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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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This week's issue is dedicated in honour of the marriage of our son
Yechezkel Shraga nR"u and Henya Friedland tichyeh,
on Tuesday evening, the 24th of MarCheshvon.
Y'hi rotzon shehazivug yaa'leh l'yofoh.

Ch. 23, v. 2: "Lispode l'Soroh v'livkosoh" - The gemara Mo'eid Koton 27b says that the first three days following the death of a person are for weeping, and the first seven days are for eulogy. It would then seem that the words of our verse are reversed, as "lispode" should come after "v'livkosoh."

Six explanations follow:

1) The gemara refers to an average person, where the pain of the loss lessens with the passage of time, to the point that the deceased is eventually forgotten. However, Soroh was such an outstanding person that with the passage of time, the realization of the monumental loss was more dearly realized, hence, the weeping increased well beyond the eulogy period. (Kli Yokor)

2) The order mentioned in the gemara is the normal reaction of a mourner for his relative. However, Avrohom first concerned himself with honouring Soroh.

He felt no need to cry for her fate, as he knew that her pure soul ascended to the high and holy spheres. Only after properly eulogizing her did he allow his own emotions to be felt. He cried because a wife is equated to the Beis Hamikdosh, as the gemara Sanhedrin 22a says that the death of one's first wife is equated to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh during his lifetime.

This is why the letter Kof in "v'liv*k*osoh" is small. The Beis Hamikdosh stood one hundred cubits tall. The letter KoF, spelled Kof-Pei, has the numerical value of one hundred. The Beis Hamikdosh which stood one hundred cubits tall has been diminished by the death of Soroh. (Kli Yokor)

3) Eulogizing is an act done in public. Weeping for a deceased relative is a private matter. Since Soroh died before Avrohom returned home from Har Hamorioh, people gathered around Avrohom's home and when he arrived he was logistically forced into eulogizing his wife immediately. Only afterwards did he weep over her death. (Ntzi"v)

4) The order of weeping first and then eulogizing is only appropriate when the loss has a greater impact than the relating of the deceased's greatness. Since Soroh died after Yitzchok was already a grown man and had totally imbibed the values required to be a worthy progenitor of the Jewish nation, the loss was not monumental. However, extolling her great virtues would have a very strong positive effect upon the community, so the eulogy took precedence. (Ntzi"v)

5) Perhaps another answer could be offered. One is more apt to cry for a deceased relative when he finds himself among others who are also as emotionally attached to the deceased. Perhaps this is because crying solicits sympathy, which is more forthcoming from others who find themselves in the same situations. However, Avrohom was the only relative present, as Yitzchok did not come back to Chevron with his father after the Akeidoh.

6) The M.R. 58:5 says on the words in our verse, "Va'yovo avrohom," that Avrohom came from burying his father Terach. Since he was mourning the loss of his father, he might have intentionally first eulogized Soroh so as to divide between the mourning of the two deaths and give her a distinct separate period of mourning.

Ch. 23, v. 13: "Nosati kesef haso'deh kach mi'meni" - Some bring this as a source for the concept of not doing a mitzvoh with objects that are gotten gratis, but rather to specifically pay for them. There are numerous responses by halachic authorities regarding complaints against burial societies (chevroh kadishoh) charging exorbitant prices for burial plots. In a poetic manner regarding such a matter, Rabbi Yosef Shoul Natanson in his responsa Sho'eil U'meishiv Tliso'oh 1:200 says that although it is true that "Ee efshar lifsichas kever bli domim," an expression used regarding uterine bleeding in the gemara Nidoh 21b, still "shofaas dom k'foroh lo shomanu," - Even though there should be a cost incurred for burial, it should not be exorbitant.

Ch. 23, v. 15: "Arba mei'ose shekel kesef beini u'veincho MAH HEE" - There is a concept called "Mesoroh." A word or group of words that appears throughout Tanach have a connection. This exercise is often found in the Baal Haturim. The expression MAH HEE also appears in Bmidbar 13:18, "U'r'i'sem es ho'oretz MAH HEE," and in T'hilim 39:5, "Hodi'eini Hashem kitzi u'midas yomai MAH HEE."

The Pardes Yosef explains the connection as follows:

When one is single and free to do as he wishes his yetzer hora tells him to pursue all physical gratification to which he can avail himself. He tells the person that after marrying he will settle down and fulfill his spiritual responsibilities. Upon marrying his yetzer hora tells him that the small amount of money he received for a dowry will quickly be consumed and he will be left destitute, "Arba mei'ose shekel kesef beini u'veicho MAH HEE."

Therefore he should throw himself fully into the pursuit of a livelihood, and upon being successful a number of years down the road, he will be free to pursue spirituality. After toiling and slaving for many years and having built up some financial resources and clearly having the opportunity to pursue spirituality, the yetzer hora is armed with, "After all these years of hard work, don't you and your wife deserve an extended vacation, a relaxed luxury cruise around the world? If you don't do this now, who knows if you will be in good health in your old age and have the ability to do this and enjoy it? You always have the opportunity to learn Torah in your old age." This is "U'r'i'sem es ho'oretz MAH HEE." However, one must realize that there is no guarantee that he will live to an old age, and should immediately, while he is a youngster, pursue spirituality. This is "Hodi'eini Hashem kitzi u'midas yomai MAH HEE."

Ch. 23, v. 16: "Va'yishkol Avrohom l'Efron ...... arba mei'ose shekel kesef" - This is the only time that the spelling of the name Efron appears defective, lacking the letter Vov. The Baal Haturim points out that without the letter Vov, Efron's name has the numerical value of 400, equal to the selling price of the burial plot for Soroh and equal to the numerical value of the expression "ra ayin" found in Mishlei 28:22. The verse says that one who is agitated to amass a fortune is stingy, "ra ayin," and he doesn't realize that he will lose from his pursuit. This alludes to Efron who thought he would receive a large amount of money for his sale of the burial plot for Soroh. However, he lost out, as upon receiving the money from Avrohom, his name was spelled lacking the letter Vov.

The Chasam Sofer makes a calculation that Efron should have received 406 shekels, equal to the name Efron spelled with a Vov, but because of his eagerness to sell for a high price made a mistake and charged only 400 shekel, equal to his name without a Vov. It is a fascinating calculation and I advise you to look it up.

The Kli Yokor says that we find the number 400 connected to stinginess and jealousy in four places.

1) Here, where Efron received 400 shekel for the M'oras Hamachpeiloh.

2) When the brothers of Yoseif were jealous of Yoseif's receiving special treatment from their father. This brought about an exile that lasted 400 years.

3) When Eisov was jealous that Yaakov received the blessings from their father Yitzchok, he came with 400 men to accost Yaakov.

4) Novol the Karmeli was very stingy and did not accommodate Dovid's request to send food supplies to him and his followers for Rosh Hashonoh. Dovid came with 400 men to attack Novol.

Ch. 24, v. 1: "Va'Shem beirach es Avrohom bakole" - The GR"A quotes a medrash which says "Zu Sukoh." How does our verse allude to sukoh? The GR"A answers that there are three expressions by the mitzvoh of residing in a sukoh. They are found in Vayikroh 23:42,43. "Basukos teishvu shivas yomim - Kol ho'ezroch b'Yisroel yeishvu basukos - L'maan yeidu doroseichem ki basukos hoshavti es bnei Yisroel. The first letters of these three phrases, Beis-Kof-Lamed, spell the word "BaKoLe."

Perhaps another allusion can be found. The medrash says that the Torah begins with the letter Beis for "brochoh" and not with an Alef for "orur."

Obviously, there are positive words that begin with an Alef and negative words that begin with a Beis as well. The intention of the medrash is that a Beis has the value of two. This indicates an increase.

We know that the concept of "Brochoh" is growth. An Alef has the value of one, not indicating increase. The word "Brochoh" whose root form is Beis-Reish-Kof has the three letters which are the first increase beyond the single unit before it, each in its own field, the Beis in single unit numbers, the Kof in tens, and the Reish in hundreds. As well each is double the number value of the letter before it. Our verse says, Va'Shem BeiRaCh es Avrohom bakole." BeiRaCh is spelled Beis-Reish-Chof, indicating doubling.

Hashem blessed Avrohom with a doubling of BaKoLe, Beis-Kof-Lamed. Double the numeric value of BaKoLe equals 104, the same as "ZU SuKoH," Zayin-Vov-Samech-Vov-Kof-Hei.

Ch. 24, v. 19: "Vatchal l'hashkoso vatomer gam ligma'lecho eshov" - Why did Rivkoh give Eliezer water to drink before giving the camels? Isn't there a rule that one must feed animals before feeding humans? There are numerous answers. I await your offering.

Ch. 24, v. 31: "Pinisi habayis u'mokom lagmalim" - Rashi says that Lovon told Eliezer that he had removed all vestiges of idol worship. Ovos d'Rebbi Noson at the end of ch. 8 says that Lovon told Eliezer that he removed idols from, "habayis u'mokom lagmalim." He even removed them from the barns in which he placed the camels, as Avrohom's camels refused to enter a place of such spiritual impurity.

There is a clear message for us from this statement in Ovos d'Rebbi Noson. We might be very fastidious about making sure that our homes are clear of any impurities, i.e. improper media, literature, pictures, etc. However, at our places of work there might be the most depraved impure objects. If the camels of Avrohom wouldn't enter such premises, shouldn't we learn from them?

Ch. 24, v. 60: "Achoseinu at ha'yi l'alfei r'vovoh" - The M.R. 60:13 says in the name of Rabbi Chomo bar Chaninoh that the reason Rivkoh bore no children until Yitzchok greatly implored Hashem was so that Lovon's descendants should not be able to say that the blessing of their ancestor bore fruit.

Ch. 25, v. 1,2: "Va'yikach ishoh ushmoh K'turoh, Va'tei'led lo" - The Moshav Z'keinim says that the blessing of "v'niv'r'chu v'cho kole mish'p'chos ho'adomoh" (Breishis 12:3), was now fulfilled. Noach had three sons, Sheim, Chom, and Yefes. Avrohom had Yitzchok from Soroh, a descendant of Sheim, Yishmoel from Hogor, a descendant of Chom, and now he had children from K'turoh, a descendant of Yefes.

This is not in agreement with Rashi who says that Hogor and K'turoh are one and the same. The Rashbam says that Hogor and K'turoh are not the same person, in agreement with the Moshav Z'keinim. As well, the Moshav Z'keinim seems to disagree with the Sforno on verse 2 who says that "va'tei'led" should not be understood to literally mean "And she gave birth," as the verse in Divrei Hayomim 1:1:28 clearly indicates that Avrohom only sired Yitzchok and Yishmoel. Instead it means that she brought up these five children, acting as a surrogate mother. He adds that we find the same in Shmuel 2:21:8, where it states that "she gave" birth, but actually means that she was a surrogate mother.

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