Toldos V'Avraham Holid es Yitzchok
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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(25:19)-V'Avraham Holid es Yitzchok-Avraham begot Yitzchok" Why is this mentioned here? We are listing the offspring of Yitzchok not Avraham? The Gemarrah in Bava Metzia (87a) writes that Yitzchok was not born looking like his father but on the day of his weaning Hashem miraculously changed his physiognomy.
Why is this mentioned here? Yitzchok was now 40 years old? The Zohar adds that after the death of Avraham the similarities between father and son became even more apparent.
The Trumas Hadeshen writes that our Parsha tells us about Yizchok’s Toldos, progeny, Yakov and Essav. It was after the birth of these two sons that scoffers had the temerity to make their statement. Had Yitzchok been the son of both Avraham and Sarah, two righteous parents, there is no way that Yizchok could have had such a wicked son as Essav. It must be that he was the offspring of Sarah and Avimelech. Having only one righteous biological parent. That would explain why one son was righteous and one was not. This is why it was necessary at this point in time to reiterate that Yizchok was the son of Avraham and that Hashem replicated Avraham’s face in Yitzchok.
(25:20) “Vayehe Yitzchok ben-Arboyim Shanah B’kachto es-Rivka Bas-Besueil H’Arami M’padan Aram Achos Lavan H’arami Lo L’isha-And Yitzchok was forty years old when he took Rivka the daughter of Besueil the Arami from Padan Aram the sister of Lavan the Arami, for a wife.” Rashi comments that not only was she the daughter of Besueil, and still righteous, but she was Lavan’s sister and came from Padan Aram. The question is why does the Torah switch the order? It should read the daughter of Besueil the sister of Lavan and then from Padan Aram, the way that Rashi himself writes it. The answer can be found from the next Posuk which says (25:21) “Vayetar Yitzchok L’Hashem L’nochach Ishto Ki Akorah He-Yitzchok prayed to Hashem on behalf of his wife, for she was barren.” The two verses occur together to inform us that Lavan’s blessing (24:60) that Rivka should become thousands of myriad’s, had not been fulfilled. She was barren and it was only due to the prayer of Yitzchok that she was able to conceive.
(25:21) “Vayetar Yitzchok L’Hashem L’nochach Ishto Ki Akorah He-Yitzchok prayed to Hashem on behalf of his wife, for she was barren.” The Midrash says that both Yitzchok and Rivkah were barren from the Posuk “Ki Akorah He” the word “He” is pronounced “He” but is spelled “Who” thus the double meaning they were both barren.
When Rivka was carrying Yakov and Esav, there was a battle going on inside her. She went to the Beis Hamidrash of Shaim Ve'Aver to inquire about what was going on. The answer she received was that she was carrying two nations within her. How does this comfort her? She still had this conflict going on in her womb? By telling her that the strife inside her was due to the fact that there were two distinct personalities inside her. Before that she thought that it was one person who sometimes was drawn to the Beis Hamidrash while other times drawn to places of Idol worship. Why was she passing places of Idol worship? The Sifsei Chachomim explains that she was searching for converts.
(25:22)-"Lama Zeh Anochi-If it be so why did I desire this." Rivka is puzzled by the quarreling of her unborn fetus. What is the meaning of this unusual phrase? The answer is that when a child is agitated we must look at ourselves for the cause. If our home is one of strife, if there is tension in the home it will invariably have an effect on the children. Rivka is saying that perhaps there is some failure in me? Where did I contribute to this strife? "Lama Zeh Anochi would translate as “How is this from me?”(R.Nissan Alpert)
(25:22)-"Lama Zeh Anochi-If it be so why did I desire this.” The Berditchiver Rebbe explains this phrase as follows Rivka is questioning, if one of the twins I’m carrying is evil”Lama Zeh Anochi” Lama (How) can Zeh=12 the twelve tribes destined to come from me, reach Anochi (Matan Torah)
The Midrash say's that when Esav was born he tried to destroy his mother's womb so Yakov wouldn't be born. But Yakov held onto Esav's heel and came out right after him. But she bled so much that she was unable to have any more children.
The Zohar say's that it is inconceivable that a baby would hold on to the heel of his brother's foot. Instead he says that the words Eikev Esav (the heel of Esav) is to be compared to the Nochosh who was cursed by Hashem (3:15) “Teshufenu Okaiv -Bite his heel” the same word Okaiv is used. This means to say that Essav who is like the Nochosh in that he is crafty and malicious, will be treated the same way by Yakov.
He will combat Esav with his own craftiness. We see this term used later in the Parsha when Yakov steals the Bracohs. Esav say's (27:35) “Vayakveiny Zeh Pamayim He outwitted me these two times.” The word Vayakveiny comes from the word Eikev.
(25:26) “V’Yado Ochezes B’eikev Esav-His hand was grasping the heel of Esav.” When Yakov was born he held on to the heel of Esav. One reason is that since Rivka had so much pain in labor, Yakov wanted to do a Chesed for his mother and make his birth easier. The reason why he held onto the heel of Esav was because Esav is compared to the Chazzer (pig). Just like the Chazzer who shows his hoofs as a sign that it is kosher but inside it has the qualities that make it non kosher (it doesn't chew it's cud). So too was Esav on the outside he would appear to be righteous but in reality he was evil. Yakov wanted to hang on to the one kosher sign that he showed.*
(25:28) “Vaye’ehav Yitzchok es-Esav ki Ztayid B’fiv-Yitzchok loved Esav because he ate of his trappings.” Yitzchok loved Esav because game was always in his mouth. In whose mouth are we speaking of? The Midrash interprets it as Esav's mouth that since he fed his father he too had game in his mouth. However, the Meam Loez says it was Yitzchok's mouth. When Esav showed his respect for his father, by giving him food, that is when he loved him because he was doing a great Mitzvah. But in reality all love that depends on a specific factor will eventually cease. But by Rivka we find she loved Yakov with no motive given. This love can never cease.
The Shach has a novel interpretation of this. He asks, how can it be that Yitzchok was unaware of Essav’s true character? He was a Navi, surely he must have known who he was dealing with. The Shach explains that the words Tzyid B’fiv means that Yitzchok trapped Essav with kind words. Even though he knew who Essav was he wanted to keep him from running away. To keep him close. If Essav thought his father hated him he would surely be lost. Therefore “Vaye’ehav Yitzchok es-Esav ki Ztayid B’fiv-Yitzchok loved Esav because he trapped him with words.” he showed him unconditional love.
* Whenever there is a tremendous force of the spiritual in this world it manifests itself in the physical in some form. If you look at the physical appearance of Eretz Yisroel it appears as a hand reaching out over the Mediterranean to grab at the heel of the Italian "boot" which are Eassav's descendants.(Kol Torah)
(25:32) “Vayomer Esav Henei Anochi Holich Lomus-Esav said, here I am about to die.” When Esav sells the birthright he says “look I'm about to die.” The Midrash say's that Esav
had just come back from killing Nimrod and taking the coat that he had gotten from Adom. (Which Hashem made for him after the Chet) He was afraid that someone would avenge Nimrod so he said “what good is the birthright if I am to die.”
We are told that this was the day that Avraham died. Therefore, while everyone in the world was mourning the loss of such a great man Essav was busy satisfying himself.
(25:27) “Vayigdilu Hana’arim-And the lads grew up.” Rashi explains that when Yakov and Esav became thirteen years old they each went in opposite directions. Esav began going after Idol worship and Yakov to the Beis Hamidrosh. It also says that Avraham died five years before his time, in order not to see his grandson veer off the path. He died at the age of
- The problem is that Avraham was 100 years old when Yitzchok was born. Yitzchok was 60 years old when he had Yakov and Essav. Now if we add the thirteen years it would come out that Avraham should have died at 173? What happened to those two years?
In this weeks Parsha we find when Yakov came to Yitzchok for the Brachos he could smell the scent of Gan Eden. How did he know what Gan Eden smelled like? After the Akeidah the Posuk says (22:19) “Vayoshev Avraham el N’ariv-And Avraham returned to the lads.” There is no mention of Yitzchok? The Riy’vah says that right after the Akeidah, Yitzchok spent two years in Gan Eden which is above time and he therefore returned the same age as when he left. While here in real time Avraham had aged two years. Consequently, though Yitzchok was 60 years old when he had Yakov and Esav, Avraham was really 162 and he died 13 years later at the age of 175. In Parshas Chaye Sarah (24:62) the Torah writes “V’Yitzchok Bah-and Yitzchok came.” Meaning that Yitzchok was returning with a wife for Avraham. The Gematria of the words “V’Yitzchok Bah” equals the words “M’Gan Eden” (from Gan Eden). Additionally when Yitzchok came to meet Rivka for the first time he came from a place called Baer Lachi Roi which equals B’gematria “Gan Eden L’tzadikim.”
(25:30) “Min H’adam H’adam-From that very red stuff.” Rashi say that this was the day Avraham died and that Avraham died five years before his time, in order not to see his grandson veer off the path since that would not be the ripe old age that Hashem promised him. How are we to understand this? How was Hashem doing Avraham a favor by taking away years of his life? Why wasn’t Esav’s birth just delayed by five years?
To answer this we must go to the beginning of the Parsha. (25:21) “Vayetar Yitzchok L’Hashem L’nochach Ishto Ki Akorah He-Yitzchok prayed to Hashem on behalf of his wife, for she was barren.” The Posuk goes on to say “Vayeiasur Hashem Lo-Hashem allowed himself to be persuaded.” Why would Hashem need to be persuaded? Did he not promise Avraham that his seed would continue through Yitzchok?
Who were Yitzchok and Rivkah? We know that Yitzchok was originally unable to father children because he was born with a female Neshama. We see that immediately after the incident of the Akeida, of Yitzchok losing his female Neshama, the birth of Rivka is brought into the picture. Perhaps this was the Neshama that left Yitzchok at the Akeida. The number of words in the entire Parsha of the Akeida equals 307 the same as the numerical value of the name Rivka. It would then explain the Posuk “Ki Akorah He” the word “He” is pronounced “He” but is spelled “Hu”, thus the double meaning they were both barren. They were from the same source. Now that Yitzchok had the proper Neshama and his destined wife, he prayed to Hashem that she should be the one through which that promise be kept. For ten years he prayed and still no child was born. Finally, according to the Pirkei D’R’Eliezer, He took Rivka and went to Har Moriah, to the site of the Akeidah. There he evoked a powerful heart rendering plea to Hashem on the very site where he offered his soul, where his destined soul-mate originated. We evoke the memory of the Akeida on Rosh Hashana and we recite that chapter every day. How much more powerful a prayer it must have been coming from Yitzchok and Rivkah themselves! “Vayeiasur Hashem Lo-Hashem allowed himself to be persuaded.” Hashem submitted to Yitzchok’s pleas. Esav was destined to be born five years later, and it was due to the fervent prayers of Yitzchok and Rivkah that Hashem answered their prayers five years earlier than had originally been intended. This is hinted in the very words “Vayeiasur Hashem Lo-Hashem allowed himself to be persuaded.” Which remarkably have the numerical value of Chamesh Shanim-five years.
(25:27) “ Vayigdilu Ha’Nearim-And the boys grew up.” Rashi says they turned thirteen. At this point their character traits became manifest. Yakov devoting his life to the study of Torah, while Esav, on this very day committed the three cardinal sins. What caused this monumental change in direction? On this day Avraham died. A tremendous force of light in the world was extinguished. But at the same time a tremendous force of darkness ended as well. Nimrod was killed by Esav. Hashem always creates a balance of good and evil to maintain freedom of choice. But how could Esav, who had Yitzchok as a father and Avraham as his grandfather, become so evil while his twin brother became so good?
The Zohar reveals a tremendous secret. Each day a person is given life anew. He awakens with a clean sheet of paper each day and is given an opportunity to record on it good or bad deeds. The next day he can start again with a new clean sheet of paper. This is true up until the last day of life. At that time he acquires the culmination of his entire life’s work! When the Torah records (24:1) “Avraham Zokain Bah B’Yomim-Avraham was old he came with his days.” This means he came with the merits of all his days. Every accomplishment, every Mitzvah was collectively credited to him. The Zohar writes that all of these merits can somehow be transferred to a person who is close at the time of death. Yakov was that person. He was able to absorb the totality of his grandfather Avraham's Kiddusha. Essav, on the other hand was beside Nimrod at the time of his death and thus absorbed the tremendous Tumeh that Nimrod had accumulated.
(25:32) "Vayomer Esav Hinei Anochi Holech L'Mus Lameh Zeh Li Bechorah- Esav said behold I am headed for death what need do I have for the birthright." Essav was a hunter, as such he thought he would probably die in his fathers lifetime. Since there was no tangible benefits the birthright until after his fathers death, he said " What benefit is the birthright to me, I'm headed for death?
(25:34) “Vayochal Vayaisht Vayokom Vayelech And Essav ate drank got up and left.” What is the posuk telling us here in describing what Esav did? Immediately following these words it say's “Vayivez Essav es Habichorah and Esav despised the Bechora.” We already knew this from the previous Posuk which said (25:31) “Lamah zeh li Bechorah What need do I have for the Bechorah?” We see from here that Esav didn't sell the birthrights under any duress. We should not think that just because he came in famished from the fields that he would have done anything for some food and that after he had eaten he might regret what he had done. On the contrary he ate, he drank, he got up and left and he despised the birthright. Even after satisfying himself he still had no regrets, he even despised the birthright.
(26:1) “Vayehe Roav Boaretz Milvad Horoav Asher Hayah Beyimai Avraham- And
there was a Famine in the land besides the one in the days of Avraham.” Before beginning the narrative concerning the wells that were re-dug by Yitzchok the Torah here tells us of this famine. The question is why does the Torah mention the one that was in the days of Avraham? What is the Torah adding here? Also what is this business of reopening the wells and renaming them? The Sefas Emes says that this is referring to the Ruchniess that is represented by the waters. Just as the waters cover the earth, so too the spiritual world is masked over by the physical. All of the spirituality that was revealed by Avraham was forgotten after his death. He says that the Avos are only called three. But really each one could have stood on their own merits. Why then don't they? He explains that when there was a famine in the world it means there was this hunger for knowledge. Had Avraham's efforts not been lost, Yitzchok would have followed in the path of his father. He never would have developed his own path of Avodah. Now Yitzchok began the process of revealing again the spirituality that his father had uncovered in the world. This is why the Posuk says that he renamed these wells the same names that his father had named them. This was the only way that he could develop his own path
When Yitzchok sends Esav to trap deer for him the Torah writes (27:3) “Ve'atoh Saw Nah Kailecha Tailyicha Ve'kashticha- Now take your equipment, Your sword and your bow.” Why the use of this word Now? It could have said simply take your sword and capture some deer? In addition why take along a bow? This is not the way to bring food to his father? It would be Traif if it were killed in this manner? Yitzchok wanted this to be an act of Teshuva for Essav. There are two types of Teshuva one where a person repents his sins. The other, which is on a higher level, is when a person is placed in the same circumstance with the same temptations and is able to withstand the test. Essav used his equipment to kill and rob. Now he was being asked to take those very instruments of destruction and use them for a Mitzvah. The bow would be used to merely slow down the deer for capture. The word now is used because that is the key to Teshuvah. It must be Now!
When Rivkah tells Yakov to steal the Brochos she tells him to use deceit (Mirma). Esav had great merit because of the tremendous Kebud'Av he showed towards his father. In order for Yakov to merit receiving the Brochos he had to counter this merit that Esav had by doing something against his very nature for Kebud'Aime that was to lie. For Yakov this was a tremendous effort which he only did because of his mother’s request. Then he would be able to overcome Essav's merits. Essav's Kibudav was really insincere. His only motivation was to inherit Yitzchok's fortune. Since he only would inherit from his father he had no Kibudam.
Why is it that Yitzchok wanted to bless Essav? What was it that he wanted to accomplish? It could be that he knew that Yakov was superior in a spiritual way but he wanted Esav to have the blessings of the material world in order to serve Yakov in his spiritual pursuits. The same arrangement that was later made between Yissacar and Zevulan.
(26:26) “V'Avimelech Holach Aylav M'Gerar-Avimelech came to Yitzchok from Gerar.” Chazal read the word Gerar as wounded. Avimelech originally drove him away as we see Yitzchok asked, why now does he come? The Targum Yonasan writes that when Yitzchak left all the trees and wells dried up. So Avimelech went to Yitzchok from Gerar, meaning from a wounded state. This explains Posuk 29, where Avimelech exclaims “for we now see that you are blessed from Hashem.”
Why did they come now? What did they see to make them come to the table? At first they thought Yitzchok's prosperity came at their expense. This assumption has served as a pretext to expel Jews from places they had lived for hundreds of years. However once they left, the country lost economically and culturally. Here as well Gerar became poor after Yitzchok left. The wells stolen from Yitzchok dried up. (Oznayim L'Torah)
Perhaps this can also explain why there is a hint here by these wells, to the three temples. Throughout history the world has not recognized our attachment to Hashem. Only after the third temple will it become known to the world how the world has been blessed through us. R. Wolbe explains that just as a well is a source of life, so too the Beis Hamikdosh is a source of life, spiritual life. Had the nations of the world been aware of the blessings the Temple brought to the world, they never would have let it be destroyed. Yitzchok represents the symbol of that life for he was the first instance of Techiyas Hamaisim.
(27:1) "Vaticheinah Eynav M'rous- His eyes became dimmed form seeing." When Avraham bound Yitzchok the ministering angles cried and their tears fell into Yitzchok's eyes making him blind in his old age. (Bereishis Rabbah)
How are we to understand this? Yitzchok is poised to give up his life and he becomes blind? What happened to the principal of "Shomer Mitzvah Lo Yodah Dover Rah-Those who observe the Mitzvos will not come to know evil." Why did this event have to come through the tears of angels?
The angels protested that if G-d allowed Yitzchak to be slaughtered , there would be no Jerusalem or Temple and the covenant with Avraham would be violated. By their tears they managed to exchange Isaac's death for suffering instead, and also to put off his suffering until he had raised a son to take his place and passed on the covenant to him.
Blindness was chosen to be Yitzchok’s suffering, for as Chazal tell us, a blind man is considered as if dead. The Akeidah , then, was not merely a show of good intent, seen by G-d only as if it had been carried out. It was a real act of self-sacrifice, and had to be redeemed with 57 years of suffering, which was worse than death.
The Gematria of the words Vaticheinah Eynav M'rous- His eyes became dimmed from seeing. Is equal to the phrase "Shomer Mitzvah Lo Yodah Dover Rah." (1278)
(27:3) “V’Atoh Sah-Nah Keilecha Telyicha V’Kashtecha- Now please sharpen your gear, your sword your bow.” Yitzchok sends Essav to capture game to prepare a meal for him. Why didn’t he just tell him to take an animal from their stock. They were shepherds and had many flocks. And even if Yitzchok desired to have an animal not from their flock, why tell Essav to take his hunting gear? Kosher meat can only be through kosher slaughter, not via a bow and arrow? However Yizchok wanted Essav to use his talents in the physical world, for a spiritual purpose. (Malbin)
(27:5) “V'Rivka Shomas-And Rivka heard.” When Rivka overheard Yitzchok telling Esav to bring him food the narrative says Rivka did this and Rivka did that. Then it switches over to the word Emo - mother (27:13) then it goes back to calling her by name- Rivka? Why the switch?
The entire episode was a matter of doing something even when not commanded to. (Ayno Metzuveh Vioseh). At the Akeida Hashem asked Avraham to please bring his son up for a sacrifice. He was not commanded to. Rivkah she was asked to bring water for Eliezer. Bringing for the camels was going beyond what was asked, Ayno Metzuveh Vioseh. The continuation of Klal Yisroel came about through these actions because Yitzchok originally was born with a female Neshama and could not have children. After the Akeida he received a Neshama of a male which was able to father children. By doing these things that they
weren't commanded to do they assured the continuation of Klal Yisroel. Here too by receiving the Brochos it was a matter of doing something even though they weren't commanded. Yakov was not commanded to bring the food to his father Essav was. The initials of Aino Metzuveh Vioseh are Aleph Mem Vav (Emo), which is why the name Rivka is switched to the word Emo.
Rashi says when Essav walked in the room Yitzchok perceived that gehinom open up before him. Whereas by Yakov the fragrance of Gan Eden entered with him. Perhaps it was the smell of the coat his mother gave him that was originally from Gan Eden, given to Adam and handed down now to Yakov.
When Rivkah told Yakov to pose as Esav he said maybe my father will feel me and know I'm not Esav. He uses the word Ohlie instead of Penn which is used when one wishes something not to happen. He so wished not to have to lie that he would rather have gotten caught. Yakov said maybe if my father finds out he will curse me! But how can he be afraid of that, we know that whoever curses Yisrael will be cursed himself. So why was Yakov afraid? It could be that at this time he was speaking to the Shechinah, saying the Brochos that were to go to Esav will contain material wealth perhaps that will be a curse causing my descendants to fall. But Hashem wanted him to have material wealth too.
(27:13) “Vatomer Lo Emo Olai Kloloscah Beni - His mother said to him, your curse shall be on me my son.” When Rivkah tells Yakov not to worry about the curse his father might give him if he is caught she says it will be on me. She uses the word Olai (on me). The initial letters represent the three difficulties Yakov would have in his lifetime. The Ayeen stands for Essav the Lamed for Lavan and the Yud for Yosef meaning to say that these are the only difficulties you will face not from any curse of your father.
(27:15) “Va'tikach Rivka es bigday Essav binah hagodal-Rivka took the clothes of her son Essav the larger one -Vatilbash es Yakov binah hakotan and she dressed Yakov her son the small.” Rivka is preparing Yakov to receive the Brachos. Why this use of the terms large and small as opposed to older and younger? The Yesod Hatorah explains that the posuk wished to emphasize the fact that though Esav was much larger than Yakov, when his mother put the much larger clothing on him they fit. Rivka perceived that Hashem agreed with her plan for the Brachos.
There is a Midrash that says that when Hashem created the world he created the two luminaries, the sun and the moon. The larger one was to go to the older son and the smaller one to the younger son. This was the case as we see that the descendants of Esav use the solar calendar to track the year. While the descendants of Yakov use the lunar calendar for the tracking of times. Esav wanted to give up his share in the next world so he could have this world. The sun rules only by day. The moon can at times be visible both by day and by night. This means that the descendants of Yakov would have both this world and the next. Also the fact that the moon always is able to renew itself was a sign that by Benei Yisroel there is constant renewal. There can always be Teshuva. This concept is alluded to in this posuk. (27:15) Yakov and Essav are referred to as the large and small sons. The same words that are used to describe the two luminaries (Sun and Moon) that Hashem created (1:17).
(27:15) “Va'tikach Rivka es Bigday Essav Binah Hagodal Hachamudos-Rivka took the clothes of her son Essav the larger one the cherished ones.” It is interesting that the posuk uses the word Chamudos the coveted ones. Esav’s main claim to fame was his tremendous Kibud Av which is the fifth of the Ten Commandments. The tenth of the Ten Commandments is Lo Sachmod not to covet that which is not yours. This was Esav’s main aveira. The counterbalance of this was the fifth commandment. So in essence his main forte was from his greatest shortcoming.
(27:22) “Hakol kol Yakov Vehayodayim Yidai Essav The voice is the voice of Yakov but the hands are the hands of Esau.” The Gemara says the hands are not the hands of Esav. When Yakov is up Esav is down. How can this be? It's the opposite of the posuk. The answer is that the word Kol is without the letter vav. When the word Kol is spelled deficient then the Kol is lacking and the hands can be Essav’s.
(27:22) “Hakol Kol Yakov V'yodayim Yidai Esav-The voice is the voice of Yakov but the hands are the hands of Esav” Esav had the merit of his tremendous Kibud'Av with which he served his father Yitzchok. Yakov needed to offset this tremendous merit by performing an act of Kibud'Ame. By listening to his mother, by performing this deception, he was going against his natural tendency to be honest. The gematria of the words “Hakol Kol Yakov V'yodayim Yidai Esav equals Kabeid es Avicha V'es Imecha. It was not enough for Yakov to be an “Ish Tam Yoshev Ohelim-A simple man dwelling in tents” To fulfill his destiny he had to become more than that. He had to go out in the world, do Kiruv and take on some of the characteristics of his brother Esav. This is why the words “Hakol Kol Yakov V'yodayim Yidai Esav equals in gematria Zeh Aish Hatorah. This is exactly what Aish Hatorah is all about.
(27:27) Vayomer Reaye Reach Beni K'Reach Sodeh Asher Berach Hashem-He said see the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of the field Hashem blessed." Who is Yitzchak speaking to, and how does one see a fragrance? The Tzror Hamor writes that Yitzchak was speaking to Adom H'Rishon who was standing by hoping to be redeemed from the curses that rested upon him all this time. Each of Yitzchok's blessings directly countered one of the original curses placed upon man.
(27:28) “Vayitain-Lecha H’Elokim M’tal Hashomayim-May Hashem give you of the dew of the heavens.” In blessing Yakov, it was Yitzchok’s intention to annul the curses placed upon Adam after his sin. (3:17) “Arurah H’adama Ba’avurecha-Accursed is the ground because of you.” In contrast Yitzchok said “May Hashem give you of the dew of the heaven and the fat of the earth.” Contrasting “thorns and thistles shall it sprout for you.” Yitzchok blessed him with “abundant grain and wine.” Contrasting the posuk “by the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat.” Yakov was told “Peoples will serve you.” Contrasting “for dust are you and to dust shall you return.” Yitzchok now said “be a Lord to your brothers.” (Tzror Hamor based on the Zohar) Additionally after the sin of Adom the relationship between man and G-d was severely damaged. Now through this blessing the relationship will be restored. As Rashi points out, the letter “Vav” in Vayitain does not connect to anything. He explains that it means Hashem will not give all at once and then have no further relationship. Rather He will give and give again just enough to maintain the connection. Also the Avnei Nezer explains the word for Hashem used is “H’Elokim” Why is the name Hashem spelled with the letter “Hey” before it? To tell us that Hashem is giving us Himself, this blessing is giving us back the relationship with Hashem.
(27:28) “Vayitain L’cha Elokim M’tal Hashomayim-May Hashem give you from the dew of heaven” The Sages point out that this blessing was bestowed using the Holy Name Elokim that denotes Hashem’s attribute of justice. Thus Yitzchok’s blessing is bound by the strict demands of justice, only to be enjoyed by the recipient if he merits it. But what does blessing have to do with merit? Why would the person of merit require a blessing to obtain the good things in life in the first place? The true intent of Yitzchok’s blessing was not to
confer riches upon its recipient, but to remove him from the constrictions of physical limitations by connecting him to the workings of Hashgacha Pratis, or Divine Providence. The blessing removed the Jewish people from the laws of cause and effect that apply to mundane reality and placed them into a reality in which Hashem directly decides every single event that occurs. In such a world, all the events of life are tailor made for the individual specifically and are designed to advance his spiritual growth. There is constant give and take between the individual and Hashem, and every alteration of spiritual need results in the appropriate readjustment of his material circumstances. The individual is constantly held up for judgment to determine precisely where he is spiritually, and what he requires of the physical world in order to advance. When Yitzchak designated Yakov as the leader, the Torah scholar was appointed as the channel through which the flow of Divine Providence must pass.
The entire episode of giving the Brochos is very strange. First why did everything have to be done through deceit? Why all the fuss over eating before the blessing? Why was it all necessary?
It could be that since these Brochos were to be the basis for Klal Yisroel to succeed in correcting the sin of Adom, they had to follow in the same manner. By Adom the snake used deceit so Yakov also used deceit. By Adom the sin was committed through eating so the Tikun (fix) had to be through eating. Also it could be that by separating Esav and Yakov who were both born from the same womb it was like separating the mixture of good and evil that was confounded by the Eitz Hadas.
Another reason why the entire episode had to transpire in such a manner was so that the Brachos would be given to Yakov's descendants even when they look like Essav. That is to say it would be very easy to receive the Brachos when all is well and everyone is listening to Hashem. But there will be times when Benei Yisroel won't look like the descendants of Yakov. They won't keep the Torah or dress like the righteous offspring of a Tzaddik. By receiving the Brachos while looking like Esav it would assure them that even at these times the Brachos will apply.
(27:30) “V’Yihi Ach Yotzoh Yotzoh Yakov M’ais Pinei Yitzchok Aviv-And Yakov had scarcely left from the presence of Yitzchok his father.” In the figurative sense Yakov no sooner leaves the path of his fathers than Essav comes to threaten him. Whenever Kiddusha leaves the void is immediately replaced with Tumeh.
(27:37) “U’licha Aypho Mah Eseh Bini-What shall I do now for you my son?” After Yitzchok had given all the worldly blessings to Yakov He said what is there left for me to give to you? Then he goes on to give him a blessing of the fat of the land and the dew of the heavens. How can this be if they were already given to Yakov? Perhaps we can say that according to the Midrash which says that on the night the Beis Hamikdosh was dedicated, a malach came and planted a reed in the Mediterranean. From this the Italian peninsula was formed. We see from here that the night the Beis Hamikdosh was dedicated the seeds to it’s destruction were planted. It therefore comes out that the blessings given to Yakov of this world did not include what would eventually be Essav’s because it had not yet been created.
(27:38) “ Habracha Achas He-Loch Avi-Have you but one bracha father?” Yitzchok blessed Yakov with the name of Hashem that represents mercy. This name is equal to 26 in gematria. Yitzchok’s name is equal to 208 or eight times 26, the name of Hashem. Yakov’s name is 182 or seven times 26, there was therefore one more left for Essav.
(27:41) “Vayomer Essav B’libo Yikrivu Yimei Ayvel Avi V’Aharga es-Yakov Achi- Essav said in his heart the days of mourning for my father will come and I will then murder my brother Yakov.” We are told that when Essav will come to judgement his merit of Kibud Av will not save him from Gehenom because of this verse. Essav anxiously looked forward to his fathers death so that he could take revenge on his brother. Since Torah protects a person Essav knew that while Yakov is in mourning he would not be able to study Torah and thus Essav would have the opportunity to kill him.
(28:5) Yitzchok sent away Yakov to Lavan the brother of Rivka the mother of Yakov and Essav Rashi says he doesn't know what this is intended to teach us. The Ramban explains that in the command to take a wife from the family of Rivkah it should have also been commanded to Essav. She is also the mother of Essav. The Tur says that by sending Yakov away to avoid bloodshed she was acting like the mother of both of them.
According to the Ohr Hachaim the question is how could Yitzchok have sent Yakov to Lavan when he knew the type of Rashah Lavan was? He answers that by repeating that Lavan was the brother of Rivka who was righteous the Torah is thereby hinting that one or both of his daughters could be a suitable wife for Yakov. Secondly by saying that Rivka was the mother of Esav and Yakov the Torah reminds us that even from a Rivka, both a Yakov and an Esav could come out.
We have a difficulty in this week’s parsha. The Torah tells us that Yitzchok loved Esav because he trapped food for him? On the surface it would seem very superficial. Tzayid Befiv means he would trap him with his mouth. Asking him questions like removing maisser from salt and getting married at forty just to appear righteous. While all the time he was ravaging the countryside. He is compared to the chazzir that displays it's kosher sign on the outside. But it doesn't have the internal signs. So he worked on fooling his father to look good. And later on Yitzchok wants to give the brochos to Essav? They were already 63 years old. Yitzchok should not have been fooled. The Chidushe Harim says that Essav had tremendous Kibud Av. R. Shimon Ben Gamliale said he never came close to Essav’s Kibud Av. Whenever Esav would tend to his father he would put on special clothing. So he answers the Zechus of his Kibud Av helped him be able to fool his father. Now Rivka said that Yakov needed a tremendous zechus of Kibud Ame to counterbalance Essav’s zechus. Rivka telling Yakov, was enabling him to put his life in jeopardy for the sake of Kibud Ame. We have a rule that when Essav is up Yakov is down. This is what happened here. Essav came running in without his special clothing for the first time in front of his father. Zeh Kom Ve'zeh Nofal. When Yakov is up Essav is down. Now that Yakov was able to perform this act of Kibud Ame, it became a time for Essav’s fall. The posuk says (27:30) “Vayehe Kasher Kilah Yitzchok L’Vorech es-Yakov- And it was just after Yitzchok finished blessing Yakov.” The reason the posuk mentions this is to show us how Hashem caused the events to unfold. As soon as Yakov left, Essav walked in. There was no time for him to change into his special clothes. For the first time he stood before his father without the masking scent of Gan Eden. He stood before his father without the Zechus of Kibud Av. Now he could no longer fool his father. This is why the posuk says (30:33) “Vayecherad Yitzchok Charada Gedolah- Yitzchok was seized with a tremendous trembling.” Now Yitzchok felt the true presence of Esav standing before him without the mask of illusion that this coat from Gan Eden was able to conceal. What he sensed was the aura of evil that accompanied Esav’s entrance. This could explain why Rashi explains that the word Bimirma translated as cunning, says it means B’chochma (with smarts). What was so smart about what Yakov did? He exposed Essav for what he truly was. He didn’t just steal the
brachos from Esav. He showed how Essav never really deserved them. That beneath the surface there was the stench of Gehinom. In the future when Esav’s Kibud has ended the reign of Moshiach will begin. This is referring to the Zechus of his Kibud Av.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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18:1) “Vayereh Aylav Hashem-And Hashem appeared to him.” In last week’s Parsha we are exposed to the transformation of Avram into Avraham through the many tests he had to go through. Parsha’s Vayeireh on the other hand is the Parsha of Revelation. Not just for Avraham but for every generation that followed. However even though there is revelation perhaps the greatest test of all is found at the end of this Parsha, the Akeidah. This would seem to be a contradiction since there can be no test of faith if there is revelation? When one knows what is happening there can be no Nisoyon. A test of faith is always done in darkness. Yet in Parshas’ Vayeireh there is tremendous concealment. “Vayar es Hamokom He saw the place from a far.” This means that he felt that the Mokom-Hashem was distant from him. He felt that Hashem had forsaken him. How do we understand how this concealment can appear here in this Parsha of revelation?
We begin with the visit to Avraham by the three Malachim. This in itself is a great revelation. Each is an independent agent with a mission all his own. We are told that one came to bring the news of the birth of Yitzchok, another came to heal Avraham after his Milah, and the third came to overturn Sodom. However although on one level this was personal news for Avraham, it serves as predictions for the future of the Jewish people as well. The angel that brought news of the birth of Yitzchok was a metaphor to the birth of Moshiach. The angel that came to destroy Sodom is really saying that there will come a day when all evil will be destroyed from the world. And the Angel that came to save Lote brings the message that the seeds of Moshiach will not die.
(18:1) “Vayereh Aylav Hashem B’aylonei Mamre-And Hashem appeared to him in Aylonei Mamre.” Rashi says that Hashem came to Avraham to be Mivakeh Choleh (visit the sick.) Since this was the third day after his circumcision, Hashem was visiting him. First of all how did Rashi know this? It could be since the previous Parsha was talking about Avraham’s Mila we can deduce from the closeness of the topics, that the reason he appeared to him was due to the Bris Milah.
The Sifsey Chachomim says that Rashi learnt it from the fact that the Posuk should have read “Vayereh Hashem el Avraham.” instead of “Vayereh Aylav Hashem”. Since it doesn’t tell us whom He appeared to, we must look back to see what was said in the previous Parsha.
The Kli Yakar says that the reason it doesn’t mention Avraham’s name is because his name and his essence were opposite. The name Avraham comes from Av Hamon Goyim- a father to a multitude of nations. But Avraham considered himself like the dust of the earth (18:27) “V’anochi Afar V’aifer.” His essence was the most humble of all. The Torah is coming to teach us that the reason Hashem appeared to him was not because of the fact that he was a father of many nations, which the name Avraham implies, but rather it was due to his humbleness.
The Ohr Hachaim asks why does the Torah reverse the order in this Posuk? It should have read “Vayereh Hashem Aylav” not “Vayereh Aylav Hashem.” This comes to teach us that first Avraham had to make himself a proper receptacle for Hashem to appear to him. This was accomplished through the act of Milah. This is why the Posuk reads “Vayereh Aylav Hashem.” That it was upon him that Hashem appeared. In Kabbalistic terms, Avraham had now become the carrier of the Shechina. This wording makes us aware of the difference between the revelation and the one who reveals Himself. It is because of this that Avraham’s future visions are never again introduced with the word Vayereh. From here on the word Vayomer is used.
The Baal Haturim says “Vayereh Aylav” in Gematria equals “Zeh B’kovod Milah Nigleh Aylav” (in honor of the Milah he was revealed to him.) “Vayereh Aylav Hashem B’Aylonei” equals in Gematria “L’vaker Choleh” (to visit the sick.) “Yoshev Pesach H’ohel equals in Gematria “L’Hachnis es HaOrchim”(to welcome guests).
(18:1) “V'hu Yoshev Pesach H’ohel K’chom Hayom-He was sitting at the entrance to the tent in the heat of the day.” Rashi explains that Hashem wished to save Avraham the burden of having to host passersby. He therefore took the sun out of its sheath (Chama M’nartika) making it so hot in order for there to be no travelers visiting him.
We find a similar expression regarding the Succah of the future. When the nations of the world will complain that had they been given the Torah, they too would have earned the World to Come. Hashem will then give them one Mitzvah, the Succah. He will then remove the sun from its sheath causing them to flee from the Mizvah of Succah. Even though discomfort exempts a person from that Mitzvah, the fact that they will kick the door as they leave, will show their disdain for doing the will of Hashem. This highlights the difference between a Jew and a gentile. Here Avraham, on the third and most painful day after circumcision, is standing at the doorway searching for a way to do Hashem’s will. He is looking for travelers to give his hospitality to. The words “Chama M’nartika-the sun from its Sheath” is amazingly equal to (868) “Achsanios Avraham Avinu-The hospitality of Avraham our Father.”
(18:1) “V'hu Yoshev Pesach H’ohel K’chom Hayom-He was sitting at the entrance to the tent in the heat of the day.” The Baal Haturim writes that this is what Chazal is referring to when it says that Avraham sits at the entrance to Gehenom and does not let those who have been circumcised to enter. Except for those who knowingly had relations with a gentile woman or who had tried to undo their circumcision. How can it be that Avraham is able to rescue Benei Yisroel from Gehenom? If Hashem decrees this punishment for someone how can Avraham stand in the way? What it means is that the tremendous merit that Avraham acquired from performing the Milah transcends into his descendants. A Bris is a covenant that bonds two people together through the fruits of their union. That is exactly why the Bris is performed on that part of the body. Benei Yisroel are the fruits of the Avos. The covenant between Avraham and Hashem was so intense that he would not let a Jew go into that dimension of punishment, even if he deserved it, because he wouldn’t do it to Avraham Avinu. Hurting the child would be like hurting the parent.
(18:1) “V'hu Yoshev Pesach H’ohel K’chom Hayom-He was sitting at the entrance to the tent in the heat of the day.” Hashem had made the day hot so as to save Avraham from having to receive guests. But when Hashem saw how distressed this made him he sent the three Malachim. The question is if Hashem wanted to permit Avraham to feed guests why did he send Angels that could not really eat? He could have made the day cooler so that real travelers would come that could eat? This would seem more logical than wasting Avraham’s efforts preparing a meal for Angels who would only pretend to eat! This incident teaches us about the nature of Chessed. Contrary to what we may think, Hachnosos Orchim is not so much a Mitzvah for the guests or the poor person. Rather it is a Mitzvah for the benefit of the host! The Mitzvah is directed to the giver, not the receiver. Hashem has many ways of feeding the poor. If someone needs money Hashem will ensure that they are taken care of. The only question is who will have the merit of providing the Mitzvah. This is why the premiere chapter of Hachnosos Orchim in the Torah is told about people who did not even need it. The lesson is that the host should always remember that he is the one who needs the Mitzvah. Ultimately he is doing the favor for himself.
Avraham went from standing before Hashem to go greet the guests that were coming. And from this we learn that it is greater to do Chesed than be Mekabel the Shechina. Why is doing one Mitzvah more important than standing before Hashem? It would seem that doing what Hashem commands is more important than just speaking to him. Avraham understood that doing this mitzvah was the will of Hashem.
The World to Come is a place in which we anticipate conducting our entire existence in the receiving mode. While such an existence might appear to be somewhat parasitic at first glance, this is not really so. Being offered life in the receiving mode in the World to Come is no more than just compensation for spending our lives in this world entirely in the giving mode [as far as our Divine service is concerned]. The Talmud (Kiddushin, 39b) informs us that there is absolutely no reward for the performance of Mitzvos in this world. Yet adherence to Mitzvos takes concentration and effort and often requires a great deal of self-sacrifice. In broad terms, in this World we give and Hashem receives, whereas in the next World the roles are reversed; Hashem gives and we receive. Our world pursues self-fulfillment, in the erroneous belief that nothing higher is available. Avraham was experiencing the ultimate in self-fulfillment - communion with God - and yet he voluntarily abandoned it. He was looking for a way not to fulfill himself, but the very opposite. He was looking for a way to give his very self to Hashem. In the entire universe only human beings are capable of making the choice to give themselves away. When man gives himself to God, God's response is to give Himself to man. The World to Come is the place where the two givers get together and celebrate the love they have developed by giving everything they had away to each other.(R.Noson Weisz)
(18:2) “Vayar V’hinei Shelosha Anoshim Nitzovim Aylav-He saw three men coming towards him.” Rashi says that these were really Malachim. That one came to bring the news of Yitzchok’s birth, one came to heal Avraham and the third came to destroy Sodom. Why was it necessary to have the third angel visit Avraham? His mission was in Sodom what connection is there to Avraham’s Bris Milah? The Vishnitze Rebbe answers as follows. The Bris that Avraham performed took place on Yom Kippur. We know that there is a relationship between time, person and place. There is a common thread between all three of them. They all come together at their apex. On Yom Kippur, the holiest day, the Kohen Gaddol, the holiest person goes into the holiest place, the Kodesh Hakodoshim. After Adom’s sin the presence of Hashem was concealed. This was manifested in the foreskin of man. The Orlah as it is referred to in Hebrew comes from the words Rah Lah- evil is there. Just as there is an Orlah in man there is a corresponding Orlah in place as well. Sodom was the Orlah of Eretz Yisroel. By Avraham performing the Bris Milah he ignited the spiritual energy needed to destroy Sodom. To do the Bris Milah of Eretz Yisroel. This is why the third Malach had to visit Avraham just then.
Alternatively I heard from R.Pelcovitz Z’tl the following. We know that each Malach is created for a specific mission. No two Malachim have the same task to complete. Why then did the Malach that was sent to destroy Sodom come to Avraham’s home? When Hashem created man he consulted his ministering angels. They argued that man should not be created. One said he will rebel against his creator, another said he will be cruel to his fellow man. While they argued Hashem went ahead and created man. Now that the destruction of Sodom was at hand the ministering angels could say that they were correct. Man should not have been created. Therefore Hashem sent the destroying angel to Avraham’s home first, to see what a human can become. To see the Chesed of Avraham that maintains the world.
If Hashem wanted Avraham to be able to preform acts of Chesed why send the Angels who have no need for acts of Chesed? They didn’t even eat the elaborate food prepared for them? The answer must be that the acts of Chesed are really for the benefit of Avraham. The one doing the Chesed benefits more than the receiver of that Chesed. This lesson is is brought here in particular as the paramount example of Chesed.
(18:4) “V’Heshanu Tachas H’eitz-Recline yourselves under THE tree.” Avraham would ask the guests to sit beneath a special tree. If the tree would spread out its branches and accept them he would know that they can be brought under the protection of the Shechina.
The Gematria of the words “V’Heshanu Tachas H’eitz-Recline yourselves under the tree.” equals Avraham, Yitzchok, Yakov, Moshe, Aaron, Yosef, Dovid all of the Ushpizin we welcome on Succos. The idea is that since offering shade, Avraham merited that his descendants would in the future receive shade while in the Midbar. Succos is the culmination of all of the achievements attained by each of these great ancestors. This ability to discern worthy or unworthy guests was put into the Mitzvah of Succah. For we know in the future the nations of the world will be given one Mitzvah to perform when they complain about not having been given the Torah. That will be the Mitzvah of Succos. because it is the one Mitzvah that can discern the good from the bad. Perhaps this is why the word "H'aitz-The TREE" is used. The first time we find the use of the word is by Eitz Hadas TOV V'RAH. The tree of knowledge of Good and Bad.
We know from Avraham’s behavior that hospitality takes priority over the Divine Presence, but how did he know? Avraham knew the Hashem caused the heat to be unbearable so that no guests would come to trouble him. But, if one is forbidden to depart from the Shechinah in order to give hospitality to travelers, then the heat was unnecessary! From this Avraham understood that hospitality took precedence even over being in the presence of the Shechinah. (Rav Yakov Shimshon of Shpetivka)
(18:10) V'Sarah Shomas Pesach H'Ohel V'hu Acharov-Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent and he was behind.” The promise of a son is revealed to Sarah but she appears to laugh at the news. Why would Sarah discount what the messengers related? The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that when the Posuk says “He was behind” it is referring to Yishmael. Yishmael was very displeased at the news of Yitzchok's birth. This would mean that he no longer would be the sole heir of Avraham. Sarah feared that he would interfere by giving the news an Ayin Hora, she therefore appeared to be mocking the news, as if to say how farfetched the idea was. When Avraham confronted her she had regretted giving the appearance of someone who doubted Hashem, but Avraham told her that it was not enough to regret out of fear but she should rather have laughed as he did out of love.
The Sifsei Kohen writes that although Sarah was an even greater prophetess than Avraham, here since she regained her menstrual cycle she became Tamei and lost her prophecy.
(18:11) “V’Avraham V’Sarah Zikainim-Avraham and Sarah were old.”Avraham prayed that he age and instituted the concept of appearing old into the world. Up until that time people would mistake parents with their children. Yitzchok instituted suffering, and Yakov prayed for sickness. All were to prepare one for the final days of life.
(18:19) “Ki Yodativ L’maan Asher Yitzav es Bonov v’es Beiso Acharav V’Shomu Derech Hashem-For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of Hashem.” Teaching your children carries even more weight than your own Mitzvos. Rashi says that one who raises a righteous son is as if he did not die.
(18:24) “Ulaye Yeish Chamishim Tzaddikim B’toch H’iyur-Perhaps there are fifty righteous people in the city.” Why did Avraham himself save Lote in last weeks Parsha when he was captured by the four kings and yet here where there was much less of a risk to his safety, Malachim are used? Perhaps we can say that in Parshas Lech Lecha it was Avram not Avraham. It was before he had Bris Milah. Now being in a much more elevated state, Hahsem did not wish to send him to a place as deprived as Sodom. (Nireh Li)
How could it be that Avraham did not know what type of people lived in Sodom? Why was he entreating Hashem to save a city that was capable of perpetrating such cruelty?
The Ariza'l say's in Parshas Toldos (25:28) “Vaye'hav Yitzchok es Esav ki Tzayid Befiv.” Esav had within him the seeds of two future Amoroim. That's why it say's by Yitzchok's love for him that he was constantly “Tzayid Bepiv.” The plain meaning being that he always hunted for delicacies to feed his father. But according to the Arizal, Esav had within him the power of two souls. That of Shemaya and Avtaliyon. Future converts who later went on to teach Hillel. Esav was able to conjure up the seeds of these future converts that he was carrying. So when he spoke to his father he would sound like the righteous son. Now the meaning of Tzayid Befiv is that he entrapped him with his speech.
In Parshas Shemos (2:12) It says regarding Moshe “Vayifen Koh V’koh Vayar ki Aine Ish-He turned this way and that and saw there was no man.” Before killing the Mitzri he looked into the future to see if any converts were destined to come from him.
When Avraham was praying that Hashem spare the cities he knew they were not worthy of being saved. But he was asking on behalf of the Sodomites who might be carriers of future converts. We see that this is often the case when someone is spared his rightful punishment perhaps due to some future seed that he is carrying. This could also explain why when Avraham was pleading to save Sodom the Posuk uses the word Bikirbom (within them). Will you save the city if there are fifty righteous people within them?
The Gemarah in Nidarim tells us that one of the reasons Klal Yisroel needed to be enslaved in Egypt was because of a failing in Avraham. After Avraham defeated the four kings he refused to take even a shoestring from the King of Sodom. The King only wanted the kidnapped people returned but Avraham could have converted many pagans to monotheism. Because of this missed opportunity the Jewish people were destined themselves to become pagans. This sheds new light on Avraham’s motives for beseeching Hashem to spare Sodom. He understood that because he had not taken the initiative to put the subjects of Sodom under his tutelage, his descendants were destined to go to Egypt. However if there was a way that he could correct his failing by preventing the destruction of Sodom, there might be a chance that they would do teshuva and Yisroel would not have to go to Egypt. If on the other hand Sodom was destroyed then Avraham’s failing could never be corrected.
The Gemarah in Brachos says we learn from here that Avraham instituted the Shacharis prayer. The question is why learn it from a place where the prayer was not answered. It must be that Avraham was also praying for the future Doros of Klal Yisroel.
Here too, Lot was carrying the seeds of Moshiach. That is why he was able to look at these Malachim and press them to enter his home. The Posuk says (19:3) Vayiftzar Bom Ma'od (He pressed them excessively). Lote normally would not have gone to all this trouble for strangers. If he had he would not have lasted very long in Sodom. But he had the seeds of Dovid Hamelech in him. So when the Malachim came to him, Hashem drew from the spark of Dovid and caused Lote to press them to come to his home. In the words: “Vayiftzar Bom Ma'od.” The word bom are the initials of Bezechus Mah.(in what merit) The word Ma'od are the initials Matzasi es Dovid (I have found Dovid).
(19:1) “V’Lot Yoshev B'shar -Sedom-And Lote sat at the gates of Sedom.” Why does it say that Lote sat (Yoshev) at the gates of Sodom? And if he knew what type of people were living there how could he invite strangers to his home?
The Bochor Shor suggests that Lote resided in a secluded place outside Sodom near the gate. That is how he was bold enough to defy the city ordinance against inviting strangers and offer the angels lodging. According to this interpretation Yoshev would mean dwelled.
But perhaps we can suggest that in his own way, Lote thought he could make a difference. True he was attracted to the loose morality of the place, but he accepted the role of Judge over them. he was carrying the seeds of Moshiach the ultimate world changer within him.
According to the Be'ar Mayim Chaim Avraham should have known that there were no righteous people living in Sodom. We see in the Posuk (19:4) when the people of the city surrounded the house it says “Anshe Iyur Anshe Sedom” (people of the city, people of Sodom). Why this repetition? To let us know that this wasn't just some group of terrorists who were ambushing Lote's house, but rather this was the towns people this was the people of Sodom. This is how they all behaved.
This entire incident seems out of place. Why does the Torah need to relate that Lote invited the two Malachim to a meal with him? Also why was there such a need to escape from Sodom when it was these messengers of Hashem that were there to overturn the city? Could they not have just come in remove Lote and his family and then destroy the city?
The reason that the Torah had to relate the fact that Lot invited these guests was so that he should exhibit some of the traits that he first learned while in the company of Avraham and perhaps show that he deserved being saved. And the reason why the Malachim could wait no longer to overturn the city was because this final act of cruelty, on the part of the Sodomites, put them over the top. It was Avraham who returned the captives of Sodom to the King. And yet here we see the tremendous evil that was displayed when the entire townspeople came to the door of Lot and threatened to harm them because of the guests that they had invited.
Hashem had waited nearly two thousand years before bringing the flood to destroy the world. And yet here was a city that had to be destroyed after only fifty two years? The nature of the evil that was Sodom was so great that it's destruction would not wait. The Chazal say that the world was created through Chesed and so the lack of Chesed destroys the world. From the beginning of man, the universe was being gradually torn apart until Avraham came upon the scene with his tremendous Midah of Chesed. His efforts were the beginning of a chain of events that would gradually mend this rift in the cosmos. But here the cruel inhabitants of Sodom threatened this Chesed.
Interestingly we see that Sodom was not destroyed because it contained wicked people, but rather because there were not even ten righteous people living there.
(19:16) “Bechemlas Hashem Olav-In Hashem's mercy on him.” Why in the middle of describing how the Malachim were saving Lote, do the words “Bechemlas Hashem Olav” appear? We have already been told that one of the Malachim were sent to save Lote. The word Bechemlas equals 480 in gematria, the same as the word Benosav (his daughters). Lote was saved because of the daughters that were to give birth to two nations Moav and Amon.
Why does it say that the two Malachim grabbed Lote and his wife and two daughters each by the hand and pulled them out of Sodom. But we've learned that a Malach can only do one mission at a time? And since one Malach came to destroy Sodom and one to save Lote how could they both do both missions?
One answer is that since Sodom couldn't be destroyed until Lote was out. Saving Lote thus became part of his mission.
The Malach that came to tell Sarah the news of Yitzchok's birth also came to save Lote. The reason for Lote being saved was because he was carrying the seeds of Rus and Nami, the forerunners of Amon and Moav. The reason they were permitted into Klal Yisroel, even though the men weren't, was because when Benei Yisroel came to them in the desert the men would not greet them with food and water. So they were punished for that. But there was no such custom by the women. Therefore the women were permitted to convert. Now here when the Malach asked as to the whereabouts of Sarah, he was told that she is in the tent. In other words she as a woman, did not go out to greet the guests. Now the Halacha became clear. The men were banned from joining Klal Yisroel but not the women. That's how the same Malach now was able to save Lote. (Chidushei Harim)
(19:26) “Vatabet Ishto Maiacharav-And his wife looked behind him.” Rashi writes that she looked “M’achrav shel Lote-Behind Lote.” What does this mean? What difference does it make who was behind her? The point is she looked where she wasn’t supposed to? We learned in Bamidbar that Korach made the mistake of thinking that he was beyond reproach due to the fact that he saw tremendous descendants were destined to come from him. Lote’s wife thought the same thing. She looked “M’achrav shel Lote- Beyond Lote” meaning what descendants were to come out from him. What she saw was the forerunners of Moshiach, Rus. Lote’s wife figured that because her husband would have such great children, she could do whatever she wanted and would be saved. What she didn’t see is that she would be cut out of the picture and the children would come from her daughter’s relationship with Lote himself.
(19:33) “Vatishkenaoh es-Avivhen B’layla Hu-And they made their father drink wine that night.” We don’t usually find the term B’layla Hu mentioned in the Torah rather it would say B’layla Ha-Hu? Here it comes as a hint to this night being singled out as special. Until the arrival of Moshiach Hashem’s name and his throne are incomplete. Ki Yad al Kes Koh Hashem, as it were, made an oath with his hand on his throne. The word for Hashem is missing two letters “Vav-Hey” and His throne is missing the “Aleph” this spells the word “Hu” as in B’layla Hu. On this night there began the events, which would ultimately lead to the restoration of Hashem’s name and his throne.
(19:36) “Vataharenah Shinei Benos-Lot Meyavihen-Both daughters of Lot became pregnant from their father.” The Midrash say's that the seeds of Moshiach were founded here by the incident of the daughters of Lot. The question is how can this be? How can the future savior of humanity have his origins in an incestuous union? The Ohr Hachaim explains that the there had to be a drop of impure blood, of non-Jewish blood, in order for him to understand in some measure and to share their weakness. This double influence would enable him to lead them back to Hashem.
The Shearis Menachem notes that the Gematria, numerical equivalent, of the words, "Me'avinu Zera," offspring through our father, coincides with Dovid ben Yishai, also 386. Lot's daughter said, V'nichyeh, "We will live," our only hope for life, the essence of our life, is that this endeavor will sow the seed for Dovid ben Yishai.
(20:16) "U'L'Sarah Omar...Kesus Aynayim L'Chol Asher Itoch-And to Sarah he said..it is for you a covering of the eyes to all that are with you." Avimelech was cursing Sarah with this statement for her son Yitzchok, would later become blind.
(21:6) "Vatomer Sarah Tzchok Asa Li Elokim Kol Hashomeah Yitzchak Li-And Sarah said Hashem has made laughter for me, everyone who hears will laugh on my account." Yitzchok was named even before he was born and Avraham already conveyed the name to him. But here we find Sarah trying to be included in this naming? She was attempting to correct her previous sin of laughing at the news she would have a child in her old age.
(21:17) “Ki Shomah Elokim el-Kol Hanaar Basher hu Shom-For Hashem heard the voice of the lad in the place where he is.”
When Avraham cast out Ishmael it says that Hashem should judge him by where he is now (Basher hu Shom). Therefore he should be saved since now he's a Tzaddik. But we learned part of the reason he was cast out was because he tried to kill Yitzchok and did Avodah Zoroh. So how can we call him a Tzadik?
Rashi says that his future generations will kill Avraham’s descendants. But Ishmael will do Teshuvah in his lifetime. The meaning is don't judge him on his future descendants but judge him by what he is in his life.
The Chasam Sofer has a different explanation. He writes that as long as Yishmael was in Avraham’s house he was judged as an adult, since he was above the age of thirteen. After he was expelled he fell under the category of a gentile who was judged as an adult only after the age of one hundred. So now the words (21:17) “Basher hu Shom-The place where he is” now has the meaning of a minor since he left Avraham’s house. Therefore he is judged as a Tzaddik because he wasn't yet responsible for his sins.
(20:2) “Voyomer Avraham el-Sarah Ishto, Achosy He-And Avraham said to Sarah his wife, you are my sister.” Avraham once again claims that Sarah is his sister. Even though this didn't work in Mitzraim?
Since Avraham traveled to many places he would always say that Sarah was his sister. Usually it worked because the people would try to befriend him to win him over. But if he said she was his wife they would more than likely kill him and commit one sin rather than take a married woman and constantly sin. But the one person whom such a ploy would not work on was the king who could take any woman without being concerned about wooing her brother.
(21:1) “Va'Hashem Pokad es Sarah-And Hashem remembered Sarah.” When Sarah became pregnant and gave birth, all the other barren women became pregnant and gave birth too. The Ba'al Ha'Turim however, points out that the numerical value of “Va'Hashem Pokad es Sarah” is equivalent to that of 'Af Kol Akoros Pokad' - He also remembered all the barren women.
The reason Hashem orchestrated the events this way is because Sarah could not attain real Simcha as long as there were other women with her condition suffering.
(21:7) “Heinikoh Bonim Soroh-Sarah nursed children.” Rashi explains that when the nursing wives came with their children, they said that Sarah was too old to have given birth and must have taken in a child from the street. To lay these claims to rest Sarah nursed each of their children, hence the plural “Bonim”.
The Gemarrah relates how Rebbi Yehudah HaNasi’s mother once nursed Antoninus, and this brought out an emotion in him to be understanding to the Jewish people. Here too the fact that Sarah nursed many children had a later effect on their lives. Psikta Rabosi d’Rebbi Kahana in the name of R.Chilkioh cites that there were two groups of women who gave their children to Sarah. Those who didn’t believe she had given birth and those who just took up her offer to nurse. Rabbi Levy said both groups benefited. Any person who would in the future be elevated to a position of prominence would be a descendant of a child that nursed from Sarah. While the children who were given to Sarah to nurse not as a test, ALL converted.
(21:6) “Vatomer Sarah Tzchok Asa Li Elokim-Sarah said Elokim has given me laughter.” The reason for Yitzchok's name was because of the Tzchok (laughter). Avraham fell on his face and rejoiced. Really his name should have been Yischak. Tzchok is a Loshon of laughter at something that is not believed. But Tzchok is a Loshen of Simcha which is what Avraham had. The reason why he's called Yitzchok is that by right his name should have been Yischok but Hashem changed the Shin to a Tzadik. This was in order to hint in his name to the Tzadik = (90) years which was Sarah’s age when she gave birth to him. Just as the Kuf (=100) in his name was the age of Avraham. (The Yud was for the tenth of the Nisyonos, the Ches for the Milah) So when Sarah said “Tzchok Asa Li Elokim.” that the letter Sin was changed to a Tzadik for her. That now everyone who hears that his name is Yitzchok and not Yischok will know that it was for Sarah's sake to remember Sarah's age.
The Chasam Sofer says that really Yitzchok's name should have been Tzchok. The name Yitzchok implies future laughter. He answers that the Yud of his name represents the Akaida, the tenth test of Avraham. Since this had not yet occurred the term for future laughter was more appropriate. Another answer he gives is that as Rashi say's many women in that time conceived when Yitzchok was born. So it comes out that nine months later there would be laughter, thus the use of the future tense in his name.
Why was there such a blessing of Simcha for the other women of that time? Sarah was the one who needed a child. Why was there this universal blessing? A true Simcha cannot be enjoyed as long as there is suffering being experienced by others. Sarah’s nature was such that she would not have had complete joy knowing how others were in pain. That's why it also says that many people were healed on that day.
Directly following the naming of Yitzchok we find the expulsion of Yishmael. It says that Sarah saw Yishamael being Metzachek with Yitzchok. Rashi says that the word Metzachek has three meanings. It means idolatry, murder and Arayos. This word Metzachek has a connection to all of those meanings. The question is how can Yitzchok's name be rooted in the three most grave sins? What connection is there between Yitzchok and Avodah Zoro, Murder and Arayos?
The answer is that these three cardinal sins are the only three things a person must give up his life for ( Yeharag Ve'al Yaver). The difference between the word Yitzchok and tzachok is the letter yud, which is the letter of Yitzchok's name that represents the tenth and final test, the Akeida. Yitzchok's whole life was a sacrifice to Hashem. His very essence was to give up his life for Hashem. This needed to be implanted to the very core of the Jewish nation, of the first born Jew.
Avraham foresaw that the mountain on which he tied Yitzchok would be the future site of the Beis Hamikdosh and the heart of the holy city. He therefore called it Hashem Yireh meaning Hashem will look down from this place and shower the world with goodness. Shaim-Noach's son called it Shalaim. Hashem said if I name the place Yireh Shaim will complain. If I call it Shalaim Avraham will have a right to complain. Therefore I will combine the two names and call it Yerushalayim. The Mizbe'ach on Har Habayis was in the same place as the one built by Adam and later demolished by the flood. It was rebuilt by Noach and destroyed in the dispersal by the Dor Haflaga. Here Avraham once again erected it. It is parallel to the heavenly Kisay Hakovod.
(22:1) “Vayihe Achar Hadivorim H'ayleh V'Elokim Nisa es-Avraham-And it was after these events that Hashem tested Avraham.” At the Akeida Hashem asked Avraham to please do this test. To pass it would mean that all the previous tests really meant something. They would have Mamoshes (substance). Which is spelled Mem Mem Shin. These letters stand for Milah, Mokom- Place, and Shabbos. Mem-Milah, Mem -Mokom, Shin- Shabbos. The Akeidah expressed each of these. Milah / the Shecting of Yitzchok, Mokom/ the place of the future Mizbayach, Shabbos/ the Neshama Yeserah a person gets on Shabbos like the new Neshamah Yitzchok received after the Akeidah, which would now enable him to have children.
(22:5) “V’ani V’hanar Nailcha Ad-Koh-I and the lad will go Yonder.” When Avraham told Yishmael and Eliezer to wait with the donkeys he uses the word Koh (place). He and the boy would go Ad Koh. The Midrash notes this rare usage of the word Koh and interprets it as an allusion to a previous use of the word. (15:5) “Koh Yihyeh Zaracha-So shall be your seed.” which began with the same word. Hashem is promising Avraham's descendants will be as numerous as the stars. So he is saying let’s go see what will be with that promise of Yitzchok's descendants. When Sarah told Avraham to expel Hagar and Yishmael, it troubled him greatly. His characteristic was mainly Chesed. To do this to a member of his own family was a tremendous test for him. Hashem spoke to him and said (21:12) “Al Yirah B’eynecha al-Hanar-Ki B’Yitzchok Yikarai Lecha Zorah-Do not become distressed over the lad, because through Yitzchak will your seed continue.” Actually there never would have been any descendants of Avraham had they not gone through with this test. According to the Ohr H’Chaim originally Yitzchok was born with a female Neshama and could not have had children. According to the Chidah this was due to the fact that Sarah laughed at the news of her giving birth. At the time of the Akeida Yitzchok’s female Neshama left him and was replaced with a Neshama of a male. So it comes out that had they not gone through with this test there never would have been any descendants of Avraham. The words “V’Elokim Nisa es-Avraham-Hashem tested Avraham” equal 878 in Gematria. The same value as the words “Ki B’Yitzchok Yikara Lecha Zorah-Through Yitzchok will your seed continue.” (Kolel)
(22:5) “V’ani V’hanar Nailcha Ad-Koh-I and the lad will go Yonder.” We find that Yitzchok here is called “H’Nar” even though he was 37 years old at this point? Perhaps we can say that since every place in the Torah that the word Naarah is written it is always spelled without the letter “Hey” at the end. At this point Yitzchok had not yet received his male Neshama therefore the word can correctly be read as Naarah and be referring to the female Yitzchok. (Nireh Li)
Why was it that Yitzchok had to go through this transformation of souls? It could be that since Yitzchok was the first child born of two Jewish parents, and this was the formation of the Jewish nation, there had to be a rectification of the first man. The first man was created both male and female. Therefore the rectification of man had to have also once been both male and female. (Nireh Li)
(21:12) “Ki B’Yitzchok Yikarai Lecha Zorah-because through Yitzchak will your seed continue.” The word B’Yitzchok can be understood as two Yitzchaks. The one before the Akeidah and the one after. The one before became Rivka, the one after was now able to father children.
(22:13) “Vayikach es-Ho’Ayil Valehu Tachas Benoe-And he took the ram and brought it up as an offering instead of his son.” Often we find when the word Tachas is used in a Posuk that we look to the letters underneath the word that follows. Like the phrase “Ayin Tachas Ayin-An eye for an eye.” The letters that follow after the letters of the word Ayin spell Kesef-Money, meaning that we don’t actually take an eye but rather the value of an eye. Perhaps here too we can look at the letters that follow (Tachas) in the word Benoe. They equal 70 in gematria, the same numerical value as Adom V’Chava.
(22:7) “Vayomer Yitzchok el-Avraham-Aviv, Vayomer Hineini Beni-Yitzchok said to Avraham-father, and he said Here I am my son.” It seems odd that after traveling for three days Yitzchok should now say “father” and Avraham answers “here I am my son”? The Oznayim L’Torah writes that after gathering the wood and the flame for the sacrifice, Yitzchok suddenly begins to notice something strange. There is no animal here to offer. He looks to his father in what is the only exchange recorded in the Torah between these two patriarchs, and he says “father” are you still the father who loves me? Avraham replies, “Here I am MY SON” you are still a son to me. I still love you but Hashem will provide for the sacrifice and they both went together. They were together on this mission.
The Zohar writes the Yitzchok was asking if Avraham still had the Midah of Rachamim. To which Avraham replied Hineini Beni-Now I have taken on the Midah of my son that of Din.
(22:12) “Vayomer Al Tishlach Yodcha-And He said “Do not touch the Lad.” Who said? Hashem told Avraham to bring Yitzchok up as an offering, now an angel comes and tells him to desist? Whom should he listen to, Hashem or the angel? How ever R.Avraham Davis, in the Metzuda Chumash inserts in brackets “He [G-D] said” based on a Midrash.
(22:13) “Vayisa Avraham es-Aynov Vayar V’henei-Ayil Achar Nechaz Basavach- Avraham lifted his eyes and behold, he saw a ram afterwards caught in the thicket.” It would seem that the word Achar (afterward) in this Posuk is extra? The Shelah writes that on the sixth day of creation all of the animals were created. But this ram was one of the ten things created Erev Shabbos right before nightfall. So this ram was created after/Achar all the other animals. It was created after the chet of Adam. Avraham knew that this ram was unique and therefore offered it in place of his son. How did Avraham know this? This ram had no belly button; it was not born from a womb, but rather created by Hashem.
(22:13) “Vayisa Avraham es-Aynov Vayar V’henei-Ayil Achar Nechaz Basavach- Avraham lifted his eyes and behold, he saw a ram afterwards caught in the thicket.” When we have the word Acher in a verse we may look to the letters that follow. In this case if we look at the letters Acher/following the word Savach we come up with the word Eigel. In the future Klkal Yisroel will get caught up with the sin of the Eigel and the merits of the Akeidaˆ will be able to rescue them. (Pardes Yosef)
The Mishneh in Avos tells us that this Ram was one of the ten things created right before Shabbos. The left horn was made into a shofar that was used for Matan Torah.(Rashi Shemos 19:13) The right horn will be the shofar used to herald the coming of Moshiach. (Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer 31) These two monumental events in human history are both tied to the Akeidah. What is so special about this ram that it necessitated being created at the dawn of time? Also why was it necessary at all? Avraham was to be tested to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son, he passed that test. But we see that as soon as the Malach told Avraham not to kill Yitzchok he said, “I have come for nothing! Let me at least make a wound.” We learn from here how every human action has two phases. First there is the thought, the conceptual stage, and then the action. The first stage is the abstract, spiritual stage, the potential to become a reality. Then there is the action, the physical manifestation of the potential into reality. This is man’s mission in the world, to bring the spiritual into the physical. By Hashem these acts occur simultaneously. Hashem’s thoughts become reality at the same moment. But there are ten exceptions to this rule. The ten things that were created erev Shabbos were suspended as potential until the time where they would be needed and transformed into a state of actuality. There was a potential for a Matan Torah, there is a potential for Moshiach to come. Avraham wanted to give a reality to the potential he had of being willing to sacrifice his son. He wished to at least make a wound to concretize that potential. All of these ten things were created to enable man to ultimately return to the source, to the spiritual. The Sefas Emes writes that the Ten Mamorous was uttered at the beginning of creation; the ten things created Erev Shabbos completed the creation. The physical world was brought into being at the start but there had to be a spiritual connection to the source. Shabbos was the goal of creation. Therefore at the onset of the first Shabbos of creation the connections to the spiritual world had to be set in order to ultimately bring the world back to its source, to its purpose. This is what Avraham hoped to accomplish through the sacrifice of this ram.
The Akeidah is depicted as the apex of the ten trials that Avraham faced. Why is it any greater than his willingness to give up his life when Nimrod threw him into the furnace? In the sefer Panim Yafes it talks about the contradictions that Avraham faced. On the one hand Hashem promised him that through Yitzchak his seed would continue. But on the other hand, here he is asked to sacrifice his only heir? A major contradiction! Yet Avraham never second guessed Hashem’s word. We see this theme throughout the ten trials. Hashem said “Lech Lecha” leave your home and family and then he causes a famine, which forces Avraham to go down to Egypt. But Avraham never questions Hashem’s motives. This is the essence of what serving Hashem is. This is the Tikun of the Chet of Adom, for he too was faced with a dilemma, but unlike Avraham he did second-guess Hashem. Avraham’s ten trials proved that his descendants are worthy to carry on his mission of correcting Adom’s sin.
(22:20) “Vayehe Acharei Hadevorim Ha’Ayleh- After these events.” It’s interesting to note that immediately after the incident of the Akeida, of Yitzchok losing his female Neshama, the birth of Rivka is brought into the picture. It could be that this was the Neshama that left Yitzchok at the Akeida. The number of words in the entire Parsha of the Akeida equals 307 the same as the numerical value of the name Rivka.
(22:20) “Vayehe Acharei Hadevorim Ha’Ayleh- After these events.” We find these words at the end of this week’s parsha. The word Vayehe always denotes some form of sadness. They go on to record the birth of Nachor’s children. At the time of Yitzchok’s birth we have learned that many women that could not previously conceive became pregnant. At this crossroads of Jewish history, at the birth of the first child born from two Jewish parents, the first link in a chain that would lead mankind back to Adom before the Chet a tremendous element of Kiddusha was being introduced into the world. To counterbalance this event there had to be an element of Tumeh introduced into the world at the same time. The Posuk says that Nachaor’s wife Milka gave birth to Kimuel. The name means Kimu-El, to rise up against Hashem. The Midrash relates that this birth produced Billem.
Lech'lecha Go (to 'yourself")
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” Avraham, the ultimate Baal Teshuva, is about to transform his entire being. Go to yourself M'artzecha-from your land- go from the physicality of this world, Moladditcha-from your birthplace-from the character traits you were born with. U’mibeis Avicha-From your fathers home-from all of the negative teachings that you were raised with.
(12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” Hashem commanded Avraham to go to himself, to set out on establishing a name for himself and for Hashem. Most commentators include this as the third of the ten trials of faith which Hashem tested Avraham. In the very next posuk Hashem tells Avraham that he will make him into a great nation, bless him, and make his name great. What type of test is this? Being offered all these rewards, anyone would follow Hashem’s directives? Perhaps Hashem’s test was to see the true motivation behind Avraham’s actions. Would he perform the will of Hashem solely for the sake of Hashem, or for the rewards? Only Hashem can know the motivations of the heart. This could also explain another question about this test.
According to Pirke D’Rebbe Eliezer the first of Avraham’s trials was having to hide underground from Nimrod for thirteen years, because he sought to kill Avraham for his beliefs. The second trial for him was being thrown into the fiery furnace again because of his beliefs, but he would not renounce Hashem. However the Torah never mentions these tests outright. The first mention of a test is the third one of “Lech Lecha” to uproot himself and move to another country. Why aren’t the first two mentioned?
The Gemarra in Kiddushin (31B) says “Gadol Hametzuveh V’oseh M’me Sh’ayno Metzuveh V’oseh-Greater is one who is commanded to act and does so than one who is not commanded and does so.” Why isn’t a mitzvah performed voluntarily, when not commanded, a greater display of one’s desire to fulfill Hashem’s word than a mitzvah done when commanded? The ultimate level in performing a mitzvah is if it is done solely because it is the will of Hashem, without any ulterior motives. Even though doing a mitzvah when not commanded does display a great desire to do Hashem’s will to Avraham, it still stems from self-motivation and not Divine decree. This perhaps can answer the question of the first two tests not being mentioned in the Torah. Because they were not commanded to Avraham, by Hashem they didn’t show how Avraham performed the will of Hashem. They came from his own initiative. But the trial of “Lech Lecha” not only displayed Avraham’s performance of Hashem’s will, it showed how even in the face of reward, his motivations were pure. The ability to negate one’s self for Hashem is at the root of what a Jew is. The trial of “Lech Lecha” is the first mentioned in the Torah because it was the beginning of the process that would eventually correct the original sin of Adom. At least in some part, the sin of Adom was to second guess Hashem to believe that he could serve Hashem better through his own actions. Avraham placed into the spiritual genetics of Klal Yisroel this ability to negate himself to the will of Hashem. The words “Lech Lecha” equal 104 in gematria (including the letters) the same as the words “Nediv Leibo” (a giving heart).
(12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” The parsha begins with Hashem telling Avraham to leave his home and that he will make him into a great nation, he will bless him and make his name great and “you will be a bracha.” In all there are seven blessings that were bestowed on Avraham at this time. This became the source for the “Sheva Brochos” we have for newlyweds to this very day. Just as Avraham left his fathers home to start a new life, so too newlyweds leave their childhood homes and embark on a new life, We therefore emulate the actions of Hashem when we perform a Sheva Brochos for a newly wed couple.
(12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” The parsha begins with Hashem telling Avraham to leave his home and that he will make him into a great nation, he will bless him and make his name great and “you will be a Bracha.” Rashi says what it means when it says he will make you into a great nation is what we say in Shemone Esrei “the G-D of Avraham”, I will bless you, that is what we say “the G-D of Yitzchok”, I will make your name great that is what we say “the G-D of Yakov”. So Rashi goes on to say that you would think we should finish off with all of them. Meaning the Bracha in Shemone Esrei “Mogain Avraham” should end with “Mogain Avraham, Yitzchok and Yakov”. That is what it means when it says and you will be a Bracha. We finish off the Bracha with Avraham alone not the other Avos.
The Kotzker Rebbe says this is talking about the end of time. There are three things that sustain the world’s existence. Torah, Avodah and Gamilas Chesed. Each of the Avos represented one of these Midos. Avraham was the Midah of Chesed. Yitzchok the Midah of Avodah and Yakov was Torah. You might think that since Klal Yisroel received these traits from the Avos, that they would endure, that these Midos would still be with us at the end of history. But we see that through the generations the Midah of Torah is diminished the Midah of Avodah is diminished. Only this Midah of Chesed is as strong if not stronger than it was in the past. More Tzaddaka is given nowadays then ever before in Jewish history. That is the meaning of “you will be a Bracha.” That Avraham's Midah of Chesed will be what sustains the world at the end of time. We are commanded to learn Torah. But how many of us will be the Gadol Ha’dor. However with regard to Chesed each of us have the capability to become giants in this trait. This is what will bring the Geulah,
But there is another way to view this comment. R.Shimon Shkop interprets this in light of historical events that began to develop in his days. Each of the Avos has a character trait in which they excelled beyond the others. Avraham was unique in that he was brought up in a home that was devoid of belief in the true Hashem. He was thus a true seeker and finder of the spiritual truth. He was the originator of the first Kiruv movement, bringing people closer to Hashem. This is the intention of the words “B’cho Chosmin.” At the end of days it will be the “Chasimoh” the closing act, it will be Avraham’s trait that brings Moshiach, the final Teshuvah movement.
(12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” This is the first mentioning of the Ten trials of Avraham. The question is did he pass the test? According to the Ramban he did not. Hashem told him to go to “the land that He will show him.” Eretz Canaan, but as soon as he got there he became faced with a famine and left. Hashem never told him he could leave.
The Ramban maintains that had Avraham not left Eretz Yisroel no future generation would have been forced into exile.
The Oznayim L’Torah writes that Avraham didn’t leave because of personal discomfort G-d forbid. But rather his concern was for his Yeshiva. Avraham was in the business of bringing people close to Hashem. As such he would make a lavish spread to attract people to his home. When the famine struck this became impossible for him to continue, so he left for Mitzrayim. This can help explain how Avraham could say to his wife as they were traveling down to Mitzrayim, “Imri Nah Achosi At L’mann Yitav Li Bavurech V’choysa Nafshi B’glalech-Say that you are my sister in order that it be well with me for your sake and that I may live on account of you.” Rashi says the words “L’mann Yitav Li” means “They will give me gifts.” Would we dare say that by mentioning the gifts first Avraham was more concerned with physical gifts than his very life? But according to what we said we can explain his words as follows. That it may be well for me (ie. the Egyptians will give me gifts) so that I may maintain my Yeshiva, then V’choysa Nafshi my life long mission may remain alive.
Lech Lecha B’gematria is 100. The blessings in the following verses, that he would become a great nation etc. would be realized when he would be 100 years old. When Yitzchok will be born.(Baal Haturim) Also Avraham was to be a Tikun for the previous generations. The Dore of The Mabel, The Dore Enosh, and the Dore Hafloge. The first letters of each of these generations are Mem, Aleph and Hey. Which spells Maeyah (100).
The fact that Bris =612 in Gematria shows that the Mitzvah of Milah is equal to the rest of the Mitzvos in the Torah.
If Avraham did all the mitzvahs in the Torah, why did he wait until he was 99 years old before doing this Mitzvah of Bris Milah? The Gemarra in Kiddushin (31B) says “Gadol Hametzuveh V’oseh M’me Sh’ayno Metzuveh V’oseh-Greater is one who is commanded to act and does so than one who is not commanded and does so.” Because doing a mitzvah when you are not commanded to is not as great as doing it when commanded. Since Bris Milah, unlike other Mitzvahs can only be done once in a lifetime, Avraham waited to be commanded.
We know that Avram could not have children. But Avraham could after his name was changed. What about Ishmael? He was already born at this point? And he was still called Avram?
The answer is that Avram feared he would have no son as an heir. Therefore Hashem assured him that Avram would not have a son who would be an heir but Avraham would. Another answer is that the astrological sign concerned Avram & Sarah as a pair could have no children. But Avram and Hagar was something else.
(12:5) “Vayikach Avram es Sarai-Ves Hanefesh Asher Asu B’choron-And Avram took his wife Sarai and the souls that he made in Charan.” Did they make souls or did they teach students? Why are the students called souls? The Gemarrah says “Olam Chessed Yiboneh-the world is built on Chessed” And it points out that the Torah begins with Chessed and ends with Chessed. Following the sin of Adom and Chava Hashem expelled them from Gan Eden. He could have said you are on your own; I want nothing to do with you. But instead He made them clothes of leather. He showed them special care and concern. He extended to Adom and Chava a special Chessed.
At the end of the Torah we read that Hashem personally buried Moshe Rabeinu which is called Chessed Shel Emes a true Chessed because the recipient cannot repay the kindness done to him. Hashem put into man the capacity to emulate Hashem. Just as He is kind, man has that capacity to be kind as well. There is a type of Chessed that is unique to man. An animal will show compassion and concern because that is how the Creator designed them. A mother cat will protect her offspring but that same cat will not protect the offspring of another. Humans however are completely different. They were given the free will to choose to do Chessed. This character trait was something that was lost in the generations prior to Avraham. It was supposed to be the hallmark of every human being not just the Jewish people. Instead man chose to be not like Hashem but to be like the other animals in the world, concerned only about himself, his own needs, his own desires, and his own survival.
When the Posuk says “Vayikach Avram es Sarai-Ves Hanefesh Asher Asu B’choron-And Avram took his wife Sarai and the souls that he made in Charan.” It means that Avram and Sarah awoke in their students the divine qualities that Hashem instilled in the human race. They taught them how to care for more than just themselves, how to do chessed, how to emulate Hashem. Therefore Hashem rewarded them by giving their children a lifestyle of Torah and Mitzvos that trains them to do even more Chessed.
The Shelah writes that the "Souls" refer to the souls created from intimacy that did not produce children. The souls that their intimacy brought down to this world were not in vain. They were placed in other embryos and these souls later went on to become converts.
Why does the Posuk mention that they left the land of Canaan and they arrived in the land of Canaan? Avram and his family did not stop along the way but came directly to their intended destination. This is meant to point out the contrast to Terach who also left for Canaan but only got as far as Charan.(Radak/Soforno)
(12:6) “V’Ha'Canaani Az B’Aretz- The descendants of Canaan were in the land.” This tells us they were conquering the land from the descendants of Shem who were given it from Noach after the flood. So when Hashem says he will give the land of Canaan to Benei Yisroel, he is giving it back to the rightful owners, since Canaan stole it from them originally.
The question is why did they merit having possession of Eretz Yisroel? Why did they merit having it called by their name? Canaan was the cursed nation, how could they obtain the most blessed land? The Sefer Otzer Chaim quotes the Ramban and says that Hashem gave this land to Canaan for safekeeping. They should have been like an Eved to watch it for Yisrael. Avdus for Canaan was not only punishment but also a Tikun for him. Noach’s idea was that he would have a fourth son after the flood, which would be the Eved of the first three sons. They would be able to devote their lives to more spiritual pursuits free of worry. Just like Yissachar and Zevoulon. Cham ruined this idea so Noach cursed his fourth son, Canaan, to be an Eved to his brothers. However he would only remain cursed if he Canaan, wasn’t Machniya himself, humble himself to his brothers. If he would be their Eved as was Noach’s original plan, this Orur (cursed) would turn into a Boruch (blessed). He would be like Zevoulon (and Eliezer who turned into a Boruch). Eretz Yisroel fell into the hands of Canaan for safekeeping. Canaan was supposed to be the trusted Eved to Benei Sheim. Then he would have been called Boruch. The Canaanim were able to have the land stay in their name because of two instances where they did humble themselves. First when Avraham was purchasing the burial plot for Sarah from Benei Chayse, who were descendants of Canaan, it says (23:6) “Nesi Elokim Atoh B’sochainy-You are a prince of Hashem in our midst.” And again when heard that Klal Yisroel was entering the land, they turned towards them. Hashem said “You turned towards my children- I’m naming the land after you.”
The word Az equals eight hinting that the eighth generation will conquer the land. (Midrash Hagadol)
(12:7) “Vayereh Hashem Aylav...Vayiven Shom Mizbeach L’Hashem Hanireh Aylav-Hashem appeared to him...and he built an altar to Hashem who appeared to him.” The posuk seems repetitive. It starts off with Hashem appearing to him and ends off with the words “Hashem who appeared to him?” Also why didn’t Avraham build an altar after the first encounter, when Hashem told him to leave his home and he would be blessed?
Perhaps there, by the first encounter, he was still in Golus. Now after reaching Eretz Yisroel he was being drawn closer and closer to the source of Kiddusha. This is why the Torah keeps mentioning his traveling south. The Tiferes Tzion writes that Eretz Yisroel has different levels of Kiddusha. He was thanking Hashem for now being privy to a higher level of prophecy. Reaching Har Moriah he built an altar. The words Ha’Nireh Aylav-Who appeared to him equal 308 as does the words Zeh Har Elokim-This is the mountain of Hashem
(12 :10) “Vayehe Rov B'aretz- And there was a famine in the land.” This was the first famine in the history of the world. Avraham was preaching the virtues of monotheism. Yet no sooner does he arrive at the land Hashem is commanding him to dwell in and the first famine breaks out! How difficult this must have been for Avraham to endure. How did the inhabitants of Canaan view him and his preaching when his arrival seemed to bring such misfortune. Yet Avraham never wavered in his faith.
(12:11) “Vayihe Kasher Hikriv Lovo Mitzroymah Vayomer el-Soray Ishto Henei-Nah Yodaty Ki Isha Yefas-Mareh Ott-And it occurred, as he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, Now I know that you are a woman of beautiful appearance.” The Beis Halevy says that Man has the ability, through his free will to be able to affect nature. Man, through his actions can change the spiritual standing of the entire world. When there is a Tzaddik in the world his actions raise up everyone else. On the other hand someone who gives in to temptation, causes everyone else to be more susceptible to temptation. We can see this in terms of places too. If a person travels to a country that is prone to certain Averous he can find that he is suddenly drawn to that specific Averah. Not that he must submit to it. But it suddenly becomes an issue. It could be that this is what the Torah is telling us here. Egypt at the time was called “Ervas Ha’aretz.” It was the most promiscuous land of that time. The Posuk mentions, “as he was about to enter Egypt.” It was then that he noticed his wife’s beauty. It was only then that the impurity of Egypt began to have an affect on them. And only then that it became an issue.
At the end of last week’s Parsha the Torah tells us that Sarah was barren. One of the reasons for this is that Hashem’s nation needed a new creation. There had to be a break from the past and it’s harmful influences. Only a completely fresh source could create a new family of Ovday Hashem.
(12:13) “L'man Yitav Li Bavurech- In order for it to be well with me for your sake.” Rashi says this refers to gifts. Avraham was certainly not concerned with material wealth. However being a great prophet he perceived how his actions would affect future generations. The Ramban writes the principal of “Maase Avos Simin L';banim-The acts of our forefathers are a sign for their offspring.” When the nation of Israel would leave Egypt, it would leave with great wealth. This was an outgrowth of the events that took place here. Just as Avraham became rich because of his wife, so too Klal Yisroel merited great wealth because of the righteous women of that generation. Just as Sarah emerged unscathed from her encounter with Pharoh, so too the women of Klal Yisroel were unharmed during their long servitude in Mitzrayim.
(13:1) “Vayal Avram MiMitzrayim Hu V’ishto V’Chol Asher Lo V’lot Imo Hanegbah-Avram went up from Egypt, He and his wife and all that was his, And Lot was with them, to the south.” The words "Lote Imo" hint to the fact that when Benei Yisroel left Egypt the Erev Rav went with them.
The Sifsei Chachomim writes that Avraham told Sarah to say she was his sister and that they were looking for her missing husband. This would insure that she be left alone. Why then did Pharoh take her? He did not believe her and thought she was just trying to put him off.
(13:7) “ V'ha'Canani V'haprizi Oz Yosheiv B'aretz-the Cananites and the Perizites were dwelling in that land at that time.” Earlier (12:6) the Torah mentions that the Canaanites were in the land but records it differently here? In our verse the word Yoshev is added. The Chasam Sofer explains that when there is strife amongst Israel, the nations unite in peace. But when Israel is united Hashem keeps the nations of the world busy feuding with each other instead of directing their attention against Israel.
(13:14) "V'Hashem Omar el-Avraham Acharei Hiporad-Lote-Hashem spoke to Avraham after he separated from Lote." Hashem does not speak with Avraham until Lote leaves. Lote became corrupt after becoming wealthy from the Egyptian spoils. The fact that he left is significant because until now he was Avraham's only heir. Now, that not being the case, Hashem is promising Avraham children not being concerned that Lote would interfere.
(13:17) "Kum Hishalech B'aretz-Arise and walk through the land." Previously the posuk says "View the land" The Kli Yakar writes That one was for spiritual acquisition, the other for physical.
(14:1) “Vayihi Bimai Amrafel- And it was in the days of Amraphel.” The word “Vayihi” is always a loshon of tzaar. This is because they were the first to shed blood in war. The story of the four kings beating the five kings is the first recording of war in history, but Avraham making a Mizbe’ach precedes it. (13:18) “Vayiven Shom Mizbeach la'Hashem-He built there an Altar to Hashem.” The first letters of each spell SHALOM (peace). Avraham sensed that a tremendous negative thing was about to occur. So he prefaced it with a sign of something positive. It is interesting to note that the name Amraphel comes from the words Omer-Pol that means the one who said throw. This is referring to Nimrod who said throw Avraham into the fiery furnace. How is this connected to the war between the four kings? Rashi brings down a Midrash that says when the king of Sodom was miraculously rescued from the slime pits, many nations that previously did not believe in the miracle of Avraham’s rescue from the fiery furnace now believed. It was through the defeat of Amrapel(Nimrod) that the previous miracle became validated.
The Midrash says that when Avraham was commanded to do Bris Milah, he consulted with three friends. Aner, Eshkol and Mamre whether to do it publicly during the day for a Kiddush Hashem or to do it secretly at night to avoid remarks by scoffers and to avoid attacks by his enemies. Aner told him “It’s dangerous you’re too old. Don't do the Bris at all.” Eshkol agreed with Aner. Only Mamre was encouraging and showed his Emunah by telling Avraham that as Hashem never forsook you in the past (the furnace, the war with the kings etc.) you should definitely listen to him here. His reward for this good advice was that Hashem said he would only appear to Avraham in “Alonai Mamre.”
“Vaagadla Shemecha I will make your name great.” The Midrash says that Avraham minted a coin that was accepted throughout the world, a distinction held by only four people: Avraham, Yehoshua, Dovid and Mordechai. The coin had the likeness of Avraham and Sarah on one side and Yitzchok and Rivkah on the reverse.
(14:12) “Vayikchu Lote, V’es Rechusho, Ben Achi Avram- They took Lote, and his possessions, the son of his brother. The order seems strange? It should read - “They took Lote his nephew, and his possessions.” The entire war was only because Lote was Avram’s nephew. This was a spiritual war against Avram who was drawing men away from idolatry. Hashem incited the kings to this invasion in order to aggrandize Avram’s name through their defeat and all would be attracted to the service of Hashem.
(14:13) “Vayovo Hapolate-And there came the one that had escaped.”Rashi explains that this refers to Og who escaped the flood. The question is how he could have lived as long as he did being that he was a wicked person? His longevity was his punishment. Hashem punished him for wanting to kill Avraham by allowing him many years to see all of the offspring that came from Avraham.
(14:15) “Vayaicholek Lohem Laylah-The night was divided for them.”Rashi writes that the night was divided in half. One half for saving Avraham, the other half to be set aside for the night of Pesach. The question is how are these two events connected? The Kol Torah writes that since Avraham unhesitatingly rushed to help Lote even though Lote openly abandoned Avraham's belief's, Hashem rewarded Avraham's descendants by saving them even when at times they were not worthy.
The night was divided, light for Avraham and dark for the four kings. This later became part of Yetzias Mitzrayim. As it says during the plague of darkness "The children of Israel had light in all of their dwellings."
(14:20) “Vayitane-Lo Maaser M’kol-And he gave a tenth of everything.” Avraham gave a tenth to Malchitzedek the king. How could that be when we know that Avraham didn't even take a shoestring from the spoils? One answer is it wasn't Avraham who gave the tenth but the king gave him a tenth. Another answer is that Avraham rescued the spoils and they became his possessions. He then gave the tenth but then afterward gave him the rest as well.
Why did Avraham take from the king of Mitzraim but not from the king of Sodom? How did he know that Hashem was not making him rich through this? Avraham knew that Hashem's blessing would not come through human suffering. Since the king of Sodom was giving these gifts in gratitude for being rescued, Avraham knew it wasn’t Hashem’s blessing. But Pharoh gave gifts in order to gain favor from Avraham.
(15:4) "Lo Yirash Zeh-This one will not inherit."Why is Avraham concerned? Hashem has already promised him offspring? Chizkuni writes that this answers Avraham's concern that at his advanced age, even were he to have a son, he would be raised by Eliezer.
What would be wrong if Eliezer continued Avraham’s mission? Rashi comments that he was Doleh U’mashkeh-He preached Avraham’s monotheistic vision?” The next Posuk Hashem takes Avraham outside and tells him to gaze at the stars. What is the connection? Eliezer could repeat everything he learned from Avram, but never introduced anything new. Hashem thus says “your descendants will be like the stars.” Meaning just as each star has its own light to contribute, so too will be your offspring.
(15:16) “Ki Lo Sholaim Avone H’Emorie Ad Heina-For the sins of the Emorite will not yet be full until then.” The fourth generation will return, but not until four hundred years. What was the sin of the Emorim? They saw the Egyptians slaughtering innocent children, enslaving a guiltless people with backbreaking servitude and did nothing to aid the victims. This should serve as a warning to the nations of the world who stood by while the Nazis built furnaces to burn six million innocent Jews. They witnessed without protest, doing nothing to save the victims.
(17:13) “Himoel Timoel es Yelid Baiso-He that is born of your household you shall surely circumcise. Chazal say that when Avraham was commanded to perform the Bris Milah he asked advice from Mamrei. How could Avraham have asked advice? The Midrash says that Avraham circumcised many babies before circumcising himself, but they all died, until his friend Mamrei advised him that it was only once he circumcised himself that he was permitted to circumcise others. This can be derived from the Posuk (17:13) “Himol Yimol Y’lid Beiso- You shall surely Circumcise all those born in your house.” Implying that one who has been circumcised may circumcise others. (Rosh)
(17:26) “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh-On that very day.” On the day that Avraham did the Bris Milah it says “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh.” This day was the tenth of Tishrei (Yom Kippur). Every year Hashem sees the blood of Avraham's Milah and forgives all the sins of Yisroel. But if this day was Yom Kippur how was he able to perform the Bris Milah? The only time Milah can overrule Shabbos or Yom Tov is if it is preformed on the eighth day. Since this the Bris Milah was being done when Avraham was 99 years old, why was it done on Yom Tov? This could explain why the term “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh” is repeated in (17:23) and (17:26). The Torah wishes to emphasize that the bris took place on that very same day, the day that Hashem commanded him. Since it was the day that Avraham received the command it was equivalent to Bris B’zmano (circumcision in its proper time) and therefore permitted on Yom Tov.
(17:26) “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh” is not listed ( Rashi in Devarim) as one of the three times this statement is mentioned in the Torah. The first being by Noach going into the Teivah, the second by Yetzias Mitzraim and the third by Moshe's death. It could be that these other three times involved an action by Hashem where his will was being challenged, whereas here it was a test for Avraham. Avraham thought that publicizing the Bris Milah might alienate the very people he sought to bring close to Hashem. Perhaps it would be better to do the Bris Milah at night or in private. In the end he performed the Bris Milah “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh-On that very day In broad daylight despite what others would say.
We are not allowed to call Avraham - Avram after Hashem changed his name. A reason for that could be that if you add the names of Avraham Yitzchok and Yakov it equals 13 letters which equals Echod. (Hashem) If you use Avram without the letter Hey it is taking away from Hashem's name. In addition if you add the names of the Matriarchs it equals 13 as well. Combined they equal 26 again the name of Hashem.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
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(1:1)“Ayleh Ha’Devorim-These are the words.” This is the only Sefer that begins with “Kol Yisroel” and ends with “Kol Yisroel” We begin the fifth Sefer of the Torah in the fifth month of the year. This corresponds to the fifth level of the Neshama. There are five levels of the soul. Nefesh Ruach, Neshama, Chaye & Yichidah. Yichidah, the final level, is oneness with Hashem. It is the most hidden of all the five levels and is the level that will be revealed in the future. After each of the four exiles another level was revealed. We are now in the final exile, that of Yishmael, and what will be revealed, will be revealed to Kol Yisrael-To all of Israel. Every member of Israel will experience his own redemption. The long exile of Edom that we have endured, was only endured in the merit of Torah. However the final exile will require Tefillah-Prayer to combat the strength of Yishmael’s prayers. Perhaps this is why the Sefer is called Devarim-words. Because in the final days it is the words of our Tefillos that will be most desired by Hashem.
With this we might explain Moshe Rabeinu’s sin, that of the missed opportunity to sanctify Hashem’s name by speaking to the rock to draw water. Before entering the land of Israel, Hashem wanted a display of the power of words. Thirty-Eight years earlier it was negative words that prevented them from entering the land. Now Hashem gave Moshe the opportunity to correct the sin of the spies with words. “Shehakol Nihiye B’devoroh-All exists through His word.” would have new meaning upon entering the Holy Land. But that revelation was never made.
Sefer Devarim is usually read in the fifth month of Av the Shabbos before Tisha B’av called Shabbos Chazon-The Shabbos of Vision. The entire Sefer is one of Moshe’s vision. Concealed in his words, the future is veiled. Scattered throughout, the secrets of the final redemption await us.
(1:1)“Ayleh Ha’Devorim-These are the words.” The first words of the Sefer Devarim infer that “these” words are different from those that came before. What the Torah wished to stress was that only these words were said by Moshe without having to be commanded by Hashem. Whereas the first four books were said by Hashem himself including every single letter and detail.(Ohr Hachaim)
The question is how can the Ohr Hachaim say this? The Gemarrah in Sanhedin says that if a person believes that the entire Torah is from heaven except one Posuk he is considered to have dishonored the word of Hashem. How can he say that Moshe said the entire Sefer of Devarim? The Kli Chemdah say's that Hashem gave the first four books to Moshe just as Hashem said them. But in the sefer Devarim Moshe expanded on the explanations of some of the Mitzvos himself. Afterwards Hashem commanded him to write the entire Torah down including Moshe's direct words.
Now if Moshe said these words why are they not in chronological order? The reason is because all of the sins that Moshe recounts are all alluded to and not mentioned directly. The order was another attempt to spare the honor of Benei Yisroel.
This Sefer was said on the last days of Moshe’s life. He began to speak to Klal Yisroel on the first day of Shevat and we know that he died on the seventh day of Adar. This means that this was the last thirty-six days of Moshe’s life. The Ohr Hachaim writes that this is alluded to in the word “Ayleh” which has the numerical value of thirty-six.
The question arises as to why the Sefer Devarim is Moshe’s own words? What lesson are we meant to extract from this? We know that these were the last days of Moshe’s life. As such he had elevated himself to become the most complete human being that ever lived. Moshe Rabeinu was the model of what man can achieve. He went from a Kevad Peh-a heavy mouth, an inability to speak, to an orator whose words became part of the Torah. These words, according to the Abarbanel, are actually the oldest source of the Oral Torah extant. Moshe was on his last days, doing the Mitzvah of expounding on the written Torah.
Sefer Devarim is called Mishneh Torah-The repetition of the Torah. Mainly because most of the laws contained in it have already been said or hinted at in the first four books. But according to what we have just said perhaps we can see a deeper understanding. When a person is Nifter the relatives left behind learn Mishnayos for the sake of that departed soul. The reason for this is that the letters of the words Mishneh are the same as that of the word Neshama. This highest form of Gematria is when the letters of two words are actually the same but just rearranged It would then come out that calling Sefer Devarim - Mishneh Torah, means that this Sefer is the Neshama of the Torah, the soul of the Torah. How do we understand this?
The soul is what gives life, what animates the physical body. The first four books are the body of the Torah. Sefer Devarim is the soul. It is the repetition of the written Torah expounded by man. The Torah unread and unlearned has no life of its own. However what Moshe accomplished in his final days was to set the example for us to follow. This is our mission, to give Torah life. By taking the written Torah and expounding upon it, by bringing out the depth buried in each and every letter, the Torah comes alive.
We always read this Parsha on the Shabbos before Tisha B'av. The Gemarrah in Brachos says that since the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh the Shechina is only found in the Daled Amos Shel Halacah-The four cubits of law. May we be worthy and able, through Torah study, to restore Hashem’s presence to the Mokom Hamikdosh speedily in our time.
(1:5) “B’Ever H’Yardain B’Eretz Moav Hoyel Moshe B’aer es H’Torah-Across the Jordan in the land of Moav Moshe began to expound the Torah.” Why did Moshe wait until now to clarify the Torah? The Torah was received 38 years prior? The Chasam Sofer explains that Moshe knew that he was standing upon land that was elevated in Kiddusha equal to that of the Holy Land. The air of the Holy Land makes one wiser, he therefore felt it was an opportune time.
(1:5) “B’aer es H’Torah-Moshe began to expound the Torah“ Rashi explains it means in 70 languages. Why would they need to hear the Torah in a language they don’t understand? The word Loshon can mean 70 facets of Torah. ( Oznayim L’Torah)
(1:11) “Yosef Aleichem Kochem Eleph Pamim-May Hashem add to you one thousand times.” Why did Moshe need to add to Hashem’s blessings? One answer is that Moshe’s blessings were unconditional wear as Hashem’s was dependent on merit. Another answer is that Hashem’s blessings were for the future while Moshe’s were for this world.
(1:14) “Vatomru Tov Hadovor Asher Debartah Lasos-You said it was good that which you proposed.” When Moshe recounts the advise he received from his father in law Yisro regarding the appointment of judges, he said; “You decided the matter for your benefit.” Rashi says they should have said “ Our teacher Moshe! From whom is it better to learn, from you or from your student?”
Moshe was aware of their thoughts. They knew Moshe was beyond reproach. If they would get an unfavorable judgement they could not bribe Moshe. So they were pleased with the plan suggested by Yisro. But it wasn’t just a matter of respect for Moshe Rabeinu, The teaching they would have received from Moshe was on a level that no other could come near. His light came from the Ohr Haganuz He was the spiritual conduit to connect the Torah to this world. This is why, in Parshas Mattos, Moshe did not teach the laws of purifying vessels to the returning Jews after the war with Midyan. After seeing the soldiers bringing back Midianite women, who had been the source of the problem in the first place, Moshe became very angry. This anger cost him his prophecy and resulted in the laws being taught by Elozar Hakohein instead. We know that the difference between Moshe and Yehoshua was compared to the difference between the sun and the moon.
By not learning the laws of Kashrus from Moshe, we lost vital information about the exile and how to survive it. Just as heat causes the taste to become absorbed in the walls of a vessel, requiring heat to remove it, likewise the heat of anger and the heat of passion cause a Jew to become more absorbed in exile, necessitating heat, or difficulties to extract him from exile. The greater the heat, the greater the absorption and the more severe the process of kashering.
Taught by anyone else all that would get through would be the basic laws of Kashrus, not the message of the exile and how to avoid it. Hence for more than 3,000 years we have been absorbed into exile, into our host societies, and in need of kashering. With Tisha B’av coming we need to recall all of the kashering we have undergone in exile until this point and contemplate the importance of Moshe Rabeinu even now. After all it will be his neshama that will be reincarnated into the Moshiach to guide us towards the end of days.
(1:15) “V’Ekach es Roshai Shivtaichem-So I took the heads of your tribes.”When Yisro gave his advise he gave Moshe seven qualifications. Here Moshe only mentions three? To teach us that a person does not need all of the qualifications to be accepted as judge.
(1:22) “Vayachperu- Lanu es-Ha’aretz-Let them spy out the land.” The term “Vayachperu” is an unusual term. To spy out the land is usually said using the word “L’sur” However the word “Vayachperu” has the connotation of seeing negatively. The spies went to seek out the negativity of the land. This is the lesson Moshe was teaching as he admonished the nation.
The Benei Yisroel was commanded not to do battle with the descendants of Essau because of the tremendous Kibud Av that Essau had for his father. Hashem was paying Essau his due in this world in order not to have to pay him in Olam Haboh. The question is if Essau really paid his father such respect why was he being paid only in this world? The Tiferes Tzion answers that the reward for a mitzvah depends on the motives of the person fulfilling it. If he is only doing it to satisfy his moral feeling of what is right instead of for the mitzvah, Hashem rewards such an act in this world. Since Essav honored his father only for this reason and not for the mitzvah, his descendants were only rewarded in this world.
(1:22) “Es H’derech Asher Naalehu Bah-The road on which we should ascend.” Why did they need to determine which route to take if they had the clouds leading them? They heard Moshe say “Go up” excluding himself! Plus after the prophecy of Eldad and Medad saying Moshe would not be bringing them into the land, they lost faith.
(1:36) “Zulasi Kalev Ben Yefuneh Hu Yirenah-Save for Calev Ben Yefuneh he shall see the land.” We find that once again Yehoshua is not mentioned together with Calev as being the only one’s permitted to enter Ertez Yisroel. Rather two Posukim later the Torah writes (1:38) “Yehoshua bin Nun H’Omaid Lifanecha Hu Yavo Shama-Yehoshu bin Nun who stands before you, he shall come there.” In Parshas Shelach, as well, we find Yehoshua not mentioned the first time that Hashem reveals who will escape punishment from the incident of the spies. (Bamidbar 14:24) Only the second time the Torah mentions the exclusion from punishment does it say “except for Calev ... and Yehoshua.” (Bamidbar 14:30)
Yehoshua was treated Midah Keneged Midah (measure for measure) because at first when the Meraglim spoke against Eretz Yisroel he did not speak up. He let Calev refute what the spies were saying. He assumed they would not listen to him because he was Moshe’s disciple. Only later did they both rent their clothing and say “The land is very good.” This is why he is mentioned separately. Another reason could be because he was the one who was destined to replace Moshe in leading the nation into the land. Therefore he thought they would assume he was biased when it came to speaking about Eretz Yisroel. Actually it was his appointment as leader that facilitated his being forgiven for his sin of not joining Calev at first in “following Hashem wholeheartedly.” The Talmud Yerushalmi explains “three are forgiven for their sins, one who becomes a bridegroom, one who converts and one who is appointed to a position of leadership. (Bikurim 3:3) R.Zalman Sorotzkin
(1:44) “Vayetze Ho’mori-And the Amorim came down.” After the Meraglim return with their negative report about the land of Israel many Jews decided to attempt to go up into the land to conquer it even though they were told that Hashem would not be with them. Moshe is saying here, that the Amorim came down and battled them. The question is that if we look in Parshas Shelach (14:44) we find that it was Amalek and Canaan that battled them not Amorim? The Sharei Aahron answers this question by saying the following. Amalek and Canaan were at the bottom of the mountain the Amorim were above. When the Posuk says they went out it means that they informed the Amalekim of the fact that Klal Yisroel’s approach was imminent. Amalek therefore went to do battle with them. The reason why Amalek was mentioned in Parshas Shelach was because they were the ones who actually fought. What Moshe is telling us here is the real reason behind that. It was the Amorim who instigated the battle.
(1:45) “Vatoshuvu Vativku Lifnei Hashem-You returned and wept before Hashem.”Generally the gates of repentance are not closed to the tears a person cries to Hashem. Nevertheless here the tears were not shed for repentance but out of self-pity.
(2:3) “Penu Lochem Tzfonah-Turn your faces north” The Kol Torah explains this to mean advise for surviving Golus. Keep yourselves hidden. The word Tzafune can also mean Kabbalah. The advise being to survive the long exile we must keep the Torah fresh therefore turn to that which has richness and depth. Kabbalah.
(2:6) “Ochel Tishbru M’itom B’Kesef V’Ochaltem V’Gam Mayim Tichru M’item B’Kesef U’Shsisem- You shall purchase food from them for money and eat it, also water shall you buy from them for money and drink it.” It would seem somewhat redundant to say that the food and water purchased should be consumed? Why else would it be purchased if not for consumption? The Sefer
Ka’aras Kesef writes that Yisroel did not need to buy food or water from them. But Hashem commanded this in order for them to realize that they lacked nothing. All of the years that they were in the Midbar being sustained by the well of Miriam and the Munn from heaven, nothing was lacking. They tasted the water that they purchased and the food they bought, and found that what Hashem provided was superior to it. Hashem wanted them to appreciate what they had.
(2:25) “Hayom Hazeh Achel Tais Pachdecha V'yirasecha al-Penei Ho'amim Tachas Kol-hashmayim-This day I will begin to put the dread and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the heaven.” What is the meaning of “This Day” and “under the heaven” Hashem had been performing miracles for Yisroel all along? What makes this day exceptional? Rashi says that Hashem caused the sun to stand still at noon for 36 hours. This was because they had just encountered Moav and Edom and left them unscathed. They had requested permission to cross their lands but were denied. It could have appeared as if they were incapable of conquering them. If they were now to face the seven nations of the land of Canaan that had 31 kings surely they would not succeed? Hashem therefore made this miracle now. The stopping of the sun signaled that their deity was under Hashem's rule and that Hashem was willing and able to battle on Klal Yisroel's behalf.
(3:21) “Ves-Yehoshua Tzivisi B’ase Ha’he- I commanded Yehoshua at that time.”Out of the 31 times the name Yehoshua appears in the Torah, this is the only time it is spelled with an extra letter. The letter "Vav". R. Dovid Feinstein explains the extra letter to refer to prayer. Yehoshua had exceptional powers of prayer. Had he harnessed that power at the time he led the nation into the land he would have been able to do what the members of the great assembly did hundreds of years later, eradicate idolatry. For this reason he authored the second half of "Aleinu" which speaks of exactly that. A supplication for the abolishment of idolatry from the world.
Sefer Devorim is the only book since Bereishis that does not begin with the letter “Vav”. This is the only place in the Torah where the name of Yehoshua is spelled with an extra “Vav””perhaps the “Vav” that was missing from the beginning of the Sefer. Moshe is telling Yehoshua “Your eyes have seen everything Hashem has done to these two kings, so will Hashem do to all of the kings where you cross over. Do not fear them for Hashem, your G-d will wage war for you.” Hashem, will wage war for you, but you must remain connected to Hashem. That is the Vav H’chibor - the letter of attachment. If you remain connected to Hashem He will do battle for you. Perhaps we can suggest that at this point Moshe was commanding Yehoshua to become his replacement and just as he had added a letter of Hashem's name, the "Yud", to his name when he sent out the spies, changing Hoshea to Yehoshua, so too here he is adding another letter of Hashem's name to strengthen him for his new role. As the Parsha ends "Ki Hashem Elokeichem Hu H'Nilcham Lochem-Hashem your G-d He shall wage war for you.
The Gematria of the name Yehoshua equals 391 in its normal spelling. The same as the phrase Gadol V’Atzum Mimenu-Great and stronger than us. This follows the world of Tevah, the laws of nature. By the laws of nature the 31 kings were bigger and stronger than us. But the name Yehoshua spelled with the extra “Vav” equals 397 in Gematria. The same as the phrase “Ki Hashem Elokeychem Hu H’Nilcham Lochem-Hashem your G-d will wage war for you.”
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(33:1) “Ayleh MasseyBenei Yisroel-These are the journeys of the children of Israel.” Why is the name of this weeks Parsha called Massey, which refers to the traveling, when what the Torah really describes here is the camps that were set up? Also in the very second Posuk (33:2) it says “Vayichtov Moshe es-Moitzaeyhem Le’Maseyhem Al-Pi Hashem V’Ayleh Maseyhem L’Motzaeyhem- And Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of Hashem and these were the journeys according to the goings fourth.” Why is the order of their travels reversed from the way it appears in the beginning? The Ohr Hachaim writes that the going fourth was for a purpose. It was meant for Yisroel to seek out sparks of Kiddusha that are trapped in a shell of Tumeh that make their home in the Midbar. It is the mission of Klal Yisroel to release them from this source by traveling through such places and acting as a magnet of Kiddusah to bring them back to their rightful place. According to the Zohar these sparks could be captured only while actively journeying not while they were encamped. Therefore it was the travels that the Torah mentions not the stops.
According to this we can understand why the Torah wrote “their goings forth according to their journeys” They were going away from the physicality of their experience in Mitzraim and towards the spirituality of their journeys which was gathering in Kiddusha. R.Bachya sees the reverse repetition of this phrase as an allusion to the future redemption. What this means is that in the future it will be our “journeys according to the goings fourth”. The journeys ie. the long Golus, will be what will bring us to the eventual redemption. This is why according to the Megaleh Amukos the Roshe Tevei of the first words of the Parsha represents the four exiles we have endured. Ayleh Massey Beni Yisroel. Alef- Edom, Mem –Modai, Beis – Bavel, Yud – Yovan.
(33:2) “Vatichtov Moshe...Al Pi Hashem-Moshe wrote ...At the bidding of Hashem.”What precisely did the Torah want to teach us here? Why do we need to be told that Moshe recorded these departures, Moshe wrote the entire Torah? According to the Ohr Hachaim it appears that the Torah wanted to inform us that Moshe did not record all these journeys on a single day, but that he recorded them as they occurred. He began recording when he was instructed to make Yisroel leave Egypt. He took notes of each departure and every encampment. Here Hashem told Moshe to include these private notes he had made in the Torah in the order he had previously recorded them. What the Torah describes here is a copy of all the notations made by Moshe throughout all these years.
created many children at risk and was the cause of much bloodshed on the other side of the Jordan and the subsequent need for the additional Aray Miklot.
The last Mitzvah in Sefer Bamidbar is the Mitzvah of driving out the residing gentile nations of the land. The Torah warns that if you do not remove them they will constantly be a thorn in your eyes. This was a lesson never learned, as we see today, much of the non-Jewish element in the land of Israel is far more than a mere thorn in our eyes.
Chazak, Chazak V'nischazek
What was the purpose of recording all of these journeys? Perhaps it was to make Jews aware of how temporary any dwelling outside of Israel really is. To be a Jew is to be on a journey. That is how the Jewish story began when Avraham first heard the words “Lech Lecha”to leave where he was and to travel “to the land I will show you”. Every journey was to grow, to change. We are all on a journey. Without the journey, we do not grow. And life is growth. There is no way to avoid challenge and change. Life is a journey, not a destination. We should constantly set ourselves new challenges that take us closer to our goal.
(33:4) “U’Mitzrayim M’Kabrim-The Egyptians were burying” Why does the Torah need to mention this fact? This day designated the start of a new era, the era of the Weiss nation. Likewise the Egyptians had reached the end of their era. Thus burying their dead.
The parsha lists forty two journeys that Klal Yisroel traveled in the Midbar. On the surface the number 42 doesn’t seem to have any special significance. But as it says in Devarim “Lo Davar Rake Mikem –The Torah is not an empty pursuit from you.” Meaning if there is something we cannot understand it is from you, our deficiency not the Torah’s. The number forty two corresponds to the forty two letter name of Hashem. We also say a special Tefilah “Anah Bekoach” which is said before going up in Kiddusha. This tefilah has seven lines each containing six words. Forty two is “Mem Beis” which stands for Masseh Bereishis which the forty two letter name of Hashem is derived from. Also this Parsha is considered the end of the Torah since Devarim is really referred to as Mishneh Torah (repeating of the Torah). It therefore comes out that the Torah begins with the letter Beis and the last parsha begins with a mem together equaling 42.
The Sefas Emes writes that in reality there were fifty journeys if you include the eight journeys backward that Klal Yisroel made when Aharon died. He then explains that the purpose of all these travels was to raise the nation from the fifty levels of Tumeh they were sunk into back in Mitzrayim Each journey elevating them another level. We can say the same with regard to Shabbos. In the lunar calendar there are fifty Shabbosim. Each Shabbos raises the spiritual level of the nation.
The two tribes, Reuven and Gad wanted to take their inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan River. But we also see that half of the Shevet Menashe was also given this area as a Yerusha? Why were they given this area? They had not been the ones who requested it in last weeks Parsha? Also why half of the tribe? It would seem that the Shevet Menashe were Talmidei Chachomim and that their presence was required for the sake of the other two tribes who needed to be close to a source of Kiddusha. The reason why only half of the tribe was sent there was because of an old debt that had to be repaid. When Yosef's son Menashe pursued the Tribes to demand back the goblet his father had planted there, he became the direct cause of the brothers' rending their clothes. Middah-Kineged-Middah (measure for measure) his portion was torn in half. Half of his inheritance was in Eretz Yisroel and the other half on the eastern side of the Jordan. In the future all the tribes will be in possession of a portion in Eretz Yisroel proper for Trans Jordan will be Eretz Yisroel proper.
Why these two tribes chose to settle in a land less holy than Eretz Yisroel can perhaps be traced back to their spiritual roots. When was conceived his father Yakov thought he was joining with Rachel and his thoughts were to father his firstborn Yosef. But he was tricked by Lavan. This slight blemish became the spiritual seeds of his son Reuvein. Gad, as well was conceived with a slight spiritual blemish. When his mother Leah thought she had stopped giving birth, she gave her handmaid Zilpah to Yakov. Later on we find that she once again gave birth to another tribe. Had Gad been conceived by Leah there would have been enough spiritual might to have conquered Amalek. We see that Leah had the power of prayer and was able to overcome Essav. When she was younger people said that The elder daughter of Lavan was destined to marry the elder son of Yitzchok. She prayed not to fall into his hands and her prayers were able to overcome Essav.
We find at the end of this weeks Parsha the Mitzvah of Aray Miklot, cities of refuge that were created for Benei Yisroel. Of the six cities half of them were to be placed in the territories of the two and a half tribes on the eastern side of the Jordan. It would seem that their separation from the Kiddusha of the rest of Yisroel caused them to have a greater incidence of murder in their midst. But there is a deeper understanding to this. When Benei Reuvein and Benei Gad agreed to fight along side the rest of Klal Yisroel they volunteered to remain even until the lands were divided to the nine and a half tribes a period of an extra seven years that Moshe never requested. This means that for fourteen years the children of these two tribes grew up without a father. This
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(30:3) Ish Ki Yidor Nedar L’Hashem-When a man pledges a vow.” The Parsha begins with the Mitzvos of Nedarim. Since the last Parsha dealt with Korbonos of Yom Tov the connection between the two is that when a person vows to bring his Korbon he is obligated to fulfill his promise on the coming Yom Tov, when he visits the Beis Hamikdosh.
The Sefas Emes writes through a vow Yisroel were given the power to endow an object with Holiness by mere words. This is one of the most elevated powers that man is capable of and is why it was placed near the end of the Torah.
Regarding the Chet of the Eigel, Hashem swore to destroy whoever worships powers other than Hashem. Moshe in defense of Klal Yisroel reminded Hashem of the laws of annulling vows that he had taught him on Har Sinai. Moshe was described as “Ish Ha'elokim” he was privileged to be able to annul vows made by Hashem like an “Ish”/husband.
(31:2) “Nikom Nikmas Benei Yisroel…Acher Teyasef El Amov-Avenge the revenge of Benei Yisroel..then be gathered to your people.” Moshe is told by Hashem to avenge Benei Yisroel against the Midyanim and then you will be gathered to your people. Moshe knew he could have prolonged his life by delaying to do this Mitzvah, but still he did not hesitate but immediately prepared the army for battle. In contrast when Yehoshua was told he would not die until the entire land of Israel was parceled out, he reasoned it would be to their advantage if he delayed defeating the thirty one kings in the land of Canaan. He knew that after he dies Benei Yisroel would have a downfall morally. As long as he was alive he could guide them. By delaying Benei Yisroel's settling in Eretz Yisroel, the land that has ten types of Keddusha, Hashem, Midda-Keneged-Midah made short by ten years the life of Yehoshua.
The question is what connection is there between the avenging of Midian and Moshe’s death? Both are bound by the same posuk. The Gemarrah in Sotah writes that when Klal Yisroel sinned with the daughters of Moav they worshiped the idol Baal Peor. Moshe destroyed this idol and sunk it into the ground. Moshe Rabeinu was buried opposite this idol. Each year on the anniversary of that sin the idol rises from the ground to accuse Klal Yisroel anew. When it sees Moshe’s burial place it is returned back to the ground. This is the meaning of the Posuk when it says “Nikom Nikmas Benei Yisroel…Acher Teyasef El Amov-Avenge the revenge of Benei Yisroel..after being gathered to your people.” The word Acher literally means after. Moshe was to take revenge on Midian even after leaving this world.
Billem was killed in this battle against Midian. What was Billem doing in Midian? When he discovered that his advice to seduce the Jews had caused the death of twenty four thousand Jews, he traveled to Midian to collect his fee. This would cost him his life. When the Jews, who were outnumbered, miraculously overpowered the enemy, Billem knew that he must flee. He used his powers of magic to attempt to save himself by enabling both he and the kings of Midian to fly. He flew up until he reached the Kisay Hakovod. Pinchas followed him there and raised the tzitz upon which were the words “Kodesh l'Hashem”. Billem and the kings fell to the earth and Pinchas killed them with his sword. Benei Yisroel killed the men if Midian but left the women alive. This angered Moshe because it was the women that caused them to sin. They marched all the women of Midian past the Tzit, whereupon the face of those guilty turned green and were killed.
(32:1) “U’Mikneh Rav Haya L’benei Reuvein U’Libenei Gad –The children of Reuvein and the children of Gad had abundant livestock.” Thus begins the chapter of the request for land on the other side of the Jordan. The Benei Gad and Benei Reuvain asked for their portion of the land to be outside of Eretz Yisroel. How could they do this? They would be giving up almost half the mitzvos of the Torah? Secondly why was half of Shevet Menashe included in this deal? They never requested to be split in half? Thirdly the daughters of Tzelafchad had previously shown such intense desire for the land that the laws of inheritance were redefined in their honor. And yet we find that they wind up not receiving the land after all? They were from the tribe of Menashe that were split in half. Rashi in Bereishis (49:22) brings a Midrash that claims the daughters of Tzelafchad received land on the other side of the Jordan. They were asked to only marry within their tribe and wound up settling across the river outside the land. How can we understand this after all the struggles they went through and the love they had for the land?
The answer lies in what seems to be a question of faith. The truth is that the questions being posed at the end of the 40 years in the desert were not any more agreeable to Hashem than the concerns raised by the nation 40 years earlier at the time of the Spies. In both instances the questions seemed to reflect on a lack of faith and trust in Hashem. Whether issues of strategy and warfare, or land divisions and pasture land, the assumption should have been that Hashem would provide the nation, the tribes, and each individual with exactly what they needed. If the tribes of Reuven and Gad happen to have large herds requiring pasture land one of two things should have happened. Either they would discover that their allotted portion in the Promised Land was sufficient for their needs; or, they would have to adjust their holdings to accommodate their apportioned section. The notion of asking to annex the trans-Jordan area to better accommodate their cattle holdings suggested a lack of trust and faith in G- d. That is why Moshe’s immediate response to their request was to accuse them of doing the same thing that the Spies had done! (31:10-16) However, the daughter’s of Tzlaphchad were the perfect contrast to the request of Reuven and Gad. They willingly placed their personal destinies in the hands of Hashem’s law. Whatever Moshe would rule in their case they would accept. Had Moshe ruled that they would not inherit their father’s portion of land they would have accepted Hashem’s decree. To their benefit Hashem informed Moshe that they could and would inherit their father’s portion. However, at the end of Bamidbar they were informed that it was conditional on their not marrying outside of the tribe of Menashe. This too they accepted unquestioningly as the law of Hashem. For the Daughters of Tzlaphchad, Hashem’s law defined what was in their best interest. If it wasn’t Hashem’s wish it could not be to their benefit. If it was Hashem’s wish it had to be for their benefit. Beyond Hashem’s law there were no other expectations or needs.
Menashe was the older of Yoseph’s two sons. We are told that he was the “translator” at the time of Yoseph’s encounter with his brothers in Egypt. We are further told that Menashe was the one who spent more time with his father in issues of government and administration. Ephraim, on the other hand, appears to have been more involved in scholarly pursuits. I believe that we can conclude that Menashe was better trained to withstand the influences of the non-Jewish world than his brother Ephraim. Moshe attached Menashe to the tribes of Reuven and Gad because Menashe had the qualities of his father in surviving alone among the nations. It was Yoseph who remained so connected to the teachings of Yakov that he not only maintained his own level of righteousness, he was even able to raise his sons to such devotion that Yakov said, (Ber.48:5) “Ephraim and Menashe are to me like Reuven and Shimon!” To make sure that Reuven and Gad would maintain their levels of commitment and devotion in spite of being away from the rest of the nation Moshe sent ½ the tribe of Menashe to support them and protect them. Furthermore, as we saw from the Daughters of Tzlaphchad, the tribe of Menashe was endowed
with a special love for Eretz Yisroel (Rashi 27:1). The love of Menashe for Eretz Yisroel would balance out the self-imposed distance of Gad and Reuven.
The lesson of the end of Bamidbar is very obvious. Eretz Yisroel is ours because Hashem gave it to us to use in His service. We must trust that He provided us with all the necessary tools to accomplish our individual and collective missions. Adjusting Hashem’s plan to fit our concept of what we need or what should be stems from a lack of faith in Hashem and the acceptance that whatever we have is exactly what we need. It wasn’t by coincidence that the daughter’s of Tzlaphchad were born into the tribe of Menashe and that Menashe was the tribe Moshe trusted to balance out his concerns for the tribes of Reuven and Gad. It wasn’t by coincidence that the last words of the Torah (Sefer Devarim is basically a repetition of the first four books) teach us this lesson of faith in Hashem and the acceptance that whatever we have is exactly what we need.
(32:1) “U’Mikneh Rav Haya L’benei Reuvein U’Libenei Gad –The children of Reuvein and the children of Gad had abundant livestock.” There is perhaps another approach to understanding the motives of these two tribes. The Benei Gad and Benei Reuvain asked for their portion of the land to be outside of Eretz Yisroel. How could they do this? They have waited over 200 years for this moment. They stood at the border of Eretz Yisroel and rejected it sight unseen? They would be giving up almost half the Mitzvos of the Torah? Secondly why was half of Shevet Menashe included in this deal? They never requested to be split in half; they never requested a portion of that land.
If we look at Moshe’s response perhaps we can gain a new insight to this story. (32:20) “Im Tasun es Hadovar im Teichaltzu Lifnei Hashem-If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before Hashem.” Moshe replies that if they arm themselves before Hashem, and cross the Jordan before Hashem, and conquer the land before Hashem…Five times the words “before Hashem” appear in this passage. What is Moshe trying to convey? We find the words “Lifnei Hashem- before Hashem” in Tehillim (96:13) ““Lifnei Hashem Ki Voh, Ki Voh Haretz Lishpot Teivel B’tzedek Vamim Bemunaso- Before Hashem he will have arrived, he will have arrived to judge the Earth, He will judge the world with righteousness, and peoples with His faithfulness.” The Posuk speaks of the time in the future when Moshiach will come and the entire world will see Hashem. The veil upon which Hashem is hidden in this world will be removed. Hashem will be visible in every tree and rock. Then He will judge the faithful. How does this connect to the request of these two tribes?
The Parsha begins with the laws of vows. Then it goes on to the war against Midian after which Moshe is told he is to die. What Reuvein and Gad saw was that it is possible to annul a vow. Perhaps Hashem can change his vow of refusing Moshe entry into the land? After all he was standing on what was to be Eretz Yisroel in the future. What Reuvein and Gad wanted was to bring the Moshiach now! Avraham was promised the lands of ten nations. Klal Yisroel was given only seven at this time. The other three nations were destined to become part of Eretz Yisroel when Moshiach comes. That is the lands on the other side of the Jordan. So they said we will take our place with our brothers and battle the enemies of Hashem and when we come back this will be our inheritance. They sensed that they had a connection to the land they were upon. The fact that Hashem permitted them to settle there proves that perhaps they were right, this was their destiny. The opening statement made by them “U’Mikneh Rav Haya L’benei Reuvein U’Libenei Gad –The children of Reuvein and the children of Gad had abundant livestock.”can be read alternatively as they acquired a bond with their “RAV” with Moshe Rabeinu. They could not break that bond.
Moshe responded “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before Hashem.” Moshe replies that if they arm themselves before Hashem, and cross the Jordan before Hashem, and conquer the land before Hashem. He wants to know if this is really their intention. He then gives them half the tribe of Menashe. (32:33) “Vayiten Lohem Moshe L’vinei Gad U’Livnei Ruvein U’lichatzi Shevet Menashe ben Yosef-So Moshe gave to them - to the children of Gad and to the children of Ruvein and to half the tribe of Menashe the son of Yosef.” Why does the Torah mention that Menashe is the son of Yosef? They never requested to be split in half; they never requested a portion of that land. But the reason is because in order for the Moshiach ben Dovid to come, the Moshiach ben Yosef must come first. Manshe is connected to Moshiach ben Yosef. That’s why he was placed together with Reuvein and Gad. Everything was now in place. But did they really believe? Moshe responds with the words “before Hashem” five times. The Gematria of the words “Lifnei Hashem” equals 196 five times equals 980 the same as the words “Ani Mamin B’vias Hamoshiach-I believe in the coming of the Moshiach.”
If this is correct, what went wrong? Why did they not bring Moshiach? In verse (32:24) Moshe tells them"V'Hayotze Mipichem Ta'asu-What comes from your mouths you shall do." They said they would be the vanguards, they would all arm themselves and lead the battle to conquer the land, they would all remain away from their families until the land was distributed and settled. However in verse 32:32 they say the following; "Nachnu Navore-We shall crossover" The abbreviated form of the word Anachnu is uncommon, and always has the connotation that something is missing. There are three places in the Torah where this deficient word is used.
(Bereishis 42:11) when Yakov's sons appeared before Yosef and said"All of us,sons of one man are we." (Nachnu) Because they meant to say there were two more brothers who were not with them. The "we" was incomplete.
(Shemos 16:7,8) Moshe and Aharon used this word to say V'Nachnu Moh "What are we?" Because there too, there is a connotation of something incomplete, "We are nothing".
Here they originally intended to send the entire army across the Jordan to fight alongside their brethren. Moshe warned them to keep their word. They said (32:27) "V'avodov Yavru KOL-Chalutz Tzava L'fnei Hashem-And your servants shall cross over every armed person of the Leigon before Hashem." But when it came to actually going their response was (32:32)"Nachnu Navore Chalutzim-We shall cross over armed." Leaving out the word KOL.
Why did these two tribes, in particular, have vast herds of cattle? We know that Shevet Gad had a special closeness to the Munn. They ate the Munn exclusively not partaking in any other foods. Therefore their flocks remained untouched growing larger and larger over the 40 year period. Shevet Reuvein was the first born. He thus received a double portion of his fathers inheritance thereby giving him abundant cattle as well.
(32:16) “Vayomru Gidros Tzone Nivneh L’Mikneinu Poh V’Arim L’tapeinu-They said we will build protection here for the cattle and cities for the children.” We find in Moshe’s response that he reverses the order saying that first they should look after the children and then take care of the cattle. Implying that they had their priorities wrong. However the Kli Yakar explains that
this was a strategic move. If they would be attacked, the cattle would be the first point of contact giving them time to secure the children. Moshe, on the other hand reversed it saying by placing the children first you will be displaying your faith and lack of fear.
According to the Or Hachaim the request was asked in a strange way. They said “Haretz Asher Hekah Hashem-the land that Hashem smote”? The reason that they made their request in such a way was so that their claim would not raise any objections from the other tribes. If the people as a whole had conquered the land in question by what right would they have to claim it for themselves? Secondly how could they have imagined that these two tribes would be allowed to live securely in a land that had already been conquered while the other tribes would have to face a war in order to secure their heritage? Therefore these two tribes were careful to make their request in such a way as to neutralize these objections. They said “Haretz asher hekah Hashem- The land that Hashem smote.” The tribes could not have any objection that the people as a whole had conquered it because that was not the case. Hashem did battle for them as a result these lands were Hashem's to allocate. As far as the second claim of their living securely, they said that such an argument would only be sound if Benei Yisroel had to conquer the Canaanites by their own effort. Seeing that Hashem was to do battle for them, the conquest of Canaan would proceed the same way as the lands of Sichon and Og. Therefore the other tribes were in no greater danger than before. As far as them requesting land outside of Eretz Yisroel the Rambam writes that the land of Israel comprises of every place conquered by a Jewish king or prophet provided that such a conquest had met with the approval of most of the nation. However if an individual or even a whole tribe had waged war on their neighbors and conquered even part of their land it would not be considered part of the Holy land even if the territory in question had been part of the lands promised to Avraham by Hashem. “In this case it is clear that since it was Hashem himself who had conquered the lands for them that it should be considered equal in terms of Kiddusha.
The Arizal writes that Reuvein and Gad were never meant to receive a portion in Eretz Yisroel. they had a spiritual defect from birth and the land of Israel would only accept spiritually pure souls. When Yakov married Rochel, he was tricked into consummating his marriage with Leah instead. Therefore when Yakov was with Leah, his thoughts, after 84 years of abstaining from relations, was on Rochel. This caused a slight blemish in Reuvein’s spiritual genes. When Leah saw that she was no longer having children she gave her handmaid Zilpa to Yakov without telling him. The result was the birth of Gad. She was wrong for had she waited she would have given birth to Gad and once again there was a slight blemish in the spiritual genes.
This leaves us with half the tribe of Menashe. Why only half? Yosef married Osnas, the child of Dinah and Shechem. Dinah had been rapped by Shechem and gave up the child produced from that union. Osnas wound up at the home of Potifar and became Yosef’s wife. Therefore when Yosef had two sons his spiritual genes went into Ephraim and Menashe, but part of Menashe received a slight defect from his mother which resulted in that tribe being split.
(32:18) "Lo Noshuv El Botainu Ad Hisnachel Benei Yisroel es Nichaloso-We shall not return to our homes until the children of Israel will have inherited every man his inheritance." In doing so they were adding an additional seven years before they could return to their homes. What was the purpose of adding more then Moshe commanded them to do? The Ohr Hachaim writes it was to show that they will not contest giving up their portion of land in Israel proper. The Emek Dovor says it would seem improper to have them settled in their land,, across Jordan while the rest of Israel were waiting to be settled.
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