CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS LECH L'CHO 5772 - BS"D
1) Ch. 12, v. 2: "V'e'es'cho l'goy godol" - 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.
2) Ch. 13, v. 7,8: "Va'y'hi RIV, al noh t'hi M'RIVOH" - Why does verse 7 use the term RIV, the male form for an argument, and verse 8 use the term M'RIVOH, the female form for an argument?
3) Ch.14, v. 13: "Vayovo hapolit va'ya'geid l'Avrom HO'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?
4) Ch. 14, v. 18: "U'Malki Tzedek melech 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?
5) Ch. 14, v. 18: "Lechem vo'yoyin" - Rashi says (M.R. 43:6) that by offering Avrom bread and wine, Malki Tzedek alluded to the flour-offerings and wine libations that Avrom's descendants would sacrifice to Hashem there (in Jerusalem). Since there are numerous other items offered as sacrifices, why did he specifically allude to these items only?
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.
The ShaLoH Hakodosh answers that the male form indicates a small fight, just as a male does not give birth. Verse 7 says that there was only a limited argument between Avrom's and Lote's shepherds. In verse 8 Avrom tells Lote, "Let there not develop a large disagreement, M'RIVOH, in the female form, as a female gives birth and the family grows, between us. Let us nip it in the bud while it is still only a RIV.
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)
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)
Rabbi Yitzchok Zev haLevi Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rov, answers that the gemara M'nochos 73b says that Rabbi Akiva is of the opinion that a non-Jew may not offer flour-offerings or libations on their own. They may only be offered when in conjunction with a slaughtered offering. As weel there is an opinion in the gemara Z'vochim 111a that no libations were offered on a private altar and on 113a the mishneh says in the name of Rabbi Yehudoh that no flour offerings were allowed on an altar. Only in the Beis Hamikdosh which was built in Jerusalem were flour offerings brought.
We now understand why specifically these two items were highlighted. They are the two items which only the bnei Yisroel could offer as a sacrifice on its own and only in Jerusalem, the city ib which Malki Tzedek was the high-priest. This is the intention of Rashi when he says "al ham'nochos v'al hansochim she'yakrivu SHOM," specifically in Jerusalem, "BONOV," specifically Avrom's descendants.
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