by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YEIRO 5763 BS"D
IN HONOUR OF THE BIRTH OF OUR GRANDDAUGHTER ESTHER BAS R' YECHEZKEL SHRAGA
Ch. 18, v. 1: "Va'yeiro eilov Hashem" - And Hashem appeared to him - The Baal Haturim says that the numerical value of these words equals that of "l'va'keir hacholeh."
Ch. 18, v. 1: "Pesach ho'ohel" -The opening of the tent - The Rokei'ach points out that in this aspect Avrohom was greater than Moshe. Moshe received a communication from Hashem inside Ohel Mo'eid, while Avrohom received it even at the outside of his tent.
Ch. 18, v. 4: "V'hisho'anu tachas ho'EITZ" - And repose under the tree - Rashi says "tachas ho'ilon." Sifsei Chachomim explains that Rashi is forewarning that EITZ is actually wood, and thus seems to indicate a tree that was felled. ILON is a live tree. If so, why doesn't the verse say ILON? If we posit that the word ILON is not a Loshon Hakodesh word for a tree, and only EITZ is, as seems to be indicated by the fact that we do not find ILON in Tanach except in one place, Daniel 4:7, where the language used is Aramaic, it is understood why EITZ was used. The word "ho'eiloh" in Breishis 35:4 does not mean a tree, but rather is thename of a specific type of tree. Those who say that "ho'allone" in verse 8 is a tree, again it is the name of a specific type of tree (see Targum Yerushalmi Hasholeim in Chumash Otzar Rishonim). We then would need to understand what Rashi is teaching us, as EITZ also means a live tree.
Perhaps we can say as the Sifsei Chachomim and answer our question with the words of the M.R. 48:10. The M.R. says that in the merit of Avrohom's saying "v'hisho'anu tachas ho'eitz" the bnei Yisroel would later merit to have the mitzvoh of "basukos teishvu shias yomim" (Vayikroh 23:42). To allude to this the verse might have specifically used the word EITZ to indicate the mitzvoh of sitting in a sukoh under the covering of wood, and not a live tree, as this would invalidate the sukoh. Rabbi Shmuel of Sanot goes so far as to say that Avrohom actually built his guests a sukoh to protect them from the direct heat of the sun.
Alternatively, Hadar Z'keinim says on the words "v'hu omeid a'lei'hem tachas ho'eitz" (verse 8), that this means that Avrohom stood above them IN PLACE OF a tree, i.e. Avrohom used his body to block the sun and cast a shadow upon his three guests. If we say that Avrohom had this in mind in our verse, he used the word EITZ to connote a non-growing from the ground tree to indicate that he would be the tree.
Ch. 18, v. 4: "M'at mayim" - A small amount of water - Was Avrohom stingy? Since it was the morning, wayfarers had obviously not gone very far and not gotten much dust onto their feet. (Abarbenel)
Ch. 18, v. 4: "V'rachatzu ragleichem" - And bathe your feet - Rashi says that Avrohom thought that they were Arabs. Arabs are descendants of Yishmo'eil. If so, how could they possibly be Arabs, as Yishmo'eil had not yet had any children at this point in time? Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenura answers that Rashi's intention is that Avrohom thought that they behaved as today's Arabs do, and that they would bow to the dust of their feet.
Ch. 18, v. 8,9: "Va'yocheilu, Va'yomru" - And they ate, And they said - This alludes to the rule that one should not talk when he is in the middle of eating (O.Ch. 170:1). (Baal Haturim)
Ch. 18, v. 9: "A'yei Soroh ishtecho" - Where is Soroh your wife - Why did the angels ask where Soroh was? Is this not contrary to the rule of the gemara Kidushin 70b, that one should not ask about the welfare of a woman even from her husband?
1) When a group of people ask it is permitted. Here all three asked. (Rabbeinu Menachem)
2) They intended to let Soroh know that she would bear a child. This would bring her to give thanks to Hashem. (Sforno)
3) It is only prohibited when sent in written form, but when verbally through her husband it is permitted. This answers the seeming contradiction to the above gemara from B.M. 87a that says that through her husband is permitted. (Rabbeinu Avigdor of Tzrofas)
4) It is only prohibited to send well-wishes, but to ask about her welfare is permitted. (Rabbeinu Avigdor of Tzrofas)
5) It is prohibited because there is a fear that it can bring to intimacy. There is no such fear with angels. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)
6) Indeed, they behaved improperly. (Rabbi Shmuel of Sanot)
7) They only asked where she was. This is permitted. (Tur)
8) They were angels and really knew where she was. They only used this as an opener to their conversation, as we find that Hashem said "a'yekoh" to Odom (Breishis 3:9). (Rashbam)
9) Because their report was a prophecy, it is appropriate to tell it to whom it impacts, so that that person may endeavor to do his part to bring it to fruition. (Ralbag)
10) They knew that she regularly greeted guests. Since this was a departure from her normal behaviour, they inquisitively asked where she was. (Rabbeinu Efrayim)
11) Because they did not see her they feared that she might not be well. They therefore asked for her so that they might be able to affect a cure. (Abarbenel)
Ch. 19, v. 9: "Ho'echod bo logur va'yishpot shofot" - One has just come to live here and judge he has judged - Simply understood this is a complaint against Lote for having just recently arrived in the community and immediately criticizing them. The Baal Ho'akeidoh asks why Hashem reacted so strongly against the communities of S'dom, by destroying them with fire and brimstone and overturning some of them, while not acting similarly to the community of Givoh, which also treated outsiders terribly, not providing shelter for a visitor and a group of people violated a concubine (Shoftim chapter #19).
He answers that although the act in Givoh was indeed terrible, it was not the acceptable law of the land. However, the behaviour of S'dom was legal by the laws they instituted. This deserved much more severe retribution. We can thus understand the words of our verse "va'yishpot shofot" as "and he judged our judgments," saying that our laws are improper.
Ch. 19, v. 17: "Al tabit acha'recho" - Do not peer behind you - Rashi says that since Lote was not to be spared in his own merit, but rather in the merit of Avrohom, he had no right to see the downfall of the wicked people of his community. In the Sfas Emes's commentary on T'hilim 118:7, "Hashem Li b'ozroy vani e'reh v'sonoy," he says that when Hashem helps me because of my own merit, "LI," then I merit to see "b'sonoy."
Ch. 22, v. 1: "V'ho'Elokim nisoh es Avrohom" - And Hashem tested Avrohom - On a previous occasion the Beis haLevi was brought who asks why this test was accredited to Avrohom and not to Yitzchok. I have come across the Abarbenel who asks exactly this question. The Abarbenel actually prefaces this parsha with 25 questions and in a lengthy treatise answers them all. It makes for very interesting reading. This question is among them.
He answers that Yitzchok was not aware that he was to be the offering until the final moment. He says that Yitzchok was acquainted with Avrohom's having previously left his home to offer oloh sacrifices. When Avrohom (re)built the altar and placed the firewood upon it, he then asked Yitzchok to ascend and he then bound him. Yitzchok thought that all this was to prepare the spot on the wood properly for a sacrifice that would be similar to his size, and Avrohom wanted to lay out the wood in an appropriate dimension for proper burning of its body. It was only when Avrohom placed his fingers on Yitzchok's neck in preparation for the slaughter that he realized that he was to be offered. At that point he was bound and could not offer resistance even if he wanted to do so.
This opinion would also answer the question raised by Ibn Ezra on those who posit that Yitzchok was 37 years old at the time of the "akeidoh." He says that it would only be logical for the young Yitzchok to simply run away and not allow himself to be slaughtered.
Ch. 22, v. 6: "Va'yikach b'yodo es ho'aish" - And he took in his hand the fire - In the Hashanos which we just recently said on Hoshanoh Rabo it says "hoshanoh l'maan ben ha'ne'ekad (There is a text "ha'ne'ekOd," which is incorrect as this would make it present tense.) al eitzim vo'aish," - please help/help now for the sake of the son who was bound on wood and FIRE. We do not find openly in our verses that there was a fire burning under Yitzchok on the altar when he was bound. Obviously, he would have suffered burns. As a matter of fact, the Abarbenel clearly states that Avrohom did not light the wood at all while Yitzchok was still the offering. Besides the answer of poetic license to create another stanza that ends with the word "aish" we might say that this paytan translates the word "aish" in our verse as kindle, that which is first lit to create a viable fire. Any help with this would be appreciated.
M'lochim 2, ch. 4, v. 23 - "Madua at ho'leches eilov hayom lo chodesh v'lo Shabbos" - Why are you going to him it is not the new month nor is it Shabbos - The gemara Brochos 51b, P'sochim 114a, Sukoh 54b, and Megiloh 29b states that "todir v'she'eino todir todir kodem," when we have two items, one which is more often than the other, the one that is more often has priority. If so, why didn't the husband of the Shunamite woman mention Shabbos first and say that it is not Shabbos nor is it Rosh Chodesh?
1) Since he said that it IS NOT R. Ch. NOR Shabbos, it is more often NOT R. Ch. than it is NOT Shabbos. (mipi hashmua b'sheim Reb Chaim'ke Soloveitchik z"l Brisk-Kamenitz)
2) Perhaps her personal history of traveling to Elisha was more often for R. Ch. than it was for Shabbos, thus R. Ch. was more often.
3) The gemara R.H. 16b derives from these words that "chayov odom l'hakbil pnei rabbo b'Shabbos u'v'regel - a person is required to visit his teacher on Shabbos and Yom Tov. This deserves clarification. Yom Tov does not seem to be mentioned in our verse, only R. Ch. and Shabbos. Commentators answer that Shabbos means Yom Tov, as we find Pesach referred to as Shabbos in Vayikroh 23:11 and 23:15. Thus R. Ch. comes more often than Yom Tov. However, this seems to not be a proper answer as R. Ch. only came 12 times a year since the ruling of one and two day Roshei Chodoshim was not yet instituted. There are 18 days of Yom Tov in Eretz Yisroel. If we say that the term Shabbos when used to mean Yom Tov refers specifically to the days that are "mo'eid-chag," i.e. days that have major work restriction, then we have 7 day that are Yom Tov and 12 days that are R.Ch., so R. Ch. is mentioned first. Alternatively, even if there are 18 days of Yom Tov and only 12 days that are R. Ch., R. Ch. is considered more "todir," if we understand "todir" to mean STEADY rather than OFTEN. Yomim Tovim appear at times of the year that are not spread out with equal intervals, while Roshei Chodoshim are.
4) As just mentioned, we can say that Shabbos means Yom Tov. If so, he mentioned the holier (Yom Tov) ahead of the less holy (R. Ch.), as per the dictum "kol hamkudosh meichaveiro kodem es chaveiro" (gemara Z'vochim 89a).
5) The Rada"k says in his father's name that the meaning of these words is "it has not passed a Chodesh nor Shabbos that you haven't seen him, so why go now?" Thus if it was just after R. Ch. he spoke in order of closeness of her most recent visit.
6) As per the Rada"k just mentioned, perhaps it was just before R. Ch. and Shabbos would take place after R.Ch. He said to her that it is not R. Ch., which is just about to come and she would see him then, nor is it Shabbos, which would come a bit later.
7) Perhaps it was just before R. Ch. and a few days after R. Ch. would be Shabbos. His intention was "wait a few days for R. Ch. or a few more days for Shabbos." (Very similar to the previous answer but without the Rada"k component)
8) We cannot say that he meant "it is not Shabbos so why are you going now." If it were Shabbos she surely wouldn't be going. We see from verse22 that it was a distance to Elisha, as she asked for a youth and a donkey to travel. Traveling beyond the Shabbos boundary, "t'chum," is prohibited. We must say that his intention is that it is not before Shabbos. If so, he mentioned R. Ch. ahead of a day or so before Shabbos, a perfectly proper order with the rule of "kol hamkudosh meichaveiro kodem es chaveiro" mentioned earlier in answer #4.
9) He mentioned the day that it was easier to get away ahead of the day that it was harder to get away. R. Ch. is a day that women are exempt and even restricted from doing many types of work. On the eve of Shabbos (as per answer #8) women are usually very busy with preparation for Shabbos.
10) The original question raised has no basis. The rule of "todir v'she'eino todir todir kodem" does not apply to the order of items mentioned in one's speech, but rather to prioritizing when doing an action, for example to sacrifice the "tomid" ahead of the "musof" offering.
Once we are involved with this verse I would like to take the opportunity to mention a most thought provoking "vort" I heard from one of my Rebbeim shlit"a. The Shunamite's response to her husband was "sholom." Similarly, we find that she said the same one word response to Geichazi when asked about her welfare and that of her husband and child (verse 26). Can we understand this word to mean "peace" or "good-bye" in our verse and as "all is well" in verse 26? Obviously not, since her child had died. My Rebbi shlit"a said that her intention was "sholom," - I find myself totally at peace with myself, not feeling that I lack anything in my spiritual pursuits. This is indeed a powerful response to "Why are you rushing off to see Elisha?" and likewise she didn't really answer Geichazi's question, but only gave the reason for her wanting an immediate audience with Elisha.
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