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Vol. 19 No. 5
Parshas Chayei Sarah
The Additional Dimension
(Adapted from 'Milestones' -
by Rabbi Chayim Wilschanski Sh'lita)
The question arises that, if the incredible self-sacrifice that Avraham displayed in willingly sacrificing his son at G-d's command demonstrated his unique level of Yir'as Shamayim (see 'that You Are a G-d-Fearing Man, on page 1), then of what significance was the ram that he subsequently brought as a Korban instead of Yitzchak? It neither cost him anything, nor did he even have to bother to fetch it, as it was already caught and waiting to be taken. At first glance, its insertion in the Pasuk appears irrelevant. Yet after declaring Avraham a G-d-fearing man, the Torah adds the episode of the ram. What's more, it is only after doing so that another angel promised him the tremendous list of rewards (see Pasuk 17), as if offering the ram was an intrinsic part of the Akeidah! The question is - what did the seemingly trivial offering of the ram add to the extraordinary self-sacrifice displayed by Avraham Avinu?
In his book 'Milestones', Rabbi Wilschanski explains that in fact, the offering of the ram adds a whole new dimension to the Akeidah. True, Avraham willingly offered his son Yitzchak to G-d without hesitation, but when G-d informed him that this was not necessary, one might have expected him to breathe a sigh of relief, glad that for whatever reason, G-d had changed His mind, and that K'lal Yisrael would emerge from Yitzchak as had been originally planned. But he did not! He was so disappointed at not being able to conclude the Mitzvah that he had begun, that G-d found it necessary to present him with a ram, to offer up in place of Yitzchak - to conform with the saying of Chazal that 'Someone who comes to purify himself will receive Divine Assistance in achieving his aim'.
Avraham now demonstrated that not only was he ready to perform anything that G-d demanded of him, but that he was dejected if for whatever reason, he was prevented from doing so.
Avraham Blamed Himself
(Translated from the Peh Kadosh,
by Rebbi Yitzchak from Volozhin)
Commenting on the Pasuk following the Parshah of the Akeidah, Rashi explains that Avraham was thinking how, had the Akeidah reached its conclusion, he would have been left childless.
Seeing as 'the past no longer exists' (as the old saying goes), what was the point of these thoughts?
And he explains that Avraham's thoughts were sparked off by his eagerness to carry out the Akeidah to its conclusion (see previous article). He was perturbed by the thought that he had been stopped from sacrificing Yitzchak due to the fact that Yitzchak had no children, which in turn meant, that had Yitzchak been sacrificed, G-d would have been unable to keep His promise, to turn him into a great nation. And this was a fact that could only be attributed to his own laxness in arranging a Shiduch for him. That in turn, explains why he set about putting this right, as the Torah goes on to explain.
The Torah however, immediately quotes G-d's statement to Avrahom, informing him of the birth of Rivkah, as if to say it was not Avraham's laxness that prevented Yitzchak's marriage and having children, but rather the fact that his 'bashert' had only just been born.
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(Adapted from the Riva)
Lame or Blind
"And it shall be, the maiden to whom I shall say … her have you chosen for your servant, for Yitzchak" (24:14).
The Gemara in the first Perek of Ta'anis states that of the three people who did not make their requests in the correct manner, two of them (Eliezer and Shaul) nevertheless received favorable responses, one of them (Yiftach) did not.
Eliezer's prayer was vague, the Gemara goes on to explain, leaving open the possibility that the maiden who fulfilled all the requirements specified by Yitzchak, could be lame or blind!
What, asks the Riva, is the Gemara's problem? Eliezer did mention that he would personally confront the prospective girl. That being the case, surely if she was lame or blind, he would simply pass her by and wait for another one?
And he answers that it is not at all obvious that he would be able to discern as to whether she was lame or blind, since she might be wearing a wooden leg, or was blind due to some internal problem with the eye that was not easily discernable.
The Riva also points out that the Gemara does not express concern regarding Eliezer that the maiden might be a Mamzeres or a slave (as it does in connection with Shaul). And he explains that this was because the Torah had not yet been given, and these issues did not yet exist.
In fact, the Gemara in the first Perek of Ta'anis explains, Rivkah told Eliezer that she was the daughter of Besu'el (Rivkah's father), who was "the son of Milkah, the wife of Nachor (Avraham's brother)" - indicating that he had Yichus, since he was the son of the main wife of Nachor, and not of his concubine. Consequently, Rivkah was of pure descent.
A Cana'ani Wife for Yitzchak
"Perhaps (ulai) the woman will not follow me" (24:39).
"The word "Ulai", Rashi observes, is written minus a 'Vav' (to spell 'Eilai' [to me']).
Eliezer had a daughter, and he hoped that perhaps Yitzchak might marry her. Avraham however, disillusioned him, informing him that his son was blessed, whereas Eliezer (who was a descendent of Cham) was cursed … , such a Shiduch was not feasible.
The Riva queries Rashi from what he wrote earlier (in Pasuk 24:28, on the words "then you will be absolved from my oath"), 'and you will then take a wife from the daughters of Aner, Eshkol and Mamrei' (who were also Cana'anim').
And he gives two answers:
1. that as is evident in the Pasuk there, Avraham only absolved him from his oath once his family in Charan had rejected him (though the question remains as to why Avraham did not then permit Yitzchak to Eliezer's daughter at that stage?).
2. Marrying Eliezer's daughter was out of the question, since the curse of slavery had already materialized, which was not the case with regard to marrying the daughter of Aner, Eshkol or Mamrei, on whom the curse had not yet taken effect.
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM ...
... TARGUM YONASAN
'And the years of the life of Yishmael were a hundred and thirty-seven; and he did Teshuvah, expired and died' (25:17).
... THE BA'AL HA'TURIM
" … and Yitzchak was consoled (vayinochem) after his mother" (25:67).
The word "vayinochem" also appears in Tehilim (106:45) " … vayinochem ke'rov chasodov (and He was consoled (relented) in accordance with His abundant kindness)".
Yitzchak was consoled, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, when he discovered that Rivkah was righteous and pious like his mother Sarah had been.
"He (Yishmael) dwelt (nofal) over all his brothers … And these are the generations of Yitzchak …" (25:18/19).
The word "nofal" really means 'he fell' (see Rashi).
This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that at the end of days, when Yishmael falls, the son of David Mashi'ach - who will be a descendant of Yitzchak - will rise to power.
Let us hope that this long-awaited event occurs soon!
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