Friday, January 20, 2012

Parshas Va'era: The strength of Yitzchak Avinu


The passuk says in this week’s sedrah;
וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹקִים אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲנִי ה׳. וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם אֶל יִצְחָק וְאֶל יַעֲקֹב בְּקֵל שַׁקי וּשְׁמִי ה׳ לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם. וְגַם הֲקִמֹתִי אֶת בְּרִיתִי אִתָּם לָתֵת לָהֶם אֶת אֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן אֵת אֶרֶץ מְגֻרֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר גָּרוּ בָהּ

Elokim spoke to Moshe and He said to him, ‘I am Hashem. I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov through the name Kel Shakai but through my name Hashem I was not known to them. I have also established my covenant with them to give to them the land of Kenaan, the land of their sojournings within which they dwelled.’”

  • The name Elokim refers to the middas hadin, the strict judgement of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. The name Hashem refers to the middas harachamim, the kindness shown by Hakadosh Baruch Hu. How can the passuk say, ‘Vayedaber Elokim el Moshe vayomer elav ani Hashem’? If Hashem appeared to Moshe with strict judgement then He did not come to Moshe to show him the kindness of the middas harachamim?

The Baal Ha’Turim comments;
וארא. בגימטריא יצחק. כדאיתא במדרש (פסי"ר פמ"ג) שיצחק גרם להם לישראל שיצאו ממצרים

Va’era has the same gematria as Yitzchak (208), as the medrash says; Yitzchak caused the benei yisrael to come out of Mitzraim.”
  • The passuk says that Hashem told Moshe that the benei yisrael would be redeemed in the zechus of all of the avos. How can the Baal Ha’Turim say that they were redeemed specifically in the zechus of Yitzchak?

The passuk says in Vayigash;
וַיִּסַּע יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכָל אֲשֶׁר לוֹ וַיָּבֹא בְּאֵרָה שָּׁבַע וַיִּזְבַּח זְבָחִים לֵאלֹקֵי אָבִיו יִצְחָק

“And Yisrael travelled and all that belonged to him and he came to Be’er Sheva, and he brought korbanos to the G-d of his father Yitzchak.”

  • Why did Yaakov specifically bring korbanos to the G-d of his father Yitzchak? Why did he not bring korbanos to Hashem, the G-d of Avraham and Yitzchak?

Rb Dessler z”l explains as follows;
Each of the avos perfected themselves in a different character trait. Avraham Avinu perfected himself in the middah of chesed, Yitzchak perfected himself in the middah of gevurah (din) and Yaakov perfected himself in the middah of emes.

Notwithstanding this fact, the middah of each of the avos is included in the middos of the other avos. For example, Avraham Avinu was able to understand the Torah, which is emes, through his perfection of the middah of chesed. Yaakov, through his middah of emes, stopped the famine in Mitzraim, which is chesed. Each of the avos also acquired the middos of the other avos to perfection, but from the viewpoint of the middah in which they excelled.

Yaakov knew that when the benei yisrael went down to Mitzraim, the shibud would begin and the benei yisrael would become slaves.

It is not possible for a slave to perfect themselves in the middah of emes as he is not free to learn Torah. It is also not possible for a slave to practice the middah of chesed because he is not free to help others.  However it is possible even for someone who is subjugated as a slave to excel in the middah of gevurah by resisting the temptation to act dishonestly or improperly as other slaves do.

Therefore the most appropriate middah for the benei yisrael to cleave to in Mitzraim was the middah of gevurah of Yitzchak. Through remaining a pure people even through slavery, the benei yisrael also preserved the middos of chesed of Avraham and emes of Yitzchok. In other words, the middos of the other avos were encapsulated and included in the middah of Yitzchak.

Therefore;
  • When going down to Mitzraim, Yaakov brought korbanos to the G-d of Yitzchak, his father, because at this stage he sublimated his middah of emes to the middah of gevurah of Yitzchak.
  • The Ba’al Ha’Turim says that the benei yisrael were redeemed in the zechus of Yitzchak. Even although the passuk says that the benei yisrael were redeemed in the zechus of all the avos, this zechus only survived through the yiras shamayim of Yitzchak during the time that the benei yisrael were slaves in Mitzraim.
  • The passuk in Va’era says that Elokim appeared to Moshe and He said to him, I am Hashem. The reason that the benei yisrael merited the geulah is because they kept the traits of truth and kindness through applying the middah of strict din to themselves. Therefore, middah keneged middah, Hashem rewarded them by judging through the middas hadin that the benei yisrael should be rewarded with rachamim and redeemed.



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