Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Parshas Vayetze - healing Yaakov's limp

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah

וַיִּדַּר יַעֲקֹב נֶדֶר לֵאמֹר אִם יִהְיֶה אֱלֹקִים עִמָּדִי וּשְׁמָרַנִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ וְנָתַן לִי לֶחֶם לֶאֱכֹל וּבֶגֶד לִלְבֹּשׁ. וְשַׁבְתִּי בְשָׁלוֹם אֶל בֵּית אָבִי וְהָיָה ה' לִי לֵאלֹקִים. וְהָאֶבֶן הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי מַצֵּבָה יִהְיֶה בֵּית אֱלֹקִים וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר תִּתֶּן לִי עַשֵּׂר אֲעַשְּׂרֶנּוּ לָךְ.

And Yaakov made a promise saying, “If Hashem will be with me and He will guard me on this way on which I go and He will give me bread to eat and clothes to wear. And I will return in peace to my father’s house then Hashem will be to me as a G-d. And this stone which I have set up as an altar will be the House of Hashem and all that He will give me, I will surely tithe to you.”

  • Why did Yaakov start by saying אִם יִהְיֶה אֱלֹקִים עִמָּדִי and then conclude וְהָיָה ה' לִי לֵאלֹקִים?

The passuk says in Vayishlach (בראשית ל"ב ל"ב)

וַיִּזְרַח לוֹ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר עָבַר אֶת פְּנוּאֵל וְהוּא צֹלֵעַ עַל יְרֵכוֹ

And the sun shone for him as he passed Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh.

Why does the passuk say, “and the sun shone for him”, surely the sun shone for everybody? Rashi explains

ויזרח לו השמש - לשון בני אדם הוא... זהו פשוטו ומדרש אגדה ויזרח לו לצרכו לרפאות את צלעתו כמה דתימא (מלאכי ג') שמש צדקה ומרפא בכנפיה ואותן שעות שמיהרה לשקוע בשבילו כשיצא מבאר שבע מיהרה לזרוח בשבילו

And the sun shone for him – this is how people speak, however the medrash says that the sun shone for Yaakov specifically, in order to heal him from his limp. Corresponding to those hours that the sun set early when he was on his way to Lavan’s house, the sun rose early for him [to heal him from his limp].

  • Why was Yaakov’s limp healed with the hours of sunlight that he lost on the way to Lavan’s house?

The gemara says in Bava Basra (99a)

כיצד הן עומדין... ולמ"ד פניהם איש אל אחיו הא כתיב (דברי הימים ב' ג', י"ג) ופניהם לבית לא קשיא כאן בזמן שישראל עושין רצונו של מקום כאן בזמן שאין ישראל עושין רצונו של מקום

According to the opinion that the keruvim faced each other, does not the passuk say ופניהם לבית – that the keruvim faced the heichal? This is not a refutation, when the benei yisrael performed the will of Hashem then the keruvim faced each other (to show the affection of Hashem for the benei yisrael), however when the benei yisrael did not perform the will of Hashem then the benei yisrael faced away from each other.

However the gemara says in Yuma (54b)

אמר ריש לקיש בשעה שנכנסו נכרים להיכל ראו כרובים המעורין זה בזה הוציאון לשוק ואמרו ישראל הללו שברכתן ברכה וקללתן קללה יעסקו בדברים הללו מיד הזילום שנאמר (איכה א', ח') כל מכבדיה הזילוה כי ראו ערותה

Reish Lakish said, “When the goyim entered the heichal, they say the keruvim embracing each other. They brought them out to the marketplace and they said, ‘The benei yisrael, whose beracha is a beracha and whose kelalah is a kelalah, should be involved with these things?’ Immediately they debased them, as the passuk says כל מכבדיה הזילוה כי ראו ערותה.”

  • At the time of the churban the benei yisrael were not עושין רצונו של מקום, if so the keruvim should have been facing away from each other and not מעורין זה בזה?

The Ma’asei Hashem explains as follows:

The gemara in Yuma (54a) says that one of the keruvim was in the form of a boy and one of the keruvim was in the form of a girl. The keruv that was in the form of a girl represented the מדת הדין and the keruv that was in the form a boy represented the מדת הרחמים. When the benei yisrael performed the will of Hashem then the keruvim faced each other because the mitzvos of the benei yisrael are מהפך מדת הדין למדת הרחמים, meaning that the מדת הדין agreed with the מדת הרחמים that the benei yisrael should be rewarded. However when the benei yisrael were not עושין רצונו של מקום then the keruvim faced away from each other because the מדת הדין was in disagreement with the מדת הרחמים.

However at the time of the churban there was also agreement between the מדת הדין and the מדת הרחמים. The מדת הרחמים agreed with the מדת הדין that the benei yisrael should go into galus because this would be fastest way for them to have a kapparah for their aveiros, after which they would return to Eretz Yisrael. The מדת הדין agreed with the מדת הרחמים that this would be the kapparah for the benei yisrael, but that meant that even the מדת הרחמים had to guarantee the survival of the benei yisrael, so that they would not be destroyed in galus. That is why at the time of the churban the keruvim were מעורין זה בזה.

When Yaakov went to Lavan’s house, this represented the galus of the benei yisrael, the sun setting early denoted that he would be deprived of the natural wherewithal that is normally provided to a person, in order so that he would be able to experience the קושי הגלות. Later, Esav’s malach thought that he had managed to damage Yaakov by dislocating his thigh, however Hashem showed Yaakov that Esav’s malach had only been able to damage him under the deprived circumstances that he was subject to in galus, but when the sun rose early and made up those hours that it had previously set early, it was revealed that Yaakov, in his full splendour, could never be damaged by the malach of Esav, and so his limp was healed.

That is why Yaakov said אִם יִהְיֶה אֱלֹקִים עִמָּדִי, if the מדת הדין will guarantee my survival in galus in my limited circumstances, then when I come back to Eretz Yisrael - וְהָיָה ה' לִי לֵאלֹקִים, the מדת הרחמים will restore my wholeness and my strength.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Parshas Toldos - the surprising madregah of Yitzchak

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah

וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת יִצְחָק

And these are the generations of Yitzchak the son of Avraham, Avraham bore Yitzchak.

  • The gemara normally says that - ויו מוסיף על ענין ראשון - a vav adds on to that which was previously stated. Since Yitzchak did not have any children prior to Yaakov and Esav, why does the passuk say וְאֵלֶּה, with a vav?

The Medrash Rabbah says at the beginning of this week’s sedrah

ואלה תולדות יצחק בן אברהם - (משלי כ"ג) גיל יגיל אבי צדיק ויולד חכם ישמח בו. גילה אחר גילה, בזמן שהצדיק נולד.

The passuk says in Mishlei (23:24) - גִּיל יָגִיל אֲבִי צַדִּיק וְיוֹלֵד חָכָם יִשְׂמַח בּוֹ - The father of a tzaddik has great joy; a man who has a wise son rejoices. When the tzaddik is born there is rejoicing after rejoicing.

  • What does the medrash add by saying that there is rejoicing after rejoicing when a tzaddik is born?

When Yitzchak gave a berachah to Yaakov he said

וְיִתֶּן לְךָ הָאֱלֹקִים מִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם וּמִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ וְרֹב דָּגָן וְתִירֹשׁ

May Hashem give to you of the dew of the heavens, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of corn and wine.

Since the word וְיִתֶּן is the beginning of the beracha, it is again difficult to understand why a vav is added which implies ויו מוסיף על ענין ראשון. Subsequently Rashi explains

"ויתן לך" - יתן ויחזור ויתן

Hashem should give to you and then give to you again.

However, when Yitzchak gave Esav a berachah, he said

וַיַּעַן יִצְחָק אָבִיו וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו הִנֵּה מִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ יִהְיֶה מוֹשָׁבֶךָ וּמִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם מֵעָל

And Yitzchak his father answered him and he said to him, “Behold from the fat places of the earth will be your dwelling, and of the dew of the heavens from above.”

The word הִנֵּה has an opposite implication to יתן ויחזור ויתן. הִנֵּה means, “Behold, this is how it will be.” This is as opposed to יתן ויחזור ויתן which means, Hashem will continually give.

  • Why did Yitzchak say to Yaakov that Hashem would continually give to him, but to Esav he granted a complete beracha without the need for anything to be provided further?

The Michtav Me’Eliyahu explains as follows:

The Malbim says in Tehillim (89:17) that the word gilah refers to fleeting happiness.

ויש הבדל בין שמחה וגיל, ששמחה היא השמחה התמידית, וגיל הוא על דבר מתחדש כמו מציאה בשורה טובה ודומיה

“There is a difference between שמחה and גיל, the word שמחה refers to constant happiness, whereas the word גיל refers to something new that happened, such as finding something or hearing some good news.”

If so, why does the Medrash Rabbah say גילה אחר גילה בזמן שהצדיק נולד? Since גילה is the fleeting happiness you experience on hearing good news, how can there be another גילה after the first גילה, seeing as no further good news has arrived?

The Michtav Me’Eliyahu explains that the reason that Yitzchak was called Yitzchak is because the word צחוק refers to the joy that someone experiences when something unexpectedly good happens, that is, something that is so good that it could not have been foreseen given the prior situation, and it is this surprise that brings laughter. Similarly, Yitzchak was able to climb madregos in such a way that the new madregah he reached was surprising because it could not be understood to be a continuation of the previous madregah that he had been on.

Since the madregah that Yitzchak reached could not be understood to be an extrapolation of the madregah he had been on when he was born, therefore there was גילה אחר גילה when he was born, because it was constantly surprising who he had become.

Also, the world תּוֹלְדֹת refers to the continuation of the father’s aspirations in his children. Therefore the passuk says וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת יִצְחָק, with a vav, since Yitzchak constantly and discontinuously increased in his representation of and continuation of Avraham’s avodas Hashem. In other words, it was Yitzchak himself who added to the continuation of Avraham that was embodied in Yitzchak.

This beracha, to become unexpectedly better, was the beracha that Yitzchak gave to Yaakov, which is why he said to him ויתן לך - יתן ויחזור ויתן, Hashem should constantly increase the way in which He gives you beracha, as befits the greater tzaddik that you will have become.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Parshas Chayey Sarah - the missing vav in Ephron's name

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (בראשית כ"ג ט"ז)

וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָהָם אֶל עֶפְרוֹן וַיִּשְׁקֹל אַבְרָהָם לְעֶפְרֹן אֶת הַכֶּסֶף אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר בְּאָזְנֵי בְנֵי חֵת אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שֶׁקֶל כֶּסֶף עֹבֵר לַסֹּחֵר

“And Avraham listened to Ephron and Avraham measured to Ephron the money which he had spoken in the ears of the children of Ches, four hundred silver shekalim, fit for mercantile use.”

The first Ephron in the passuk is spelt with a vav, the second Ephron in the passuk is spelt without a vav. The medrash (שמות רבה ל"א י"ז) comments on this

דבר אחר "נבהל להון" זה עפרון... מיד עמד אברהם ושקל לו... מה היה אומר עפרון לאברהם, אם אתה נותן לי ד' מאות שקל כסף מן סחורת ביתך אתה נותנה לי, וע"י שהכניס עין רעה בממונו של אברהם חסרו הכתוב וי"ו, הוי ולא ידע כי חסר יבואנו האיש שעינו רעה חסרו הכתוב וי"ו

“The passuk says in Mishlei (28:22)

נִבֳהָל לַהוֹן אִישׁ רַע עָיִן וְלֹא יֵדַע כִּי חֶסֶר יְבֹאֶנּוּ

The man with an evil eye panics for wealth, but he does not know that loss will befall him.

This passuk refers to Ephron. As soon as Avraham heard Ephron’s hint, he stood up and measured out four hundred shekalim for him. Ephron said, ‘If you are going to pay me, make sure the money comes from your best coins which are reserved for business dealings.’

Because Ephron gave Avraham’s money an ayin hara, the passuk took a vav away from him. This is the loss that befell Ephron because of his greed.”

The Baal Haturim explains that Avraham knew initially that Ephron had an ayin hara. Therefore even though Ephron offered to give Avraham the field, it was assur for Avaraham to accept it, because the passuk says in Mishlei (23:6)

אַל תִּלְחַם אֶת לֶחֶם רַע עָיִן וְאַל תתאו [תִּתְאָיו] לְמַטְעַמֹּתָיו

“Do not take the bread of someone who has an ayin hara, and do not desire his delicacies.”

From the fact that Avraham refused Ephron’s gift, it was obvious that Avraham was saying that Ephron had an ayin hara. This was embarrassing for Ephron, so he became angry and told Avraham that he would indeed pay for the field, in as complete a manner as possible.

The Chasam Sofer offers an alternative explanation of the medrash:

The passuk says

וְאִם מִשְּׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּתוֹ יַקְדִּישׁ אִישׁ לַה' וְהָיָה עֶרְכְּךָ לְפִי זַרְעוֹ זֶרַע חֹמֶר שְׂעֹרִים בַּחֲמִשִּׁים שֶׁקֶל כָּסֶף

If a person makes his field hekdesh and wants to redeem it, then the field should be valued at 50 shekalim for an area in which a barley measure is sown.

The mishna in Eruchin (7:1) explains that the passuk is referring to someone who was makdish his field in the first year after yovel. The value of the field is one shekel per year, therefore in this case he redeems his field for fifty shekalim. However the owner is makdish his field closer to yovel, then he only has to pay hekdesh for the remaining years.

At the bris bein ha’besarim, Hashem told Avraham that the benei yisrael would return to Eretz Yisrael after four hundred years, after which Ephron would have lost the me’aras ha’machpelah anyway, so Ephron could charge Avraham the value of the land holding for 400 years.

If the value of a field for 50 years is 50 shekalim, then the value of a field for 400 years is 400 shekalim, and so apparently Ephron charged the correct price for the field.

However, Ephron actually undervalued the field because

  • According to the Ramban, it was 430 years from the bris bein ha’besarim to yetzias mitzrayim (the 400 years stated at the bris bein ha’besarim was lav davka, see Ramban Shemos 12:40).  

  • The benei yisrael stayed an additional 40 years in the midbar, as a punishment for the chet ha’meraglim.

Therefore really Ephron undercharged Avraham by 8 shekalim (minus 62 years which had elapsed since the bris bein ha’besarim, plus 30 years (according to the Ramban in Shemos), plus 40 years in the midbar, which comes out to 70 – 62 = 8).

A further adjustment that has to be made to this calculation is as follows:

  • The valuation of 1 shekel per year is really the value of the crop that can be harvested from the field in a year.  
  • The bris bein ha’besarim was on Pesach night, when the field would already have had standing corn in it. Therefore Ephron could not charge Avraham for this crop.  

  • The benei yisrael came into Eretz Yisrael on Pesach, when again the field would have had standing corn in it, since the benei yisrael acquired that crop, Ephron could not have charged Avraham for the crop.

So altogether, Ephron undercharged Avraham by 8 – 2 = 6 years, and the price of the field should have been 406 shekalim. Since Ephron lost 6 shekalim by being panicked into trying to make money, the passuk removes a vav from his name.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Parshas Vayera - How Avraham taught his guests about Hashem

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (בראשית יח ב)

וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה שְׁלֹשָׁה אֲנָשִׁים נִצָּבִים עָלָיו וַיַּרְא וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם מִפֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ אָרְצָה

And he lifted his eyes and he saw and behold there were three men standing close to him, and he ran to meet them from the entrance of the tent and he bowed down to the ground.

The Medrash Rabbah (מדרש רבה, מ"ח, ט') comments on this passuk

אמר ר' לוי, שלשת האנשים שנראו לאברהם אבינו אחד נדמה לו בדמות סרקי, ואחד בדמות נווטי ואחד בדמות ערבי

Rabbi Levi said, “One of the men appeared as a thief (this seems to be the translation of the Chasam Sofer, the Matnos Kehunah however brings the Aruch who translates סרקי as a baker, unless the Chasam Sofer agrees with the Aruch’s translation and refers to the סרקי as a ganav because the gemara in Kiddushin (82a) says that most storekeepers are ganavim), one of the men appeared as a sailor and one of the men appeared to Avraham as an Arab.”

Based on this medrash, the Chasam Sofer explains as follows:

  • The Arabs used to serve Avodah Zara, as Rashi says (בראשית י"ח ד')

"ורחצו רגליכם" - כסבור שהם ערביים שמשתחוים לאבק רגליהם והקפיד שלא להכניס ע"א לביתו (ב"מ פ"ו)

Therefore Avraham would have to teach the Arab not to have emunah in avodah zarah but rather to have emunah in Hashem.

  • A thief is on a higher madregah, as he has emunah in Hashem, as the gemara says

"גנבא אפום מחתרתא רחמנא קרי" (ברכות ס"ג)

A thief calls out to Hashem before he breaks into a house.

However a thief does not have bitachon that Hashem will provide him with a parnassah, because if he did, he would not steal. Therefore Avraham would have to teach the thief to have bitachon.

  • Sailors, however, place their trust solely in Hashem as the gemara at the end of Kiddushin (קידושין פ"ב א') says - הספנין רובן חסידים – most sailors are tzaddikim, because they daven to Hashem to save them during a storm. Therefore Avraham would only have to teach the sailor the mitzvos of the Torah.

Subsequently we can understand Avraham’s conversation with the malachim as follows:

וַיֹּאמַר אֲדֹנָי אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ אַל נָא תַעֲבֹר מֵעַל עַבְדֶּךָ.

First Avaraham asked the most senior of the group (the sailor), not to leave while Avraham explained the principles of emunah and bitachon to the Arab and to the thief.

יֻקַּח נָא מְעַט מַיִם וְרַחֲצוּ רַגְלֵיכֶם

Avraham told the Arab that through that aspect of the Torah which is compared to living water, he would be able to come to emunah in Hashem, who is the living G-d, and thus remove the dust of avodah zarah from his legs.

וְהִשָּׁעֲנוּ תַּחַת הָעֵץ

Avraham told the Arab and the thief that through that aspect of the Torah which is compared to a life-giving tree, they would be able to come to have bitachon that Hashem would provide them with their livelihood, and so rest “under the tree”.

We also find that the Torah is compared to bread in Mishlei (9:5) - לכו לחמו בלחמי. Rabbeinu Bachya (Vayelech) explains this comparison refers to the wisdom of the Torah.

שלמה המלך ע״ה המשיל התורה בפסוק זה ללחם ויין לפי שהלחם ויין עיקר המזון אשר לגוף כן התורה והחכמה עיקר מזון הנפש

Therefore Avraham explained that through that aspect of the Torah which is compared to bread, they would be able to understand the wisdom of Hashem, and he told his guests.

וְאֶקְחָה פַת לֶחֶם וְסַעֲדוּ לִבְּכֶם


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Parshas Lech Lechah - Avraham's choice - galus or gehinnom

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (בראשית ט"ו י"ז)

וַיְהִי הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בָּאָה וַעֲלָטָה הָיָה וְהִנֵּה תַנּוּר עָשָׁן וְלַפִּיד אֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר עָבַר בֵּין הַגְּזָרִים הָאֵלֶּה

The sun set and there was thick darkness, and behold a smoking furnace and a flaming fire passed between the halves of the animals.

The Medrash Rabbah comments on this passuk

... והנה תנור עשן ולפיד אמר לו במה אתה רוצה שירדו בניך, בגיהנם או במלכיות, רבי חנינא בר פפא אמר אברהם ברר לו את המלכיות, רבי יודן ורבי אידי ורבי חמא בר חנינא אמרו אברהם ברר גיהנם, והקב"ה ברר לו את המלכיות, הדא הוא דכתיב (דברים ל"ב) אם לא כי צורם מכרם זה אברהם, וה' הסגירם מלמד שהסכים הקב"ה לדבריו

Hashem asked Avraham, “Do you want your descendants to be punished in gehinnom or by being subjected to שעבוד מלכיות?”

Rabbi Chanina bar Pappa said that Avraham chose שעבוד מלכיות. Rabbi Yuden and Rabbi Idi and Rabbi Chama the son of Chanina said that Avraham chose gehinnom but Hashem advised him to choose שעבוד מלכיות.

This is the meaning of the passuk which says (דברים ל"ב ל')

אֵיכָה יִרְדֹּף אֶחָד אֶלֶף וּשְׁנַיִם יָנִיסוּ רְבָבָה אִם לֹא כִּי צוּרָם מְכָרָם וַה' הִסְגִּירָם

How can one pursue a thousand and two pursue ten thousand, if not that their rock sold them and Hashem imprisoned them.

אִם לֹא כִּי צוּרָם מְכָרָם refers to Avraham (who selected שעבוד מלכיות) and וַה' הִסְגִּירָם refers to Hashem’s agreement with Avraham’s choice.

Based on this medrash, the Meshech Chachmah explains the gemara in Eruvin (19a) which says:

אלא הא דכתיב עוברי בעמק הבכא ההוא דמחייבי ההיא שעתא בגיהנם ואתי אברהם אבינו ומסיק להו ומקבל להו בר מישראל שבא על בת עובד כוכבים דמשכה ערלתו ולא מבשקר ליה

The passuk says in Tehillim (84:7)

עֹבְרֵי בְּעֵמֶק הַבָּכָא מַעְיָן יְשִׁיתוּהוּ

Those who pass into gehinnom (the valley of tears) will create a well with their tears.

The gemara explains that this refers to someone who enters gehinnom for only one moment and is then extricated by Avraham.  However if a Jewish man married a non-Jewish woman then Avraham does not extricate him from gehinnom.

Why does Avraham specifically not extricate someone who married a non-Jewish woman from gehinnom?

The Meshech Chachmah explains as follows:

The passuk in Eichah (1:3) says

גָּלְתָה יְהוּדָה מֵעֹנִי וּמֵרֹב עֲבֹדָה

Yehudah went into galus from poverty and over work.

The Medrash Rabbah (Eichah, 1:28) asks why the passuk in Eichah uses the term galus regarding the benei yisrael, whereas we do not find this term used in Navi regarding the exile of other nations. The Medrash Rabbah explains as follows:

אומות העולם אינן גולים? אלא אע"פ שגולים אין גלותם גלות, אומות העולם שאוכלים מפתם ושותים מיינם אין גלותם גלות, אבל ישראל שאין אוכלין מפתם ואין שותין מיינם גלותם גלות, אומות העולם שהן מהלכין באסקפטיות שלהם אין גלותם גלות, אבל ישראל שהן מהלכין יחפין גלותם גלות, לכך נאמר גלתה יהודה

Do the other nations not go into galus? Rather, even though they do go into galus, this is not considered to be galus, because they eat the bread, drink the wine and wear the clothes of the nations to which they are exiled. Therefore, since they are similar to the nations among whom they are exiled, these nations are kind to them. However when the benei yisrael go into galus they differentiate themselves from the nations among whom they are exiled, and therefore they are not kind to them.

Subsequently we can understand that Avraham can extricate someone who goes to gehinnom, because Avaraham chose שעבוד מלכיות as the kapparah for the benei yisrael, instead of gehinnom. However if someone marries a non-Jewish woman, then he has made himself at home in galus, in which case his exile is no longer called galus, just as the exile of the other nations is not called galus. Since he has rejected Avraham’s choice of שעבוד מלכיות he is only left with the choice of gehinnom to attain a kapparah.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Parshas Bereishis - Why was Adam sent out of Gan Eden?

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (Bereishis 3 – 22:23)

וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֱלֹקִים הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ לָדַעַת טוֹב וָרָע וְעַתָּה פֶּן יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ וְלָקַח גַּם מֵעֵץ הַחַיִּים וְאָכַל וָחַי לְעֹלָם. וַיְשַׁלְּחֵהוּ ה' אֱלֹקִים מִגַּן עֵדֶן לַעֲבֹד אֶת הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר לֻקַּח מִשָּׁם.

And Hashem said, “Behold אדם has become as one of us to know good and bad. And now lest he send out his hand and take also from the עץ החיים and he will eat and live forever.”

So Hashem sent him out of Gan Eden to work the earth from which he had been taken.
  • Why was Hashem concerned that אדם knew good and bad?
  • Why was Hashem concerned that אדם may eat from the עץ החיים, which would cause him to live forever?

The Chasam Sofer explains as follows:

The word אחד (one of) sometimes has the vowels segol and kometz (אֶחָד), and sometimes has two patach’s (אַחַד).

For example, in Devarim (1:23) we have אֶחָד

וַיִּיטַב בְּעֵינַי הַדָּבָר וָאֶקַּח מִכֶּם שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר אֲנָשִׁים אִישׁ אֶחָד לַשָּׁבֶט

“And the matter was good in my eyes, and I took from you 12 men, one man for each tribe.”

But in Bamidbar (16:15) we have both אֶחָד and also אַחַד

וַיִּחַר לְמֹשֶׁה מְאֹד וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל ה' אַל תֵּפֶן אֶל מִנְחָתָם לֹא חֲמוֹר אֶחָד מֵהֶם נָשָׂאתִי וְלֹא הֲרֵעֹתִי אֶת אַחַד מֵהֶם

“And Moshe was very aggrieved and he said to Hashem, ‘Do not turn to their korban, I have not taxed a donkey from one of them and I have not done evil to one of them.’”

The difference between the two forms of echad is that אֶחָד means “an important one of”, whereas אַחַד means “the least consequential one of”.

The nesiim who were chosen to be the meraglim, were the most important members of each shevet, so Moshe said אִישׁ אֶחָד לַשָּׁבֶט. However when Moshe said that he had not exploited the benei yisrael, he said “I did not tax the wealthy (חֲמוֹר אֶחָד מֵהֶם), nor did I take advantage of the poor (הֲרֵעֹתִי אֶת אַחַד).”

When Hashem said הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ, He meant, “אדם has become like the least of (אַחַד) the malachim, who know of good and bad, and he has not become like one of the great malachim who only know good.”

If אדם would live forever, he would never change and would never be able to advance from the מדרגה of being like one of the least of the malachim. Only if אדם would assume a mortal existence would he be able to break out of the relatively low madregah he had assumed, after he would merit תחיית המתים.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Parshas vezos haberacha - connecting the beginning and the end of the Torah

The gemara says in Berachos (דף י' ע"א)

כל פרשה שהיתה חביבה על דוד פתח בה באשרי וסיים בה באשרי פתח באשרי דכתיב (תהלים א', א') אשרי האיש וסיים באשרי דכתיב (תהלים ב', י"ב) אשרי כל חוסי בו

“Any parsha in Tehillim which was dear to Dovid, he began with the word אשרי and finished with the word אשרי.”

The Chasam Sofer points out that the last word and the first word of the Torah also contain the word אשרי.

אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה מֹשֶׁה לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים

This shows that the Torah is dear to us, just as the use of the word אשרי showed that a perek was dear to Dovid.

The Chasam Sofer further comments that the letters that are left over (besides the word אשרי) are ל and בת, which together spell לבת.

We can understand that this is a hint to the passuk in Shir Hashirim (פרק ד', פסוק ט')

לִבַּבְתִּנִי אֲחֹתִי כַלָּה לִבַּבְתִּנִי בְּאַחַת מֵעֵינַיִךְ בְּאַחַד עֲנָק מִצַּוְּרֹנָיִךְ

“You have captured my heart my sister my bride, you have captured my heart with one of your eyes, with one chain of your neck.”

Rashi explains as follows:

באחד ענק מצורוניך - באחת מרבידי ענקי קישוטיך הם תכשיטי מצוה שישראל מציינין בהם

With one of the links of the chain on your neck – this refers to the adornments of mitzvos through which the benei yisrael are distinguished. [The reference to “one of the links in the necklace” is an allusion that it is possible for a person to merit olam habah through the observance of even one of the mitzvos, if that mitzvah is performed purely lishmah.]

This means to say that the measure of joy (אשרי) which the benei yisrael experience through keeping the Torah is so great that even one of the תרי"ג מצות is sufficient to be completely מקדש the person who performed the mitzva so that he will become a בן עולם הבא.

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