Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 14   No. 5

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Parshas Chayei-Sarah

David Hamelech and Adoniyahu
(Adapted from the Ma'yanah shel Torah)

"And his father had never saddened (deterred) him by saying 'Why did you do this?' Moreover, he was extremely handsome, and she (his mother, Chagis) bore him after Avshalom ('s mother, Ma'achah, bore him [Melachim 1 1:6])".


The Gemara in Sanhedrin (107) relates how, during Avshalom's rebellion, Chushai ha'Arki informed David that he had only himself to blame for his son's actions, for having married a y'fas to'ar (Avshalom's mother) whom he had captured in war. Because Chazal have taught that someone who marries a y'fas to'ar is destined to have a son who is a ben sorer u'moreh. Adoniyah too, was the son of a y'fas to'ar, so, bearing in mind Chushai's words, it is not surprising that David declined to rebuke Adoniyah for his errant behaviour. After all, David already knew that he had only himself to blame for marrying Chagis, Adoniyah's mother.

And that explains why the Pasuk adds here the fact that he was handsome ('tov to'ar' [as one might expect regarding the son of a y'fas to'ar]), and that his mother bore him after Avshalom, from whom he had already learned that it does not pay to marry a y'fas to'ar (Tzavrei Shalal).


Strictly speaking, a certain Gadol pointed out, the Pasuk ought to have written, not "ve'lo atzovo aviv mi'yomov ... ", but ... ' ve'lo he'etzivo ... ', since the Pasuk is referring to David deterring Adoniyahu, and not Adoniyahu desisting of his own accord.

And he explained it in light of the fact that sometimes one finds sons of famous personalities who take to heart the bad name that their wicked deeds would cause their fathers. And it is this knowledge that is instrumental in restraining them from sinning, more than any words of rebuke would be. Not so Adoniyahu. He was so brazen, that the knowledge of the disgrace to his father's position and the anguish that it would cause him, made no impression on him at all. And that is what the Pasuk means when it says "ve'Lo atzovo aviv mi'yomov ... " - The knowledge who his father was never saddened him, to deter him from sinning.


Let us revert to the initial explanation, which places the blame for Adoniyahu's rebellion, first and foremost, at his father's door, due to his attitude of laissez-faire throughout his son's childhood and adolescence.

The Metzudas David explains that this led the prince to believe that everything he did was above board, and that he was his father's worthy successor. This conforms nicely with the Halachic principle 'Silence is akin to acquiescence', and underlines the importance of the Mitzvah of Tochachah (rebuking). For if it is a Mitzvah to rebuke a fellow-Jew who strays from the path, how much more so one's own children, whom one is charged to educate, and who look to their parents for guidance. It is obvious that when a child sees his father turn a blind eye to his misbehaviour, he will take it as a sign of consent. And this in turn, will only encourage him to expand his activities even further.


This episode certainly highlights the tremendous responsibility of parents in educating their children, and the far-reaching and devastating consequences of those who insist on feeding them with a golden spoon.

There are a number of similar incidents interspersed throughout T'nach, perhaps the most prominent of these being that of Eli ha'Kohen. The Navi Shmuel informs us how Eli ha'Kohen is blamed for his sons' (Chofni and Pinchas) greed and callous behaviour, not because he failed to rebuke him, but because his rebukes (and the Pasuk informs us that he did rebuke them) were too mild, and which they did not therefore take seriously. This resulted in their death as well as his own, and in a decree that all his descendents would die before they reached the age of twenty.

Clearly, it does not pay to remain silent in the face of one's children's pranks. Indeed, the Mitzvah of Chinuch demands a firm hand, to ensure that they grow in Torah and Mitzvos and in Midos. No wrong deed should ever be overlooked. Rashi sums it all up, when he extrapolates from the Pasuk under discussion that someone who fails to rebuke his child is guilty of his demise.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Greed Doesn't Pay

"And Avraham listened to Efron and he weighed out to Efron the money that he spoke in the ears of the people of Cheis, four hundred silver Shekel in negotiable currency" (23:15).

The explain the missing 'Vav' in the second Efron (see Rashi), the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro refers to Avraham's refusal to accept the booty that the King of S'dom offered him, as he explicitly informed him "If from a thread to a shoelace, that I will not take anything of yours", before promptly returning it directly to the King of S'dom.

One may assume, he points out, that by the same token and for the same reason ("so that you shall not say 'I enriched Avraham' "), he also declined to benefit from the thousand silver Shekalim that he had recently received from Avimelech (see 20:16). In all probability, he planned to give it to Efron in its entirety, in exchange for the Me'oras ha'Machpeilah, not because that was its value, but in order to get rid of it as soon as possible.

This did not materialize however, because Efron, in his greed, did not wait for Avraham to negotiate a price, but cited the bloated price of four hundred Shekel, hoping to make a fortune on the eager purchaser. By doing so, he lost the extra six hundred Shekel that Avraham intended to pay him, and that explains why the Pasuk omits a 'Vav' (whose numerical value is six) from his name.


For a Few Bucks

" ... and I cleared out the house" (24:31).

... from Avodah-Zarah, Rashi explains.

Rashi, in Pasuk 29, explains that Lavan ran to greet Eliezer only because he was a wealthy man and he assumed that there was a lot in it for him. And that is clearly why he invited him in as a guest (as is substantiated by his reluctance, years later, to invite Ya'akov, who came empty-handed).

This, explains the Ri Horovitz, typifies the Lavans of the world, who are quite happy to throw out their gods for a few dollars.


"And I said to my master, perhaps the woman will not want to follow me" (24:39).

Chazal extrapolate from the word 'perhaps' (Ulai) that Eliezer had hopes that Yitzchak might marry his own daughter ... The question arises, why the Torah hints this only here, and not at the time that he expressed his doubts to Avraham? To answer this question, the Pardes Yosef explains that at first, Eliezer envisaged Lavan and his family as important people, with the same values as their cousin Avraham. But now that he had met them firsthand, he realized what sort of rogues they were, and it dawned on him that if they were good enough for Yitzchak, then so was he. That was when it dawned on him that his own daughter might have been suitable for Yitzchak.


The Lost Years

"And these are the years of Avraham that he lived" (25:7).

The words 'that he lived' are seemingly superfluous.

The Binah le'Itim explains it with the Chazal, who say that really, Avraham was supposed to live until the age of a hundred and eighty, like his son Yitzchak. Only he died at the age of a hundred and seventy five, losing five years of his life, in order to avoid seeing his grandson Eisav, straying from the path (on the very day that he died).

And that is what the Pasuk under discussion means: These are the hundred and seventy five years that Avraham actually lived. The remaining five years that he was allotted he lost for the above-mentioned reason.


Happy with His Lot

"And Avraham expired and he died, aged and content" (25:8).

Most people are discontent with what they have, says the Ramban. If they have a hundred dollars, they want two, and once they have two, they want four. When these people die, they die without having attained their ever-increasing goal. Not so Avraham. Avraham was always content with what he had. When he died therefore, the Torah describes him as 'content', for throughout his life, he never experienced the feeling that he was lacking anything.


Gathered to his People

"And he was gathered to his people" (Ibid.)

Chazal teach us that Resha'im are judged in Gehinom for twelve months, after which time, their bodies disintegrate, their Souls are burned and a wind scatters them under the feet of the Tzadikim.

That is why, says the K'li Yakar, the Pasuk needs to inform us that Tzadikim are gathered to their people. Unlike the Resha'im, their remains are not scattered.

Alternatively, we find the expression of 'gathering' with regard to a house. In connection with a lost article, the Torah writes "And he shall gather it into his house". Likewise here, the Pasuk is teaching us that G-d will gather the Tzadikim to Him (in His house, as it were), after their deaths.

* * *


'And they placed before him (Eliezer) a dish in which there was lethal poison, but he sensed it, and said 'I will not eat until I have said what I have to say ... ' (24:33).


'And they blessed Rivkah and they said to her "Until now you were our sister (one of us) but now you are on your way to marry a Tzadik. May it be Hashem's will that from you there will emerge thousands of tens of thousands ... ' (24:60).


'And Rivkah and her girls arose and they rode on the camels ... and the servant took Rivkah with him and he went; and just as his journey was shortened on the way there, so too, was it shortened on the way back. It took him one day to get there and one day to get back' (24:61). (Remarkably, he returned to his point of departure some thirty-six hours after leaving)


And Yitzchak was coming from the Beis-Hamedrash of the famous Sheim, via the ascent of the well by which Hashem appeared to him ... ' (24:62).


'And Avraham expired and died in a good venerable age, content with all goodness, because Yishmael did Teshuvah in his days ... ' (25:8)


'And because Avraham did not want to bless Yishmael, he declined to bless Yitzchak, because had he blessed the latter without blessing the former, the former would have borne him a grudge. So after Avraham's death, G-d came and blessed Yitzchak his (Avraham's) son ... '(25:11).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 62:
Not to Let a Witch Live (cont.)

Another reason to forbid witchcraft is because the product of the combination of the two creations negates the power of the respective Mazolos of each of the two creations from which it is formed. This can be compared to fusing two different objects to produce a third species, which is quite unlike either of the two from which it was formed. The Torah therefore forbids creating, with our own hands, something that demonstrates a willingness to change any of G-d's creations. And perhaps it is this same concept which forms the basis of the prohibition of Kil'ayim of seeds, of animals and of clothes (Sha'atnez), which the author will discuss in their respective locations. In any case, what we just wrote conforms with the Gemara in Sanhedrin (67b) which explains that they are called 'Keshofim' because they weaken both the 'heavenly household' and the earthly one, meaning that their power supercedes that of the Mazalos that govern them.

Somebody who is close to G-d, and whose merits to rise above the forces of the Mazalos, need not fear the act of witchcraft and its outcome, as we learn from the story of Rav Chisda and Rabah bar Rav Huna and the witch, in Shabbos (81b).

Nor should one confuse witchcraft (Kishuf) with the work of demons (Ma'aseh Sheidim). In fact, Chazal specifically distinguish between them, when they say in Sanhedrin (67b) that "be'loteihem" (in connetion with the ten plagues) refers to the work of demons, and "be'lohoteihem", to the work of witchcraft. This certainly indicates that witchcraft can be performed without involving the demons, even though on occasions, it does involve them. Indeed, those demons that are used for witchcraft are known as 'destructive angels' (Mal'achei Chabalah), as Rashi explains, because the entire objective of witchcraft is to cause destruction. The Chinuch will elaborate further on this point in the La'av of witchcraft, which is where these details belong.

This Mitzvah applies exclusively to men, who are obligated to dispense justice, but not to women. And it only applies in Eretz Yisrael, by Dayanim who have Semichah, and in a Beis-Din of twenty-three. A Beis-Din that has the power to judge a witch or a wizard, and that fails to do so, has contravened this La'av, besides negating the Asei of judging those who are guilty. It is not however, subject, since it does not involve an act, and with the exception of someone who makes a false oath, who declares a Temurah (swapping one Korban for another) or someone who curses his fellow-Jew, using the Name of G-d, there is no Malkos for contravening a La'av which does not involve an act.


Mitzvah 64:
Not to Cheat (Overcharge) a Ger Monetarily

We are commanded, upon having commercial dealings with a Ger, to refrain from cheating him monetarily, as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (22:20) " ... and do not oppress him", and, as the Mechilta explains this refers to cheating him monetarily. This La'av is in addition to the general La'av not to overcharge one's fellow-Jew, which incorporates a Ger. And the Torah issues an additional La'av that pertains to him alone, regarding both words and money, for the reason that we already gave (in the previous Mitzvah) ... The author will discuss some of the details concerning the Mitzvah of cheating, in the La'av of Ona'ah in Behar (Mitzvah 337).

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