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

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Vol. 18   No. 3

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
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Parshas Lech-L'cha

Keil Shakai

Commenting on the Pasuk (17:1) " G-d appeared to Avram and said to him 'I am Keil Shakai! Go before Me and be Tomim (perfect)' ", Rashi writes 'I am the One who has sufficient (she'dai) in My G-dliness to supply all creatures, Therefore go before Me, and I will be for you a G-d and a patron'.

Elaborating further at the beginning of Parshas Va'eira, Rashi explains that G-d used the Name Keil Shakai when He revealed Himself to each of the Ovos, and made them promises which they did not merit to see fulfilled. That is why, when at the end of Parshas Sh'mos, Moshe complained bitterly "Why did You do bad to this people?", G-d replied with the words "I am Hashem! I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov with (the Name of) Keil Shakai, but by My Name Hashem I was not known to them" (u'Sh'mi Hashem lo noda'ti lohem). The Name Hashem (i.e. Havayah), Rashi explains, implies the fulfillment of promises, and if G-d appeared to Moshe using that Name, he (Moshe) ought to have understood that he was about to witness what the Avos did not merit. G-d makes promises (even to do things that are outside the realm of nature) with the Name Keil Shakai, and keeps them with the Name Hashem.

*

The Ramban, who disagrees with Rashi's basic translation of the Pasuk in Parshas Va'eira "u'Sh'mi Hashem lo noda'ti lohem", as we shall see shortly, adds to Rashi's explanation here that the Name 'Keil' implies strength (as in 'Eilei Mo'av', in the Shirah), thereby adding a major dimension to 'Shakai'.

However, he goes on to cite various other interpretations of the Name 'Keil Shakai'.

He cites the Rambam, who, like Rashi, bases the word 'Shakai' on the word 'Die' (sufficient), only He explains that G-d is self-sufficient; that He does not require the services of any of His creations for His existence. Hence He was able to promise Avraham children, even though the Mazalos predicted that this was not possible.

He prefers however, the explanation of the I'bn Ezra. Quoting R. Shmuel ha'Nagid, the I'bn Ezra explains that 'Keil Shakai' implies that G-d 'robs' the Heavenly Bodies of their power and vanquishes them. The Mazalos may well predict that Avraham cannot have children, but G-d is able to predict otherwise.

The Ramban elaborates; the Name 'Keil Shakai', he explains, is the Name with which G-d performs hidden miracles, to save Tzadikim from death, to sustain them in time of famine and to keep them safe in time of war - in the way that He did with the Avos. That is why throughout Seifer Bereishis, there is no record of open nature-defying miracles. Indeed, these are the type of miracle that the Torah refers to prior to the K'lalos in Bechukosai and Ki Savo, where it speaks of the B'rachah of rain falling in its time, and similar natural phenomenon. If and when these natural occurrences are destined to occur, they ought to take place, irrespective of the people's level of adherence and righteousness. There is no logical reason why they should depend upon human behaviour. Yet G-d promises that they will occur if Yisrael keep the Mitzvos and that they will not if they don't. This is the type of miracle that lies inherent in the Name 'Keil Shakai'. And that is why, after introducing Himself as 'Keil Shakai', G-d told Avraham to go before Him and to be 'Tamim', incorporating the Mitzvah of Milah and to worship and serve Him (see Rashi), promising that He would then keep the covenant that He was about to make with him.

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All this changed however, when G-d sent Moshe Rabeinu to take Yisrael out of Egypt. From then on, G-d initiated a new set of rules. From that time on, He employed the Name 'Hashem', the Ramban explains, implying a supernatural communication with Yisrael, which manifested itself with the endless stream of nature-defying miracles in Egypt, and continues in the era that followed (the Manna, the Well, the Clouds & the Splitting of the Yam-Suf ).

The moment Moshe Rabeinu came upon the scene, the era of 'Keil Shakai' came to an end, and the era of 'Havayah' began! This explains why, beginning with Seifer Sh'mos, the predominant Name used whenever G-d communicates with Moshe is 'Hashem' (or Elokim, whenever it refers to the Midas ha'Din), but no longer 'Keil Shakai'.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Rivo)

Change of Location

"And G-d said to Avram 'Go for yourself from your land to the land which I will show you' " (12:1).

Rashi comments 'There, I will make you a great nation, Here you will not merit to have children'.

The Chizkuni explains that this is what Chazal say Three things nullify an evil decree - 'a change of location, a change of name and a change of behaviour'.

According to the Bereishis Rabah, the three things are -Teshuvah, Tefilah and Tzedakah, to which others, based on the Pasuk, add "And G-d said to Avraham 'Go for yourself from your land ' " add - a change of location.

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Murder v Adultery

" and they (the Egyptians) will kill me (Avraham) whereas you (Sarah) they will let live" (12:12).

But surely, asks the Rivo, murder is just as much of a sin as adultery? So what prompted Avraham to think that they would commit murder but not adultery?

The answer he says, is that they would obviously prefer to transgress the sin of murder once rather than transgress adultery, day in, day out.

*

And quoting R. Matisyah from Avlun, he answers that Avraham's fear that they would opt for murder rather than adultery was based on the devastating flood that the world had already experienced as a punishment for the sin of adultery, as a result of which they would think twice before repeating that sin. They had not yet tasted G-d's wrath for the sin of murder however, rendering the prospect of murder that much more attractive than that of adultery.

*

I would suggest that it was not necessarily Divine retribution that bothered them, but rather the fear that as long as Avraham was around, he would do everything in his power to protect Sarah from falling into their clutches and avenge her abduction in the event that she did. And the best way to keep him off their backs would be to get rid of him.

*

Gentile Gifts Welcome

"Say now that you are my sister so that he (Par'oh) will do good to me because of you" (12:13).

Rashi explains this to mean that Par'oh would give him gifts.

The Riva queries this from the Pasuk in Mishlei " One who hates gifts will live".

And he answers by confining the Pasuk to gifts given by a Jew. It does not apply to gifts given by a gentile.

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The Cana'ani and the P'rizi

And a quarrel broke out between the shepherds of Avram's flocks and the shepherds of Lot's flocks and the Cana'ani and the P'rizi were then dwelling in the land" (13:7).

The Torah tells us about the Cana'ani and the P'rizi, the Riva explains, to anticipate the question as to why a fruitful land like Eretz Cana'an could not accommodate both Avraham and Lot (as we see in Pasuk 6). The Torah therefore informs us that they were not the only two living in that area, but that two other tribes resided there too.

*

He adds that Rashi attributes the insertion to the quarrel between the two men mentioned in the same Pasuk. And he concludes that Rashi's explanation will also answer why it mentions it in Pasuk seven (in connection with the quarrel), rather than in Pasuk six (in connection with their inability to live together, as he explained earlier).

*

Perhaps we can answer the Riva's initial question by quoting the famous adage - 'When there is love, one can coexist even on the point of a sword'. Conversely, we can say, when there is discord, one cannot coexist even in an area of a thousand acres.

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After Lot's Departure

"And G-d said to Avram after Lot departed from him " (13:14).

Rashi explains that as long as 'that Rasha' was with Avram, G-d did not speak with him

To answer the Kashya that earlier in the Parshah (12:7) He did indeed speak to him - whilst Lot was still there, the Riva explains that what Rashi means is (not that G-d did not speak with him at all, but) that He did not speak with him freely, but only very curtly.

And he proves it from the fact that although He basically repeated here what He already said there, what He said there in one short phrase ("To your children I will give this land!"), He elaborates here, from Pasuk 14-17. (See also note in Rashi.)

*

Who Gave Whom Ma'aser from What?

" and he gave him Ma'aser from everything" (14:20).

According to some commentaries, the Riva explains, it is Malki-Tzedek (alias Shem) who gave Ma'aser to Avraham, who was a Kohen. This is based on the Gemara at the end of Nedarim, which explains that G-d took away the Kehunah from Malki Tzedek - for having blessed Avraham before blessing G-d (see current Pesukim), as the Pasuk says in Tehilim "You (Avraham) are a Kohen forever, due to the words of Malki-Tzedek".

Rashi however, explains that it was Avraham who gave Ma'aser to Malki-Tzedek. He has no problem with the Gemara in Nedarim, since it is not Malki-Tzedek himself who lost the Kehunah, but his descendents, as the Gemara learns from the words (in the previous Pasuk) "and he was a Kohen" - he was a Kohen, but his descendents were not destined to become Kohanim.

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The problem with Rashi's explanation, asks the Riva, is that, to have given Malki-Tzedek Ma'aser, Avraham must have retained at least some of the booty for himself (otherwise, how could he give Ma'aser from something that did not belong to him?), in which case how will we understand Pasuk 23, which implies that Avraham did not take for himself as much as a thread?

In fact, answers the Riva, Avraham was entitled to keep everything that he captured; for so Chazal have taught 'Someone who saves from a gentile or from a robber, may keep what he saves'. Consequently, he was obligated to separate Ma'aser, based on another Chazal that a Chaver (a Talmid-Chacham) does not let anything that is not Ma'asered leave his domain. So he Ma'asered everything and handed over what was left to its original owner, the King of S'dom.

*

Alternatively, says the Riva, Avraham did not give the Ma'aser from the fruit that he captured, but from his own personal stocks. That is why Rashi says that he gave Ma'aser 'from all that he owned'.

But surely, the Riva queries his own words, since he had captured the booty from the four kings, he was obligated to give Ma'aser from it too, seeing as it was his by rights, as we just explained?

Not necessarily, he answers. It may well be that he recaptured the booty from the kings on behalf of the King of S'dom, and not for himself. If he did, he neither acquired it nor was he obliged to separate Ma'aser from it.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM ...

... TARGUM YONASAN

'And it was in the days of Amrafel (see Rashi), King of Puntos (Bavel); Aryoch, chief of the robbers, King of Elasar: Kedorlo'omer, who sat in the middle surrounded by his subjects like a ball, King of Eilam, and Sid'al, who was cunning like a fox, the king to whom all the nations paid homage' (14:1)

*

'They waged war with Bera (see Rashi) and Shemeiver, who destroyed his 'Eiver' through (excessive) adultery, King of Tzevoyim; and the king of the city that swallowed up its inhabitants -Tzo'ar' (14:2).

*

'When Avraham heard that his "brother" was captured, he equipped his 'boys', whom he had trained for battle , but they declined to go with him. So he chose from among them Eliezer the son of Nimrod, who was as strong as the rest of the three hundred and eighteen of them combined ,,. ' (14:14).

*

'And blessed be the High G-d who made your enemy like a shield that is pierced by the arrow ' (14:21).

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... THE BA'AL HA'TURIM

" and he built there a Mizbei'ach to Hashem. And it was in the days of Amrafel they waged war " (13:18 - 14:2).

This is a hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that, before going into battle, Avraham's children were obligated to bring a Korban.

*

"And it was in the days of (Vay'hi bi'yemei) Amrafel " (14:1). The B'al ha'Turim cites the Gemara in Megilah (10b) which cites five places where the words "Vay'hi bi'yemei" are mentioned, all of which precede a calamity that followed.

1. The current Pasuk which precedes the first major war in history;

2. "And it was in the days when the judges judged" (Shoftim 1:1) which is followed by a world-wide famine;

3. "And it was in the days of Achaz (King of Yehudah [Yeshayah 7:1]) which precedes a joint attack against Yehudah by Syria and Pekach ben Remalyahu, King of the Ten Tribes;

4. "And it was in the days of Yehoyakim (King of Yehudah [Yirmiyah 1:3]) which is followed by a prophecy predicting the destruction of the first Beis-Hamikdash.

5. "And it was in the days of Achashverosh (Esther 1:1) which precedes the rise to power of Haman ha'Rasha.

*

"And Malki-Tzedek the King of Sholeim (Melech Sholeim) 14:18.

Rashi explains that this is none other than Shem, the son of No'ach.

The Ba'al ha'Turim adds that it is hinted in the first letters of the words "Melech Sholeim", which spell 'Shem'.

*

"And Avram said to the King of S'dom 'I raise (harimosi) my hand to G-d " (14:22).

The same word appears in Parshas Vayeishev (39:15 [in connection with the incident between Yosef and the wife of Potifera) "And I raised {harimosi) my voice and I called out ".

This corroborates what Chazal say, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that the wife of Potifera meant for the good (to fulfil a dream that she would have a child from Yosef) just like Avraham did.

* * *

THE MITZVOS AND THEIR MEANING
(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 459, 460 & 461:
Not to Save a Meisis Not to present Any Argument in his Defence & Not to Refrain from Teaching his Guilt

The Musas (who is being enticed to worship idols) is forbidden to do anything to save the Meisis when he sees his life is in danger and that he is about to be sentenced to death. On this the Torah writes " Your eyes shall not take pity on him!" (13:9). And so it is written in the Sifri; From what the Pasuk writes in Kedoshim "Do not stand on the blood of your friend", perhaps this extends to a Meisis? Therefore the Torah writes "Your eyes shall not take pity on him!"

The author already presented a reason for the Mitzvah in Mitzvah 456 ('Not to take any notice of someone who is prophesying in the name of Avodah-Zarah').

* * *

The Musas is forbidden to present any argument in the defence of the Meisis, even if he knows something in his favour. He is not allowed to teach it or to mention it, as the Pasuk says in Re'ei (Ibid.) "and do not have compassion on him".

* * *

The Musas is not permitted to refrain from testifying against the Meisis. He is obligated to sat it, because the Torah writes in Re'ei "Do not cover-up for him" (Ibid.), which the Sifri explains to mean that one is not allowed to remain silent, following the same pattern as the other Mitzvos listed in the Pasuk. From these many warnings concerning a Meisis, the Seifer ha'Chinuch extrapolates that one is not only permitted, but that it is even a Mitzvah to hate a Meisis, and not just a Meisis, but any Rasha who fails to keep any of the Taryag Mitzvos, once we see that he has become so wicked that there is no hope that he will retract. It is a Mitzvah to hate him once we see that he not only fails to listen to those who try to bring him back, but that he scorns them. It is in connection with Resha'im such as these that David ha'Melech wrote in Tehilim "How I hate Your enemies Hashem, and I will quarrel with those who arise against You!".

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