Vol. 5 No.3
Parshas Lech Lecho
Avrohom Ovinu the Giant
We have often discussed some of the superlative qualities of Avrohom Ovinu, many of which we cannot even comprehend, let alone emulate. But if we try to view this amazing man in toto, we will behold a human being (or perhaps an angel?) so dazzling, that one wonders whether it is possible to get any closer to perfection; indeed, in all likelihood, one cannot!
1. Avrohom's chesed is of course, legendary, its extent and depth unequalled by anyone, ever, for whatever other outstanding characteristics he possessed, chesed was the most unique, as we say each day in "U'vo le'Tziyon" - "You give truth (Torah) to Ya'akov, kindness to Avrohom". (One has only to turn to his handling of his guests [see no. 6], glance at the four entrances to his tent or watch him planting his fruit-trees in Be'er Sheva, to realise how far removed we are from the chesed of Avrohom.)
2. Although gevurah was Yitzchok's forte, there are few, if any, who could equal the amazing acts of gevurah of Avrohom Ovinu, as for example, his harsh treatment of Yishmoel and his preparedness to go through with the Akeidoh of Yitzchok - both without the slightest hesitation, no sooner had he received word from G-d that that is what he was supposed to do.
3. Torah-study was most certainly Ya'akov's speciality, yet Avrohom Ovinu studied (and kept) the entire Torah, both the written and the oral, the Torah-laws and the Rabbinical teachings. "What were his sources?" you might ask. Chazal say that his kidneys became Torah-fountains, so that his Torah-knowledge developed from within (when one is so totally devoid of materialism, the soul which after all, is a part of G-d Himself, is able to fully manifest its spirituality). The extent of Avrohom's vast Torah-knowledge can perhaps be gauged by his Maseches Avodoh-zoroh, which Chazal tell us, consisted of 400 chapters (compared to ours which consists of only 5).
4. Who can match Avrohom's tzniy'us? When Rashi writes how, already in his seventies, he accidentally saw a part of Soroh's uncovered body and realised for the first time, the extent of her beauty - and Soroh, the Gemoro informs us in Megillah, was one of the world's most beautiful women.
5. And we have only to study his prayer on behalf of S'dom to realise his power of tefillah. Besides, Chazal taught us that Avrohom instituted tefillas Shachris. Clearly, prayer formed one of the pillars of his incredible relationship with Hashem.
6. Everything that Avrohom ever did, was done with z'ri'zus (alacrity) - early in the morning. He got up early to perform miloh, he got up early to the Akeidoh and he got up early to daven - always! He did not see fit to delay a deed that needed to be performed in the service of his Creator - even by one minute. See how he ran to perform the mitzvoh of "hachnosas orchim" (entertaining guests), when the angels (whom he took to be no more than Arabs) came to visit him.
7. Avrohom converted the men (into believers of G-d), whilst Soroh converted the women. Wherever he went, Avrohom made it his business to act as G-d's ambassador. After providing his guests with a scrumptious meal, he would point out to them that, ultimately, their food was a heavenly gift and that they must thank G-d (rather than himself) for what they had eaten.
8. The instigator of total self-sacrifice is Avrohom Ovinu who, at a very tender age, willingly sacrificed his life at Ur (the furnace of) Kasdim rather than his beliefs. He had no precedent on which to base his decisions other than the courage of his own convictions. This was the first of his ten trials, and if we can assume that these trials became progressively more difficult, then we can better understand the incredibly high standard of Avrohom's life achievements.
9. And the previous incident also demonstrates Avrohom's deep faith, a faith which evolved entirely in his own mind, springing from a unique sense of honesty and common sense. Indeed, the Torah writes of Avrohom, when he received with implicit faith the news that he would be the father of many offspring - although he and Soroh had lived together for many years without having children (in fact, from a physical aspect, Soroh could not possibly have conceived children): "And he had faith in Hashem, considering it to be a charitable act".
10. His absolute fear of G-d, a fear born of love and respect, resulted in the Akeidoh, when Avrohom displayed not only a firm control of his actions, but also a firm control over his mind, and it was this combination of love, respect and fear-of-G-d that governed every action, word and thought of the 175 years' lifespan of this spiritual giant. It is not in vain that Hashem Himself describes Avrohom Ovinu as a "G-d-fearing man" and "My loved one". Even amongst the Biblical characters, there are few who can match his stature.
Adapted from the Gro
The Power of Blessing
"And I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse." (12:3)
The Torah changes the order here, cursing the curser only after he has cursed Avrohom, whereas the one who blesses him is blessed already before he blesses.
This is because a good thought is considered as if it has been carried out even before it actually has, explains the Kli Yokor. Not so a bad one, which G-d only punishes when it has been brought to fruition.
Alternatively, Hashem first blesses those who wish to bless his people (like He does the Cohanim), in order that the blessing should be more effective.
The Gro explains that the blessing of a rich man is more effective, as is the curse of a poor man.
Consequently, someone who wishes to bless a Jew is first blessed, so that his blessing (which is now the blessing of a rich man) should be more effective, whilst if he comes to curse him, he received his curse only afterwards in order to minimise the effectiveness of his curse (since it is the curse of only a poor man).
"U'ben Meshek beisi, hu Damesek Eliezer." (15:2)
Rashi (quoting Unklus roughly) translates" ben Meshek" as "the manager".
The Gro however, explains it by way of a hint. He quotes the possuk in Chayei Soroh, which gives three descriptions of Eliezer: "his (Avrohom's) slave", "the elder of his house" and "who has charge over all that belongs to him".
These three, he explains, correspond to the three expressions used in Mishlei (10) with regard to an ant "who has no captain, policeman or supervisor over it".
And those three are hinted in the word Meshek, whose letters form the first letters of Moshel (supervisor), Shoter (policeman) and Kotzin (officer).
Avrohom and Ya'akov
"And your name will no longer be Avrom" etc. (16:5)
The Gemoro in B'rochos writes that someone who calls Avrohom, Avrom, transgresses both a Mitzvas Asei and a la'av. Not so with someone who calls Yisroel, Ya'akov, despite the fact that the Torah uses a similar expression with Ya'akov as it does with Avrohom. This is because, explains the Gemoro, Hashem himself still referred to Yisroel as Ya'akov (in Bereishis 46).
The Gro quotes a Sifri which writes that "ve'hoyo" implies ‘immediately’, whereas "yihye" means ‘at a later stage’.
In that case, he explains, we have the source of the above distinction. By Avrohom, the Torah writes "ve'hoyo shimcho Avrohom", implying 'with immediate effect', which is why Hashem never again referred to him as Avrom, whereas by Ya'akov, the Torah uses the expression "ki im Yisroel yihye shemecho" - meaning 'only later', allowing Hashem the necessary leeway to still refer to him as Ya'akov.
Hashem Desires the Prayers of Tzadikim
Avrohom instituted Shachris, Yitzchok Minchah and Ya'akov Ma'ariv, writes the Gemoro in B'rochos. And this is hinted in the second letters of their names ("boker", "tzohorayim" and "arvis" respectively). That explains why Ya'akov's name was not changed permanently to Yisroel, because Hashem wanted their names to bear eternal testimony to the Tefilos which they established ("because G-d desires the prayers of the Tzadikim").
Based on the Maharsho's explanation, we can also explain it like this. Avrohom's name was changed because before, he had been the father of Arom. Now, he was to become the father of all nations, hence the change from Avrom to Avrohom (from "Av la'Arom" to "Av ha'mon"). In addition to this, his change of name signalled a change of Mazel - 'Avrom cannot have children, Avrohom can (and will)'.
For both of these reasons, the change of name had to be immediate and permanent. Avrohom would never again become Avrom, because he was from now on, the father of all nations, not just of Arom.
And his nature had changed, too. From now on he would be able to have children. Both of these factors were to take immediate effect, both were irreversible. Consequently, anybody who calls Avrom, 'Avrohom', has transgressed an Asei.
Ya'akov, on the other hand, did not change permanently. Ya'akov, from the word 'Eikev', represented the lower level of Ya'akov (when he and his children were not worthy of Hashro'as ha'Shechinah), whilst Yisroel represented their higher level, when they were. There were times in Ya'akov's life when the name Ya'akov was appropriate, and times when the name Yisroel was appropriate.
That is why Hashem Himself continued to refer to Yisroel as 'Ya'akov', that is why someone who calls Yisroel, 'Ya'akov', has not transgressed.
History of the World ( Part 37)
(Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros)
Dovid is 29 when he is crowned, though he only ascends the throne a year later (437 years after Yetzi'as Mitzrayim). First he rules for seven and a half years over his tribe (Yehudah) only. During that time, he lives in Chevron. Then he moves to Yerushaloyim, and rules over the whole of Yisroel for thirty-three years.
Evyosor is Cohen Godol, Noson and Gad are the prophets. Dovid's Rebbes are Mefivoshes ben Shaul and Achitofel, but his main Rebbe is Iyro ha'Yo'iri the Cohen, to whom Dovid gives all his Ma'asros.
On the 7th Sivan, Uryoh ha'Chitti divorces his wife, on the 24th Ellul, Dovid marries Bas Sheva, and on Yom Kippur his sin is forgiven. Bas Sheva is in fact, Achitofel's grand-daughter.
Achitofel the Rosho dies at 33. He was only 8 when Eli'am his son was born. Eli'am in turn, is only eight when he fathers Bas Sheva, who is only six when she bears Shlomoh.
When Dovid is being pursued by Shaul, he sends his parents and brothers to the King of Mo'av for protection. However, the King of Mo'av kills them all, except for one brother who escapes to Amon.
When Dovid is fleeing Yerusholayim, during the rebellion of his son Avshalom, Evyosor fails to obtain Divine inspiration to assist Dovid, through the medium of the Urim ve'Tumim. Evyosor (a descendent of Iysomor) is subsequently deposed and replaced by Tzodok (a descendent of Elozor).
The Oron is returned to its place, but the Ohel Moed of Moshe, the fire that descended in his time, the copper Mizbei'ach of Betzal'el, the Menorah and the Table will remain with the Bomoh in Giv'on in the charge of Heymon, until they are moved to the Beis ha'Mikdosh during the reign of Shlomoh.
Dovid institutes that the Levi'im should sing "Hodu" each morning (until "al tig'u bi'm'shichoy"), and each afternoon from "Shiru la'Hashem kol ho'oretz" until "ve'hallel la'Hashem".
In his last year, he institutes the 24 Mishmoros of Kehunah and Levi'yah, and he organises all the procedures that Shlomoh will carefully follow in the Beis ha'Mikdosh, once it is built.
He discovers 24,000 Levi'im who can sing, of whom four thousand play instruments. Dovid prepares a treasury for the Beis ha'Mikdosh that his son Shlomoh will build - one thousand two hundred and thirty million ducats of gold and one million, two hundred thousand litres of silver and eighteen thousand million litres of "barinze" (possibly copper).
A woman named Diruni makes a large piece of parchment from an animal's hide, and she purchases from a Greek as much land as she can surround with the parchment. She then cuts up the hide into fine strips, with which she is able to buy a substantial plot of land on which she establishes Carthage. The Carthagians become a wise and wealthy nation, who run the city by the advice of the judges. It will later be destroyed by the Roman general Paulo in the year 2643 (year 235 of the second Beis Ha'mikdosh) in the days of Shimon the Chashmona'i.
Shlomoh is born.
Dovid is 58.
Amnon rapes his (biological) sister Tomor (they are not really related, because Tomor was born to Dovid from a non-Jewish captive (a Yefas-to'ar). It is because of this episode that Dovid decrees the prohibition of Yichud - extending the Torah prohibition of being alone in a room with a *married* woman, to being alone with an *unmarried* one.
Avsholom murders Amnon and flees to Gesher.
Yo'ov, Avishai and Asoh'el, sons of Tz'ruyoh (Dovid's sister) are all murdered. Yo'ov and Avner are both buried in the market-place of Chevron and on the slope of the mountain nearby, the grave of Yishai, Dovid's father, is situated.
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