by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA’YEIRO 5772 BS"D
Ch. 18, v. 19: “Asher y’tza’veh es bonov v’es beiso” – That he will command his sons and his household – It is insufficient to educate one’s sons only. One must pass on Torah values and ideals to his daughters as well, “v’es beiso.” The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh only had daughters. He taught them Chumash and marked down his insights that he taught them. This developed into the commentary that we now have, the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh on the Torah. (Admor of Lubavitch)
Ch. 18, v. 21: “Eirdoh v’er’eh” – I will descend and I will see – What does it mean “to descend?” Hashem is all-knowing and needs no traveling to see. These words are to be understood as, “I will lower My stature.” Any wrongdoing against Hashem should logically carry in its wake total annihilation, given Hashem’s high stature. He therefore told Avrohom that before He would judge them He would lower his stature, as if the people were sinning “kavyochol” against a lesser authority. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)
Ch. 18, v. 24: “Ulai yeish chamishim tzadikim b’soch ho’ir” – Perhaps there are fifty righteous people in the city – Note that in Hashem’s response in verse 26 He says, “Im Emtzo biSdom chamishim tzadikim.” Avrohom asked for clemency if there ARE fifty righteous people in the city. Hashem responded that even if there were not that many righteous people, but if He were to descend “so to say” to the city to count the righteous people, and thus the expanded sanctity of Hashem’s presence would impact and He would THEN FIND fifty people, it would be sufficient. Avrohom took this cue and from this point on when he asked for clemency even if there would be a smaller number of tzadikim, he expressed it as “ulai YIMOTZUN,” not “ulai YEISH.” (Oznayim laTorah)
Ch. 19, v. 1: “Va’yovo’u shnei hamalochim S’domoh” – And the two angels came to S’dom – Why by Avrohom does it say that three “anoshim,” – people came, and by Lote it describes the remaining two as “malochim?” Avrohom eagerly took in all guests, be they honourable people or bedraggled. The angels did not have to take on an appearance as angels. It is only because the remaining angels took on an appearance as angels that Lote was willing to take them as his guests. (Rabbi Leib Soroh’s)
Ch. 19, v. 9: “Ho’echod bo logur va’yishpote shofote” – The one has come to reside here and he has judged – Their complaint to Lote was that he had no right to allow foreigners to enter the city. A justification for this is that foreigners might take over the community, grabbing all the influential positions. A proof they offered Lote was that he, as one person alone, not as part of a larger group, has moved into the community and has risen to the position of judge. (Imrei Shefer)
Ch. 19, v. 13: “Ki mash’chisim anachnu” – Because we are destroying – Only one angel destroyed S’dom so why did the angels say that WE are destroying? Destruction is not attributed only to one who destroys in a straight-forward manner, but also to one who removes anything that holds back the results. For example, if a house is standing in a stalwart position and one removes its foundation, thus resulting in its collapse, he is considered as having destroyed the house even if he has not even touched the actual building. Here too, as long as Lote remained in S’dom it would not be destroyed. The angel who removed Lote from S’dom was also a partner in the destruction of the city, hence the plural “mash’chisim anachnu.” (Malbim)
Ch. 20, v. 13: “Va’y’hi kaasher hisu osi Elokim mi’beis ovi” – And it came to pass when G-d caused me to wander from my father’s house – Rashi comments that Targum Onkelos translated as he translated. What does Rashi mean by this? When he cites Targum Onkelos he usually either agrees or disagrees, but does not say that he translated as he translated. Targum Onkelos explains these words to mean, “And it came to pass when nations mistakenly deified that which they wrought Hashem has brought me to fear him, away from my father’s home.” We now understand what Rashi’s intention is. There is one who preaches virtuous concepts and there is one who lives by them. He practices what he preaches. Since these words of Targum Onkelos actually tell the story of his own life, Rashi comments that he has translated these words as he has translated his life’s values. (Rabbi Mayer Lubliner)
Ch. 21, v. 26: “Lo yadati mi ossoh es hadovor ha’zeh v’gam atoh lo higadto li v’gam onochi lo shomati bilti ha’yom” – I did not know who did this matter and also you did not tell me and also I did not hear until today – The seeming double and triple talk of these words challenges the commentators. However, the Sfas Emes, when teaching these words to his young son, simply explained: Avimelech is saying that he did not know who did it. He then turned to Pichol, the minister of his army, who was present (see verse 1) and complained that he had not told him. To this Pichol responded that he had just heard about it now.
Ch. 22, v. 3: “Va’yikach es shnei n’orov ito” – And he took his two youths with him – In parshas Bolok (Bmidbar 22:22) it says, “Va’yikach es shnei n’orov IMO.” In a previous edition of parshas Bolok we have elaborated on the difference between “imo” and “ito,” citing the GR”A who says that “imo” means “with him” in a very connected manner, while “ito” means “with him,” but in a limited manner. An example is if numerous people take the same flight to attend a wedding, then they are going “imom.” If you are on a flight with numerous other people, but each is going to the destination for his own reason, then you are “itom.” Thus when Bilom was traveling to take on the job of ch”v cursing the bnei Yisroel and to receive payment, his youths are with him, united in the same purpose. Here, Avrohom specifically went with an attitude of a distanced connection. Notwithstanding that Yishmoel was his biological son and Eliezer was his trusted servant for many years, here Avrohom mentally distanced himself from these relationships, thus accentuating his test. He would not console himself with saying that he is left with one son and a trustworthy servant who was like a son. This is “shnei n’orov ITO.” (n.l.)
The Tiferres Shlomo says a very similar thought on “shvu lochem po im hachamor” in verse 5.
Ch. 22, v. 7: “Va’yomer Yitzchok el Avrohom oviv va’yomer ovi va’yomer hi’neni vni” – And Yitzchok said to Avrohom his father and he said my father and he said behold my son – Although Yitzchok went to the slaughter happily, he had one concern. Rashi at the beginning of parshas Toldos relates that the scoffers of the generation claimed that Yitzchok was sired by Avimelech. Yitzchok is saying to Avrohom, “I know that you are my father, but if you slaughter me it will give people an incentive to say that Avimelech is my true father, as a real father would not slaughter his own son. To this Avrohom responded, “Hi’neni vni,” behold I am here in the situation of offering you as a sacrifice to Hashem. Surely if you were illegitimate Hashem would not accept you as an offering and I would not slaughter you for naught. (Kometz Haminchoh)
Ch. 22, v. 13: “V’hi’nei a’yil achar n’echaz basvach” – And behold another ram is entangled in the brush – What is meant by ANOTHER ram? There was no first ram. Notwithstanding that Avrohom was commanded to bring his son Yitzchok as a sacrifice and now there was a ram available instead, to Avrohom they were the same. Once Hashem commanded him to offer Yitzchok, Yitzchok became to him as a ram, an offering, and no more his son. Thus this ram was another ram. (Rebbe Reb Bunim in the name of his father the Voideslover Magid)
HAFTORAS PARSHAS VA'YEIRO
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 Vayikra 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 occur at times of the year that are not spread out with equal intervals, while Roshei Chodoshim are.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) 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)
7) 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 verse 22 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."
8) 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 #7) women are usually very busy with preparations for Shabbos.
9) 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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