by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS LECH L'CHO 5771 BS"D
Ch. 12, v. 1: "Lech l'cho mei'artz'cho" - Go for your benefit from your land - Avrohom's "hachnosas orchim" serves as the apex example of how far one should go to take in guests and make them comfortable. If Avrohom would never have the experience of being a long distance traveler, he would never be at the receiving end of "hachnosas orchim." Hashem therefore orchestrated that he travel far from his homeland so that he would taste the lack of comforts of being at home. This, and only this, would bring him to fulfilling "hachnosas orchim" in the best possible manner. (Rabbi Y.Z. Pollak) A similar explanation is given to Rabbi Mendel of Riminov's being thrown into jail for no apparent wrongdoing. He was renown for his tireless efforts to extricate people who were in jail, "pidyon shvuyim." Some explain that this was done to him so that he physically feel the hardships of being incarcerated and in turn work even harder in his holy work of "pidyon shvuyim."
Ch. 12, v. 3: "Vaavorcho m'vo'rachecho umka'lelcho o'or" - And I will bless those who bless you and your curser I shall curse - Note the inherent good news in the choice of wording. By the blessers, they are a plural, portending that Avroohm would have many blessers, while by the detractors it is expressed in the singular, "umka'lelcho." (Ibn Ezra) When people see the resultant blessing come upon one who blesses Avrohom, they will likewise bless him, hence the plurality. When people see the resultant negative effects of cursing Avrohom, they will surely refrain from cursing him, hence the single "um'ka'lelcho." (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 12, v. 3: "Vaavorcho m'vo'rachecho umka'lelcho o'or" - And I will bless those who bless you and your curser I shall curse - Commentators ask why there is a switch in order between the giving of the blessing or the curse and the blessers and the curser. By the blessers it states "I will bless" first, and by the curser, it states "he who will curse you" first. The GR"A explains that the blessing of a well to do person is greater than one who is destitute because his concept of a blessing is of a greater stature than a poor man's. Conversely, the curse of one who himself has no blessing is greater than that of a well to do person. The verse therefore says that Hashem will first bless the person who will eventually bless Avrohom so that the blessing will be very magnanimous, but He will only curse the one who will curse Avrohom, afterwards, so that at the time of the curse the person will not deliver such a powerful curse.
Ch. 12, v. 3: "V'niv'r'chu v'cho kole mish'p'chos ho'adomoh" - And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you - Baalei Tosfos say that according to the opinion that Keturoh was not Hogor, but rather a descendant of Yefes, Avrohom sired children of Shem, Chom, and Yefes, and this is a fulfillment of these words of our verse.
Ch. 12, v. 3: "V'niv'r'chu v'cho kole mish'p'chos ho'adomoh" - And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you - Although we translate "v'niv'r'chu" as "and they will be blessed," the Rashbam translates it as "and they will want to GRAFT their families" through you. He takes the word source B-R-CH and switches it to R-C-B.
Ch. 12, v. 17: "Va'y'naga Hashem es beis Paroh n'go'im g'dolim v'es beiso al dvar Sorai eishes Avrom" - And Hashem smote the household of Paroh with great plagues and his house regarding the matter of Sorai the wife of Avrom - Don't we already know that Sorai was avrom's wife? (This was dealt with in an earlier edition where the answer of the Haa'meik Dovor And Harcheiv Dovor was offered.) Rashi contends with the expression "al dvar Sorai," explaining that through her verbalizing, "Strike strike" plague upon plague were delivered. The Kli Yokor has difficulty with this explanation as there is no indication for "Strike" in our verse. He offers that although Avrom told Sorai to say that she was his sister, she complied only regarding the public at large, but when brought to Paroh's private quarters, she told him that she was actually Avrom's wife, hoping that this would dissuade him from misusing her. Paroh's passions guided him to not accept this sort of retraction and he told her that he believed her first words, which were said to the masses and in front of Avrom. The words "al dvar Sorai eishes Avrom" are to be understood as "because of the words that Sorai said, 'eishes Avrom,'" that she is Avrom's wife.
Ch. 13, v. 13: "V'anshei S'dom ro'im v'chato'im laShem m'ode" - And the people of S'dom were exceedingly bad and sinful to Hashem - In Yechezkel 16:49 the verse says, "Hi'nei zeh hoyoh avone S'dom achoseich …… v'yad oni v'evyon lo hechezikoh." Albeit that sinning to mankind is also a sin to Hashem, since the verse only mentions that they were exceedingly sinful to Hashem how can the Prophet say otherwise? The Rosh haYesivah of Chasidei Zhvil answers that even if they had all these terrible sins but would have given charity they would have been saved, as per the gemara B.B. 10a, which on the verses in Mishlei 10:2 and 11:4, "Utzdokoh tatzil mimo'ves," the gemara explains that it saves from "misoh m'shunoh," which was surely the case with S'dom. Thus, our verse describes their terrible sinning to Hashem as the reason for their deserving to die, as will be related in the following parsha, and the intention of the verse in Yechezkel is to explain the reason for their dying such a hideous, unusual death.
Ch. 14, v. 20: "Va'yi'tein lo maa'seir mikole" - And he gave him a tenth of all - What item is to be included, as indicated by the word "mikol?" The Ponim Yofos answers that not only did Avrom give Malki Tzedek a tenth of the booty he captured, but also of the items he brought with him to wage war, i.e. swords, arrows, shields. This is because when one goes to war he realizes that he might lose and besides his possibly losing his life, his armaments would also fall into the hands of his adversaries. When he also still had these items he tithed them as well (See Rosh on gemara N'dorim 59, response Chavas Yo'ir #224, Shvus Yaakov 2:86.)
Ch. 14, v. 23: "Im michut v'ad sroch naal" - If from a thread to a shoelace - The gemara Chulin 89 says that in the merit of these words the bnei Yisroel received the mitzvos of tzitzis strands (michut) and tefillin straps (sroch naal). It is our custom to wear a talis godol and tefillin only at our morning prayers. This is well understood in light of our receiving these mitzvos in the merit of Avrohom who established morning prayers. (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 17, v. 1: "His'ha'leich l'fonai ve'h'yei somim" - Bring yourself to walk in front of Me and make yourself complete - This is the command to Avrom to have himself circumcised. Why didn't Avrohom do bris miloh before being commanded, since he kept the Torah as per the gemara Yoma 28? This question was dealt with in an earlier edition and numerous answers were given. An additional answer: The Maharsh"o ad loc. says that the gemara relates only when he was already circumcised - "ayin shom."
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