CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VA'YEIRO 5766 - BS"D
1) 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?
2) Ch. 18, v. 20: "Zaakas Sdom va'Amoroh ki raboh" - The Prophet Yechezkel writes (16:49) "Hi'nei zeh hoyoh avone Sdom ...... v'yad oni v'evione lo hechezikoh," - The sin of Sdom was that it did not give support to the poor and destitute. Why was Sdom destroyed for lack of compassion to the plight of the poor if that is not even one of the seven Noachite commandments?
3) Ch. 22, v. 1: "V'hoElokim nisoh es Avrohom" - We find in the narrative of the test of the Akeidoh that Avrohom was the great hero upon whom the spotlight shines. Why doesn't the Torah stress the greatness of Yitzchok who was willing to be slaughtered?
4) Ch. 22, v. 1: "V'hoElokim nisoh es Avrohom" - Why does Hashem give a test to a tzadik since Hashem already knows the outcome?
5) Ch. 22, v. 12: "Ki y'rei Elokim attoh" - The gemara B.B. 15b says that the praises STATED by Iyov exceed those STATED here by Avrohom. Here it only says that Avrohom was a "y'rei Elokim," while by Iyov (1:1) it states, "Ish tam v'yoshor v'yo'rei Elokim v'sor mei'ra," numerous other praises beyond just "yo'rei Elokim." Are we to understand that Iyov was much greater than Avrohom?
Answer to questions on parshas Lech L'cho:
1) Ch. 12, v. 1: "Va'yomer Hashem" - Why doesn't Hashem APPEAR and then speak to Avrohom, as we find in verse 7, "VA'YEIRO Hashem el Avrom va'yomer?"
1) Since Avrohom was the prime searcher for G-dliness, having not been taught by his father or society, the verse wants to stress this by not saying that Hashem appeared to him, but rather he searched for Hashem and Hashem responded by speaking to him. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)
2) Hashem did not want to appear to Avrohom until He tested him with the command of Lech L'cho. Upon Avrohom's passing the test, Hashem indeed APPEARED and spoke to him in v. 7. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)
3) According to the Ibn Ezra that Avrohom was outside of Eretz Yisroel at this time, Hashem would not appear but rather only speak. (Kli Yokor)
2) Ch. 13, v. 3: "Vayeilech l'maso'ov" - Rashi comments that this teaches us that a person should not change his place of lodging. How is this derived? Possibly, Avrohom was pleased with his accommodations and wanted to stay in the same place.
1) An obvious answer is that if this were the case, there would be no purpose for the Torah to mention it.
2) Another answer is that on his way down to Egypt, he was exceedingly poor, (see Rashi who points out that he paid off his debts upon his return), and on the way back he was exceedingly wealthy, having had gifts heaped upon him by Paroh. It is obvious that he could have afforded far better accommodations upon his return. Yet, he still lodged in the same place, clearly illustrating that a person should not change his place of lodging. (Imrei Emes)
3) Ch. 14, v. 2: "Hee Tzo'ar" - This is the first time the word "hee" appears in the Torah with a "yud." Throughout the Torah, it is almost always spelled with a "vov," and a "chirik" under the "hei."
Is there any difference in meaning between the two spellings of the word? Why does the Torah use the exact letters of the word THAT mean "he", male form, to create a word THAT means "she?"
1) We can possibly answer these two questions with a comment by Rabbi Ovadioh miBartenura on Breishis 25:21. Regarding Rivkoh it says, "Ki akoroh hee" with a vov. The Bartenura explains that the vov here indicates that not only Rivkoh, but also Yitzchok was unable to procreate. Possibly, every time a vov is used, it might be alluding to include a male or some male trait. Indeed, the FIRST TIME the Torah uses the word "hee" with a vov is in 3:12, "Hee nosnoh li min ho'eitz vo'ocheiloh." The Baal Haturim explains that since it says she gave him from the TREE rather than from the FRUIT, that Odom was saying that she hit him with a stick, coercing him to eat. This behaviour, not being typically female, could be the reason for the vov.
2) A REVOLUTIONARY explanation can be found in the responsa of Horav Shlomo Kluger in his Shnos Chaim #252. He says that every time the word "hee" is spelled with a vov, even when there is a chirik under the hei, it literally refers to a male. Verses that seem to totally contradict this principle are explained through one example cited in the above responsa.
4) Ch. 14, v. 23: "V'im ekach mikol" - Avrohom was not willing to accept anything from the king of Sdom. Yet by the incident with Paroh we see that Avrohom accepted a very sizeable amount of gifts, 12:16, 13:2. Why did he accept from Paroh and not from the king of Sdom?
1) Avrohom won the battle miraculously, either because he and Eliezer were the only combatants against the four kings, or there was the miracle of their throwing sand which turned into spears and arrows. He did not want to benefit from a battle that was won miraculously.
2) Since the king of Sdom only offered the inanimate objects and wanted to keep the much more valuable slaves and livestock, Avrohom realized that the king of Sdom didn't acknowledge the one who really won the battle, Avrohom. He therefore feared that if he would accept the items offered, that the king would again attribute Avrohom's becoming wealthy to himself.
3) He would also not have accepted from Paroh, but did so to create the conduit of "Maa'sei ovos siman labonim" to allow for a later similar happening of the bnei Yisroel emptying Egypt's coffers.
4) He considered the property of these communities as the property of an "ir hanidachas" from which one may not derive benefit. (Ponim Yofos)
5) He would only accept objects which have Hashem's blessing. By taking the spoils of the battle, even though it was permitted halachically, the vanquished people would lose their property, to their great sorrow. In Mishlei 10:22 it says, "Birkas Hashem hee sa'ashir v'lo yosif etzev imoh" - the blessing of Hashem makes one wealthy, and brings no sorrow with it. These spoils of the battle are obviously not "birkas Hashem." However, the presents that Paroh offered were his own property, which he gave very willingly. Therefore Avrohom accepted them. (Emes L'Yaakov, HRHGMvR"R Yaakov Kamenecki)
6) It was mentioned before that on his way down to Egypt, Avrohom was poor and had borrowed money. Since an opportunity had arisen which would allow him to repay his debts, his reluctance to accept gifts did not take precedence over his responsibility to repay his debts as soon as possible. This was not the case with the king of Sdom, so he didn't accept the offer.
7) A most interesting answer emerges from the interpretation of Rabbi Yehudoh Chalava of the words "ulAvrom heitiv baavuroh" (12:16). This does not mean that Paroh showered Avrom with gifts. Rather, it means that Hashem made Avrom wealthy in the merit of Soroh. Paroh gave Avrom nothing, and simply sent him and his wife packing. Thus Avrom took nothing from Paroh nor Avimelech. (Nirreh li)
5) Ch. 17, v. 10: "Himol lochem kol zochor" - Since Avrohom kept the Torah and even Rabbinic decrees before the Torah was given, why didn't he perform bris miloh upon himself before the command?
1) It is forbidden to inflict injury upon oneself. (B.K. 91b)
2) Until the command it was impossible to do this mitzvah, as there was no halachic "orloh." We see that Avrohom fell to the ground to cover his orloh only after Hashem gave him this mitzvoh, indicating that until now he had no orloh.
3) Since he could not do this twice, if he were to remove the orloh before a command, he would be an "eino m'tzu'veh v'oseh." A "m'tzu'veh v'oseh" is greater (Kiddushin), so he waited for a command.
4) He waited until after his name was changed to Avrohom, which indicated that he had gained mastery over five more organs (Rashi 17:1), which included the place of miloh.
5) As a full grown adult the procedure would endanger his life.
6) The Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim 3:18 says that the purpose of miloh is to weaken one's drives for physical lusts. The gemara B.B. 17a says that the Patriarchs had total control over their inclinations. Therefore Avrohom thought it unnecessary until commanded.
7) There is a halacha that the mohel himself must be circumcised ("hamol yimol", as per 17:13, see gemara Avodoh Zoroh 27a). Indeed, Hashem actually helped in the circumcision, (Nechemioh 9:8, "V'chorose IMO habris").
8) He waited to be able to show future converts to not be afraid of circumcision, even at an advanced age. (Medrash Rabboh 46:2, Shochar Tov 17)
9) The Chasam Sofer in responsa Y.D. #245 says that all circumcisions at any age have an element of danger to life and would not be permitted. He says that we must conclude that the mitzvoh creates a special protection from danger. Without a command it is prohibited.
10) So as not to scare off future converts who would say that the moment Avrohom followed in the path of Hashem, he had to go through great pain. Once it was pushed off, he waited for a command. (Rabbeinu Eliyohu Mizrochi)
11) Avrohom did not have the audacity to decide on his own to enter into a covenant with Hashem. (Admo"r miRadzimin)
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