CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VA’YEIRO 5772 - BS"D
1) Ch. 21, v. 27: "Va'yich'r'su shneihem bris" - Avrohom made a covenant with Avimelech. The Rashbam (22:1) says that Avrohom acted improperly by making a pact with Avimelech and was punished by being given the painful test of sacrificing his son Yitzchok. How can we extract from these words of our verse that Avrohom did not make a pact in a manner that showed their inter-reliance one upon the other?
2) Ch. 22, v. 2: "Kach noh es bincho" - How old was Yitzchok at the time of the Akeidoh?
3) Ch. 22, v. 12: "Al tishlach yodcho el hanaar" – After being saved from death did Yitzchok make the “birkas gomlim?”
4) Ch. 22, v. 12: "Ki y'rei Elokim atoh v'lo chosachto es bincho" – No doubt, Avrohom’s greatness in many aspects was displayed in his eagerness to sacrifice his son Yitzchok. Why among all possible accolades is “y’rei Elokim” bestowed upon him?
5) Ch. 22, v. 15: "Min hashomoyim" - Why was it necessary to communicate from heaven?
The Holy Rebbe R' Simchoh Bunim of Parshizcha once ordered a wagon driver to immediately take him to Warsaw. He was directed to a bar. The Holy Rebbe R' Bunim alighted and entered the drinking establishment to find two Yidden sitting there who seemingly had given the proprietor much business. In a state of stupor one asked the other, "How could Avrohom have made a covenant with the non-Jew Avimelech?" His partner in inebriation responded that he too had a question on this verse. "Why is it necessary to say the word "shneihem" since it is obvious that the verse is discussing only Avrohom and Avimelech?" He continued by saying that an answer to the second question would answer the first question as well. The verse is telling us that although Avrohom made a pact with Avimelech, he remained distanced from him, "shneihem." They remained two separate entities and the treaty brought about no closeness of emotion. The Holy Rebbe R' Bunim left the drinking establishment and headed home, saying that the whole purpose of his trip was to hear this insight.
A) 37 years old (Seder Olom, M.R.)
B) 36 years old (Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on 22:1)
C) 5 years old (Opinion mentioned in the Ibn Ezra, seemingly the opinion of the Rambam as mentioned in the writings of his son Rabbi Avrohom)
4) under 13 years old (Ibn Ezra's own opinion)
The Chid"o in Machazik Brochoh 219:1,2,3 says that the Holy Gaon Rabbi Eliezer Nochum asked Horav Yitzchok Z'rachioh Azuloi, the father of the Chid"o, if Yitzchok made "birkas hagomeil" after he barely escaped being slaughtered. Horav Yitzchok Z'rachioh responded that he did not do so since the exercise of the Akeidoh was done as a response to Hashem's command. Rabbi Eliezer Nochum disagreed with him, but added that the text of the blessing was in whatever form Yitzchok saw fit, as our Rabbis had not yet instituted a fixed text.
MVRHRH"G Rabbi Yaakov Kamenecki ZTLVKLLH”H explains the title of "y'rei Elokim" which Avrohom received at this point as follows: "Y'rei Elokim" means being far removed from murder, as in Breishis 20:11, "Ein yiras Elokim bamokome ha'zeh," 42:18, "Es ho'Elokim ani yo'rei," Shmos 1:17, "Va'ti'renoh hamyaldose es ho'Elokim," and Dvorim 25:18, "V'lo yo'rei Elokim." Each of these expressions refers to a "Yo'rei Elokim" as one who is distanced from committing murder. According to this our verse should be understood as: "Now I know that EVEN THOUGH you are distanced from murder, nonetheless, you would not hold back from slaughtering your son to fulfill My request. The second word KI in this verse means "even though," one of the four translations for the word KI.
The Baal Haturim (Medrash Tanchuma) says that had the angel waited to command Avrohom to not slaughter his son only upon appearing in front of him, during the time it would have taken to reach Avrohom the slaughtering of Yitzchok would have been a fait accompli. I don't fully understand this because the angel could have been dispatched earlier. Perhaps this is to maximize the test, till the last possible moment.
The Meshech Chochmoh answers that the angel was unable to appear in front of Avrohom by virtue of an halachic consideration. The M.R. 56:3 says that when Avrohom was attempting to sacrifice his son Yitzchok he had the status of a Kohein Godol. The Akeidoh took place on Yom Kippur according to the Pikei d’Rebbi Eliezer and the Yalkut Reuveini (This disagrees with the Psikta Rabosi 41:6 which says that it took place on Rosh Hashonoh, and also disagrees with the M.R. Shmos 15:15 which says that it took place during the month of Nison.), and as well it took place on the future Temple Mount at the location of the Holy of Holies. He says that sacrificing Yitzchok was equivalent to offering the incense in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. When the Kohein Godol offers the incense on Yom Kippur no one is allowed to be with him, not even an angel, as mentioned in the gemara Yerushalmi Yoma chapter one. Hence the angel was only able to speak to him from a distance.
A minor point might be added to the words of the Meshech Chochmoh. The Torah requires that a cloud be present upon the offering of the incense on Yom Kippur, "ki be'onon eiro'eh al hakaporres" (Vayikra 16:2). The M.R. Breishis 56:1 says that when Avrohom came to the designated mountain he saw a cloud above the mountain. Besides being a sign that this was the mountain Hashem chose, it might also have served the purpose of "ki be'onon." The Meshech Chochmoh mentions a similar concept in parshas Acharei regarding the clouds of glory.
Why did the M.R. find it necessary to say that Avrohom had the status of a Kohein GODOL? Would it not have been sufficient to be a regular Kohein? I heard that he had to be a Kohein Godol so that when he would have completed slaughtering his son Yitzchok he would halachically be allowed to proceed with the next stages of the sacrifice process, "kaboloh, halichoh, u'z'rikoh." Had he been a regular Kohein he would have become disqualified by becoming an "o'non," a bereaved person. However, a Kohein Godol does not become disqualified by bereavement (Vayikra 21:12).
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