What bothered Rivkah that prompted her to go and seek HaSh-m?
Rashi: It was the excruciating pain caused by the struggling fetuses.
Ramban (citing Ibn Ezra): She asked other women whether they had similar experiences during pregnancy, and when they replied in the negative, she went to enquire.
Ohr ha'Chayim: She felt that the babies will not survive in her womb. (Malbim - she assumed that the form was not developed, and this caused the agitation.)
What was the cause of the agitation in Rivkah's womb?
Rashi #1: They were struggling to get out of the womb - Yaakov, when she passed by the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever, and Esav, when she passed by a place of idol-worship. 1
Rashi #2 (from Yalkut Shimoni): They were actually fighting over inheritance of two worlds (this world, and the world-to-come).
Rashbam: They were moving violently - as fetuses tend to do. 2
Moshav Zekenim: This is difficult, for we conclude in Sanhedrin (91b) that the Yetzer ha'Ra enters only at the time of birth! Bartenura - even though Rashi himself said so above (Bereishis 8:21), here he explains like the other opinion, for the verse supports him. Michtav me'Eliyahu (Vol. 5, p. 458-9) - One born with good natures must ascend to higher levels of deeds, Torah, Tefilah and inner Avodah. One born with bad natures must combat them and switch them to good Midos. HaSh-m hinted how great Yaakov can become, and how much Esav must guard himself lest he fall. Also see Gur Aryeh; refer to 25:22:2.2:1 and 25:22:2.2:1 2
Though he goes on to query this due to the grammar.
Why did Rivkah say, "Lamah Zeh Anochi"?
Rashi: Since it is so painful, why did I pray for children?
Ramban: She wished that, if bearing children is so painful, she would not be in the world at all.
Ohr ha'Chayim: If the babies will not survive, 1 there was no reason for the pregnancy!
Malbim: She thought that her womb is not big enough to give birth to a viable baby. If I cannot give birth, which is the purpose of woman's creation, why am I in the world?!
Ha'amek Davar: She thought that since she was barren by nature, it is not a normal child. If so, what am I - I am unlike a barren woman (who does not conceive at all), and unlike a woman who bears children!
What does "Lidrosh Es HaSh-m" mean?
Rashi, Targum Yonasan: She went to consult Shem ben Noach. 1
Rashbam: She went to consult the prophets of her time. (He does not name them.)
Ramban: She prayed.
Moshav Zekenim says that she did not consult Avraham, lest this pain him. (Compare Gur Aryeh; refer to 25:22:4.1:1.) Or, she went to Shem and Ever to ask about a potion for the pregnancy, and they told her why she is in pain.
Why are they called "Banim"? They were not born yet!
Hadar Zekenim, Ibn Ezra: It says so because in the future they will be Banim.
Oznayim la'Torah: Because they were fighting like fully-grown boys. 1
QUESTIONS ON RASHI
Rashi writes: "'Va'Yisrotzetzu' (lit. they pressed each other) - This verse begs for a homiletic interpretation." What aspect of our verse is difficult to explain?
Mizrachi: "They pressed" (Retzitzah), implies the normal fetal movement that expectant women experience. But then why did Rivkah react so strongly, "If so, why am I...?" It must therefore mean running to come out, or fighting, which is unusual. 1
Gur Aryeh: The verse writes ambiguously about Retzitzah, without explaining further. It also does not explain the reason for Rivkah's exclamation. We therefore must cite Chazal's interpretation. 2
Gur Aryeh: Retzitzah is not at all common, this explains why Rivkah reacted! If it would be common, we could simply explain that there was more pressing than usual.
Gur Aryeh: Rashi's interprets Rivkah's question as, "Why do I so desire and pray for pregnancy?" (Ramban disagrees.) Gur Aryeh explains it, "Why am I sitting here doing nothing? I should be investigating this!" - whereupon, she did.
Rashi writes: "When she passed a place of Torah, Yaakov ran... to come out; and when she passed a place of idolatry, Esav ran to come out." How do we know that both of them were running?
Gur Aryeh: If "va'Yisrotzetzu" indicates Ritzah (running), one letter Tzadi would be sufficient. The double Tzadi indicates two runnings - that of both Yaakov and Esav.
Rashi writes: "... When she passed a place of idolatry, Esav ran to come out." Can a person have a Yetzer ha'Ra even before he is born?
Gur Aryeh: Although a person does not have desire (Ta'avah) to sin before birth, for he does not yet have a Yetzer ha'Ra, 1 he can be attracted after his innate nature, to connect to his own kind. 2 Yaakov was attracted to Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, whereas Esav was attracted towards Avodah Zarah. 3
Rashi writes: "They were fighting over inheritance of both worlds." Did they have to fight over this now - while still in the womb? If one would emerge the winner, would that enable him to take anything away from the loser? HaSh-m gives Olam ha'Ba to whomever He sees fit - so how can one "fight" over it?
Gur Aryeh: Yaakov and Esav can share nothing in common; they are two opposing forces. They are like fire and water; although devoid of intelligence or desire, by their very nature they cannot coexist, especially not in one shared environment. That was the cause of their fighting in the womb. They repelled each other's existence 1 even before being born into this world; this shows that their struggle encompasses all of existence - both this world and the next. 2
Rashi writes: "They were fighting over inheritance of both worlds." According to the Midrash, Yaakov said to Esav that they had best split up - Esav would take this world, and Yaakov would take the world- to-come. If so, what did they fight over?
Maharal (Netzach Yisrael Ch. 15, p. 88): This means that Yaakov was holy, removed from the material, while Esav was materialistic. 1 The existence of one diametrically opposed that of the other. Each one negated (i.e. denied) the other's existence. They were thus fighting over both worlds, for HaSh-m created both worlds for mankind. If Esav [is as if he] does not exist, then certainly Yaakov would get this world, in addition to the next (or the reverse from Esav's perspective).
Although the source of this Midrash is cited as Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer, I found it only in Tana d'Vei Eliyahu (Zuta, Ch. 19). (EK)
Rashi writes: "They were fighting over inheritance of both worlds." How do we know that they fought over both worlds, and not just one?
Maharal (Netzach Yisrael Ch. 15, p. 88): If they fought over but one world, one of them must have won the struggle - for Esav and Yaakov cannot share their existence in one world. But the term "va'Yisrotzetzu" indicates an ongoing struggle without resolution. Rather, they fought over both worlds, and each would take only one.
Rashi writes: "They were fighting over inheritance of both worlds." In what way could they fight over this while in the womb?
Maharal (Netzach Yisrael Ch. 15, p. 88): A developing fetus has three "spaces" in its mother's womb. 1 Yaakov was positioned close to the upper space (as he was conceived first), and Esav closer to the lower space. Each one would encroach into the other's place to try to take everything, and that was the "pressing" that Rivkah felt. Ultimately, neither was pushed aside completely; they remained in their places.
See Nidah 31a. Maharal explains that these three correspond to the three stages of a person's life. In childhood and adolescence, he is material, and the intellect is inactive [this corresponded to Esav's placement in the womb]. In middle-age, he has both physicality and intellect, and neither cancels out the other. In the decline of old age, the intellect overpowers the physical [this was Yaakov's placement].
Rashi writes: "She went to seek out [Hash-m] - ... to the Beis Midrash of Shem." Why didn't she ask Yitzchak, or Avraham?
Gur Aryeh: She thought that her great pains were because she had sinned. 1 She therefore did not ask Yitzchak, lest she become disgraced in his eyes, nor Avraham, since she feared he would advise Yitzchak that she was unworthy of being his wife.
Gur Aryeh: [Other] righteous women carried and gave birth without the usual pain that had been decreed upon Chavah (Sotah 12a)
Rashi writes: "'She went'- ... to the Beis Midrash of Shem." Perhaps she herself sought out HaSh-m through prayer?
Gur Aryeh: The verse does not say that she sought out HaSh-m, but rather that she went [i.e. to a specific place] to seek out HaSh-m.
Rashi writes: "'She went'- ... to the Beis Midrash of Shem." Why not to that of Ever?