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by Daneal Weiner
From the Orchards of Jerusalem
Welcome to the NEW and IMPROVED Orchards!!! How so? It has the words new AND improved!
This weeks we'll open with a little talk I heard from Rabbi. Akivah Homnick. Last week, Avraham Aveinu said to his 3 guests, "I'll bring you some bread and water," and he ran to Sarah and said "Hurry, make some cakes" and told the boy, "Hurry, get some water" and he hurried to slaughter 3 cows to offer each guest a tongue smothered in mustard sauce. The Gemorah Bava Metsia says we learn here that the way of a Tsaddik is to say a little and do a lot. In this weeks
we meet Efron the wicked (grandfather of Ivan the Terrible?). When Avraham Aveinu came to him, he was greeted with, "Avraham, Prince of G-d! Make yourself at home! What's mine is yours! Just ask and you can have it!" In the end Avraham Aveinu paid Efron, like, $4,000,000 for Chevron. The Gemorah says we see the way of the wicked is to say a lot and do a little.
It seems the simple understanding of the Gemorah is that one is expected to do a lot. Upon analysis it seems the holy words of our Sages are redundant!!! What does "do a lot" mean? That itself means doing more than is expected. So what is the emphasis of `Say a little and do a lot' if `do a lot' already says it all? What the Sages really want to get across is SAY A LITTLE!
G-d wants us to do. That is the point of this whole world. Do. Do mitsvot, do chesed. I was listening to a Shlomo Carlbach story of the holy hunchback who swept the streets of Tel Aviv. He was once a student of Rabbi Klonimus Kalman zt'l, before WWII. Shlomo begged the man for a word of Torah from his saintly Rabbi. The hunchback told him, "The Rebbe always said the greatest thing you can do in this world is a favor for another person." The Jewish `Just do it'. So the Tsaddik knows he has to do! And he also knows there is a G-d, and there is judgement and justice and the most powerful thing a human has is speech! The worst thing one can do in this world is abuse it!
Judaism categorizes 4 levels of existence. Inanimate, vegetable, animal, and `talkers'! That's how the Sages put it. The fact that we speak says it all. No pun intended! What's the point of speech? Communication. What's to communicate? Thought. What's thought? The closest thing we have to G-dliness. Our ability to think. "I think, therefore I am" is remarkably profound. I digress but this paints the picture, frames it, hangs it on the wall and shines spot lights on it. A Rabbi told me his wife is back in university and taking some research labs. The professor- you know the professors, the intellectual leaders of the enlightened world, the beacons of modern 21st century man- the professor said, "Rats will now be referred to as `non-human animals' and they are no longer `subjects' but `participants'." Scarey isn't it. We're human animals so the rat is a non-human animal. A scientist participates in an experiment...and a rat participates in an experiment. What difference is there? Maybe his daughter will bring one home? Could he possibly mind if its a white rat or a black rat? This professor is probably very sorry the rats can't talk because he could have tremendous, deep, philosophical conversations. If the rat is willing to talk slow enough. "You dirty non-human animal! You killed my brother!"
Getting back, the Tsaddik knows he will be accountable for everything he says and it's impact and the impact of not fulfilling what he says. The best thing to do is to say a little. Now days, it's probably even better to say nothing at all! Freedom of speech has been reduced to a few acceptable cliches. If you're not politically correct, no matter how correct you are, you have no right to talk.
What is it about the wicked who say a lot and do a little? All the talk soothes the conscience. It alleviates the necessity for action. "Yah, I know I shouldn't" gives the peace of mind to do again. Talk a good story, go home and take a nap. Take any board of directors. Boy can they talk. Do they get anything done??? (Just a joke! Relax!!!)
The opening of last weeks parsha- How did Avraham Aveinu know that in the middle of a prophecy he could say to G-d, "Just a minute please, there are some Arabs I have to tend to."? Because prophecy is in the mind. Tending to guests is an action. Avraham Aveinu knows action is where it's at.
The Alter of Slabodka said that in the bracha we make in the morning over learning Torah, "La'asok b'devrai Torah", to busy ourselves with words of Torah, the word `la'asok'- to busy ourselves, is from the root `esek'- business. We have to make the Torah our business. When a customer comes into your place of business you spring into action. You don't shlep. Learning means business!" The road to you know where is paved with good intention! Action is the way to the world to come!
And speaking of action, (smooooth, huh?) the theme throughout Breishis is "ma'asim Avos simin l'bonim." The actions of the fathers are a sign for the children." In this weeks parsha Avraham Aveinu buys a burial plot for Sarah. As Rav Wolfson puts it, The land of Israel is a gift from H' and yet Avraham Aveinu and King David go to lengths to purchase Chevron and the Temple Mount, respectively. This indicates a special attachment to these places. An extra measure of love and appreciation. What's the added attraction of each? Are they related?
In Chevron, Avraham Aveinu has his eye on Kiryat Arbah. Rashi says this place is named after the 4 giants who lived there and adds that it is also named after the 4 couples who are buried there in the cave, Ma'aras Hamachpelah; Adam & Chava, Avraham & Sarah, Yitshchak & Rivka, and Yaakov & Leah. How does Rashi give top bill to 4 giants over our holy ancestors??
In Gemorah Kiddushin we learn many customs of a wedding for the purpose of a simin tov, a good sign for the new couple. Getting married under the stars, which day of the week, when during the month, etc., all coming from various sources in the Torah. How about the kiddushin itself, the engagement? What's the source? The Gemorah says it's learned out from the purchasing of the Ma'aras Hamachpelah! This is a simin tov? The laws of kiddushin come from buying a grave site?!?!
In Parshas Vayetsai, coming soon, Yaakov Aveinu sees Rachel for the first time. He kisses her and then cries. Rashi says it's because they are not going to be buried together. How about crying because she dies so young? Because she leaves two young children behind? The Ramban says they were not buried together in the Ma'aras Hamachpelah because Yaakov was embarrassed in the eyes of his fathers for having married two sisters. How about being embarrassed in the eyes of H'? The Torah forbids marrying sisters! This was before the giving of the Torah but our forefathers lived by it.
There are two sides(?) to Torah. The revealed and the hidden. The Written Torah is obviously revealed. The Oral Torah contains infinite levels of the hidden, waiting to be revealed. This idea which is manifest in the Judaism in many ways.
In previous weeks we've said how the 600,000 Jewish souls comes from one of the 600,000 letters of Torah. But we see the Torah only reveals 300,000+ letters. Where are the rest? There are a few answers. Our point is that what the writings of the Sages tell is that Rachel's soul was sourced from the revealed while Leah's was from the hidden.
Ma'arsas Hamachpelah literally means `the doubled cave.' A cave in a cave. A cave is already a hiding place. A cave in a cave all the more so. Rachel was not to be buried in the Ma'aras Hamachpelah was because she was born from the revealed and there she returned. Her place is road side for all to come and visit, to pray. Later day Sages protested when Moses Montefueaueuorie (Montifurry?) began building the structure over her grave. Even that degree of coverage was too much. Leah's burial place, like her source, is hidden in the hidden. Where else is this idea of revealed and hidden? This is the relationship between Yerushalayim and Chevron.
Yerushalayim is the revealed. A hill top on which stood and will stand the Temple with 10 open miracles occurring every day for all to behold. The connection between Heaven and earth was revealed in Jerusalem. The hebrew for destruction, as in the destruction of the Temple, is `churban'. It's root shares the same letters as the root of chibehr because even in the destruction a connection was maintained. What can be destroyed? Only what is revealed. Where was the connection maitained? Chevron is from the root, `chibehr'- connection. It is the hidden connection between Heaven and earth.
Destruction is for the senses. A place that is hidden is not subject to destruction. The forefathers actually should have been buried on the Temple Mount but the churban then might have given the impression that the relationship between them and G-d was over. Therefore a special place had to be set up that was tantamount to the Temple Mount but indestructible. Now Rashi makes sense. Kiryat Arbah was named after 4 giants. The first response was regarding the revealed. Then he shared the hidden. Its also named after 4 couples burried there.
4 elements make up our world; fire, wind, water and earth. Our bris milah, circumcision, is referred by the Sages as a Bris Aish- covenant of fire. 2 weeks back, Avraham circumcised his entire household. His son Yishmael was 13 at the time. Since then the Arabs have also done bris milah at that age. On a revealed/superficial level, it seems more credit should go to one who lets himself be circumcised at 13 years old then at 8 days. It's probably true! But Avraham's descendants through Ya'akov received the true Bris Aish. The Arabs go through the motions. Their is an empty covenant.
G-d, we know is a just G-d and He rewards everyone, measure for measure. The Arabs earned reward for their participation on an `empty' level. G-d gave them control over Israel in THIS world. This transitory, empty (compared to what's coming) world. When we get Israel back it will be the real thing. L'netsach netsachim. Forever! The Arab's measure of reward is running out. Furthermore, our Russian brothers who are now being circumcised at all ages are bringing tremendous merit to the Jewish people. The likes of which we NEVER had before!
When Hagar ran from Sarah's punishment G-d said, "Go back and take it because you will have a son who will become a great nation." He blessed Yishmael saying, "His hand will be in everything and every hand will be by him." G-d fulfilled His promise and likewise pays back the Arabs for their empty Bris Aish by giving them control of the oil as well. Exactly like the Torah says, their hand in everything and every hand by them!
When Yoseph was sold by the brothers into slavery the Torah tells us the Yishmaelites who brought him to Egypt were carrying spices. Rashi asks, what do we care what they were selling? He answers, because the Torah reveals to us how G-d takes care of His righteous ones in every way. Rashi completes the picture, Yishmaelim would usually be carrying...tar and petroleum!
Yerushalayim has an aspect of Aish to it. This is why the two Temples were destroyed with fire. It is handed down that the third Temple will be built with `black fire on white fire'. Of the 4 mentioned elements, fire is the easiest to terminate. Maybe the only which can be. How do you stop wind or water? And dirt? In turn the Temples were not indestructible. What about the third? Maybe that's an idea behing the Sages saying it will be built from fire. Fire can not destroy fire. What is the most indestructible of the 4 elements? Dirt. Probably alot of that in a cave within a cave. And purchased from Efron. The root of his name is `efer'- dirt.
In Megila Esther, we say that whenever the word 'king' appears without Ahchashveirosh's name, it could be read as referring to the King of kings. Haman came into the outer courtyard of the King to ask for permission to destroy the Jews. In the outer, revealed courtyards the enemy is able to enter. The inner courtyards, what is hidden, there they'll never touch.
We have to connect back our opening words. Action. `Ma'asim avot simin l'banim.' The actions of the fathers are not just a sign but an indication of events for the children. Avraham Aveinu was not just looking to get `hold' of a gravesite. He wanted to make an eternal connection and not just between him and G-d!
Avraham Aveinu and Sarah were the first Jews to ever get married. Every action of man creates an action in heaven. The greater the man the greater the counterpart action. When Avraham Aveinu married Sarah, G-d decided, so to speak, He would marry the Jewish people. King Solomon's Shir Hashirim describes the relationship. H' as the groom and Israel as the bride. A match made in heaven! Avraham Aveinu was insuring by his actions that a spouse is not just a spouse in this temporal world but with the same indestructable eternity as the Ma'aras Hamachpelah. This relationship he instituted with his wife is the relationship he instituted for H' and us.
A Jewish marriage has 2 parts. The kiddushin and the nesuim. The engagement and the chupah. The engagement is the revealed. Parties, showers, announcements! The chupah is the hidden after which the bride and groom retreat to the inner chambers of their home were they connect. In the parsha we have this long built up episode which describes the engagement of Yitschak to Divka, through Eliezer. Can't wait to see the wedding! Where'd it go? Yitschal takes Rivka in the tent, end of story! The engagement is for the bodies. The marriage is for the souls. G-d also let Avraham ensure that even if a husband and wife divorce, r'l, their souls are forever bound. Even though the destruction of the Temples seemed like H' divorced us, H' and we are forever bound.
Yaakov kissed Rachel and cried because he saw he would not be buried with her. She was his soul mate, but he was to be eternally bound with his first wife, Leah. Now we might be able to say for the Ramban that Yaakov was embarrassed in front of his fathers because he let Lavan trick him into marrying Leah. He was not embarrassed in front of H' because he HAD to marry Rachel for the sake of giving birth to all Bnei Yisrael.
It is very fitting that the Gemorah Kiddushin opens with the purchase of the gravesite of Sarah. When a Jew gives a wife a ring it's to buy into the Ma'aras Hamachpelah. It's to to be with her in this world and the next. We want the relationship to be as Avraham Aveinu established it, like the relationship between H' and us. And right after the Torah defines for us what a Jewish marriage is, by the actions of Avraham Aveinu, it then went right into the story of a Jewish marriage, Yitschak and Rivka.
I know I raised many deep ideas that could not fully be discussed. Rats! Rav Wolfson has 7 pages on this parsha. I tried to present the bulk of the ideas. Maybe more clear on less would have been better. Hopefully you enjoyed it non-the-less.
If you want some real enjoyment and another way to connect to eternity, have yourself an all out and heart felt Shabbot Shalom.
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