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Friday, November 16

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeitzei

After Leah gives birth to 4 boys, Rachel, following a confrontation with Yaakov, gives over her maidservant to Yaakov so that he may produce children with her. She declares with utmost certainty, (30:3) "ve'ibaneh gam anochi mimenah," and I, too, will be built up through her. This statement is in noticeable contrast to Sarah's statement when she gives Hagar to Avraham. There, she states (16:2) "ulai ibaneh mimenah," perhaps I will be built up through her. 

 

There's a simple explanation for the different approaches taken by the imahos. Although the Torah states that Sarah was barren, without children, Avraham was equally childless. The exact cause of their childlessness was seemingly unknown. Had Avraham been the infertile one, giving him Hagar would not have helped.

 

When Manoach and his wife were childless before the birth of Shimshon (Shofetim 13), the midrash (Vayikra Rabba 9) recounts that there was a conflict between them as two who was responsible. That is why the angel appeared to her to tell her that she was the infertile one, but that they would soon have a child. We see from Sarah's handling of her situation that no such conflict existed between Avraham and Sarah. Sarah was perfectly ready to accept that she was the barren one and have Avraham reproduce through Hagar, albeit with that slight hint of uncertainty.

 

The situation with Yaakov and Rachel, of course, was completely different. Yaakov had already fathered four children with Leah. Rachel knew that she was barren and Yaakov was not. She had no reason to worry that Yaakov's union with Bilhah would not produce children and therefore, was certain that she would be built up through her.

 
Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Different Types of Kissing
Dikdukian: Come on, People - Part II
AstroTorah: Did Yaakov Leave the Solar System by R' Ari Storch
AstroTorah: Yaakov's Lesson on Zemanei HaYom by R' Ari Storch

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Friday, November 9

The Weekly Shtikle - Toledos

This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my rebbe and Rosh HaYeshivah of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Harav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l (Yaakov Moshe ben Refael Nissan Shlomo) whose 18th yahrtzeit is this coming Sunday, the 3rd of Kisleiv.  

When Eisav returns from his hunting escapades, he is so mortally fatigued that he was willing to give up his first-born rights for a simple bowl of lentils. After Yaakov and Eisav finally agree, the pasuk recounts (25:34) that Yaakov gave Eisav bread and lentil soup. Why did Yaakov give him bread? That was never part of the deal.

 

R' Ari Storch, in "Tif'eres Aryeh," offers a novel approach. This sale is altogether puzzling as the first born-rights have not yet come into existence, a davar shelo ba la'olam. According to Talmudic tradition, the sale of such an entity is not valid and it is as if it were never sold. How then did this sale even work?

 

The Tur deals with this issue and discusses many possible answers. He suggests one answer from his father, the Rosh. When a sale is accompanied by the taking of an oath, the oath validates that sale even if it is of a seemingly illegitimate nature such as this one. We see clearly that Yaakov added an oath to the sale which would have otherwise been considered unnecessary. 

 

From the gemara (Nedarim 28a) it appears that an oath which is taken by duress may be invalidated by contrary thoughts at the time of the oath. That is, if the oath taker was thinking at the time that he was only taking the oath to escape the situation of duress, that oath may be null and void. Eisav came back from his outing thinking he was about to die. He could certainly have claimed that the oath he made with Yaakov was simply made for his own survival, but he did not mean it. Yaakov therefore first fed him bread after which his life was no longer in jeopardy. Eisav then had no claim to invalidate the oath he took to affirm the sale of the first-born rights for the lentil soup.

 

 Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov. 


Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

Friday, November 2

The Weekly Shtikle - Chayei Sarah

This discussion is covered from a dikduk angle on Dikdukian. In Eliezer's prayer after discovering that he had happened upon Rivkah, he exclaims (24:27) "anochi baderech nachani HaShem, beis achei adoni." He blesses HaShem for having led him to the house of his master's brothers – brothers in plural. When recounting this prayer to Rivkah's family, he states (24:48) "lakachas es bas achi adoni," to take the daughter of my master's brother – brother in singular. Surely, great care needs to be taken to differentiate these two words when laining. But it is certainly puzzling that the words are changed even with respect to the very same prayer.

One reader humourously noted that Besuel is the son of Nachor, Avraham's brother, but also the son of Milka, the son of Haran, Avraham's other brother. So Rivka was both Avraham's niece and grandniece and descended from two of Avraham's brothers. However, this does not explain the change.

Another reader suggested, based on the above that the plural is certainly appropriate. This is only in the first verse where, in context, he is referring to beis, the house, which was indeed that of  both brothers. But in the second verse he is referring to Rivkah as the daughter of his master's brother. Here the plural simply wouldn't be appropriate.

I suggest, however, that Eliezer was perhaps adjusting his words for a very clever reason. When he embarked on his journey, he did not know where he would end up. If he were to successfully encounter Avraham's family, he wasn't even certain which of the brothers it would be. Perhaps we can understand the term beis achei adoni as the house of one of my master's brothers. However, this would not have been a very kind way of addressing the actual family from which he had chosen Yitzchak's wife. The implication to them would have been, "it could have been you, it could have been someone else." So when speaking to them he used the more specific, implying that this was the brother of his master he was seeking all along.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Different Forms of Yirash

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com



Friday, October 26

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeira

This week's shtikle is dedicated le'ilui nishmas my brother Efrayim Yechezkel ben Avi Mori Reuven Pinchas, a"h, whose 42nd yahrtzeit is tomorrow, the 18th of Cheshvan.

As well, this Tuesday, the 21st of Chesvan, is the 19th yahrtzeit of my great uncle, Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yisroel ben Yoel.

There are many distinct differences between Avraham's experience with Avimelech in Gerar and his experience with Paroah in Mitzrayim in last week's parsha. One can certainly assess the episode in Gerar as having a slightly more pleasant outcome. Rather than being kindly asked to leave as he was in Mitzrayim, Avraham ended up settling in Gerar. Rashi explains simply (12:19) that Paroah was looking out for Avraham's well-being and knew that his people were steeped in immorality. However, it would seem that the distinct actions of Avimelech and Paroah may also be explained by the character of the monarchs themselves. Both Paroah and Avimelech had their entire houses afflicted with a plague. However, when Paroah summons Avraham he exclaims, (12:18) "What is this that you have done to ME?!" Avimelech, on the other hand, approaches Avraham and ask him (20:9) "What have you done to US?!" Paroah was clearly a more selfish individual than Avimelech. Paroah cared only about himself whereas Avimelech showed concern for others.

 

Furthermore, we find that Avraham presented an alibi to Avimelech and said nothing to defend himself to Paroah. The reason for this seems to be that Paroah did not even give him a chance to answer. When Avimelech asks Avraham why he acted in the way that he did, he clearly wanted an answer and was ready to listen to one. Paroah was not interested in what Avraham might have had to say and did not let him speak. These factors, although not compelling, seem to indicate that Paroah's dismissal of Avraham was not out of Paroah's genuine concern for Avraham's well-being but more likely a sign of his short-temperedness.

 

Lastly, when Avraham makes a feast to celebrate the weaning of Yitzchak, Rashi writes (21:8) that he invited the gedolei hador, Sheim, Eiver and Avimelech. Avimelech must have been a respectable individual to be included in the same breath as Sheim and Eiver. Therefore, his good-natured approach to the confrontation with Avraham seems to be a reflection of his character.


Have a good Shabbos.


Eliezer Bulka

WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com


Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

AstroTorah: A Scratch on the Wall

AstroTorah: Witnesses to Sedom's Destruction

AstroTorah: The Mysterious Midrash by R' Ari Storch

AstroTorah: I Can't Believe it's not Fresh by R' Ari Storch

Dikdukian: Different Forms of Yirash

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

Friday, October 19

The Weekly Shtikle - Lech Lecha

After leaving Mitzrayim and returning to Eretz C'na'an, the shepherds of Lot and Avraham engage in a dispute as the land they were occupying was not vast enough to accommodate all of them. The pasuk recounts (13:7) that there was a riv between the shepherds. When Avraham attempts to settle the dispute with Lot, he beseeches him, "Al na sehi merivah beini uveinecha." Avraham uses the word merivah, rather than riv, to refer to the dispute. Malbim explains that riv refers to the actual act of dispute, while merivah refers to the factors that caused the dispute. Avraham was indicating to Lot the cause for the friction between the shepherds. The country was surely large enough for both of them to settle peacefully. However, this was only possible if they would separate. It was due to their brotherly relationship, being anashim achim, that they had chosen to travel together. But their togetherness was the root of their difficulties. Therefore, Avraham had to explain to Lot that it was time for them to split up.


SHEL"AH offers an interesting approach to the change in wording. He interprets merivah simply as the feminine form of riv. The female, as opposed to the male, is the species that produces offspring. A riv therefore symbolizes a minor disagreement, while merivah implies a festering dispute, with the potential to spawn a more serious altercation. Avraham was warning Lot, while the dispute was still in its minor stage of riv, that something must be done before it develops into something more grave.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: The Uncountable Stars

Dikdukian: King #5

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

Friday, October 12

The Weekly Shtikle - Noach

The first pasuk of this week's parsha declares Noach an ish tzaddik tamim, a man of complete righteousness. Later on, however, when HaShem is speaking with Noach, (7:1) He says to him "for I have seen you as righteous before me..." The word tamim is left out. Rashi teaches us from this discrepancy that one should only give partial praise of an individual in his presence. His complete praise may only be expressed when he is not present.

 

R' Chaim Kanievsky makes a simple, yet important clarification of this concept. One should not mistakenly understand this to mean that half the praise should be given in the presence of the praisee. If this were the case, the praisee need only multiply the praise by two to know what people really think of him. This would be the antithesis of what this practice is meant to accomplish. Rather, the term miktzas, partial, refers to any fraction. Therefore, when one hears his own praise he is not completely sure what to make of it. It could indeed be half of his praise in which case the full praise would be double. However, the praiser might very well be giving 99% of the man's praise. And so, he is unsure.

 

On that note, it occurred to me that Noach, although it is said that he learned Torah, never saw the finished product. Whatever is written in the Torah about him was without his knowledge. Moshe Rabbeinu, however, wrote the entire Torah. Anything that is written about him (perhaps with the exception of the last eight pesukim) was with his full awareness. Therefore, we must conclude that even the great praise of Moshe Rabbeinu that we find in the Torah is only a portion of the praise he is due.

 

However, this approach might be refuted by Rashi at the end of Beha'alosecha (Bemidbar 12:5.) He states that Aharon and Miriam were separated from Moshe to receive HaShem's rebuke in order that Moshe not be present to hear all of his praises. Yet, that rebuke is recorded in the Torah. The only way my theory survives is if we suggest that even what is recorded in the Torah is not the full extent of what HaShem said to Aharon and Miriam. 

 

***

 

On the lighter side (since, as illustrated below, the teiva was quite heavy): A good friend of mine and noted author, Mordechai Bodek, wrote a homourous book called Extracts From Noah's Diary. Every year since, I have forgotten to insert a plug for the book. This year (with his help,) I finally remembered.


Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: The Weight of the Teiva and The Constant Rate of Recession 
AstroTorah: Sailing the Friendly Skies by R' Ari Storch
AstroTorah: The World's First Boat?
Dikdukian: Noach's Three Sons

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

Friday, October 5

The Weekly Shtikle - Bereishis

This coming Sunday, 28 Tishrei, is the yahrtzeit of my dear friend, Daniel Scarowsky, z"l.

This week's shtikle is dedicated leiluy nishmaso, Daniel Moshe Eliyahu ben Yitzchak.

 

On the second day of creation, HaShem declares that there should be a firmament amidst the waters that shall divide between the waters. The next pasuk (7) describes that HaShem did so and ends with "vayhi chein," and it was so. Four other pesukim dealing with the creation end with the very same words. However, this one is decidedly different. The other four are pesukim dealing with a declaration of HaShem. The pasuk tells nothing of HaShem actually performing the said tasks. The words "vayhi chein" are therefore needed to inform that it was done. However, here the pasuk details the actual task as it was performed. Why then is it necessary to reiterate that it was so?

Or HaChayim answers simply that these words refer back to the previous pasuk. After detailing the performing of the steps of creation declared in the previous pasuk, it is evident that it was so.

However, Ramban and the GR"A suggest that this phrase is teaching us something extra. With regards to the firmament and the splitting of the waters, the seemingly superfluous "vayhi chein" is not teaching us that it was then but rather that so it was and so it will always be. This step of creation had a certain eternal permanence to it as indicated by these words.

Perhaps we can build upon the answer of the Or HaChayim which, at first, seemed overly simplistic. While this instance of "vayhi chein" is different, it is also the first of the five. Perhaps here it is acting as a paradigm. It is quite clear that everything HaShem declared to be done in pasuk 6 was in fact performed in pasuk 7 - no more, no less. This then becomes the definition of "vayhi chein." From here we understand that with every other step of creation, any time we see the words "vayhi chein," it carries with it the same precision and exactness as it did on day two. (Pasuk 11 and Rashi's commentary seem to contradict this approach. However, I did see an explanation from R' Ovadia miBartenura which would reconcile the two.)

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: And the Days Was
AstroTorah: The Two Luminaries

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com