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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Veyera (70)

Genesis 22:3

After G-d commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac to Mt. Moriah and offer him up on the alter, Abraham responded. "And Abraham woke up early in the morning saddled his donkey and took his two lads with him, and Isaac his son (etc.)."


And he saddled: Rashi: He himself, without commanding one of his servants to do so because [as the expression goes] 'Love causes one to disregard propriety.'


Rashi points out that Abraham, in his zeal to fulfill G-d's will, saddled his own donkey. He didn't delegate this job to one of his servants, as would be expected from a man of his stature. Even though this was quite a menial task, Abraham's love of G-d made him forget all propriety.

But we would ask:

Why does Rashi tell us this? Remember, Rashi in his commentary, never just informs us, his comments are always meant to deal with a difficulty.

What do you think is bothering him?


An Answer: The question is: Why does the Torah tell us that "he saddled his donkey"? It is a very insignificant part of this story. Certainly if Abraham traveled by donkey he would necessarily have had to saddle it furst, there's no other way of traveling a distance on a donkey without first putting a saddle on it. So why mention this?

This is what caught Rashi's (and the midrash's) eye.

We must remember that many events transpired that are not recorded in the Chumash. If an event, however trivial, is recorded in the Torah that means it has a message.

Another point to keep in mind: When the Torah says "Abraham saddled his donkey" it need not mean that Abraham himself did it. It could have been someone doing it for Abraham. For example when describing the newly built Temple the Tanach says (Kings I 6:2)

"The Temple, that Solomon builtů."

Now, no one thinks that King Solomon dirtied his hands building the Temple himself. Solomon ordered it to be built and that is sufficient to honestly say "The Temple that Solomon built." So, too, here we could say "Abraham saddled his donkey" and only mean that he ordered it to be saddled, but not that he himself did the dirty work.

What do you say to that?

How did Rashi know it was Abraham himself?


An Answer: The same answer as above applies to this question as well. If his servant did this job, the Torah would never have mentioned it. What for ? What "news" is that. But since the Torah does say he saddled the donkey it must mean that he really did it himself, because that is a NEWS. And we learn a psychological message as well: Love breaks all boundaries and proper conduct. A man who does something out of love doesn't pay heed to protocal.


In doing what we're supposed to do, don't stand on ceremony. Get to it. You may be recorded for eternity as having saddled your donkey!

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at all Judaica bookstores.

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