by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS CHAYEI SOROH 5773 BS"D
Ch. 23, v. 2: "V'livkoso" - And to cry over her - The diminutive letter Kof indicates that his crying was limited. Based on the opinion that the Akeidoh took place on Yom Kippur this is very well understood. The Akeidoh took place three days' distance from his home (Breishis 22:4). Returning brings us to the 13th of Tishrei. Sukos took place on the 15th and there was a truncated "shivoh." (Iturei Torah)
Ch. 23, v. 3: "Va'y'da'beir el bnei Cheis leimore ger v'soshov onochi" - And he spoke to the descendants of Cheis thus saying I am an alien and a resident - Avrohom wanted to cover himself in all ways possible to have the transaction binding and any claims to the contrary to be null and void. This is why he involved the bnei Cheis, mentioned that he was a resident, and paid with the best quality coinage.
There is an halacha of "bar metzra" (see O.Ch. Ch.M. #175), meaning that a person who owns an abutting property gets first rights to purchase the property situated next to his. To avoid a claim that Avrohom does not have this claim he did the three above-mentioned things.
When a field is sold back to an original owner, that overrides the claim of "bar metzra." Avrohom said that although now he was new to the land, it was originally Shem's and he is his descendant, while the bnei Cheis are descendants of Canaan who wrested the land away from bnei Shem (see Rashi on 12:5). Avrohom claimed he was a descendant of an original owner.
By having the bnei Cheis discuss this sale with Efron and their not raising any complaints, it shows that the present "bar metzra" accepted this sale and made no claims to purchase it himself.
By offering the best coinage Avrohom again overrode "bar metzra" as even if a "bar metzra" were to offer the same amount of money for the field, one who offers the better coinage has the priority. (Ponim Yofos)
Ch. 23, v. 15: "Arba mei'os shekel kesef beini uveincho mah hee" - Four-hundred shekel of silver between me and between you what is it - Efron could have simply said, "Arba mei'os shekel kesef mah hee." He was explaining to Avrohom how he came to this figure. He took the middle letter of each of their names, each a Reish (AvRohom EfRon), "beini uveincho," whose numeric value, "mah hee," is four-hundred. (Otzar Ha'yoshon)
4) Ch. 24, v. 10: "Migmalei adonov," Ch. 24, v. 32: "Vayifatach" - Rashi in the name of the Medrash says that the camels of Avrohom were unique in that they were muzzled to keep them from eating from fields of others. The Medrash 60:8 relates a story (Yerushalmi D'mai 1:3) of the donkey of Rabbi Pinchos ben Yair which was stolen. For three days it would touch no food. The robbers feared it would die of starvation and the stench would reveal their hideout. They released the donkey and it returned to the home of R' Pinchos ben Yair. When he heard it braying, he had his worker feed it immediately, knowing that it had not touch any food of the robbers. The donkey refused to eat until the food was tithed.
Rav Huna asked Rav Chia, "Is it possible that Avrohom's camels needed to be muzzled? Are they on a lower level than the donkey of Rabbi Pinchos ben Yair?" The Ramban on 24:32 explains that this is a question that refutes the interpretation that "vayifatach" means the muzzles were undone, as there was no need to muzzle Avrohom's camels. Instead, it means that the riding gear was undone. How will Rashi, who interprets it to mean that the muzzles were removed, answer the above question?
1) Avrohom muzzled his camels to teach others.
2) Avrohom did not want to take a chance at the expense of others, if perchance one of his camels would eat from someone else's property.
3) The camels Avrohom sent were part of a fleet, but not ones he personally used. Hence, he did not create an aura of sanctity which would affect them. R.P.b.Y.'s donkey was his personal donkey, which he used for daily transportation, thus allowing him the opportunity to affect the donkey.
4) Food that is untithed, "tevel," is intrinsically prohibited. An animal can be trained to be sensitive to this. Stolen food is intrinsically kosher, and no animal would refrain from eating it.
5) Since the land of Canaan will eventually become Avrohom's, the theft of others' property hinges upon a time factor. We find that even tzadikim themselves would occasionally slip and eat something that was only prohibited by virtue of a time factor, i.e. before havdoloh. See Tosfos P'sochim 106b d.h. "isht'li."
6) The law is that animal owners are not responsible if their animals inadvertently eat someone else's food in a public domain, (Bovo Kama 24b). Therefore, it is difficult to train them to discern between the public domain and private property. Untithed foods are always prohibited. (Nirreh li)
7) R.P.b.Y.'s donkey was in Eretz Yisroel while Avrohom's camels traveled to "chutz lo'oretz." Eretz Yisroel itself adds to the spiritual sensitivity, as per kinos "Tzion ... … tzri Gilod" (pg. 50 in paperback Hebrew Publishing Company edition). (MVRHRHG"R Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l in Emes l'Yaakov)
8) A donkey is more sensitive to tithing, i.e. a portion being sanctified, since there is the sanctity of "b'chor petter chamor." (Nirreh li)
9) It is harder to train a camel since camels have an inborn hatred of humans, as per the Medrash on parshas Tzav #3 (found in Kovetz Maamorim Upisgomim entry "arbo'oh oivim") (Nirreh li)
The idea that camels hate humans is also mentioned in Moshav Z'keinim parshas Breishis d.h. "aruroh ho'adomoh."
10) At maamad Har Sinai there was "poska zuhamoson," there ceased to be a negative spiritual atmosphere caused by Primal Man's sin, even for the animals that came there (see Chidushei hoRan on gemara Shabbos that fish were not present so for them there was no "poska ….") If so, Avrohom's camels, which were before matan Torah could not be trained, as they had the negative "zuhamo," while R.P.b.Y.'s donkey was after matan Torah and there was poska zuhamoson." (Nirreh li)
11) It was harder for Avrohom to influence his camels against theft since they were exposed to the theft done by Lote's camels, which were not restrained. Although this took place many years earlier, hence they are not the same camels, but this bad trait might be passed on (see Droshos hoRan drush #5). (Sholo-m Mordechai Greenberg nR"u)
12) A slight variation on the previous answer: Avrohom had them muzzled to strengthen the morality of his camel caretakers. They were exposed to Lote's livestock caretakers, who allowed Lote's animals to graze in others' fields. (Perhaps this was S.M.G.'s intention in #11)
Ch. 24, v. 58: "Ha'teilchi im ho'ish ha'zeh vatomer eileich" - Will you go with this man and she said I will go - Rashi comments that Rivkoh said that she would go even if her mother and Lovon do not give their consent. Why did she have to respond so sharply? She had just been asked her opinion, obviously indicating that they left the decision to her. Earlier Besuel stood in the way of the marriage taking place and he was miraculously poisoned by an angel. It became obvious to all that whoever stood in the way of the marriage would be put to death by celestial intervention. She therefore said that she agreed to the marriage and even if her mother and brother were to disapprove, they would likewise be killed and she would be left alone, a "kalachdiga" orphan, and would agree to the marriage. (Rabbi Chaim of Tchernovitz in B'eir Mayim Chaim)
Ch. 24, v. 60: "At ha'yi l'alfei r'vovoh" - You shall become thousands of myriads - Why did her mother and brother, who were against holiness and service of Hashem, so generous in their blessings? They actually meant, "When you will multiply and be thousands, you and your descendants will remain "r'vovoh," an acronym for Rivkoh Bas Besuel Ho'Arami. (V'dibarto Bom)
Ch. 24, v. 60: "V'yirash za'reich eis shaar sonov" - And your descendants shall inherit the gate of their enemies - The enemies of her kosher child, Yaakov, are Eisov and his descendants. Note that by Avrohom after the Akeidoh (22:17) the verse says that Avrohom's descendants shall inherit the gates of their "Oivov," enemies, Yitzchok's half brother Yishmoel. Based on the words of Rabbeinu Bachyei on parshas Haazinu and others that an "oyeiv" is a greater hater than a "sonei," we have Yishmoel as a worse enemy of the bnei Yisroel than Eisov.
Ch. 25, v. 5,6: "Va'yitein Avrohom eis kol asher lo l'Yitzchok, V'livnei hapilagshim asher l'Avrohom nosan Avrohom matonos" - And Avrohom gave all that was his to Yitzchok and to the children of the concubines who belonged to Avrohom Avrohom gave presents - Since Avrohom gave everything he had to Yitzchok what was left for the others? Avrohom had two types of possessions, those he worked for and those he received as a present from Paroh. He had no interest in having Yitzchok serve Hashem with items given to him by Paroh as compensation for taking away Soroh (12:16). He gave Yitzchok possessions that he acquired through working. He never used Paroh's presents and just held onto them until now. The descendants of the concubine Hogor/Keturoh were grandchildren of Paroh. He sent them away but first gave them what Paroh gave him. "Matonos" means the presents Paroh gave him. (Olas Chodesh)
What about Yishmoel? Did Avrohom give him anything close to his passing? The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that Yishmoel was already sent away earlier and was not there. He adds that the day will yet come when Yishmoel the slave by virtue of being the son of a maidservant, will recognize who is the slave and who is the master, bb"o.
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