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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 12, v. 2: "V'e'es'cho l'goy godol" - And I will make you into a great nation - Meseches Sofrim (21:9) says that the great man among the giants is Avrohom, whose eating and drinking outweighed that of 74 men. This surely needs clarification.

The GR"A explains that the "eating and drinking" refers to spiritual comprehension, as we find in Shmos 24:9, "Moshe, Aharon, Nodov, Avihu, and seventy elders of the nation of Yisroel ascended, ...... and they gazed upon the Spirit of Hashem, and they ATE AND DRANK." We find that 74 men ascended the mountain as listed in this verse. The Meseches Sofrim tells us that Avrohom's eating and drinking, spiritual comprehension, was greater than that of all the 74 people combined.

The Imrei Emes explains that this refers to the 74 people mentioned after Noach in the Torah, until Avrom is mentioned. All the people in between did not accomplish their potential, and only through the great patience of Hashem was the world able to continue its existence, until Avrohom came along, and received the reward of all these people, as stated in Pirkei Ovos 5:3. His receiving the reward of these 74 people is the meaning of Avrohom's eating and drinking outweighing that of 74 men.

Ch. 12, v. 5: "Va'yikach Avrom ...... va'yeitzu lo'leches artzoh Canaan va'yovo'u artzoh Canoan" - And Avrom took and they left to go to the land Canaan and they came to Canaan - 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. 13: "Imri noh achosi ot" - Please say that you are my sister - The Medrash Plioh, a compilation of astounding statements, says that this statement made by Avrom 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 Avrom 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. 13: "Vayovo hapolit va'ya'geid l'Avrom HO'IVRI" - And the refugee came and he related to Avrom the Ivri - Rashi says that Avrom was called an IVRI, which comes from the root word EIVER, a side. Avrom, who recognized that there was Hashem Who created the world and to Whom we are responsible, was on one side, while those who denied the existence of Hashem stood on the other side. Since Avrohom is mentioned in the Torah so many times, why is it that in this verse, and this verse only, is he given the appellation IVRI?

Rashi tells us (M.R. 42:8) that Og came to tell Avrom that his nephew Lote was captured. He expected Avrom to enter the war and hopefully be killed. This would free up Soroh to become Og's wife. An obvious question arises. Why should Og think that Avrom would risk his life to enter a war in which four powerful kings' forces overpowered those of five kings' forces? Since this action is fraught with the danger of losing his own life, why should Avrom with a pitifully small force enter the fray? However, since Avrom had the character trait of IVRI, that he was willing to oppose the whole world, Og felt that this would carry through as well in Avrom's readiness to oppose overwhelming forces in an attempt to retrieve his nephew. (The Holy Admor of Satmar zt"l)

Ch. 14, v. 18: "U'Malki Tzedek melech Sholeim" - And Malki Tzedek king of Sholeim - The story of the war of kings is recounted in this chapter, beginning with 14:1 up to this verse. The story continues again from verse 21 until its end in verse 24. Why is the meeting with Malki Tzedek interposed here?

1) Avrom said that he would not accept the spoils of war, not even a thread or a shoe lace, except to cover the expenses of his youths and the men who accompanied him, Onair, Eshkol , and Mamrei (v. 23,24). How then would Avrom survive? The verse therefore tells us that he received food from Malki Tzedek. (Rashbam and Chizkuni)

2) Only after the king of Sdom saw that Avrom was generous by giving Malki Tzedek a tenth of his spoils, did the king of Sdom have the audacity to ask for the live spoils. (Tzrore Hamore)

3) The Torah wanted to contrast the kindness of Malki Tzedek with the evil character of the king of Sdom. Malki Tzedek derived no benefit from Avrom, and yet he greeted him with a priestly blessing, food, and drink. The king of Sdom, by contrast, benefitted from Avrom who saved his life in this war, and in spite of this, not only didn't greet Avrom with a befitting extravagant gift of appreciation, but rather, even asked for the major part of the spoils that Avrom captured, all live spoils, people and animals. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

4) Had the king of Sdom not seen that Avrom gave Malki Tzedek a tenth of the spoils of inanimate objects, which indicates that Avrom considered them his own by virtue of the ruling that a person may only tithe that which is his, he would have had the chutzpoh of chutzpos to ask for all the spoils, even the inanimate objects. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

5) In a complimentary vein - Since Avrohom fulfilled the dictates of the Torah and even of Rabbinical decrees before they were enacted (M.R. 95:3 and gemara Yoma 28b), he would not have eaten bread baked by the household of the king of Sdom, as the Rabbis prohibited eating "pas aku"m." Similarly, he would also not drink the wine of the king of Sdom because of the Rabbinical decree against "stam yeinom." The king of Sdom, therefore had Malki Tzedek, a righteous priest whose food would not present these restrictions to Avrom, present these particular items to him. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

6) In verse 22 we find Avrom vowing with the expression "Keil Elyone." By relating the meeting with Malki Tzedek, the Torah informs us that he learned this expression from Malki Tzedek (v. 20). (Haa'meik Dovor)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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