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

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Vol. 16   No. 5

This issue is sponsored
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ha'Rav Sh'lomoh ben ha'Rav Naftali z"l
on his Yohrtzeit

Parshas Chayei Sarah

Matan Torah

"And the man took a golden nose-ring that weighed one Beka (half a Shekel), and two bracelets on her wrists that weighed ten golden Sela'im" (24:22).

Who is interested in the weight of the rings that Eliezer gave Rivkah, asks R. Bachye?

Elaborating on the theme that Rashi already hints at, he attributes all the details in the Pasuk to the half-Shekalim (Beka la'gulgoles) that her descendants were destined to donate and Matan Torah (the tablets containing the Aseres ha'Dibros), the two of which were closely connected, and which Rivkah's descendents were destined to experience.


The word 'Shekel' he explains, is actually the acronym of 'Eish Kol' (fire & voice), itself a hint at Matan Torah, where the Torah writes "from the Heaven He made His voice heard to you to chastise you, and on the earth He showed you His great fire).

Haman ha'Rasha too, realized this, and that is why, in an effort to negate the great merit of the half-Shekalim, he offered to weigh out ten thousand silver Kikar (corresponding to the total number of half-Shekalim that Yisrael donated in the desert). Moreover, with his 'ten' thousand Kikar of silver, he planned to override the merit of the Ten Commandments, which were given with 'Eish' and 'Kol', as we just explained).

And when Eliezer preceded the expression "G-d led me on the way" with the word 'Onochi', he was referring to the Torah (embodied in the Aseres ha'Dibros, which begin with the word "Onochi") which Rivkah's children would receive at Har Sinai, for it was this merit that accompanied him on his journey and that led to his ultimate success.


What's more, everything that happened to Eliezer on this journey fell under the category of Ma'aseh Avos Si'man le'banim', and was therefore repeated later to Rivkah's children in the desert.

Just as an angel accompanied Eliezer here, so too, did an angel accompany Yisrael there, as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (23:20) "Behold I will send an angel". Indeed, when Avraham (here in Pasuk 7) described him as 'His (G-d's) angel', insinuating that it was a unique angel that G-d would send with Eliezer, he was referring to "Micha'el, the angel that epitomized Avraham's Midah (Chesed), the greatest of the category of angels to which he belongs. Incredibly, the letters of the word "mal'ochi" (mentioned there in Mishpatim in Pasuk 23) also spell 'Micha'el'.

And in the same way as the water rose to meet Rivkah, so too, does the Torah write about K'lal Yisrael in the desert "Come up well, praise it!"

And just as it was an Eved who gave Rivkah the gifts and issued her with these gifts, so too, was it Moshe (the Eved of Hashem) who received the Torah on behalf of her children.

And just as the faithful servant of Avraham came with 'all the good of his master', so too is it written in connection with the faithful servant of Hashem that G-d "will pass all of His goodness before him".

And just as Eliezer gave Rivkah many gifts, some on the journey (incorporating a golden nose-ring weighing a Beka, and two bracelets weighing ten Sela'im), and others, in the house, as the Pasuk writes "And the Eved took out silver and golden vessels"; so too, did Yisrael donate Shekalim, for which they received the two Luchos, containing the ten commandments, on the journey. Whereas in the house, G-d gave Yisrael additional Mitzvos, prior to their entering Eretz Yisrael, over and above those that He gave them at Har Sinai.

And just as the Parshah of Eliezer and Rivkah is written twice, once when it happened, and a second time when the Eved told it over to Lavan and Besu'el, so too, did Yisrael receive the two sets of Luchos, and the Parshah was repeated when Moshe, the Eved of Hashem, told it over to K'al Yisrael.

All of these things that are hinted in the marriage between Yitzchak and Rivkah, who bore Ya'akov and his children, the nation who received the Torah, are hinted in the Shelichus of Eliezer, in honour of the Avos.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Where Was Yitzchak?

"And Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and to cry for her" (23:2).

The question arises as to why there is no mention of Yitzchak's name from the time that he was bound on the Mizbei'ach until the chapter concerning his Shiduch? During the episode leading up to the Akeidah, his name is mentioned constantly and then suddenly, he disappears! Surely, asks Rabeinu Bachye, one would have expected at least as powerful a reaction to Sarah's death on the part of Yitzchak as that of Avraham? For aside from the Halachic obligation for a son to mourn his mother, a deep bond must have existed between Yitzchak and the mother who miraculously bore him at such an advanced age, after so many years of frustration, and whose only son he was! Yet his name is not mentioned?

Indeed not, says Rabeinu Bachye. Yitzchak's name is not mentioned, not only because he was not there, but because he was blissfully unaware of his beloved mother's death.

G-d deliberately withheld the information from him, he explains, because it was on his account, via the news of the Akeidah, that she had died. Had he known of his mother's death and taken part in her burial, painful enough under the circumstances, the fact that he was the cause of her death (albeit indirectly and through no fault of his) would have left him doubly heart-broken. So G-d made sure that he was not informed about his mother's passing away.

(See also I'bn Ezra).


Where then was Yitzchak? Rabeinu Bachye explains that following the Akeidah, he opted to remain on Har ha'Moriyah until he reached the age of forty, and he was ready to marry Rivkah.


It All Begins and Ends with Chesed

" … and do Chesed with my master Avraham" (24:12).

Eliezer began his Tefilah with Chesed and ended it with Chesed ("and in her I will know that You have done Chesed with my master" [24:12]), R. Bachye observes.

It is hardly surprising, he explains. Eliezer had spent many years in the home of Avraham; he had become an outstanding Talmid-Chacham and he knew that Avraham's Midah was Chesed. Hence his Tefilah.

Furthermore, he writes later, he opted to look for a girl who was herself a Ba'alas Chesed, (see Pasuk 14), because she would be the ideal woman to enter into the house of Avraham.

Interestingly, the key Midah of Yitzchak himself was Din (Gevurah), creating the ideal balance in their relationship. And it is that relationship that would produce Ya'akov, whose Midah was Emes (Tif'eres) the perfect blend of Chesed and Din.


Avraham's Promise

"And she said 'Also for your camels I will draw (water) … and she drew for all his camels" (24:19/20).

It was humanly impossible for Rivkah to draw water for all of Eliezer's ten camels, comments R. Bachye, and the feat is even more amazing if one contends with the Medrash that gives her age as three.

But Avraham had promised Eliezer that Hashem would send His angel to accompany him and that he would succeed in his mission (a fact that Eliezer no doubt took into account when implementing his highly unusual plan of action). And it was those angels that were now assisting Rivkah to do what she had to do to find favour in Eliezer's eyes. And what's more, he adds, G-d's Divine assistance is hinted in the words "Vatomer gam li'g'malecha esh'av" (And I will also draw for your camels), whose first letters (starting with the third letter of "va'tomer") spell 'Eg'le', which is one of the many lesser-known Names of Hashem (as the author explained in chapter 18, end of Pasuk 4).


True Contentment

"And Avraham expired and died at a good venerable age, old, and content … " (25:8).

R. Bachye points out that it is because Avraham was blessed with everything that he needed, regarding both wealth and honour, that the Torah writes here (not 'old and content in days' (which would have implied that he was only blessed with a long life, but not with anything else) but just "old and content" (implying with every kind of blessing). And what the Torah is telling us here is that Avraham left this world, satiated with everything that he wished for, as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (21:50) with regard to David ha'Melech "All that his heart desired You gave him". This is because Avraham and David did not ask for luxuries, only for their basic needs. That explains why they were content with what they had, and died in a state of satisfaction. Not like most other people, about whom Sh'lomoh ha'Melech writes in Koheles (5:9) "One who loves money will never be satisfied with money", as Medrash explains 'A person does not leave this world having attained (even) half of his desires'. Indeed, have Chazal not said that 'For every Manah a person owns, he wants two'.


The Six Expressions of Death

"And these are the years of the life of Yishmael … and he expired and died, and he was gathered to his people (va'yigva, va'yomos va'yeosef el amo"[(25:9]).

R. Bachye lists six expressions of death with regard to humans, three pertaining to Resha'im, and three, to Tzadikim. The three pertaining to Resha'im are 'Mechiyah' (blotted out), 'Ovdan' (perishing) and 'Kareis' (being cut off) Of these, he explains, 'Mechiyah' is the most severe. It refers to the death of people who possess neither Torah nor wisdom, and who neither know G-d nor acknowledge His wonders. They die the death of animals and beasts and their Souls perish together with their bodies. This group receive neither reward nor punishment, ever, like the generation of the Flood, who were 'blotted out' from this world and the next, as Chazal learn from the Pasuk "And He blotted out all that was standing … " (from this world) … "and they were blotted out" (from the World to Come).

'Ovdan' is the death of Resha'im, such as sinners with more sins that Mitzvos, who die without having done Teshuvah. They are punished in Gehinom, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:30) "And I will destroy that Soul", with reference to a death that is worse than Kareis. Whilst 'Kareis' is the death of wicked people whose Mitzvos exceed their sins, but whose sins include those that are subject to Kareis. Once they have received their punishment however, they are permitted to enter Gan Eden.


Whereas the three expressions of death pertaining to Tzadikim are 1. 'Geviyah Asifah & Bi'ah'; 2. 'Lekichah' and 3. 'Menuchah'.

'Geviyah Asifah & Bi'ah' are all mentioned in connection with the death of Avraham (above in Pasuk 8 and in Lech L'cha 15:15), whereas by Yishmael (later in Pasuk 17), the Torah writes "and he expired and he died, and he was gathered to his people" (from which Chazal derive that he did Teshuvah ["See R. Bachye at the end of Pasuk 6, where he explained that 'Gevihah' alone is written in connection with Resha'im - as Chazal have taught with regard to the generation of the Flood - see No'ach 4:21]).

'Lekichah' is used in connection with those Tzadikim who enter Gan Eden alive, such as Chanoch (by whom the Torah writes " … and he was no longer, for Hashem had taken him" [Bereishis 5:24]) and Eliyahu ha'Navi "(If you will see him being taken away from you" [Hashem to Elisha] Melachim 2, 2:10).

Whilst the expression 'Menuchah' is used in connection with Tzadikim in the form of a promise that they will be resurrected at Techi'as ha'Meisim, like we find by Dani'el (12:13), where the Pasuk writes "As for you, go to your end, find rest, and you will arise to your lot at the end of days".

* * *


'And Avraham married another wife, whose name was Keturah, alias Hagar, to whom he had previously been bound in wedlock' (25:3).


'And Yakshan bore Sh'va and D'dan, and the sons of D'dan were merchants, craftsmen and heads of nations' (25:4).


'And these are the years of Yishmael, a hundred and thirty seven years, and he did Teshuvah and he died … ' (25:17).



" … a Beka its weight" (24:22).

The word "Beka" also appears in Pikudei (38:26) in connection with the half-Shekalim that Yisrael donated for the Mishkan. Eliezer was hinting here, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, at the merits of the half-Shekalim.

The Mishkan (the symbol of Avodah) certainly has a strong association with Yitzchak Avinu, to whom Rivkah was about to become betrothed. So the hint is most appropriate.


"Then you will be absolved from my oath (me'olosi)" 24:41.

Avarham, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, used the word "mi'shevu'osi" (and a shevu'ah is less severe than an oloh).

Eliezer, he explains, deliberately used a stronger term, to encourage Besu'el and Lavan to agree to his proposal.


" … when you will come to my family" (Ibid.).

Here too, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, he changed from "to my father's house" (the expression used by Avraham). This, he explains, was in order to widen the scope of possibilities from Avraham's paternal family to include his maternal one, should this be necessary.

Presumably, he did this knowing that the choice had already been made, and he said it only to render his mission more acceptable in the eyes of the family. Otherwise, it is doubtful whether he had the authority change the conditions that Avraham had set.


"And I placed (vo'osim) the nose-ring on her nose … " (24:29).

The word "vo'osim" is missing a 'Yud', says the Ba'al ha'Turim, to teach us that he was careful, whilst placing the jewelry, not to touch her, for reasons of Tz'ni'us.

One would have expected this point to have been made earlier, when Eliezer actually put on the rings (24:42), but for some reason, the Torah there omits the verb (that he placed) altogether (See Ramban there).


" … and I will turn to the right or to the left (al yemin o al s'mol)" 24:69.

The first letters of "al yemin o al s'mol" make the same Gematriyah as 'Yishmael', observes the Ba'al ha'Turim; and the words "al yemin o", make up 'be'Amon u'Mo'av' (see Rashi).

* * *

(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 119:
To Salt Every Korban

It is a Mitzvah to offer salt together with all the Korbanos; in other words, to place salt on the flesh of every sacrifice and in the flour of every Minchah (flour-offering), as the Torah writes in Vayikra (2:13) "And you shall bring salt together with all your offerings".

The author already explained in Mitzvah 95 (Binyan Beis-Hamikdash) that the reason for the Mitzvah of building the Beis-Hamikdash is with the aim of rectifying and straightening the soul of the person who is sacrificing it. Consequently, it is with the aim of arousing his soul that he is commanded to bring good things that are pleasant and dear to him, as we wrote above. And salt falls into this category, seeing as it generally completes the cooking process; inasmuch as people tend to add it to their dishes, and people will pay more attention to it. This, in turn, is because any cooked dish that lacks salt is less pleasing to a person both as regards taste and as regards smell. In addition, salt preserves all food and saves it from spoiling and from becoming mouldy. Likewise, a Korban saves the owner from becoming 'spoilt' (as it were), so that he will live forever.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah … Chazal have said that all Korbanos must be salted before they are brought on to the Mizbei'ach, and that, apart from the Nesachim (the drink-offerings), the blood and the wood, there is nothing that goes on the Mizbei'ach that does not require salt. However, this is a tradition, and is not derived from a Pasuk (which mentions only Menachos) … If a Kohen transgresses and brings a Korban without salt, the Korban is Kasher and is accepted, with the exception of a Minchah, where the Torah specifically writes "and do not withhold the sale of the covenant of your G-d from your flour-offerings" … and all the other details are discussed in the Sifra and in various locations dotted around Menachos (see Rambam, the eighth chapter of Isurei Mizbei'ach).

This Mitzvah applies in the time of the Beis-Hamikdash, to male Kohanim exclusively. Any Kohen who contravenes it and brings a Minchah or a Korban on the Mizbei'ach without any salt at all has negated this Asei, as well as the La'av of "Do not withhold salt from on your Menachos".


Mitzvah 121:
The Korban Chatas of a Yachid

It is a Mitzvah incumbent upon an ordinary individual who transgressed be'Shogeg one of the major sins, to bring a Chatas, as the Torah writes in Vayikra ( 4:27) " And if an ordinary individual from among the people sins be'Shogeg …then he shall bring his Korban to Hashem … ". This Korban is known as a fixed Chatas, meaning that it is fixed as an animal Korban, and does not fluctuate according to the means of the person bringing it. And the sins for which one is Chayav to bring a Chatas are synonymous with those for which one is Chayav Kareis, provided that is, that the sin that he committed is a Mitzvas Lo Sa'aseh, which he contravened by performing an act. The author has already explained (in the Mitzvah of Asham) that the reason for the Mitzvah is to humiliate the Soul that sinned, and it is not necessary to repeat it each time.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah … The Gemara in Yevamos (9a) teaches us that the obligation of someone who sinned be'Shogeg is confined to sins for which be'Meizid he would receive Kareis (excision). There are however, three exceptions to this rule (where someone who transgresses be'Meizid receives Kareis, but be'Shogeg, he does not bring a Chatas): 1. Megadef (someone who curses G-d); 2. someone who negates the Mitzvah of Milah and 3. someone who fails to bring the Korban Pesach (it is unclear as to why the author omits murder, whose Shogeg is subject to exile). The author has explained the reason for each of these in its respective place. All other La'avin that are punishable by Kareis be'Meizid, are subject to a fixed Chatas be'Shogeg, with the exception of a Tamei person who ate Kodesh or who entered the Mikdash be'Shogeg, who are obligated to bring, not a fixed Chatas, but a Korban Oleh ve'Yored (a bird if one is poor, and flour if one is destitute, as the Torah prescribes). (cont.)

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