For an explanation of the methodology of this series, see the introduction.

"Isaac prayed to G‑d opposite his wife because she was barren, and G‑d accepted his prayer, and Rebecca his wife conceived." (Gen. 25:21)

Peshat (basic meaning):

Rashi: "va-yeh-tar/ prayed"
He [Isaac] prayed and entreated much with prayer. He [Isaac] prayed and entreated much with prayer.

"Va-yay-ah-ter/accepted his prayer"
[G‑d] allowed Himself to be entreated and placated and swayed by him. I say that every expression of eh-tar is an expression of entreaty and increase.

"opposite his wife"
This one (Isaac) was standing in this corner and praying, and that one (Rebecca) was standing in that corner and praying.

"accepted his prayer"
But not hers, for the prayer of a righteous man, the son of a righteous man, does not compare to the prayer of a righteous man, the son of a wicked man. Therefore, [He accepted] his prayer and not hers.

Remez (hinted meaning):

Baal HaTurim: "and Rebecca his wife conceived"
The gemataria of "ishto/his wife" (707) equals that of Kash v’aish/straw & fire, a reference to [Esau and Jacob] about whom it is written: "The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for straw." (Obadiah 1:18)

Derash (interpretive meaning):

Targum Yonatan: And Isaac went to the mountain of worship, the place where his father had bound him. And Isaac in his prayer turned G‑d's attention away from that which He had decreed concerning him and his wife, that they be unable to bear children.

Ohr HaHayyim: "Rebecca his wife conceived"
The reason the Torah does not mention the usual "Isaac knew his wife" prior to telling that she conceived may have been that they prayed within three days of having marital relations. Their prayer was that the semen should not go to waste.

Isaac asked for children in the merit of his wife Rebecca.

Kedushat Levi: "Isaac prayed to G‑d facing his wife"
This means that Isaac asked for children in the merit of his wife Rebecca. She was known to him to be a miraculous being, full of power, and his prayer was that this power be revealed.

Sod (esoteric, mystical meaning):

Zohar Toldot 137:
"And Isaac entreated G‑d for his wife": What is the meaning of "entreated?" That he offered a sacrifice and prayed for her. What offering did he sacrifice? A burnt offering. By studying the verses "and G‑d was entreated of him" and "So G‑d was entreated for the land". (II Samuel 24:25) There it means that a sacrifice has been offered, here too it means, a sacrifice has been offered.

[And it was accepted, as it] is written: "And Isaac entreated," "and G‑d was entreated." A supernal fire that came to meet the lower fire.

Another explanation for, "And Isaac entreated," is that by his prayer he hollowed out a passage that reached above to the Mazal that bestows children. It is upon that place that giving birth to children depends, as it is written, "and she prayed to ('above') G‑d." (I Samuel 1:10) Then, "G‑d was entreated of him." Do not read it "entreated," (vayeh'ater) but rather "hollowed out" (vayehater). For G‑d cleared the way and accepted the prayer. Then, "Rebecca his wife conceived."
G‑d desires the prayer of the righteous...
Come and see: Isaac was with his wife for twenty years, but she did not give birth until he had said his prayer. This is because G‑d desires the prayer of the righteous, when they ask Him in prayer for their needs. Why? Because the anointing oil will be increased by the prayer of the righteous for all those in need of it.

Come and see: Abraham did not pray before G‑d so that He would give him sons, even though Sarah was barren. And although it may be said that he prayed, saying, "Behold, to me You gave no seed," (Gen. 15:3) it is not a prayer, but simply a statement to his Master. But Isaac prayed for his wife because he knew that his wife, and not he, was sterile. And although Isaac knew by the inner meaning of wisdom that Jacob was bound to come from him and produce the twelve tribes, he did not know whether this would be from this wife or from another. Therefore the scripture reads, "for his wife", and not specifically "for Rebecca."

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
Va’yeh’tar in the above verse is an unusual word. Rebbi Elazar says that the reason why the atirah/prayer of a Tzadik is compared to a pitchfork ("Atar") is to teach that just as a pitchfork is used to turn over bushels of grain and move them from place to place, so the prayer of a Tzadik "turns over" the attributes of G‑d from the attribute of strict justice to the attribute of kindness, to "reverse" the wrath of G‑d and transform it into mercy and kindness.

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