by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS LECH L'CHO 5767 BS"DCh. 12, v. 1: "Lech l'cho" - Go for yourself - The stress on YOURSELF is to just go and not take counsel with relatives. Similarly, "v'lech l'cho el eretz haMorioh" (Breishis 22:2) means to go without even asking Soroh for opinion. (Tosfos Hasho'leim)
Ch. 12, v. 3: "Vaavorcho m'vorachecho umka'lelcho o'or" - And I will bless those who bless you and your cursers I will curse - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that blessing those who bless you means that in the future, when the Kohanim will bless the bnei Yisroel, Hashem will in turn bless them. Rashi, on the words in Bmidbar 6:27, "vaani avoracheim," first offers that Hashem will also bless the bnei Yisroel once the Kohanim bless them. He then offers that it refers to Hashem's blessing the Kohanim, in consonance with the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel here.
Targum Yonoson ben Uziel then explains, "and your cursers I will curse" refers to Bilom, who will curse the bnei Yisroel. He will be killed by the sword (Bmidbar 31:8). Although we do not find Bilom actually cursing the bnei Yisroel, nevertheless, his overt blessings contained covert curses.
It is interesting to note that Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on the words of Bilom in Bmidbar 24:9, "M'vorachecho voruch v'ora'recho orur" says the same about those who curse, that it refers to Bilom, but "those who bless you" are not explained as the Kohanim, but rather Moshe. Once we have brought these two verses to your attention it would be in place to clarify the difference between an "oreir" and a "m'ka'leil."
Ch. 12, v. 3: "Kole mish'p'chose ho'adomoh" - All families of the earth - This does not mean that ALL people will receive a blessing in Avrohom's merit. Rather, all those who cling to Avrohom's ideology and beliefs will be blessed. (Abarbanel)
Ch. 12, v. 5: "Va'yikach Avrom es Sorai ishto v'es Lote ben ochiv v'es kol r'chushom" - And Avrom took Sorai his wife and Lote his brother's son and all their possessions - The Rokei'ach notes that the order here is "choviv choviv kodem," most beloved first. This is not contrary to Rashi's comment on Breishis 33:2, d.h. "v'es Leah vilo'dehoh acharonim." Rashi comments, "acharon acharon choviv," most beloved last. There, Yaakov was encountering Eisov and feared that Eisov might want to wrest away Yaakov's wives and children. He therefore placed the most beloved last. Here, where we simply have a list of whom and what Avrom took along with him, the order is "most beloved first."
There actually is a comment of Rashi that seems contrary to this. On Shmos 12:35 d.h. "usmolos" Rashi comments that the order of items that the bnei Yisroel took, vessels of silver, gold, and clothing, is "acharon acharon choshuv," most important last. Although this seems contrary to the Rokei'ach, we might differentiate between "choviv" and "choshuv." (Nirreh li)
Ch. 12, v. 19: "Hi'nei ish't'cho kach vo'leich" - Here is your wife take her and go - Contrast this abrupt send-off with Avimelech's offering Avrohom to remain in his land (Breishis 20:15).
1) Mitzrayim was a land with the lowest of morals and Soroh was in real danger. (Rashi)
2) Avimelech had a beautiful wife, and just wanted to add Soroh to his collection. Even if Avrohom were to remain, Avimelech had a glamorous wife. Paroh was single. The presence of Avrohom with his beautiful wife while the king was single would be a great embarrassment. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid in the name of his father)
3) The incident with Avimelech took place in G'ror, part of Eretz Yisroel. Avrohom surely wanted to remain in Eretz Yisroel, so he offered that Avrohom live in G'ror. It was obvious to Paroh that Avrohom would not want to remain in Egypt. (Rabbeinu Nisim)
4) Paroh's telling Avrohom to leave immediately would be a forerunner for Paroh and his nation's rushing the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt, (Va'techezak Mitzrayim al ho'om l'ma'heir l'shalchom min ho'oretz" (Shmos 12:33). (Rabbeinu Tovioh)
5) Avimelech was a "chosid umose ho'olom and wanted a righteous person to reside in his land. (Rabbeinnu Tovioh)
6) Avimelech feared that the angel who appeared to him in his dream was the one who destroyed S'dom. He feared the same would happen to G'ror. He therefore wanted the merit of Avrohom to protect his land. (Toldos Yitzchok)
7) Avimelech was more refined than Paroh. He went to lengths to show that he had not defiled Soroh. If a king had a union with a woman, she would no longer be allowed to have relations with any other man, as this would be disrespectful to the king. Avimelech wanted to clearly demonstrate that he had not even touched Soroh. He therefore requested that Avrohom and Soroh remain in the land as husband and wife, and thus totally cleanse him of any negative innuendo. (Abarbanel)
8) Paroh suffered more severely from the skin affliction than did Avimelech, so he wanted to rid himself of Avrohom. (Tur)
9) Avimelech wanted to clear his country of the scourge, "Rak ein yiras Elokim bamokome ha'zeh" (verse 11). By encouraging Avrohom to stay on he was telling Avrohom that both he and his wife would be safe in this land and that indeed there is "yiras Elokim bamokome ha'zeh." (Rabbeinu Shlomo Ashtruk)
Ch. 13, v. 1: "V'Lote imo" - And Lote with him - We have dealt in length with the nuance of difference between "im" and "es," both meaning with, in parshas Bolok 5758. "Es" means with someone, but not in a strongly connected way, while "im" means the same but in a greater intensity. We can thus understand the difference between Lote's accompanying Avrohom when he departed Ur Kasdim, expressed as "v'es Lote ben Horon .. va'yeitzu ITOM" (Breishis 11:31), and here, where it says "v'Lote IMO." We know that Lote was very drawn to wealth. He left the home of Avrohom to live in S'dom, which he thought would bring him riches (verse 11). Avrohom was poor when he descended to Egypt. He even had to borrow money to pay for his travel expenses. He came back a very rich man. At this point Lote traveled IMO, no longer ITO. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 14, v. 1,2: "Va'y'hi bi'mei Amrofel melech Shinor, Ossu milchomoh" - And it was in the days of Amrofel king of Shinor, They waged war - An understanding of why they waged war: Amrofel is Nimrod (Rashi on our verse). Shinor is another name for Babylonia. Why would they go to Canaan to wage war? Nimrod had a loyal following of people who rebelled against Hashem's authority, Nimrod = "me'red". Avrohom's teaching of the rule of a Higher Authority had made inroads. His hospitality centre drew many people and he convinced many people to drop Nimrod's false ideology and instead believe in Monotheism. More and more people divorced themselves of Nimrod's authority, even in Shinor. He decided to wage war against Avrohom. Once he had a sizeable army and made his way to Canaan, he waged war with all those in his path, attempting to conquer more lands. This is also why he had his sights set on Lote, Avrohom's nephew, capturing him and hoping to draw Avrohom into the fray. Lote's residing in S'dom was the cause for Amrofel's waging war with S'dom and Amoroh. (Mo'ore Ho'a'feiloh)
Ch. 14, v. 2: "U'melech Bela hee Tzo'ar" - And the king of Bela which is also called Tzo'ar - This is the translation according to Rashi. However, Targum Yonoson ben Uziel and Targum Yerushalmi both say that "bela" is a description of the nature of Tzo'ar. It swallows up its inhabitants.
Ch. 14, v. 3: "Kol ei'leh chovru el eimek Hasidim hu Yam Ha'melach" - All these joined in the valley of fields it is the salty sea - Rashi explains that this was once an area of fields but eventually the Yam Ha'melach flowed into it. Alternatively, Medrash Agodoh says that rocks which retained Yam Ha'melach split and it allowed for the water to flow into the valley.
Tosfos Hasho'leim asks how it was possible for five nations to assemble in such a limited narrow space as this valley. He answers that when K'dor'lo'omer gained mastery over these four nations he subjected them to extremely difficult work, to bore through a mountain that stood between Yam Ha'melach and Eimek Hasidim, with the intention to have the waters flow into the valley. (This seems to only make sense if we say that the appellation Yam Ha'melach is based on its becoming salty in the future, otherwise it would destroy the agricultural capacity in the valley. More on this in the next offering.) They did this for 13 years, but they rebelled in the 14th year. We are to translate "chovru" not as "and they joined," but rather, as "they dug," "chovru" = "chofru."
Ch. 14, v. 3: "Yam Ha'melach" - The sea of salt - If this is the Dead Sea, a result of what happened in the Jordan Valley along with the destruction of S'dom, it wasn't Yam Ha'melach yet. Rada"k offers that it was a valley NEAR a salty body of water. Alternatively, he says that it itself became Yam Hame'lach of the future.
Ralba"g says that in the valley there was a body of water that was salty and some of its water was drawn and salt was extracted from it.
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