Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

Please send your answers and comments to: SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM


1) Ch. 18, v. 1: "Al noh sa'avor" - From this verse the rule of "G'doloh hachnosas orchim mikabolas p'nei haSh'chinoh" is derived (Shabbos 127a). Inviting guests is greater than receiving the Divine presence. Why indeed is having guests greater than receiving Hashem's presence?

2) 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. Why did Hashem react 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)?

3) Ch. 19, v. 15: "Pen tiso'feh baavone ho'ir" - Rabbi Saadioh Gaon says that to understand this verse we must add a word, "Pen tiso'feh baavone ANSHEI ho'ir," so that the intention is not "Lest you will be destroyed through the sin of the city," but rather "Lest you will be destroyed through the sin of the PEOPLE of the city. This is called a "mikra kotzeir," a shortened verse, leaving out a word that is self-understood. How can we explain these words in a manner that is not a "mikra kotzeir?"

4) Ch. 19, v. 16: "B'chemlas Hashem olov" - Targum Onkelos translates "b'chemlas" as "kircham." There is another text in Targum Onkeles of "kad chos." What is the difference between "rachamim" and "chemloh?"

5) Ch. 22, v. 12: "Mi'menI" - Shouldn't it say "mimenU," from Hashem, since the angel is speaking?



The Chasam Sofer answers that as a rule, women tend to stay at home and men are outside pursuing a livelihood, praying with a minyan, etc. They are more likely to come into contact with a traveler. If a guest were to be invited and brought home without the wife's prior knowledge, she might be quite displeased as the house might not be neat enough, there may not be enough food, etc. The husband, foreseeing this, might feel that her displeasure will drive the Sh'chinoh out of their home as the gemara Sotoh 17a says that when peace prevails in the home, so does the Sh'chinoh. By inviting this guest he might be driving the Sh'chinoh out of his home. Travelers would seldom be invited to people's homes. Therefore, the halacha is that inviting guests is even greater than experiencing the Divine presence. Therefore, even if one fears that his wife will be displeased about him bringing home a guest and the Divine Presence will leave, the guest should still be invited.


The Baal Ho'akeidoh asks this question and 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.


Rashi on the words in verse 20 "Ho'ir hazose krovoh," explains "krovoh" to mean it was more recently established. Having been populated for a shorter period of time than S'dom, the inhabitants of the city have accumulated fewer sins. Rashi calculates that S'dom was inhabited for 52 years, while Tzoar was inhabited for one year less. Rashi points out that in the expression, "Imolto NOH," the word NOH, spelled Nun-Alef has the numeric value of 51. Indeed, the medrash says that Tzoar was destroyed a solar year later, just as S'dom was destroyed when it was 52 years old. The numeric value of Tzoar, Tzadi-Vov-Ayin-Reish equals 366. A solar year is 365 days long. Lote therefore thought that it would not be destroyed. During the Holocaust of World War II, a great tzadik was asked by one of his followers why European Jewry, which had many righteous, scholarly people, was being destroyed, while America, with a relatively weak Jewish community at that time, was not. The great tzadik answered that in spite of the much stronger Jewish communities in Europe, it was populated for many more centuries and had accumulated many more aveiros.

Possibly according to these words of Rashi our verse can be fully understood without saying that a word needs to be added. The angels told Lote that he might be destroyed through the sin of the city itself, meaning that although the inhabitants have sinned greatly, if they have not sinned to a point where an accumulative threshold of sin is reached, Hashem's trait of merciful patience would hold back immediate destruction. However, since the city of S'dom was already 52 years old, the accumulative sins done in the city, "AVONE HO'IR," would bring about its destruction and the death of Lote as well if he remained within the city.

Rabbi A.G. added an insight. Perhaps, only when Hashem destroys a city along with its inhabitants does the ruling of collective sin in a geographic location play a role.


Later in our parsha, on the words "u'l'nini u'l'nechdi" (21:23), Rashi (M.R. 54:2) comments that the mercy of a father, "racha'mei ho'ov al ha'ben," extends to grandchildren. Rabbeinu Bachyei on Shmos 34:7 writes that "rachamim" extends to grandchildren, while "chemloh" extends one generation further.

I have difficulty in understanding this difference, as we find the word form "chemloh" in Shmos 2:6, where Bisyoh the daughter of Paroh came upon Moshe cast into the river in a basket, where the verse says, "v'hi'nei naar bocheh vaTACHAMOL olov." As well, there are numerous other places where the word form "chemloh" is used and mercy upon great-grandchildren does not apply. An analysis of those verses seems to indicate that "chemloh" is a form of mercy where there is impending danger at hand. The word form "chisoyon" mentioned earlier in one text of the Targum Onkelos seems to mean protection.


1) The Medrash Tanchuma says that this one word was Hashem talking, and we split the verse, the angel speaking until now and this last word was said by Hashem. Perhaps it was necessary for Avrohom to actually hear something directly from Hashem or otherwise he might have assumed that the message to not slaughter Yitzchok was just another ploy of the soton to stop him from fulfilling Hashem's wish, as we find in the M.R. that the soton made many attempts to stop Avrohom.

2) The Sforno answers that the word MI'MENI is dangling and follows "ki y'rei Elokim attoh, MI'MENI." You have greater fear of Elokim than I, an angel, have, as demonstrated by your willingness to sacrifice your son.

3) The GR"A answers that the angel said the word MI'MENI. The angel just said that he now knew that Avrohom was a truly G-d-fearing person, "atoh yodati ki y'rei Elokim atoh." How did he know the level of Avrohom's "yiras Elokim?" The answer is MI'MENI, "from myself." This angel was created through the merit of Avrohom's doing the bidding of Hashem to bring Yitzchok as a sacrifice, as Pirkei Ovos 4:13 states, that doing a mitzvoh creates an advocate, an angel of defense. Since this angel was of such great stature, it realized that it was created only through Avrohom's doing Hashem's bidding with great "yiras Elokim."



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel