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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 12, v. 1: "Lech l'cho ...... el ho'oretz asher ar'eko" - Hashem did not advise Avrohom as to his destination before the outset of his trip. Rabbi Boruch Ber Liebowitz, Rosh Yeshivas Kamenitz, says that if Hashem mentioned the destination, then the command would be to go to the destination. The steps involved in walking there would only be a "hech'sher mitzvoh." Only because no destination was given, did Avrohom receive a reward for each step, as mentioned in Rashi on this verse.

The Rokei'ach says that Hashem purposely did not tell Avrohom his destination, since He told Avrohom to leave "beis ovicho," his father's home. Had Hashem told Avrohom that he was to travel to Eretz Canaan, Avrohom's father Terach would surely have wanted to come along. With an undisclosed destination Avrohom told his aging father that he might have to travel to the far end of the world, which would be beyond Terach's ability to do. As well, the Rokei'ach writes that his mother Amaslo'i ( he mentions a different opinion that her name was Isro'i, see gemara B.B. 91a) also stayed behind with her husband.

Ch. 12, v. 3: "V'niv'r'chu V'CHO" - Why doesn't the verse expand upon the blessing and say "v'niv'r'chu v'cho uv'zar'echo?" The Rokei'ach answers that this would not be accurate since Avrohom would later have Yishmo'eil as his offspring, and Yishmo'eil would not be a source of blessing.

Ch. 12, v. 5: "Va'yikach Avrom ...... va'yeitzu lo'leches artzoh Canaan va'yovo'u artzoh Canoan" - Why mention that they left to go to the land of Canaan? Is it not sufficient to just say that they came to the land of Canaan? The Holy Chofetz Chaim answers that the Torah says these extra words to show us a stark comparison with Avrohom's father Terach. He also set out on a trip to Canaan with his family. However, he did not have the fortitude to reach his goal, as is stated in 11:31, "Va'yeitzu itom mei'Ur Kasdim lo'leches artzoh Canaan va'yovo'u ad Choron va'yeishvu shom."

Ch. 12, v. 5: "V'es ha'nefesh asher OSSU b'Choron" - Did they literally CREATE souls? Rashi (M.R. 39:14) says that when one is responsible for someone's converting to Judaism it is as if he has created that person. The Rokei'ach points out that the words "v'es ha'nefesh" have the same numerical value as "hein ha'geirim shegiyru." He then goes on to say that the word OSSU can be taken literally. He says that Avrohom and Sheim studied Sefer Yetziroh for three years and learned from it how to CREATE people. They put this into action and these are the souls that they CREATED.

Ch. 12, v. 7: "E'tein es" - With these words Hashem promised Avrohom that his offspring would inherit the land of Eretz Yisroel. The Rokei'ach points out that the numerical value of these two words, 852, equals that of "v'noshantem" (D'vorim 4:25), the number of years (There was a two year earlier expulsion which was actually for the good of the bnei Yisroel.) the bnei Yisroel occupied Eretz Yisroel before they were exiled.

Ch. 12, v. 8: "Vayikroh b'sheim Hashem" - See Targum Onkeles, Ramban, and Ibn Ezra on our verse, and the Rambam hilchos avodas kochovim 1:3, and the Raavad, Kesef Mishneh, and Migdal Oze on the words of the Rambam.

Ch. 12, v. 12: "V'horgu osi v'oshoch y'cha'yu" - The Rokei'ach points out that Avrohom unintentionally made a prophetic statement with these words. Indeed, many generations later Paroh would issue an edict "Im ben hu vahami'ten oso v'im bas hee vochoyoh" (Shmos 1:16).

Ch. 12, v. 13: "Imri noh achosi ot" - The Medrash Plioh, a compilation of astounding statements, says that this statement made by Avrohom follows the rule of slaughtering an animal on Shabbos when the need arises for the health of a person who is at risk of losing his life if he doesn't have meat to consume (O.Ch. 228:14). Rabbi Yonoson Eibeschutz in Medrash Y'honoson explains the Medrash Plioh with the words of the Beis Yoseif on the above-mentioned halacha. This rule applies even when there is non-kosher meat available that would be just as beneficial for the ill person and if it would be consumed the slaughtering of an animal on Shabbos, a Torah prohibition, could be avoided. One of the reasons he gives in the name of Rabbeinu Nissim Gaon is that it is better to transgress a stricter sin, namely desecrating the Shabbos, once, than to transgress the lesser sin of eating non-kosher numerous times, if that is what is required for the welfare of the ill person.

A question can be raised on the advice Avrohom gave Soroh. He was concerned that if the Egyptians would know that he was Soroh's husband they would kill him to change Soroh's status to that of an unwed woman, rather than committing adultery with her if Avrohom were to still be alive. Since all bnei Noach are also commanded to not kill, why was he more afraid of their killing than their committing adultery? The Medrash Plioh answers this by saying that Avrohom understood that they would more readily commit murder, albeit an horrific sin, once, than allowing him to remain alive and committing the sin of adultery numerous times, following the same logic as the rule of slaughtering an animal on Shabbos for an ill person rather than feeding him ready non-kosher meat. (Yalkut Chamisho'i)

Ch. 14, v. 14: "Va'yorek es chanichov" - The gemara N'dorim 32b brings three opinions, all sourced from this parsha, as to why the descendants of Avrohom had to endure the exile of Egypt.

A) Rabbi Avohu in the name of Rabbi Eliezer: Because he caused BITUL TORAH when he emptied his Torah School of students to have them do battle with the four kings (Breishis 14:14).

B) Shmuel: He displayed a weakness in his trust (emunoh) in Hashem by asking "ba'moh ei'da" (Breishis 15:8).

C) Rabbi Yochonon: He gave up the opportunity to bring more people under the wings of Hashem by allowing the king of Sdom to keep the people who were captured in the battle (14:22,23).

If there was a prophecy to Avrohom that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years (Breishis 15:13), how were they able to leave after only 210 years? The Rebbi R' Heshel answers that the 400 years of enslavement were compacted into 210 years for three reasons. A) They worked at night as well as by day. B) Their population explosion brought about a large amount of work being done. C) They had an extremely heavy and painful workload, "koshi hashibud."

He says that this is indicated in D'vorim (26:7,8), "Va'yaar Elokim es ON'YEINU v'es AMO'LEINU v'es LACHATZEINU. Va'yotzi'einu Hashem."

The Hagodoh tells us that "on'yeinu" refers to the men being separated from their wives at night. A) The men were forced to work at night as well as by day.

"Amo'leinu" refers to their children. B) The great increase in the number of bnei Yisroel.

"Lachatzeinu" refers to the great oppression. C) Their extremely heavy and painful workload. Because of all the above, (verse 8) "And Hashem took us out (earlier)."

Possibly, these three sufferings were an exoneration of the three shortcomings mentioned above. A) Avrohom emptied his Torah School of its students at night and fought his war at night (14:15). Similarly the bnei Yisroel suffered by having to also work at night. B) For not bringing numerous souls under the wings of Hashem, there was a population explosion and numerous more bnei Yisroel were born into slavery. C) For his weakness in trust in Hashem, the bnei Yisroel suffered great pain. This is truly the greatest test in "emunoh" a person can endure, to suffer greatly and still not lose trust in Hashem.

Having experienced the above three sufferings that exonerated them of the three shortcomings, the bnei Yisroel similarly experienced three levels of redemption. A) In Dvorim 16:1 it says that the bnei Yisroel left Egypt by NIGHT. B) In Shmos 12:51 it says that they left by DAY. C) In Shmos 14:30 they had a final complete redemption when the bnei Yisroel saw the Egyptian army dead on the shore of the "yam suf." These three levels of redemption correspond to the three levels of golus which correspond to the three shortcomings.

1) Although they did not leave at night (see Rashi on Dvorim 16:1), they were freed from slavery by Paroh and given permission to leave at night. They merited redemption at night through their working at night. This was also an exoneration for emptying Avrohom's Torah School of its students at night. They reconnected to the toiling in Torah of which it is said, (Pirkei Ovos 6:2) that one who toils in Torah merits to be called a FREE MAN, a "ben chorin," cho'rus - chei'rus (Shmos 32:16).

2) Their actual departure by day brought about a large increase in the number of people who would adhere to the word of Hashem. The "eirev rav," who numbered 2,400,000 according to Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on Shmos 12:38, joined them. This, incidentally, is the exact amount as the number of bnei Yisroel who perished during makas choshech. By virtue of a large number of bnei Yisroel working for Paroh, they merited to have a large number of "eirev rav" join them in serving Hashem. This exonerates the lost opportunity of bringing the people captured in the battle under the wings of Hashem.

3) The complete redemption realized at "yam suf" after the splitting of the sea brought the bnei Yisroel to a new level - "va'yaaminu baShem u'v'Moshe avdo." After having successfully weathered the pains inflicted by the Egyptians, which was a daunting test of their trust in Hashem, they merited true "emunoh," both in Hashem and in His servant Moshe. This new EMUNOH came about through seeing the HAND of Hashem, and possibly also, the HAND of Moshe without the use of his staff, as above (14:16). Possibly, therefore the "mesorres," the words used to indicate the number of verses in the end of parshas B'shalach is "YAD EMUNOH." Reaching this high level of "emunoh" in Hashem corrected the shortcoming of the utterance of "bamoh ei'da (Breishis 15:8)."

Ch. 15, v. 9: "V'sor" - We are accustomed to translating this word as a turtledove, a type of bird. However, Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #28 says that this word is Aramaic and means an OX.

Ch. 15, v. 9,10,11: "V'sor, Va'y'va'teir osom, Va'yasheiv osom Avrom" - "V'sor" has the equal numerical value as "V'eilu bnei Yish'm'eilim." (Rokei'ach)

"Va'y'va'teir osom," and Avrohom cut them into two. This weakened the strength of the Yish'm'eilim and had he not done so there would ch"v be no survival for the bnei Yisroel. (Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #28) "Va'yasheiv osom Avrom" - Avrohom indicated that the only way to overcome the Yish'm'eilim is through the power of teshuvoh, repentance, i.e. "va'yasheiv" is from the same root source as "teshuvoh." (Rokei'ach)

This is a most pertinent message for our distressing and challenging times.

Ch. 17, v. 1: "Ve'h'yei somim" - The M.R. 30:8 says that whoever has the term "tomim" expressed by him lives his years to the fulfillment of a "shmitoh," meaning that his years are divisible by seven. Since Avrohom lived to the age of 175 (Breishis 25:7), the words of this medrash are easily understood, as 175 can be divided by 7 twenty-five times. However, we also find the term "tomim" used by Noach (6:9). Noach lived until the age of 950 years (9:29), which is not divisible by seven. How do we reconcile the words of this medrash? Answer next week bez"H.

Answer to last week's question:

Ch. 6, v. 9: "Tzadik tomim hoyoh b'dorosov" - Rashi mentions two opinions regarding the connotation of the word "b'dorosov." One opinion is complimentary while the other is pejorative. Who are the commentators who hold these two opinions? You can find them in a standard Mikro'os G'dolos Chumash.

ANSWER: On the verse "V'Noach motzo chein b'einei Hashem" (6:8), the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel writes "Noach d'hava tzadik," while the Targum Yerushalmi writes "Noach d'hava tzadik b'dorei." The commentator Pirush Yonoson points out that this difference in wording indicates the two above-mentioned opinions.

Targum Yonoson ben Uziel who says that he was a righteous person and does not add on that he was righteous "in his generation" seems to indicate that he was an unequivocally righteous person, while Targum Yerushalmi who adds that he was righteous "in his generation" seems to indicate that he was only so in his generation. It seems that although the words of Targum Yerushalmi are the same as the words of the first verse in parshas Noach, and still allow for the complimentary interpretation, the Pirush Yonoson feels that a commentator using these words indicates only the derogatory explanation.

A second answer: Sforno says on the words "V'Noach motzo CHEIN" that it was only through a gift from Hashem that the family of Noach was saved, and as he quotes from the Prophet Yechezkel (14:14, 14:16) that there are righteous people who do not have the power to save their children in their own merit, such as Noach. This seems to follow the opinion that Noach was a tzadik of limited stature. Ramban differs and says that "V'Noach motzo CHEIN" means that Noach gave Hashem great satisfaction, and is not of the opinion that only through an undeserved favour from Hashem was his family saved. This seems to indicate that Noach was a tzadik of great stature.



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