different types of Tikkunim fit different types of נשמות ("personalities") - some are created to do the first type and others the second.

    • The Egyptian Golus was destined, and the forefathers knew it and they tried to "work-out" as much of it as possible. (That's the reason for 400/430 years the Torah says because they were working out the Golus also) But there was a Machlokes whether it can be "worked out" only physically, by going down to Egypt and being enslaved etc. or [also] theoretically (by learning Torah in Eretz Yisroel. This is similar to the Machlokes of RASHB"I and the Sages)

    • After Avrohom went down to Egypt and did his part of redemption by "doing actions", Yitzhak thought that, similarly, he needs to come down to Egypt physically to make the Tikkun. G-d explained as he was all גבורות (and no Chessed), he cannot leave Israel (the physical Tikkun is not his specialty) and can do all the Tikkunim in Eretz Yisroel by keeping busy learning Torah.

    • This also explains why he was not allowed to go abroad to marry and Eliezer was sent, unlike Yaakov, who went abroad to marry. (COmpare to Yaakov that was תפארת and had a huge Tikkun to do abroad.)

    • The same argument took place between Yaakov's sons - whether the Egyptian exile can be successfully completed without the need to go down to Egypt physically (I think Yehuda's approach and Shevet Levy's learning of Torah in Egypt) vs the need to do it in the place physically (Yosseff's approach).

For those who're not familiar with those terms and ideas, don't just downvote it because you don't understand. I can elaborate for those who wants to learn.

  • 7
    Or you could elaborate to begin with. We’ve been through this before - your answer should be clear and complete on its own. You clearly understand this, based on your recent activity de-jargonizing various posts.
    – DonielF
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 14:47
  • @DonielF Where do I start? The answer is clear and complete for ones familiar with those concepts. What would you like to know, I'll be glad to share. I assumed the OP has 11K reputation so he's familiar with this language.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 19:37
  • @AlBerko I am a Magid Shiur in a Yeshiva - with many years of study in some of the top Yeshivas in the world- I have some familiarity with Kabbala as well. But with all that - This answer is completely incomprehensible. Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 10:13
  • @ShoelU'Meishiv I'll be glad to explain what I understand. Please pinpoint your question.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 10:29
  • 1
    @AlBerko 11K represents experience with the site, not experience with Kabbalah. I also have 11K yet have no idea what you’re saying. Second of all, answers are not only for the OP. I refer you once again to the jargon policy, which you’re clearly aware of. Third of all... Why don’t you want to write the concepts out in plain English (or even Hebrew elaboration)?
    – DonielF
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 16:17

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