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

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 16   No. 4

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Chaya Elka bas Shabsai z"l
ηιδ ΰμχδ αϊ ωαϊΰι ζ"μ
by her son and daughter-in-law and family

Parshas Vayera

A Test of Love
(Part 1)
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

The Nisoyon of the Akeidah, says Rabeinu Bachye, was to teach the world the extent of one's obligation to fear, and above all, to love, G-d.


Love, he explains, can be divided into three parts. Some people love the king, and will readily speak his praises, publicize his virtues and describe his mighty deeds to all and sundry. Their love however, is confined to their mouths but does not extend to their pockets, for they will not spend a penny in his honour.

There are others, who will not only sing the king's praises, but they will willingly give away all that they own on his behalf to demonstrate their love for him. Needless to say, their love of the king runs deeper than that of the first group. Yet even they would never dream of giving up their lives on his behalf whatever the reason.

And then there are those who would do anything for their king, even to the extent of giving up their lives for him should the need arise. Note the similarity between these three areas of love, and the three requirements mentioned in the Sh'ma, in the Pasuk of "ve'Ohavto".


In all of the above-mentioned three areas, the author points out, citing Pesukim and Medrashim, Avraham excelled. Throughout his life he informed others that Hashem was the One and only G-d, who had created the world and them, and made every effort to convince them to relinquish idolatry and to adopt monotheism in its place.

His tent, say Chazal, was open on all sides, so that after his guests had eaten, they would be able to leave from the opposite exit (so as not to be embarrassed in the presence of the incoming guests). And this is hinted in 'Eishel' (acronym Achilah, Shechivah and Levayah) that he opened to offer free board and lodging for one and all in order to attract guests. We know too, from the episode with the angels, that when he received guests, whom he would run to greet, he would treat them like kings with stunning courtesy.

Nor did he think twice about dying for his G-d when confronted by Nimrod in Ur Kasdim.

All this however, is incomparable to the love displayed by Avraham at the Akeidah. It is act of love that belies human comprehension.

After so many years eagerly waiting for the son who would succeed him, and build K'lal Yisrael, Avraham was already a hundred years old when his beloved son Yitzchak was ultimately born. It would have been only natural, says the author, to give up his life, even a hundred lives, if that was possible, to protect and safeguard that of his son. And not only that; but with passing years one imagines that the bond between father and son grew together with the anticipation that the promised nation would emerge. Until, when that son had almost reached the age of forty, an age when one generally attains full mental maturity, Avraham is told, not only that he will lose him but that he himself is to take him and slaughter him in cold blood, as it were.


As we know, he stood to make himself a laughing-stock (if not worse) in the eyes of the world. But putting that aside, the extent of his love for G-d, that clearly outweighed that of his son and that caused him to completely discard his paternal love (notwithstanding the circumstances that we described above), and to proceed to perform G-d's bidding without as much as batting an eyelid, is something that we simply cannot conceive.

Nor can we attribute his incredible behaviour to a state of shock or confusion, for, as the commentaries point out, G-d deliberately gave him three days to weigh up what he was doing. Yet throughout that period he remained steadfast, dropping not the slightest hint that he was even considering retracting, or that he was anything but eager to carry out G-d's instructions.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

In Fire, Wind, Water, Earth & a Tree

"And G-d appeared to him (Avraham) by the oak-tree of Mamrei … " (18:1).

We find, says Rabeinu Bachye, that G-d appeared to the prophets in fire, wind, water and earth (the four elements). He appeared to Moshe, at the Burning Bush and to Yisrael at Har Sinai, in fire; to Eliyahu, when he was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot, and to Iyov, in wind; to Yechezkel in water, and on an ongoing basis, on earth, as the Navi (Yeshayah 6:3) writes "His glory fills the earth".

Yet here, he appeared to Avraham in a tree.

Why a tree?

Because, Rabeinu Bachye explains, He wanted to convey the message to Avraham, that, in spite of his advanced age, there was still hope that he would have children, like a tree, which can re-grow even after it has been cut down, and can sprout new roots even after it has become old.

Furthermore, he says, Tzadikim are compared to trees, as David ha'Melech remarks in the opening Pesukim of Tehilim, as Rabeinu Chananel explains; and Avraham was the greatest Tzadik in his generation.



"For I have loved him (yeda'tiv), because he commands his children … " (18:19).

This is how Rashi explains the word "yeda'tiv'. Rabeinu Bachye, following in the footsteps of the Ramban, translates the word as "I have elevated him" or "I have closely supervised him".

Taking the Pasuk as a reference to all Tzadikim, he goes on to explain that G-d's Hashgachah applies at three different levels: 1. His Hashgachah over the animals, which is confined to Hashgachah K'lalis (a communal supervision to safeguard the survival of the species, but does not concern itself with the well-being of each and every animal). 2. His Hashgachah over mankind, where He keeps track of what each and every person says and does (Hashgachah P'ratis), though He does not necessarily protect them against harm. 3. His Hashgachah over Tzadikim, on whom He not only keeps track, but whom He also protects against all evil.

And as is evident from the Pasuk, 'Tzadikim' in this context refers specifically to those who not only observe Torah and Mitzvos faithfully, but who also pass on their heritage to their children.


Har ha'Moriyah

"Take your son … and go for yourself to the land of Moriyah" (22:2).

R. Bachye comments that the first of Avraham's ten tests (at the beginning of Parshas Lech l'cho) begins with the words "Lech l'cho", and so does this (last) one. The word "l'cho" was an indication that passing the test would benefit Avraham greatly (as Rashi points out there), so too, were his children destined to benefit from this test (as blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, as well as the fact that we read the Parshah of the Akeidah in Shul on Rosh Hashanah, indicate).


As Rashi observes, "Har ha'Moriyah" refers to Yerushalayim (a fact that is hinted by the fact that the Gematriyah of the two words is equivalent to that of 'bi'Yerushalayim'). And the reason that it is called by the name "Har ha'Moriyah", Rashi explains, is because a. 'hora'ah' (teaching) goes out from Yerushalayim (where the Sanhedrin sat) to the rest of the world, and b. to the fact that this was where the Ketores (which contained 'Mor' [myrhh]) was sacrificed.

Rashi bases this latter explanation on Targum Unklus, which translates "Har ha'Moriyah" as 'the land of worship' (incorporating the bringing of the Ketores).

Rabeinu Bachye however, who cites the latter explanation in the name of the Medrash, interprets Targum Unklus as 'the land from which the fear of G-d will emanate' (See Re'ei 14:23). Clearly, he considers "Moriyah" to be based on the word 'Moro' (fear).


G-d Doesn't Change His mind

" … and bring him up 'as an Olah' … " (Ibid.).

But how can it be, asks R. Bachye, that G-d can issue instructions that He does not intend to be carried out?

What the Pasuk must therefore mean to say, he explains, is not 'as an Olah', but rather 'in place of an Olah'. In other words, G-d considered the very bringing up of Yitzchak on to Har ha'Moriyah as if Avraham had offered up a burned-offering. Indeed, R. Bachye later explains that "le'olah" refers directly to the Mizbei'ach (though that explanation is based on Kabalah).

See also Rashi (22:12).


Avraham's Concern

"And Avraham arose early in the morning … and he chopped wood" (22:3).

Avraham was concerned, Rabeinu Bachye explains, that he may not find wood when he arrived at his destination. Anybody else would have been relieved had that been the case, and would have clutched at the prospect of having his only son spared. Not so Avraham, whose eagerness to perform G-d's will overrode every vestige of personal benefit. So, to ensure that he would fulfill his mission successfully, prior to his departure, he took the trouble to chop a considerable amount of wood and to carry it with him to his unknown destination.

Or perhaps, he adds, it was because he was particular to use only worm-free wood, as the Halachah requires.

According to one opinion in the Medrash, Avraham's reward for chopping (splitting) wood was that the Yam-Suf split for Yisrael after they left Egypt.


The Mizbei'ach

"And Avraham built there the Mizbei'ach" (22:9).

According to the simple P'shat, says R. Bachye, the Torah uses the direct object here, to teach us that Avraham built the Mizbei'ach using un-hewn stones.

The Medrash however, commenting on "the Mizbei'ach", stresses that this was the same Mizbei'ach on which Adam … Kayin and Hevel … No'ach and the Avos sacrificed.


Yitzchak's Concern

"And he picked up the knife to Shecht his son" (22:10).

"Father", R. Bachye quotes Yitzchak as saying, "Don't inform mother of what happened whilst she is standing on a roof or next to a pit, in case, in her anguish, she throws herself off the one or into the other".

Such were Yitzchak's holy thoughts as he prepared himself to die for the sake of G-d.

What is particularly interesting is the fact that Yitzchak's outstanding Midah was Din (and not Rachamim), whereas that of Avraham (in the previous pearl) was Chesed (and not Din).

This episode is reminiscent of that of the great Tzadik and Ba'al Musar, R. Yisrael Salanter, who, for some reason, was attended by only a maid-servant as he lay dying. In spite of his weak state and the fact that these were his last moments on earth, seeing the maidservant's fear at being left alone with a corpse, he spent his last hours here on earth, reassuring the poor girl, by explaining to her that she had nothing to be afraid of.

* * *


'And also the son of the maidservant I will turn into a nation of robbers, for he is your son' (21:13).


' … Avraham got up early in the morning … and he took some bread and a jug of water which he placed on her shoulder; He tied it to her loins as a sign that she was a slave … and he sent her away with a Get … ' (21:14).


'And when they arrived at the entrance to the desert and began to go astray after idolatry, Yishmael was stricken with a high fever and promptly drank all the water in the jug; his body became hot and his flesh weak; so Hagar carried him until she became tired. She called to the god of her father, but he did not answer her, so she cast the boy down under one of the trees' (21:15).


' … She went and sat to one side and she threw the idol away, a distance of a bow-shot from the boy … ' (21:16).


'And G-d heard the voice of the boy, due to the merit of Avraham … ' (21:17).


' … he settled down in the desert of Paran, and his mother found him a wife by the name of Adisha, but he divorced her and she married him to another woman by the name of Fatima, from the land of Egypt' (21:21).

* * *

(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 113:
Not to Eat Meat and Milk (cont.)

Consequently, should the piece of meat fall into another pot of meat, it will require sixty times the amount of the original piece plus the milk, to negate it; whereas by other Isurim, the second dish would combine with the original Heter to negate the Isur that is absorbed in it (seeing as the piece did not become a piece of Isur), even though as long as the actual piece itself is recognizable, remains permanently forbidden … Chazal also said that, like all Isurei Hana'ah that require burial, the ashes of Basar be'Chalav remain forbidden … The Isur is confined to the milk of a live animal, but does not extend to that of a dead one. And that explains why, min ha'Torah, one is permitted to the udders of a female animal together with their milk. The Chachamim however (in Chulin 109b) forbade it, until its milk has been removed. However, the milk that is found in the stomach is permitted for two reasons; firstly, because it is from a dead animal, and secondly, because, since it has already been fully digested, it is like manure. Consequently, The Ga'onim permitted it, not only if it has congealed, but even if it is still in its original liquid form … Someone who eats an embryo that has been cooked with milk is Chayav, as is the person who cooked it, but not if he eats the placenta of an animal, its skin its sinews, its bones, its horns or its hooves that has been cooked in milk … and the remaining details are to be found in the eighth Perek of Chulin.

This Mitzvah applies to both men and women, everywhere and at all times. Someone who purposely eats a k'zayis of meat and milk that have been cooked together is subject to Malkos. Someone on the other hand, who derives benefit from Basar be'Chalav is not, because it is possible to derive benefit from it without performing an act, and there is no Malkos for contravening a La'av that can be performed without an act. It would seem that there is no Malkos for anointing oneself with Basar be'Chalav, either (even though Chazal consider anointing like drinking), since this is not the regular way of benefiting from it. It is possible however, that it is subject to Malkus.


Mitzvah 118:
Not to Offer Up an Unsalted Korban

It is forbidden to preclude salt from an animal Korban or a Minchah; in other words, the Kohanim may not bring any Korban or Minchah without first salting it, as the Torah writes in Vayikra (2:13) "You may not preclude the salt of the covenant of your G-d", as well as "with all your Korbanos you shall bring salt" (as we shall see in the following Mitzvah).

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah … Our sages require the meat to be well salted on both sides, like one salts meat for roasting … the salt with which one salts the meat of Kodshim, like the wood on which it roasts, is purchased with public funds. The Kohanim are not permitted to use salt or wood that is donated by an individual. This enhances the Kavod of the Beis-Hamikdash, demonstrating that 'there is no poverty in a place of wealth' … The salt for the Korbanos was plced in three locations: in the Chamber of Salt, on the ramp and on top of the Mizbei'ach. In the Chamber of salt they would salt the limbs; whereas on top of the Mizbei'ach is where they would salt the Kometz (the fistful from the Minchah), the Levonah (the frankincense that was burned together with it on the Mizbei'ach), the Menachos that were entirely burned, and the burned-offering of a bird … and all other details are discussed in the seventh chapter of Zevachim.

This Mitzvah applies in the time of Beis-Hamikdash to male Kohanim only, whose job it is to see to the needs of the Korbanos. Any Kohen who contravenes it and brings a Korban or a Minchah on to the Mizbei'ach without salting it at all, has transgressed an Asei, as well as this La'av, since, by virtue of the fact that he needs to sacrifice the unsalted meat in order to transgress it, has performed an act, for which he is subject to Malkos.

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel