This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas Jack Levin
Vol. 11 No. 5
Chayim Ya'akov ben Shlomoh Yitzchak ha'Levi z.t.l.
Parshas Chayei Sarah
"Perhaps (ulai) the woman will not want to follow me" (24:39).
Rashi explains that the word "ulai" is missing a 'Vav', in which case it can be read "eilai" (meaning 'to me'). Eliezer had a daughter, and in his heart of hearts, he had hoped that Avraham would permit Yitzchak to marry her. Avraham replied that his son Yitzchak was blessed, whilst he, Eliezer, was cursed, and someone who is blessed and someone who is cursed do not make a good match.
The difficulty with this, says the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, is that Rashi appears to contradict what he himself wrote earlier in Pasuk 8. In his commentary there, Avraham specifically told Eliezer that in the event that the girl refuses to return with him to Cana'an, he will be absolved from that part of the oath, and he may choose a wife for Yitzchak from the daughters of Aner, Eshkol and Mamrei, who were Cana'anim no less than Eliezer!
And he answers this point in a number of ways. Firstly, he says, that even if, in case of emergency, if Avraham was willing to permit Yitzchak to marry a Cana'ani woman, it could only be to a family on whom No'ach's curse had not yet taken effect, but not to the daughter of Eliezer, who was already a slave. Secondly, curse or no curse, it would be particularly degrading for Yitzchak to marry the daughter of his own slave. And thirdly, the Medrash Rabah states that Eliezer was the son of Cham (whereas Aner, Eshkol and Mamrei were further removed from the source of the curse - the third or fourth generation perhaps).
The glaring question arises as to why this hint appears only here, when Eliezer is relating the entire episode to Rivkah's family, and not when he originally made the statement to Avraham.
Eliezer, it appears, would not have dared make such a suggestion directly to his master Avraham. Even a hint, it seems, would have been inappropriate. It was only when he related the event to Rivkah's family that he dared express his thoughts by way of hint. Perhaps we may go even further, and suggest that, faithful servant that he was, when Eliezer first spoke those words to Avraham, the thought that his daughter might be fit for his master's son was so subconscious, that he himself did not realize it (in the way that most people are not aware of the prejudices that lead them to sin). It was only after Eliezer was convinced that Rivkah was Yitzchak's barshert, and his personal interest dissipated, that he realized his initial prejudice, retroactively.
Yet in spite of his prejudice, Eliezer pursued his mission diligently. To his absolute credit, he accomplished that mission with extreme devotion and brought it to a successful conclusion. On no occasion, did his loyalty to his master waver. As a reward, the Medrash informs us, Avraham set him free, and he became Og Melech ha'Bashan (not the infamous Og that we know, explains the Da'as Zekeinim, but another one). Eventually, he went alive into Gan Eden.
Interestingly, Avraham set Eliezer free, because he had attained the ultimate level of Avdus, thereby rectifying the sin of Cham, whose Hefkeirus (loose behaviour) had prompted No'ach to curse him.
Ironically, once Eliezer was no longer a slave, there seems to be no reason why Yitzchak could not have married his daughter!
Only there was no way that he could attain that level without the test of overcoming his prejudices. To accept that his daughter could not marry Yitzchak and to overcome that disappointment was instrumental in his freedom, by which time of course, Yitzchak was no longer available.
(based on the Rosh's commentary on the Chumash)
The Four Names of Chevron
"And Sarah died in Kiryas Arba, that is Chevron" (23:2).
Chevron, the Yalkut informs us, had four names - Eshkol, Mamrei, Kiryas Arba and of course, Chevron.
And because Chevron was designated as a burial place, the K'li Yakar ascribes these four names to the four causes of death. Some people die an account of their sins, others because of the sins of others (such as small children, who die for their parents' sin). Then there are those who die a natural death, when their time is up, and the four elements that form man break up. And finally those who die Miysas Neshikah (by a Divine Kiss).
Correspondingly, Mamrei represents those who rebelled against G-d (since that is what 'Mamrei' means), and who therefore die on account of their sins.
Eshkol stands for those who die on account of their parents sins, leaving their parents bereaved of them (from the word 'Shikul' - bereaved).
Arba represents the disintegration of the four elements, standing for those who die naturally; whereas Chevron stands for those whose Neshamos are joined (from the word 'lechaber' - to join) to the Shechinah, when Hashem draws them from the body with a kiss.
And that also explains, he says, why only the latter two names are mentioned in connection with Sarah, who neither sinned nor died on account of anybody else's sin. She died either because her time was up or through a Miysas Neshikah.
Not a Crumb of Doubt
" ... to all those who enter the gate of his city ... " (23:10).
Avraham made a point of involving all the townspeople in the purchase of the Me'oras ha'Machpeilah. He left not a crumb of doubt as to who now owned it, and he made sure that everyone in town knew it first hand. That is why the chapter concludes that he bought the property 'from the B'nei Cheis', says the Rosh, as it was from them that he had purchased the land, as well as from Efron.
Our Pasuk goes one step further, he explains, because " ... to all those who enter the gate of his city ... " refers even to merchants who came from out of town to do business. Even they were to be informed that the Ma'oros ha'Machpeilah now belonged to Avraham. He certainly made sure that no-one, but no-one, could or would lay claim to the Me'oras ha'Machpeilah - at least in a society where some semblance of truth prevailed.
The Evil Eye
"And Avraham weighed out the money for Efron"(23:16).
Efron, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, is missing a 'Vav'. Now the numerical value of Efron (minus the 'Vav') is four hundred, the same numerical value as 'Ra Ayin' (a miserly man), because that is precisely what Efron was.
Incredibly, there are four instances of miserly people in T'nach, and each of these is closely connected with the number four hundred.
1. Efron, who sold the Me'oras ha'Machpeilah for four hundred silver Shekalim;
2. The brothers of Yosef, who were jealous of Yosef's 'keso'nes pasim', as a result of which they had to go into exile for four hundred years.
3. Eisav, who was jealous of the B'rachos that his brother Ya'akov had received from his father, which is why Ya'akov sent him the large gift of animals, leaving a space between one group and the next - to satisfy the eye of that Rasha, as Rashi explains. And he came against him with four hundred men.
4. Naval ha'Karmeli, who begrudged David Hamelech a little food, even though he owed him his life. Sure enough, David attacked him with four hundred men.
Once is Enough
"Im Yesh es Nafsh'chem ... shemo'uni u'fig'u li be'Efron ben Tzochar ... " (23:8).
Avraham asked the B'nei Cheis to speak with Efron, the owner of Me'aras ha'Machpeilah on his behalf, and to ask him to sell it to him. The Torah makes no mention of this request having been carried out, observes the Rosh. However, he says, since Efron approached Avraham regarding the sale, we can assume that they did.
Indeed, it is the way of the Torah to mention something in one place, and to take for granted the outcome somewhere else. For example, Yosef sent messengers to ask Par'oh for permission to accompany his father's bier to Cana'an. We do not find that they complied with this request, yet from the fact that Par'oh granted him permission to go, it is evident that they did.
Can One Return
Without Having Gone?
"Shall I return your son to the land which you left" (24:5).
At first glance, the expression "return" seems difficult to understand, says the Rosh. How can one return to a place where one has never set foot (and Yitzchak, as we know, had never been to Charan)?
However, he answers, we find a similar expression in Megilas Rus, where Rus and Orpah said to Naomi "But we will return with you to your land!" Now neither of them had ever set foot in Eretz Yisrael, yet they used the word 'return', presumably because Naomi, to whom they were talking, was actually returning there. So they included themselves in the return. Likewise here, Eliezer, who had accompanied Avraham from Charan to Eretz Yisrael, was referring to himself when he used the word 'return'.
This explanation however, is difficult, bearing in mind that the Pasuk concludes "to the land which you left", with reference to Avraham, and not to Eliezer. Furthermore, if, as Targum Yonasan explains, Eliezer was the son of Par'oh, King of Egypt (whom Avraham only acquired after arriving in Cana'an), it is not at all certain that Eliezer did in fact, accompany Avraham from Charan to Cana'an.
It therefore seems to me that, since Eliezer was speaking to Avraham, who had arrived in Eretz Cana'an from Charan, the term 'return' was appropriate, even though it was Avraham who had left Charan, and Eliezer who was going there.
Oy, What Might Have Happened
"And she will say to me, you drink, and for the camels I will draw too; that is the girl ... " (24:44).
The Rosh cites the Gemara in Ta'anis (4a), which faults Eliezer for the way he asked G-d to answer his prayer. He made no allowance for defects or flaws in the girl whom he was choosing for Yitzchak. What if she would have turned out to be lame or blind, he asks?
But what is the problem, he says in answer to the question? If the girl turned out to be unacceptable to Yitzchak, he was under no obligation to ask her for water! He would simply wait for the next candidate?
That's true, he replies, but she might equally well turn out to be a Cana'anis (whom Avraham had strictly warned him against taking) or a Mamzeres. And these are two blemishes which Eliezer could not possibly have perceived in the girl, before asking her for water.
"Who is that man coming through the field towards us?" (27:65).
Was it customary for Rivkah to enquire after every stranger that she passed, asks the Rosh?
Not at all, he replies, only she gathered the impression that the man coming towards them was cutting across the field, taking a short cut in order to intercept them (see also Seforno), thereby arousing her curiosity. That explains why she added the words "who is coming through the field".
Alternatively, he cites the Medrash which explains that she noticed how long Yitzchak had Davened, and she suspected that he must be either Avraham or Yitzchak. (This is presumably based on the previous Pesukim, which describe how Yitzchak spotted the caravan coming towards him, immediately after having Davened Minchah, and that is when the Pasuk mentions that Rivkah saw him).
Giving Away All the Inheritance
"And Avraham gave all that he had to Yitzchak" (25:5).
The Rosh queries this from the Gemara in Bava Basra (133b), which prohibits a father from giving away one son's inheritance to another, even from a wicked son to a righteous one. And it is not conceivable that Avraham Avinu would so blatantly contravene a clear-cut Halachah.
And he answers with a Gemara in Kidushin (17b), which rules that a Ger who is the son of a Ger, does not inherit his father, either mi'd'Oraysa or mi'de'Rabbanan. And Yishmael, after all, was a Ger, the son of Avraham, who was also a Ger. Consequently, up until Yitzchak's birth, Avraham had the right to give his inheritance to whoever he wished. Once Yitzchak was born, he became the true heir of Avraham Avinu.
THE WORLD OF KORBONOS
(Adapted from the Eitz Yosef)
'The Bull and the Goat' (cont.)
The Receiving of the Blood (of both animals) - all the blood if possible - takes place in a bowl directly from the animal's neck. The blood on the knife is Pasul, for which reason the Kohen Gadol removes the knife quickly, to prevent blood from dripping from the knife into the bowl.
Unlike other days, where any Kohen is eligible to perform the Avodah, the Avodos on Yom Kipur (even those of the Korban Tamid) must be performed by the Kohen Gadol.
The Hazayah (the sprinkling of the Blood) - is performed with the finger (like every Chatas), and not directly from the bowl (like other Korbonos). The Kohen Gadol stands between the two poles and sprinkles towards the lid of the Aron ha'Kodesh (in the second Beis Hamikdash, when there was no Aron there, he sprinkled toward the location where the Aron was meant to be), once towards the top of the lid, and seven times going progressively lower (though none of these Matonos is meant to actually touch the lid or the Aron).
And on the Golden Mizbei'ach - in the Heichal. The Kohen Gadol places one Matanah of the mixed blood of the Par and the Sa'ir on each corner of the Mizbei'ach, and seven on top.
He pours the Remainder of the Blood on the Western Yesod - because it is the closest to him when he leaves the Heichal.
The Chalavim (the fat pieces) - these the Kohen Gadol salts, and still standing on the Kevesh (the Ramp), he tosses them on to the Makom ha'Ma'arachah of the Mizbei'ach ha'Olah (as the Kohanim do with all Korbanos).
The Par and the Sa'ir are not subject to Hefshet (removing the skin), though the limbs are cut into pieces (Nitu'ach) in the Beis ha'Deshen (outside Yerushalayim), where the burning takes place.
'The Burned Bulls and Goats'
'The burned bulls' incorporate the Par He'elam Davar shel Tzibur and the Par Kohen Mashi'ach. The former refers to the Beis-Din ha'Gadol who erroneously permitted a sin for which one is Chayav Kareis, and for which a yachid would have had to bring a Chatas, and most of the community acted upon their ruling (even if Beis-Din themselves did not). Beis-Din must then bring a bull as a Chatas on behalf of the community. Three members of the Beis-Din subsequently perform Semichah on the bull before it is Shechted.
The Par Kohen Mashi'ach - refers to a Kohen Gadol who erred (in the same regard as the Beis-Din in the previous case), and then acted on his own ruling. Like on Yom Kipur, the Kohen Gadol himself performs Semichah on his bull, and proceeds to Shecht and to sacrifice his Korban single-handed.
The Burned Goats: refers to the Beis-Din ha'Gadol who erroneously permitted a sin (as we described above), but in connection with Avodah-Zarah. This time, each tribe that sinned brings a bull as an Olah and a goat as a Chatas. (A Kohen Gadol who did likewise brings a she-goat like any other yachid).
The Blood requires sprinkling seven times on the Paroches: seven, and not eight, nor did they need to be sprinkled in any specific order (as was the case regarding the bull and the goat of Yom Kipur).
And on the Golden Mizbei'ach: seven times on top of it; but not on the K'ranos.
The bodies of all of the above are dealt with in exactly the same way as the bull and goat of Yom Kipur.