by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YEIRO 5767 BS"DCh. 18, v. 8: "Va'yikach chemoh v'cholov u'ven habokor" - And he took butter and milk and the young calf - The gemara Yoma 38b says that Avrohom fulfilled the commandments of the Torah even before it was given, and even "eiruvei tavshilin." The question raised on this is why "eiruvei tavshilin" is singled out from among all the mitzvos. Chatzi Menasheh answers that "eiruvei tavshilin" does not mean what we usually call "eiruvei tavshilin," a ritual that allows for preparation of foods on the eve of Shabbos that is Yom Tov for Shabbos. Rather, it means that Avrohom was careful to not mix cooked foods, milk and meat. He first gave his guests dairy products, and only afterwards meat products.
Ch. 18, v. 24: "Chamishim tzadikim b'soch ho'ir" - Fifty righteous men in the middle of the city - It is easy to find righteous people in a shul or beis ha'medrash. While they are there they behave properly. The trick is to find these same people behaving righteously when they are "in the middle of the city," i.e., when they are involved in their daily business activities. (Tiferes Shlomo of Radomsk)
Ch. 18, v. 28: "Va'yomer lo ash'chis im emtzo shom arbo'im vachamishoh" - And He said I will not destroy if I will find there forty-five - In response to Avrohom's entreaty to save the city in the merit of 50 people "b'soch ho'ir" (verse 24), Hashem responded in kind, "Im emtzo viSdom chamishim tzadikim B'SOCH HO'IR" (verse 26). The connotation is that their merit will only help if they are enmeshed in the populace. If they keep to themselves and would likely not affect the inhabitants to repent, their mere residing in the city is of no use. Here we not only find Hashem agreeing to relent in the merit of 45 righteous residents, but even if they are not "b'soch ho'ir," but rather, just "shom," physically there, although spiritually removed, He would still not destroy the city. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 19, v. 1: "Va'yar Lote va'yokom likrosom" - And Lote saw and he stood up for them - Here the verse does not say that he ran to greet them, as it does by Avrohom, "va'yar va'yorotz likrosom" (18:2). Rabbeinu Menachem says that Lote acted as if he were weak. Rabbeinu Bachyei says that since they came in the evening Lote did not notice them until they were very close. There was no need to run any distance to greet them. However, Targum Yerushalmi says, "v'rohat l'kadmos'hon," he ran towards them. This comment is also found in the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh.
Ch. 19, v. 3: "Umatzos ofoh" - And he baked matzos - Avrohom asked his wife to prepare "ugos." Here Lote himself baked matzos for his guest. This is because his wife was very stingy and did not agree to offer the guests any food. Lote himself had to prepare the matzos. Matzos also means arguments. Lote prepared the matzos after an argument with his wife. (Moshav Z'keinim)
Ch. 19, v. 3: "Umatzos ofoh" - And he baked matzos - Rashi says that it was Pesach. Rabbi Yehudoh Chalavoh explains Rashi. There was no Pesach until a few hundred years later. Rashi's intention is that just as Hashem would skip over the homes of the bnei Yisroel in the future when He devastated Egypt, so too here, Hashem skipped over Lote's household when He destroyed S'dom.
Ch. 19, v. 22: "Al kein koro shem ho'ir Tzo'ar - Therefore he named the city Tzo'ar - Its original name was Bela, as per "U'melech Bela hee Tzo'ar" (Breishis 14:2). (Rabbi Yoseif B'chor Shor)
Ch. 19, v. 23: "V'hashemesh yotzo al ho'oretz" - And the sun went out upon the land - Rabbeinu Nisim says that these words teach us that the brimstone and fire did not come down from clouds. Rather, it was a clear sunny day and "out of nowhere" devastation rained down upon the cities. This seems in conflict with Rashi on the next verse second d.h. "himtir".
Ch. 19, v. 29: "Va'yizkore Elokim es Avrohom va'y'shalach es Lote mitoch haha'feichoh" - And Elokim remembered Avrohom and He sent out Lote from the overturning - Lote was only saved in the merit of his clinging to Avrohom. What sort of merit is this? Rabbeinu Bachyei writes that Lote would have been safe and sound in Choron. It is only because out of honour to his uncle that he accompanied him and eventually ended up in S'dom.
Ch. 19, v. 37,38: "Hu avi Moav ad ha'yom, Hu avi Amone ad ha'yom" - He is the patriarch of Moav until now, He is the patriarch of Amone until now - Other nations have name changes because they mix with different cultures. However, since the lineage of these two men was brought about by incest, others kept their distance and Moav and Amone males only married within their own. (Rabbeinu Shmuel of Sanut)
Ch. 20, v. 15: "Hi'nei artzi l'fo'necho batov b'ei'necho sheiv" - Behold my land is available to you in the area that is best in your eyes reside - Contrast this appeasing offer with Paroh's abrupt send-off, "Hi'nei ish't'cho kach vo'leich"- Here is your wife take her and go (Breishis 12:19).
1) Mitzrayim was a land with the lowest of morals and Soroh was in real danger. (Rashi)
2) Avimelech had a beautiful wife, and just wanted to add Soroh to his collection. Even if Avrohom were to remain, Avimelech had a glamorous wife. Paroh was single. The presence of Avrohom with his beautiful wife while the king was single would be a great embarrassment. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid in the name of his father)
3) The incident with Avimelech took place in G'ror, part of Eretz Yisroel. Avrohom surely wanted to remain in Eretz Yisroel, so Avimelech offered Avrohom to live in G'ror. It was obvious to Paroh that Avrohom would not want to remain in Egypt. (Rabbeinu Nisim)
4) Paroh's telling Avrohom to leave immediately would be a forerunner for Paroh and his nation's rushing the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt, (Va'techezak Mitzrayim al ho'om l'ma'heir l'shalchom min ho'oretz" (Shmos 12:33). (Rabbeinu Tovioh)
5) Avimelech was a "chosid umose ho'olom" and wanted a righteous person to reside in his land. (Rabbeinu Tovioh)
6) Avimelech feared that the angel who appeared to him in his dream was the one who destroyed S'dom. He feared the same would happen to G'ror. He therefore wanted the merit of Avrohom to protect his land. (Toldos Yitzchok)
7) Avimelech was more refined than Paroh. He went to lengths to show that he had not defiled Soroh. If a king had a union with a woman, she would no longer be allowed to have relations with any other man, as this would be disrespectful to the king. Avimelech wanted to clearly demonstrate that he had not even touched Soroh. He therefore requested that Avrohom and Soroh remain in the land as husband and wife, and thus totally cleanse him of any negative innuendo. (Abarbanel)
8) Paroh suffered more severely from the skin affliction than did Avimelech, so he wanted to rid himself of Avrohom. (Tur)
9) Avimelech wanted to clear his country of the scourge, "Rak ein yiras Elokim bamokome ha'zeh" (verse 11). By encouraging Avrohom to stay on he was telling Avrohom that both he and his wife would be safe in this land and that indeed there is "yiras Elokim bamokome ha'zeh." (Rabbeinu Shlomo Ashtruk)
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