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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 12, v. 1: "Va'yomer Hashem" - Why doesn't Hashem APPEAR and then speak to Avrom, as we find in verse 7, "Va'yeiroh Hashem el Avrom va'yomer?"

1) Since Avrom 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 Avrom until He tested him with the command of Lech L'cho. Upon Avrom's passing the test, Hashem indeed APPEARED and spoke to him in v. 7. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

3) According to the Ibn Ezra that Avrom was outside of Eretz Yisroel at this time, Hashem would not appear but rather only speak. (Kli Yokor)

Chapter 12, v. 1: "Lech L'cho" - The Baal Haturim says that this equals 100, to indicate that when Avrom would be 100 years old, Yitzchok would be born. Also, this indicates that he would live in Eretz Yisroel for 100 years.

Chapter 12, v. 1: "Mei'artz'cho u'mimolad't'cho" - Rashi and the Ibn Ezra say that Ur Kasdim was Avrom's land and birthplace. The Ramban on this verse and on 11:28, says that Choron was his land and birthplace. A careful study of the three commentaries mentioned above, gives us three different interpretations of our verse. RASHI - "Continue FURTHER from your land and birthplace." IBN EZRA - Hashem HAS ALREADY said to Avrom, "Go etc." RAMBAN - Go from your land and birthplace WHICH IS WHERE YOU NOW FIND YOURSELF.

Chapter 12, v. 1: "El Ho'oretz Asher Ar'eko" - The Meshech Chochmoh translates this as "To the land in which I will make you reknowned throughout the world."

Chapter 12, v. 2: "V'e'escho, va'avorech'cho, va'agadloh" - Rashi explains that Hashem promised Avrom that he would be wealthy, would be blessed with children, and would become famous. The S'fas Emes asks that with Hashem guaranteeing all of the above, what was the test? He answers that this was exactly the point of the test. Hashem specifically let him know that he would be successful in all the above, and his motivation should be only because of the command. Indeed, the Torah points out that he went only because of Hashem's command, v. 4, "kaasher di'beir eilov Hashem."

Chapter 12, v. 2: "Va'agadloh Sh'mecho" - Rashi's second interpretation is that this blessing of "I will enlarge your name" is fulfilled with our saying, "Elokei Yaakov" in the Shmoneh Esrei. Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropolia explains that the names of the Patriarchs total 13 letters, as do the letters of the names of the Matriarchs. These total 26, which is the value of Hashem's holy name. Avrom, being four letters, brings the total down to only twelve. This can be compensated by using the name Yisroel instead of Yaakov. Hashem promised Avrom that his name would be enlarged, making it Avrohom; hence we are forced to say "Elokei Yaakov," totalling 13 letters, instead of "Elokei Yisroel," which would bring the total to 14 letters.

Chapter 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, Avrom was pleased and wanted to stay in the same place. An obvious answer is that if this was the case, there would be no purpose for the Torah to mention it. 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 accomodations 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)

Chapter 14, v. 1: "Aryoch melech Elosor" - The Gemaros Shabbos 53a, Chullin 76b, and Kiddushin 39b give Shmuel the Amora, the title "Aryoch," a king. Tosfos in Shabbos 53a explains the choice of Aryoch over the names of other kings, because the first three letters spell the word "ari" which means lion, the leader of the animal kingdom. Rashi Chullin 76b says Shmuel is given this appelation because his opinion is the final halacha, similar to a king's ruling. In the gemara Shabbos, Rashi says that Aryoch is used, because in Aramaic, "reicha" means king (see Bovo Basra 4a). Rashi in Breishis 41:43 on the second half of the word "avreich", says the same. The Mesoras HaShas in Shabbos 53a says that Aryoch is chosen, because of the gemara B'choros 49b, which says regarding arguments between Rav and Shmuel, that the halacha is like Shmuel in money matters, and like Rav in matters of issur v'heter. "Aryoch" is the "melech," king in all halachos, "ELOSOR", phonetically similar to AL ISSUR, but not in matters of issur, where the halacha is like Rav.

Chapter 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."

Avos D'Rav Noson 34:4, tells us that "hee" with a "yud" appears in the Torah only eleven times. Their locations are: B'reishis 14:2; 20:5 (second "hee); 38:25 (second "hee"); Vayikra 11:39; 13:10, 13:21, 16:31 (as per the hagohos haGR"A); 20:17; 21:9, Bmidbar 5:13 (first "hee); 5:14 (second "hee"). Also see Meseches Sofrim 6:4. A few questions come to mind. 1) Is there any difference in meaning between the two spellings of the word? 2) Why does the Torah use the exact letters of the word which means "he", male form, to create a word which means "she?" 3) Why is the word pronounced with a silent "vov" rather than being pronounced "heev?" This is obviously not a "ksiv" and a "kri" as this is not annotated as such in any Chumash.

We can possibly answer 1) and 2) with a comment by Rabbi Ovadioh miBartenura on Breishis 25:21. Regarding Rivka it says, "Ki akoroh hee" with a vov. The Bartenura explains that the vov here indicates that not only Rivka, 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 nosno 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.

A REVOLUTIONARY opinion regarding questions 1) and 2) can be found in the responsa of Horav Shlomo Kluger in his responsa Shnos Chaim #252. He says that everytime the word "hee" is spelled with a vov, even when there is a chirik under the hei, it literally refers to a male. Verses which seem to totally contradict this principle are explained through one example cited in the above responsa. I strongly urge you to look it up.

Ch. 14, v. 14: "Va'yorek es chanichov" - The gemara N'dorim 32b has three opinions, all sourced from this parsha, as to why the descendants of Avrohom had to endure the exile of Egypt. One opinion is that he took his students away from learning Torah to fight against the four kings, as mentioned in this verse. Another opinion is that he gave up the opportunity to bring more people close to Hashem when he allowed the king of Sdom to keep the captives of the war (see 14:22). The third opinion is that he slightly lacked in trust in Hashem by asking for a sign that would indicate that the land of Eretz Yisroel would become the inheritance of his offspring (see 15:8). B'ezras Hashem in Sefer Shmos we will explain how the exile rectified these shortcomings.

Ch. 14, v. 18: "U'Malki Tzedek"- Rebbi Meir of Primishlan passed through the city of Brod and visited the world reknowned poseik, HoRav Shlomo Kluger. They spent much time together, each amazed at the exhalted character traits of the other. Upon returning home to Premishlan, Rebbi Meir told his followers that he had learned much from HoRav Shlomo Kluger in serving Hashem through prayer, avodah, and that HoRav Shlomo Kluger had learned from him in matters of kindness, g'milus chasodim. Rebbi Meir said that we can now explain our verse which seems problematic. It starts by describing Malki Tzedek as a king. Then it says he gave Avrom bread and wine. Then it goes back to describing Malki Tzedek again as a Kohen, then back again to what he did, he blessed Avrom. Why the back and forth, and not giving us a continuous list of descriptions of who Malki Tzedek was, and then what he did? He answered that Avrom learned avodah from Malki Tzedek and Malki Tzedek learned g'milus chasodim from Avrom. The verse reads "And Malki Tzedek the king of Salem, "hotzi," extracted from his guest Avrom, "lechem vo'yo'yin," doing kindness by feeding guests, "v'hoo," and he, Avrom, extracted, "kohen l'Keil elyon," how to serve Hashem, from Malki Tzedek.

The gemara N'dorim 32b says that since Malki Tzedek blessed Avrom before he blessed Hashem, he lost the opportunity of K'huna, priesthood, coming directly from him, and it was given to Avrom. Rashi in T'hilim 110:4 explains this to mean leadership to guide the world. There is a practical application of this concept. When one has a glass of wine or whiskey upon which he is about to make a brochoh and also wants to bless someone with a "l'chaim," he should not say l'chaim and then make the brochoh, but rather, make the brochoh, sip a bit and then give the l'chaim blessing. That way he has blessed Hashem first.

Ch. 14, v. 18: "Lechem vo'yoyin" - Why did Malki Tzedek offer these particular foods? The Bobover Rebbi zt"l answered that these items are symbollic of Avrohom's greatness. Bread is tastiest when fresh. Wine is most enjoyed when it is aged. Malki Tzedek was indicating to Avrohom that he had the enthusiasm and energy of a young person, similar to fresh bread. At the same time, he had the important traits of sage wisdom, calmness, and patience which usually come with age, similar to well aged wine.

Ch, 14, v. 23: " Mi'chut v'ad sroch na'al" - The Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. #2 says that one should put on his right shoe before his left one, but tie his left shoe first, similar to the binding of tefillin, where one binds the shel yad onto his left upper arm. Upon learning the gemoros Shabbos perek Kol Kisvei, one sees that many articles of clothing had right and left laces that were tied to keep them in place. If so, why is this halacha only mentioned regarding shoelaces? Possibly the types of clothing mentioned in the gemara were not commonplace at the time of the Shulchan Oruch and not mentioned, but indeed if one were to wear something that requires tying both a right and left side, the left comes first. However, the Tosfos Rebbi Akiva Eiger on the above halacha quotes the sefer Eimek Hamelech, who says that since the gemara Sotah 17a says that in the merit of Avrom's saying that he would not even accept a shoelace, his descendants merited to have tefillin straps, it is specifically by the tying of shoelaces that we copy the tying of tefillin, and by no other garment.

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 which 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, HaGMvR"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.

Ch. 16, v. 7: "Va'yimtzo'oh malach" - Why does it say he FOUND her rather than he APPEARED to her? The Ragotchover Gaon says that since Hogor was on the path to Shur, which the Targum translates as Chagra, and the gemara Gittin 2a says that Chagar is outside of Eretz Yisroel, an angel does not usually appear in a visible manner in chutz lo'oretz. Therefore a term of finding is used to indicate that this was as a perchance happening.

Ch. 16, v. 12: "V'hu yi'h'yeh perre odom" - Shouldn't it say odom perre, since the noun always precedes its descriptive adjective? Rabbi Shimshon R'foel Hirsch answers that the angel told Hogor that Yishmoel will be a perre, a wild creature, odom, in a human form.

Ch. 17, v. 5: "V'lo yikorei ode es shimcho Avrom, v. 15 - lo sikro es shmoh Sorei, 35:10 - lo yikorei shimcho ode Yaakov" - The gemara Brochos 12b-13a and the Yerushalmi Brochos 1:6 conclude that there is a prohibition to call Avrohom Avrom. To call Soroh Sorei is permitted, as the Torah commanded only Avrohom to call her Soroh, lo SIKRO, YOU shall not call her Sorei. Yisroel may be called Yaakov, as Rashi points out that the name Yaakov was used even after 35:10. The gemara says that Yaakov is a secondary name to Yisroel. Since the names Avrohom and Soroh incorporate their previous names, the previous names are totally discarded. Yisroel does not incorporate Yaakov, so Yaakov still may be used.

How do we see this from the Torah? Rabbi Shoul Katzenelenbogen (found in the back of the Vilna Shas Brochos) explains that the verse regarding Avrohom says ES shimcho and by Yaakov there is no ES. The gemara Psochim 22b says that the word "es" connotes "nitpal", secondary to the main matter. We now interperet our verse to say, "Your name Avrom and its use as a secondary name shall no more exist." By Yaakov the verse is saying, "Your name Yaakov, as a primary name, shall no longer be used." However, as a secondary name, Yaakov may be used. (Sorei may not be used as a secondary name by Avrohom, as it says "es" by her as well.) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh on 35:10 explains that since the verse by Yaakov starts by saying, "Shimcho Yaakov," these seemingly superfluous words show us that Yaakov will still remain your name, but it will be secondary to the name Yisroel.

The Tzla"ch on Brochos 13a asks why those who compile the 613 mitzvos don't list calling Avrohom Avrom an aveira. The Pnei Moshe on the Yerushalmi Brochos answers that the derived laws from these verses are not true Torah droshos, only an "asmachtoh." Others answer that we don't list matters from before mattan Torah. This would still leave us with a Rabbinical prohibition, as is the opinion of the Mogen Avrohom O. Ch. # 156.

The Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 2:6 says that the yud of Sorei became two letters heh (10 = 5+5). One was added to Avrom, and one was left for Sorei. This would explain why by Avrohom it says "and your name SHALL BE Avrohom," and by Sorei it says "Soroh IS her name." Avrom's name WILL HAVE a heh added, and Sorei, being left with the second heh, by default becomes Soroh, hence "Soros IS her name." The Yerushalmi goes on to say that the yud of Sorei's name complained to Hashem that it was not in use any more. Hashem consoled it by saying that it would be incorporated into the name of Hoshe'ah, which would become Yehoshuah. This would explain why by Avrohom it says"V'HO'YOH shimcho" connotating simcha, as an addition of a heh only broadens the scope of Avrom and brings only joy. By Sorei, who lost the letter yud which complained to Hashem that it was discarded, there is a lack of simcha, so the word V'HO'YOH is not used, only "ki Soroh shmoh."

The Yerushalmi Brochos asks why Yitzchok's name was never changed. It answers that since Hashem told Avrohom to name his son Yitzchok (17:19) one cannot tamper with this name. The Talmud Bavli Brochos does not even raise this question. Possibly it is because of a medrash brought by the Ro"sh (Hadar Z'keinim) at the end of parshas Shmos. Hashem told the Ovos that their descendants would have to suffer servitude in Egypt for 400 years, but this could be cut down if they would be willing to have their names diminished. Avrohom and Yaakov both responded that they needed all the letters of their names in order to maintain their spiritual status. Yitzchok agreed to have his name diminished. He said that rightfully, he would deserve to be named YiS'chok, with a SIN in place of a TZADDI. He agreed to be named YitZchok, thus diminishing his name mathematically by 210 (SIN is 300, minus Tzaddi which is 90, equalling 210). Through this merit the bnei Yisroel stayed in Egypt only 210 years. This is why the name YiSchok appears in T'hilim 105:9 with a SIN to indicate that this was rightfully his original name, although never used. So Yitzchok also had a name change.

While on the subject of names that were foretold by prophecy, how many people in Tanach had their names foretold before their birth by prophecy or by an angel? I await your response. A solid knowledge of Rashi will be very helpful.

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. (Bava Kama 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 "aino m'tzu'veh v'osseh." A m'tzu'veh v'osseh 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 Bovo Basro 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. (haAdmo"r m'Radzimin)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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