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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 24, v. 10: “Migma’lei adonov” – From his master’s camels – Rashi writes that the stress on the self-understood ownership teaches us that Avrohom’s camels were readily noted as uniquely his. He had them muzzled when they left his property so that they would not graze in privately owned fields. Ramban (24:32) brings the M.R. 60:8 where Rabbi Chiya says Rashi’s point, but then Rav Huna asked him, “Wouldn’t Avrohom’s camels be as well trained as Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo’ir’s donkey, which did not eat untithed food? (see gemara Yerushalmi D’mai 3:1).” Ramban says that since there was no rejoinder, it is obvious that Rabbi Chiya accepted this question as negating his interpretation. Because of this the Ramban says that “va’y’fatach” of verse 32 does not mean that he opened their muzzles, but rather, their riding gear.

A number of answers have been offered to explain Rashi’s position in Sedrah Selections parshas Chayei Soroh 5759.

<<1) Avrohom muzzled his camels to teach others. (Bni she’yichyeh)

2) Avrohom did not want to take a chance at the expense of others, if perchance one of his camels would eat from someone else’s property. (Bni she’yichyeh)

3) The camels Avrohom sent were part of a fleet, but not ones he personally used. Hence, he did not create an aura of sanctity that would affect them. R.P.b.Y.’s donkey was his personal donkey, which he used for daily transportation, thus allowing him the opportunity to affect the donkey. (Baa’lei Tosfos)

4) Food that is untithed, “tevel,” is intrinsically prohibited. An animal can be trained to be sensitive to this. Stolen food is intrinsically kosher, and no animal would refrain from eating it. (Nirreh li)

5) Since the land of Canaan will eventually become Avrohom’s, the theft of others’ property hinges upon a time factor. We find that even tzadikim themselves would occasionally slip and eat something that was only prohibited by virtue of a time factor, i.e. before havdoloh. See Tosfos P’sochim 106b d.h. “isht’li.” Although at the present time it is true theft, but since the change in ownership does not require bilateral action between Avrohom and the Canaanites, their ownership is tenuous and the level of theft is weak, hence the difficulty in sensitizing his camels to this. (Nirreh li)

6) The rule is that animal owners are not responsible if their animals inadvertently eat someone else’s food in the public domain, (gemara Bovo Kama 24b). Therefore, it is difficult to train them to discern between the public domain and private property. Untithed foods are always prohibited.>>

Four additional answers:

7) R.P.b.Y.’s donkey was in Eretz Yisroel while Avrohom’s camels traveled to “chutz lo’oretz.” Eretz Yisroel itself adds to the spiritual sensitivity as per kinos “Tzion ... … tzri Gilod” (pg. 50 in paperback Hebrew Publishing Company edition). (MVRHRHG”R Yaakov Kamenecki zt”l in Emes l’Yaakov)

8) A donkey is more sensitive to tithing, i.e. a portion being sanctified, since there is the sanctity of “b’chor petter chamor.” (Nirreh li)

9) It is harder to train a camel since camels have an inborn hatred of humans, as per Medrash on parshas Tzav #3 (found in Kovetz Maamorim Upisgomim entry “arbo’oh oivim”) (Nirreh li) The idea that camels hate humans is also mentioned in Moshav Z’keinim parshas Breishis d.h. “aruroh ho’adomoh.”

10) At maamad Har Sinai there was “poska zuhamoson,” there ceased to be a negative spiritual atmosphere caused by Primal Man’s sin, even for the animals that came there (see Chidushei hoRan on gemara Shabbos that fish were not present so for them there was no “poska ….”) If so, Avrohom’s camels, which were before matan Torah could not be trained, as they had the negative “zuhamo,” while R.P.b.Y.’s donkey was after matan Torah and there was poska zuhamoson.” (Nirreh li)

11) It was harder for Avrohom to influence his camels against theft since they were exposed to the theft of Lote’s camels, which were not restrained. Although this took place many years earlier, hence they are not the same camels, but this bad trait might be passed on (see Droshos hoRan drush #5). (Sholo-m Mordechai Greenberg nR”u)

12) A slight variation on the previous answer: Avrohom had them muzzled to strengthen the morality of his camel caretakers. They were exposed to Lote’s livestock caretakers, who allowed Lote’s animals to graze in others’ fields. (Perhaps this was S.M.G.’s intention in #11)

Ch. 24, v. 57: “V’nishaloh es pihoh” – And we will ask her opinion – In verse 51 we find, “Hi’nei Rivkoh l’fo’necho kach vo’leich,” clearly stating that it was a done deal, so why do her mother and brother suggest that she be asked? Earlier B’su’eil was still alive. If Rivkoh was 3 years old at the time (see Tosfos on gemara Y’vomos 61b), or even if she was 14 years old, B’su’eil had mastery over her to accept a marriage offer (even at the age of majority, since she was a bas Noach this is the ruling, see Rambam hilchos avodim 9:9). However, in the interim B’su’eil was poisoned, and the marriage arrangements were now made by Lovon, her brother. This required her approval. (Chochmoh Vodaas)

Ch. 24, v. 60: “Va’y’vorchu es Rivkoh” – And they blessed Rivkoh – Tosfos on the gemara Ksubos 7b d.h. “she’ne’emar” says that the blessings were the 7 blessings of “eirusin” that are made under the chupoh. Rashi on verse 57 says that we do not bring a girl/woman into marriage without her agreement. In the previous offering it was clarified that this is the requirement when she is an orphan, and indeed the M.R. here clearly states this. Since this type of marriage arrangement allows for “mei’un,” her right to annul the marriage upon her reaching the age of majority, how do we allow for blessings to be made earlier, which might later be retroactively be negated?

As mentioned above, there is the opinion that Rivkoh was 14 years old at the time, and accordingly she must be asked, but she has no option to annul the marriage since she entered into the agreement as an adult. Even according to the opinion that she was 3 years old at the time, it could well be that once she agreed she had no option of “mei’un” later. This is because we are dealing with a pre-matan Torah situation, and when people were mentally as mature as an adult, they were considered totally like an adult.

Alternatively, according to the Ritv”a on the gemara Ksubos 7b and the Rosh in his commentary on the first chapter of gemara Ksubos #12, the blessings are not “birchos mitzvoh,” but rather, “birchos hodo’oh.” Even if the girl annuls the marriage later the earlier “birchos hodo’oh” are not in vain. Possibly, even according to the Rambam hilchos ishus 3:23, that the blessings are “birchos mitzvoh,” this is only true after matan Torah. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 25, v. 4: “Unvei Midyon Eifoh voEifer vaChanoch vaAvido vEldo’oh” – These five sons were the ancestors of five family tribes of Midyon, and each had its own king. This carried on for generations, as we find that when the bnei Yisroel warred with Midyon, they killed their five kings (Bmidbar 31:8). (Rabbi Yoseif Bchor Shor)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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