by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YEIRO 5774 BS"DCh. 18, v. 27: "V'onochi ofor vo'eifer" - And I am but earth and ashes - In the merit of Avrohom's saying "ofor vo'eifer" his descendants merited having "ofor sotoh" and "eifer poroh." This is explained by the Dubner Magid in Ohel Yaakov with a parable. There was a very poor man who needed financial help. He was also very unassuming. He went to the house of a well-to-do man and sat at the threshold of the house. The wealthy man saw him there and realized that he was not willing to go inside and be treated royally. The homeowner summoned a few prestigious people and had them sit at the entrance to the home next to the poor man. This was his strategy to honour the poor man.
Similarly here, it was in the merit of Avrohom's comparing himself to earth and ash that these two items became articles of value. Hashem therefore created mitzvos to be done with them.
Ch. 19, v. 23: "Gofris vo'aish mei'eis Hashem min hashomayim" - Sulfur and fire from Hashem from the heavens - The need to mention that the destruction came from the heavens is that people not mistakenly think that this all came from an earthquake or the like. It came from the heavens. (Rabbi Shimshon ben R'foel Hirsch)
Ch. 19, v. 29: "Va'yizkore Elokim es Avrohom va'y'shalach es Lote mitoch haha'feichoh" - And G-d remembered Avrohom and He sent out Lote from the overturn - We see that Lote was saved in the merit of Avrohom. It was because Elokim remembered Avrohom that Lote was sent out. Had Lote been killed in the destruction of S'dom Avrohom would have heard about it and, being in a weakened state from his circumcision he would have become more ill. This explains how the angel who came to heal him also saved Lote. We have a rule that an angel is not sent on two missions. These two missions were really one, healing Avrohom. (Bnei Yisoschor)
Ch. 20, v. 11: "Ein yiras Elokim bamokome ha'zeh vaharoguni" - There is no fear of Elokim in this place and they would kill me - Avimelech was very upset that Avrohom felt it necessary to lie and say that Soroh was his sister. He claimed that his people were law abiding. Avrohom responded that he realized that there was no fear of Elokim, and this could not only bring to their taking a married woman, but even to kill him, something for which there is no natural lust. Once there is no fear of Elokim all barriers break down and they could even kill needlessly. (Malbi"m)
Ch. 20, v. 18: "Al dvar Soroh eishes Avrohom" - Because of the matter of Soroh the wife of Avrohom - The words "eishes Avrohom" seem totally superfluous. In an earlier edition this was elaborated upon, as explained by the N'tziv in Haameik Dovor and Harcheiv Dovor. You will not regret looking it up.
Ch. 21, v. 11: "Va'yeira hadovor m'ode b'einei Avrohom al odose bno" - And the matter bothered Avrohom extremely regarding his son - The gemara says that a person should not divest his son from inheriting even if the son behaves badly because his son could have good children who would eventually derive benefit from the inheritance. "Bno" of our verse refers to the son of Yishmo'eil. Avrohom was well aware of Yishmo'eil's reprehensible behaviour. However it bothered him greatly to send him away for good and not give him an inheritance. This was because of "bno," Yishmo'eil's son, who might be a good person. (Rabbi Shmuel Schreiber father of the Chasam Sofer)
Ch. 21, v. 19: "Va'yifkach Elokim es ei'nehoh va'tei're b'eir moyim" - And Elokim opened her eyes and she saw a wellspring of water - The Rada"k offers three scenarios to explain these words:
1) There was a wellspring all along but it was hidden behind some brush.
2) The wellspring was at a distance and she now noticed it.
3) Hashem wrought a miracle and the wellspring broke through the ground and had just become visible.
Ch. 21, v. 30: "Es sheva k'vosos tikach miyodi baavur ti'h'yeh li l'eidoh ki chofarti es ha'b'eir hazose" - The seven sheep shall you take from my hand so that they will be for me a testimony that I dug this wellspring - How does taking the seven sheep prove this? He told Avimelech that if the wellspring was not Avrohom's then Avimelech's sheep would not drink of its waters while Avrohom's would. Avimelech responded that this is no proof as his cattle were not used to drinking from this wellspring even though his servants dug it. Avrohom's livestock had drunk from it for a while and were used to drinking from this well until there was a claim against his ownership. Avrohom trained his livestock to not steal. He told Avimelech that seven of his sheep would be a present to Avimelech. If he was indeed the wellspring's rightful owner they would drink from it, but if it was Avrohom's, even though they were used to drinking from it, they would now not drink from it if it as they belonged to Avimelech. (Pninim Y'korim)
Ch. 21, v. 31: "Ki shom nish'b'u shneihem" - Because there they swore both of them - The verse seemingly could have left out the word "shneihem," as "nish'b'u" is plural and there is no reason to believe that more than Avrohom and Avimelech swore which would require the verse to limit it to only two people.
The Rashbam translates "V'hoElokim nisoh es Avrohom," as Elokim aggravated Avrohom by giving him the painful test of offering up his son Yitzchok as a sacrifice. This was a response to Avrohom's just having entered into a two-sided oath with Avimelech that neither would harm the other. Avrohom should not have done this as he was assured by Hashem that he would be safe and his family would multiply. In turn he was given a test that would seem to bring his progeny to an abrupt end. Although the Rashbam is a lone voice, nevertheless even according to him and surely according to other commentators we see that Avrohom did not create an emotional union with Avimelech.
In a previous edition the story was told of the Holy Rizhiner who took a trip to a bar and heard two inebriated people talking. One asked the other why the verse in Mlochim 1:5:26 says, "Va'yich'r'su vris shneihem" and not "va'yich'r'su shneihem bris." The one who posed the question answered that the verse is telling us that although they made a covenant, nevertheless they remained two distinct people, not joined by their covenant. After "va'yich'r'su vris," they remained "shneihem," two separate entities.
Similarly here, notwithstanding that they both took on a vow, "ki shom nish'b'u," but they still remained "shneihem." (n.l.)
Ch. 22, v. 7: "Hinei ho'aish v'ho'eitzim v'a'yei ha'seh lo'oloh" - Behold here are the fire and the wood and where is the lamb for an offering - Yitzchok said to Avrohom that he thought he himself would be the offering, but if so, we have here the fire and the wood that Avrohom placed on Yitzchok to carry to their destination. It is prohibited to make use of something/ someone sanctified as an offering. To this Avrohom responded, "Hashem yireh lo ha'seh l'oloh," i.e. Hashem will choose Yitzchok as an "oloh" only when they arrive at their destination. (GR"A)
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