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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 18, v. 20: "Zaakas Sdom va'Amoroh ki raboh" - The Prophet Yechezkel writes (16:49) "Hi'nei zeh hoyoh avone Sdom ...... v'yad oni v'evione lo hechezikoh," - The sin of Sdom was that it did not give support to the poor and destitute. Why was Sdom destroyed for lack of compassion to the plight of the poor if that is not even one of the seven Noachite commandments? Rabbi Elchonon Bunim Wasserman Hy"d answers with the words of Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal who writes in Shaa'rei Kedushoh that the reason the Torah does not overtly write a prohibition against having bad character traits is that it is self-understood that the mitzvos of the Torah cannot be properly fulfilled by one who has bad character traits. Even without the Torah specifically stating so, one must attempt to improve upon his character. This is true not only for bnei Yisroel but also for bnei Noach. We see from this verse in Yechezkel that not only is one responsible to do this, but is even held accountable to the point of suffering total destruction, as was the punishment for the brutal people of Sdom.

Ch. 18, v. 31: "Ho'alti" - Rashi tells us the translation of this word. I do not know why Rashi did not do this earlier in verse 27 instead, where the exact same word "ho'alti" appears.

Ch. 21, v. 27: "Va'yich'r'su shneihem bris" - Avrohom made a covenant with Avimelech. The Rashbam (22:1) says that Avrohom acted improperly by making a pact with Avimelech and was punished by being given the painful test of sacrificing his son Yitzchok.

The Holy Rebbe R' Simchoh Bunim of Parshizcha once ordered a wagon driver to immediately take him to Warsaw. He was directed to a bar. The Holy Rebbe R' Bunim alighted and entered the drinking establishment to find two Yidden sitting there who seemingly had given the proprietor much business. In a state of stupor one asked the other, "How could Avrohom have made a covenant with the non-Jew Avimelech?" His partner in inebriation responded that he too had a question on this verse. "Why is it necessary to say the word "shneihem" since it is obvious that the verse is discussing only Avrohom and Avimelech?" He continued by saying that an answer to the second question would answer the first question as well. The verse is telling us that although Avrohom made a pact with Avimelech, he remained distanced from him, "shneihem." They remained two separate entities and the treaty brought about no closeness of emotion. The Holy Rebbe R' Bunim left the drinking establishment and headed home, saying that the whole purpose of his trip was to hear this insight.

Ch. 22, v. 2: "Kach noh es bincho" - How old was Yitzchok at the time of the Akeidoh?

1) 37 years old (Seder Olom, M.R.)
2) 36 years old (Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on 22:1)
3) 5 years old (Opinion mentioned in the Ibn Ezra, seemingly the opinion of the Rambam as mentioned in the writings of his son Rabbi Avrohom)
4) under 13 years old (Ibn Ezra's own opinion)

Ch. 22, v. 4: "Va'yar es haMOKOM mei'rochoke" - The Medrash Tanchumoh at the end of chapter 22 says that when Avrohom came to the designated place he did not see a mountain, but rather a valley. This is why the verse says that he saw a "mokom" and not a "har." Knowing that in the future the Temple would be built upon this location, Avrohom prayed that for the honour of Hashem it should change into an elevation, a mountain. Hashem then commanded the mountains surrounding the valley to combine and become a mountain in the location of the valley, and they complied. This is why the Temple Mount is also called "Har Hamorioh," the mountain of fear, since the mountains surrounding this area did Hashem's bidding to create the temple Mount out of fear of Hashem.

The gemara Avodoh Zoroh 45a says in the name of Rabbi Akiva that there is not a land elevation in Eretz Yisroel that did not have an idol placed upon it. Tosfos d.h. "Kol mokome" says that the gemara Yerushalmi asks, "How then was the Beis Hamikdosh built on the Temple Mount since it was used for idol worship, thus invalidating it for being the location of the Temple?" Tosfos says that the Yerushalmi answers that the location was disclosed through a prophet and obviously was never used for that purpose.

Even though this same gemara derives from Dvorim 12:2 "al hehorim eloheihem" that their gods are on mountains, but the mountains themselves cannot become their gods, i.e. even if a section of earth, mountain, etc. is deified, this does not give it a status of an idol and thus does not bring about a prohibition against deriving benefit from it, nevertheless, this is only regarding people's personal use, but it is still rendered unfit for use for a Sanctuary. (Proshas Drochim)

The Chasam Sofer in his responsa O.Ch. #208 writes in the name of his teacher Rabbi Noson Adler that since the Temple Mount was a valley until the Akeidoh, no one placed an idol on that location. Once Avrohom came to sacrifice Yitzchok and it became a mountain, Avrohom was given ownership of the land of Canaan. Thus, even if one were to place an idol on Mount Morioh it would not be detrimental to its status, as per the rule, "Ein odom o'seir dovor she'eino shelo" (P'sochim 90a, Y'vomos 83b, K'subos 59a, Avodoh Zoroh 54b, Z'vochim 114a, Chulin 40b), a person cannot create a prohibition upon something that does not belong to him. This is the intention of King Dovid in T'hilim 132:4,5, "If I will I give sleep to my eyes ......, Until I find MOKOM for Hashem, sanctuaries for the mighty of Yaakov." Dovid was in search of the proper site for the Beis Hamikdosh and knew that all elevated places had been used for idol worship. He was looking for a MOKOM, a non-elevated place, where no idol was ever placed, and not a mountain. Yet he knew that it was only appropriate to build the Beis Hamikdosh on a height as mentioned above from the Medrash Tanchumoh. His prayers were answered and the prophet told him the location where Avrohom brought Yitzchok as a sacrifice, which was a MOKOM and had turned into a mountain.

It seems from the words of Rabbi Noson Adler that the point made by the Proshas Drochim mentioned above does not apply to personal property of one person misused by another, and it would not be negated even for use as the communal Sanctuary.

Ch. 22, v. 12: "Mi'menI" - Shouldn't it say MI'MENU, from Hashem, since the angel is speaking? The Medrash Tanchumoh says that this one word was Hashem talking, and we split the verse, the angel speaking until now and this last word was said by Hashem. Perhaps it was necessary for Avrohom to actually hear something directly from Hashem or otherwise he might have assumed that the message to not slaughter Yitzchok was just another ploy of the soton to stop him from fulfilling Hashem's wish, as we find in the M.R. that the soton made many attempts to stop Avrohom.

The GR"A answers that the angel said the word MI'MENI. The angel just said that he now knew that Avrohom was a truly G-d-fearing person, "atoh yodati ki y'rei Elokim atoh." How did he know the level of Avrohom's "yiras Elokim?" The answer is MI'MENI, "from myself." This angel was created through the merit of Avrohom's doing the bidding of Hashem to bring Yitzchok as a sacrifice, as Pirkei Ovos 4:13 states, that doing a mitzvoh creates an advocate, an angel of defence. Since this angel was of such great stature, it realized that it was created only through Avrohom's doing Hashem's bidding with great

"yiras Elokim."

Ch. 22, v. 15: "Min hashomoyim" - Why from heaven? The Baal Haturim (Medrash Tanchumoh) says that had the angel waited to command Avrohom to not slaughter his son only upon appearing in front of him, during the time it would have taken to reach Avrohom the slaughtering of Yitzchok would have been a fait accompli. I don't understand this because the angel could have been dispatched earlier.

The Meshech Chochmoh answers that the angel was unable to appear in front of Avrohom by virtue of an halachic consideration. The M.R. 56:3 says that when Avrohom was attempting to sacrifice his son Yitzchok he had the status of a Kohein Godol. The Akeidoh took place on Yom Kippur according to the Yalkut Reuveini (This disagrees with the Psikta Rabosi 41:6 which says that it took place on Rosh Hashonoh, and also disagrees with the M.R. Shmos 15:15 which says that it took place during the month of Nison.), and as well it took place on the future Temple Mount at the location of the Holy of Holies. He says that sacrificing Yitzchok was equivalent to offering the incense in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. When the Kohein Godol offers the incense on Yom Kippur no one is allowed to be with him, not even an angel, as mentioned in the gemara Yerushalmi Yoma chapter one. Hence the angel was only able to speak to him from a distance.

A minor point might be added to the words of the Meshech Chochmoh. The Torah requires that a cloud be present upon the offering of the incense on Yom Kippur, "ki be'onon eiro'eh al hakaporres" (Vayikroh 16:2). The M.R. Breishis 56:1 says that when Avrohom came to the designated mountain he saw a cloud above the mountain. Besides being a sign that this was the mountain Hashem chose, it might also have served the purpose of "ki be'onon." The Meshech Chochmoh mentions a similar concept in parshas Acharei regarding the clouds of glory.

Why did the M.R. find it necessary to say that Avrohom had the status of a Kohein GODOL? Would it not have been sufficient to be a regular Kohein? I heard that he had to be a Kohein Godol so that when he would have completed slaughtering his son Yitzchok he would halachically be allowed to proceed with the next stages of the sacrifice process, "kaboloh, halichoh, u'z'rikoh." Had he been a regular Kohein he would have become disqualified by becoming an "o'non," a bereaved person. However, a Kohein Godol does not become disqualified by bereavement (Vayikroh 21:12).

Last week's question:

Ch. 17, v. 1: "Ve'h'yei somim" - The M.R. 30:8 says that whoever has the term "tomim" expressed by him lives out 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: The Rokei'ach at the end of parshas Breishis asks this question and brings an answer in the name of Rabbi Mordechai ha'Tzrofosi. He says that we only calculate Noach's years only after the mabul, 350, which are divisible by seven. This seems to be a bit problematic since in fact Noach lived 950 years in total, so why not calculate all the years of his life. Perhaps an insight from the Mahari"l Diskin into two verse in parshas Noach makes this very understandable.

< The Mahari"l Diskin answers that the title "tzadik" applies to one who conquers his lusts, as seen by Yosef Ha'tzadik who was given this appellation when he mastered over his inclinations in the incident with Potiphera's wife. The title "tomim" applies to one who is strong in his belief in Hashem, and fights against false gods, as we find in Dvorim 18:13, "Tomim t'h'yeh im Hashem Elokecho." The Dor Hamabul (generation of the great deluge) sinned greatly in the areas of theft, murder and immorality, all lusts, but not denial of Hashem. Noach was saved during the Dor Hamabul by virtue of his innocence in these areas. Therefore in 7:1, where Hashem is explaining to Noach why he merited being saved, the word TZADIK is appropriate. However, 6:9 is an overview of Noach's whole life and tells us Noach's greatness in relation to the many generations in which he lived. Noach lived for 350 years after the mabul, which included the Dor Haflogoh, whose sin was not accepting Hashem's authority. The words "tzadik tomim hoyoh b'dorosov" encapsulate Noach's whole life. He was a TZADIK in relation to the Dor Hamabul and a TOMIM in relation to the Dor Haflogoh, hence the word B'DOROSOV in plural, during two different generations. Contrast this with "Ki os'cho ro'isi tzadik l'fonai baDOR HA'ZEH," in relation to this generation, in the SINGULAR, where he was saved by virtue of being a tzadik.

We see from this insight that Noach deserved the title TOMIM only in regard to the generation after the mabul. All 175 years of Avrohom's life was a battle against denial of Hashem, hence his years were a multiple of seven. Likewise the 350 years after the great deluge were the years during which Noach fought against non-believers in Hashem. These were his TOMIM years, also divisible by seven.



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