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

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Vol. 20   No. 3

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Zevulun Doron ben Shimshon z"l

Parshas Lech-L'cho

Being Tamim
(Part 1)

(Adapted from the Beis Halevi)

"And it was when Avram was ninety-nine, that Hashem appeared to Avram and said to him 'Go before Me and be Tamim' " (17:1). The definition of Temimus is doing the will of Hashem without questioning His motives. Granted, one is permitted to study the reasons behind the Mitzvos, but that is part of the Mitzvah of studying Torah in depth, and not because one has doubts. But as far as performing the Mitzvos is concerned, one should perform them purely because it is the will of G-d. Indeed, even delving into the reasons as part of the Mitzvah of Talmud-Torah, one should perform because it is the will of G-d (and not because of a personal interest in discovering the reasons behind the Mitzvos).


Medrash Tehilim, commenting on the Pasuk in Tehilim (119:1) "How praiseworthy are the 'Temimei Derech' who go in the ways of Hashem's Torah," explains 'The generation of the desert were Temimim and Chasidim because Yisrael accepted the Torah with 'Temimus'. G-d forbade them to eat all cheilev (suet) of an ox and of a lamb. They accepted it and did not ask why!' He told them that when they enter Eretz Yisrael and plant fruit-trees, they should derive no benefit from the fruit for three years. They accepted it and did not ask why! It is clear from there that 'Tamim' means accepting G-d's will without asking questions.


The Pasuk writes in Tehilim (36:7) "Hashem will save man and animal". The Medrash explains that even though we are human, we are drawn after You like animals. And the Gemara in Chulin (Daf 5) explains that this refers to people who are highly intelligent, but who make themselves (humble) like animals. Let us elaborate.

If Reuven fulfills the will of Shimon and does whatever he asks of him, he does so because he considers it in his own interest to do it, since he does it either out of fear, or out of love, to repay a kindness or due to some other personal motive. In any event, he performs his friend's will because logic dictates that it is to his advantage to do it.

Hence the Gemara in Kidushin (22) rules that although one can acquire a large animal by means of calling it and it comes, a Cana'ani slave cannot be acquired in this way - because 'Whereas an animal comes because his (potential) master has called it, a slave comes of his own accord (because he considers it the best thing for him to do).' In other words, calling a slave in this way does not fall under the category of 'Meshichah' (drawing the article that one wishes to acquire), because it is not the master who performed the act, but the slave himself.

And this is what the above Medrash means when it says 'We are humans but we are drawn after You (Meshichah) like animals'. We are human-beings, who fully comprehend our obligations towards Hashem and how, in the long run, it is for our own good that we do His bidding. Nevertheless, we submit ourselves, body and Soul, and perform the Mitzvos because You commanded us to, without any personal motive - like animals.

This the sort of Temimus that G-d was demanding of Avraham Avinu in the Pasuk under discussion.


This also helps us to understand another Medrash in Parshas Chayei Sarah, which connects the Pasuk "Hashem knows the days of Temimim" with Sarah, who was 'Tamim' in her ways, to which Rebbi Yochanan adds 'Just like a calf!'

The commentaries grapple with this Medrash. But the true interpretation of Rebbi Yochanan's words lies in the above explanation. What the Medrash is saying is that Sarah Imeinu submitted herself to the will of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, unequivocally and unconditionally, like a calf submits itself to its master.

Finally, the author explains the repetition of the phrase 'like Hashem commanded Moshe', in Parshas Pikudei, in every detail of the Mishkan's construction. This teaches us that even though Betzalel and his co-workers loved the Mishkan and were well aware of the successes that it would bring upon Yisrael, they built it for no reason other than that G-d had commanded its building!

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

The Cana'anim in Eretz Yisrael

" and the Cana'anim were then (residing) in the land" (12:6). Rashi explains that, when No'ach distributed the entire world to his sons, he gave Eretz 'Cana'an' to Shem. Only the descendants of Cana'an were now capturing the land from the descendants of Shem.

Rashi appears to contradict himself, asks the Da'as Zekeinim, when, in Parshas Sh'lach-L'cho (13:22), he explains that Chom (No'ach's son) built Tzo'an for his youngest son Mitzrayim, and Chevron for his oldest son, Cana'an. And this is also the opinion of the Gemara in Sotah (34b)

This clearly implies that Chevron, which is part of Eretz Yisrael, was given to Chom, and not to his brother, Shem. And he answers that whether No'ach initially gave Eretz 'Cana'an' to Shem or to Chom is actually a dispute. Rashi in fact, is citing a Toras Kohanim, which concludes that when G-d told Avraham that he was giving the land to his children, He meant that He would restore it to its original owners.

The Da'as Zekeinim now cites another Toras Kohanim, which asks why the Cana'anim merit to live in their land forty-seven years longer than the Egyptians (the seven years that Chevron was built prior to Tzo'an [though this does not concur with Rashi's explanation of the above-mentioned Pasuk in Sh'lach-L'cho]) plus the forty years that Yisrael spent in the desert following the destruction of Egypt, before conquering Eretz Cana'an?

And the Toras Kohanim answers that it is because they assisted Avraham ha'Tzadik to select a burial place for his wife Sarah, and because they exalted him by referring to him as 'a prince in our midst!'


Avraham's Chivalry

" He (Avraham) moved from there to the mountain and he pitched his tent" (12:8)

Commenting on the fact that the word "Oholoh" ('his tent') is spelt with a 'hey' (denoting feminine) instead of with a 'Vav', Rashi explains that, in keeping with the obligation to honour one's wife more than oneself, Avraham pitched his own tent only after pitching the tent of his wife Sarah.

In that case, asks the Da'as Zekeinim , how will Rashi explain the same word ("oholoh") in the Pasuk in No'ach (9:21), which describes what happened when No'ach was lying exposed in his tent, which is also spelled with a 'Hey', in spite of the fact that it refers to No'ach?

To answer the question, he connects the Pasuk to a Pasuk in Amos, which states that the ten tribes would go into exile over drinking too much wine (the cause of immoral decadence), and to a Pasuk in Yechezkel which refers to Yerushalayim as 'Oholivah' and the ten tribes as "oholoh" (with a 'Hey').


Like Whom is the Halachah?

"And it was in the days of Amrafel the king of Shin'ar. Aryoch king of Elazar " (14:1):

From here, says the Da'as Zekeinim, the Torah hints at the Talmudic principle that the Halachah is like Shmuel in money matters, but like Rav in matters of Isur ve'Heter.

Bearing in mind that Shmuel was nicknamed 'Aryoch' (which means 'king' [see Bava Basra 4a]), precisely because the Halachah is always like him in money-matters, we can now read the three words under discussion as "Aryoch melech" (the Halachah is like Shmuel 'ela sor' (with the exception of Isur, where it is like Rav).

Alternatively, others give the acronym of "Elasar" as 'al Isur", with the same results.


Micha'el the Refugee

" the refugee came and told Avraham that his 'brother' (Lot) had been captured."

Rashi.explains that the refugee was none other than Og Melech ha'Bashan, who escaped either from the battle-front or from the flood.

The Da'as Zekeinim however, maintains that the refugee was the Angel Micha'el, He obtained the title 'refugee', when G-d cast his co-angel Sama'el down to earth, the latter grabbed hold of him and attempted to pull him down to earth together with him. The latter manged to escape only because G-d saved him - hence the title 'refugee'.

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