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Friday, December 2

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeitzei

The Torah recounts (29:32) that Leah named her first child Reuvein because HaShem saw (ra'ah) her affliction, for now her husband will love her. However, the gemara (Berachos 7b), quoted by Rashi, suggests and alternate explanation of Reuvein's name: "See (re'u) the difference between (bein, or maybe it's bein as in son, not sure) my son and my father-in-law's son (Eisav) who sold the rights of the firstborn to his brother (yet hated him for it later) whereas my son (Reuvein) had his firstborn rights given to Yoseif against his will and still made no objection. Not only did he make no objection, but he tried to save him from the pit." The gemara does not suggest an alternate rationale for the names of any of the other sons of Yaakov. This puzzling comment regarding Reuvein's name is therefore the subject of much discussion.

 

The GR"A and Maharsh"a suggest possible motivations behind the gemara's contention that the pasuk was not sufficient in explaining Reuvein's name. The GR"A writes that with all the other sons, the reason for the name is stated before the actual name. For instance (29:35) "This time I shall give thanks to HaShem. Therefore, she called his name Yehudah." Reuvein is the only child for whom the reason is given after the name. Therefore, Chazal felt that there must be an additional, unmentioned reason why he was given that name.

 

Maharsh"a writes that the rationale recorded in the pasuk accounts for the re'u part of the name but not for bein. Due to this inadequacy, Chazal felt that there must be an additional reason behind Reuvein's name which justified both parts of his name. He explains further that the explanation given by the gemara was not a conscious thought in Leah's mind but rather a Divine inspiration based on future events of which she was unaware. The explanation she expressed consciously was that which was recorded in the Torah.

 

Although these explanations justify the need for an additional reasoning behind Reuvein's name, they fail to reconcile the two. It still remains to be seen why there were two reasons and how they fit together, if at all. P'nei Yehoshua offers a novel interpretation which brings the pasuk and the gemara together. According to the gemara (Bava Basra 123a) Leah, being Lavan's eldest daughter, was destined to marry Yitzchak's eldest son, Eisav. When she learned of Eisav's wicked nature, she cried until her eyelashes fell out. The explication of Reuvein's name in the gemara was used by Leah to show Yaakov that since her son was the diametric opposite of Eisav, it is clear that she was destined to marry him and not Eisav. When Leah said, as chronicled in the pasuk, that now she will be loved by her husband, she was not referring merely to the fact that she gave birth. The future was still unclear. Rachel might have gone on to give birth to many more children than Leah. Rather, Leah was referring to the thoughts expressed by the gemara. Because of Reuvein's name and the symbolism behind it indicating Leah's worthiness as Yaakov's mate, her husband would now surely love her. The pasuk and the gemara together form a compound explanation of Reuvein's name and the reason given in the gemara is not an alternative to that of the pasuk but rather an elucidation thereof.

 

Have a good Shabbos.


Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Wordsthatsticktogether

Dikdukian: From his Sleep

Dikdukian: Complete it

Dikdukian: Qualification of the AHOY rule

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


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

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Friday, November 25

Re: The Weekly Shtikle - Toledos

ADDENDUM:
Sorry, I meant to send this out with the original email: I couldn't resist the irony when I heard this week of a recent study examining how picky eaters react to foods in different-coloured containers. Participants in the study actually perceived different levels of saltiness and other characteristics of snacks depending on the colour of the bowl even though the snacks were actually identical. They actually found the red bowl to be least desirable. To quote one article referencing the study: "Red is often seen as the color of passion — whether it's love, anger, war or courage — but such a strong association could deter individuals from the punchy hue altogether."
Here is the original study.

On Fri, Nov 25, 2022 at 3:08 PM Weekly Shtikle <weeklyshtikle@weeklyshtikle.com> wrote:

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 22nd 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, which was recently covered by daf yomi) 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:

Dikdukian: (From the) The Fats of the Land

Dikdukian: Be'er Sheva / Shava

Dikdukian: I will eat, You will eat


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

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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 22nd 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, which was recently covered by daf yomi) 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:

Dikdukian: (From the) The Fats of the Land

Dikdukian: Be'er Sheva / Shava

Dikdukian: I will eat, You will eat


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

 

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Friday, November 18

The Weekly Shtikle - Chayei Sarah

Before Rivkah's family sees her off, they give her a blessing. The blessing concludes with the words (24:60) "veyirash zar'eich eis sha'ar son'av," and your progeny shall seize the gates of those who hate them. This phrase is quite similar to that found in the berachah given to Avraham by HaShem following the akeida, (22:17) "veyirash zar'acha eis sha'ar oyevav," and your progeny shall seize the gates of their enemies.

 

The obvious difference is the use of the word oyevav with Avraham as compared with son'av with Rivkah. But before attempting to explain the difference between the two, it is quite interesting to note that Onkelos translates both words exactly the same - san'eihon.

 

To better understand the difference between the words, it is best to observe them side by side as we do in Shemos (23:4-5.) We are commanded to return the ox of one's oyeiv if we happen upon it and it appears to be lost. If one encounters a donkey belonging to his sonei crouching beneath its burden, he is commanded to lend a hand and help unload the burden.

 

It would seem the defining difference between these two cases is that when you find someone's lost ox, you are not coming in direct contact with the individual initially, just the ox. When you aid in the unloading of the burden, however, you are doing so together with the owner. It would follow, therefore, that hatred is something felt up close while enmity is felt even from a distance. Perhaps this suggests that the berachah given to Avraham was greater and farther reaching than that given to Rivkah as it included the demise of even the distant enemies.

 

[Interestingly, even in the above passages from Shemos, Onkelos once again uses the exact same word to translate both oyeiv and sonei.]

 

Netziv, in Ha'amek Davar, explains further that an oyeiv refers to a feeling felt in the heart whereas sin'ah is when that hatred is carried out into action. Thus, HaShem refers to enemies in his blessing to Avraham as only He truly knows what lies in the hearts of others. On a human level, we can only be aware of the son'im.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Different Forms of Yirash

Dikdukian: My Master's Brother(s)

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

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Friday, November 11

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeira

This week's shtikle is dedicated le'ilui nishmas my brother Efrayim Yechezkel ben Avi Mori Reuven Pinchas, whose 46th yahrtzeit is Shabbos, the 18th of Cheshvan.

As well, this Tuesday, the 21st of Chesvan, is the 23rd yahrtzeit of my great uncle, Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yisroel ben Yoel.

As the evil city of Sedom is destroyed, Lot and his family are escaping the mayhem when his wife disobeys her orders and looks back at the carnage. She is instantly turned (19:26) into a pillar of salt.

Why salt? David Farkas offered the following explanation in HaDoresh veHamevakesh, in the name of R' Moshe Eisemann of Ner Yisroel.

The reason why salt was chosen, is because salt is a retardant, used to curtail growth. Marauding armies would thus sow their enemy's lands with salt to prevent it from being farmed, and even today we use it for pickling, to prevent the growth of decay. The reason why Lot and his family were commanded not to look behind them is because they had become part of the Sedom culture. It was only in the merit of Avraham that they were saved. For their own merit, they needed to show that fleeing the city was a complete divorce from that evil society. They needed to move on and to grow to become new people. If they were to look back, it would show that they simply were not ready to leave their previous life. When Lot's wife looked back, she showed just that. She was unable to grow. As the saying would go, "You could take Lot's wife out of Sedom, but you just couldn't take the Sedom out of Lot's wife." This was most accurately symbolized by her transformation into a pillar of salt.

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: Lot's Twilight Escape by R' Ari Storch

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

Dikdukian: Different Forms of Yirash

Dikdukian: Be'er Shava



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Friday, November 4

The Weekly Shtikle - Lech Lecha

This week's parsha features the epic battle between the short-handed four kings, Amrafel, Aryoch, Kedarla'omer and Tid'al and the five kings, Bera, Birsha, Shin'av, Sem'ever and... wait, was the name of the fifth king?  When the five kings are mentioned, the last is "melech Bella, hee Tzo'ar." Rashi explains that the city of Bella was also known as Tzo'ar. The pasuk could not be naming Tzo'ar as the king of Bella because of the feminine "hee." If Tzo'ar were the name of the king of Bella, it would have read "melech Bella, hu Tzo'ar." So, what was his name and why is it left out?

 

A number of answers are suggested. Ramban states that Bella was a small city and so its king was left anonymous due to his relative insignificance. Sha'arei Aharon points out that the names of the four other kings are apparently nicknames alluding to each one's wickedness, as Rashi thoroughly explains. From the story of the destruction of Sedom in next week's parsha we learn that Tzo'ar was the least wicked of the five wicked cities slated for destruction. Thus, the king's name is left out due to his relatively insignificant wickedness.

 

Surprisingly, however, Chomas Anach and Sefer HaYashar actually write that the name of the king was Bella. I am not sure how the grammar of the pasuk works and why this king is differently introduced than the others but this is the only offering we have as to the actual name of the king.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: King #5

Dikdukian: Vekoyei

AstroTorah: Quality not Quantity by R' Ari Storch

AstroTorah: The Uncountable Stars

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Friday, October 28

The Weekly Shtikle - Noach

On Rosh HaShanah, as part of the mussaf liturgy, we recall the story of the great deluge as the first textual reference for the section detailing zichronos, remembrances. While the rest of the world was worthy of destruction, HaShem remembered, as it were, Noach and the animals and saved them. Many commentaries are quick to point out that the concept of remembering, as we know it, involves something having previously been forgotten. This certainly cannot be the understanding of Divine remembrance. Rather, the term is merely an anthropomorphism, speaking in a language that is familiar to the ear. Shaarei Aharon exposes a fascinating nuance in Targum Onkelos from the sefer Passhegen that illustrates this point. Any time Divine zechirah is mentioned, although the Torah text uses past or present tense, the targum is always dachir which is a present tense form of the word, as HaShem's "recollection" is ever-present. Consider our parsha (8:1), "vayizkor" (past) and (Vayikra 26:42) "ezkor" (future) as examples. Conversely, human remembering will take on its proper tense in Onkelos, such as when Yosef recalled his dreams (42:9), "vayizkor" rendered by accurate versions of Onkelos as ve'idkar

There is another intriguing to this pasuk recounting HaShem's remembering of Noach. I can't speak for everyone but I would generally associate the remembering of Noach with his being saved from the initial destruction of the world. However, this pasuk is actually related to the calming of the waters, 150 days after the beginning of the flood. Why is the place to recount the remembering of Noach?

The Midrash (33:3) explains that the remembrance of Noach and the animals refers to Noach's caring for the animals in the teiva. Additionally, Radak notes that Noach and the animals had already suffered enough through the trials and tribulations of the first 150 days and so the process was initiated to reduce the waters and ultimately let them out to roam the world again. It seems that although Noach merited to be saved from the mabul, he had one test left to pass. He needed the merit of taking care of the animals as well and only then was his salvation complete.

 

***

 

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 humourous book called Extracts From Noah's Diary. Check it out!


Have a good Shabbos.


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?

AstroTorah: Interesting Calendrical Facts About the Mabul

Dikdukian: Noach's Three Sons

Dikdukian: Different Ways to Wake Up


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


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

 

 

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Friday, October 21

The Weekly Shtikle - Bereishis

This coming Sunday, 28 Tishrei, is the 21st yahrtzeit of my dear friend, Daniel Scarowsky, z"l.

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

 

On the sixth day of creation, HaShem created Man. The gemara (Sanhedrin 38b) teaches that Chavah was created in the seventh hour. In the ninth hour they were commanded not to eat from the eitz hada'as and already in the tenth hour, they sinned and ate from it. In the pasuk dealing with the sin we find a confusing incongruity. Chavah is seduced by the snake and she comes to accept (3:6) "that the tree is good to eat, etc." Rashi writes that she accepted the words of the snake, i.e., that her eating from the tree would not result in death, and believed it. She committed the sin with the confident belief that she would not die. However, in the very same pasuk, she gives of the fruit to her husband. Rashi comments there that the reason why she did so is because she was afraid that she would die and he would marry someone else. Wasn't she just convinced by the snake that she wouldn't die?

 

R' Chaim Kanievsky, zt"l, comments in Ta'ama D'kra that we are taught here a very telling lesson in the nature of the yeitzer hara, the evil inclination. When one's desires are raging the yeitzer hara has the power to convince its host that there will be no retribution for wrongdoing in order to seduce him or her to transgress. As soon as it is over and the yeitzer hara has accomplished its mission, this power subsides and he or she returns to reality. Chavah wasn't really convinced by the snake that she wouldn't die. She was temporarily blinded by her own desire to eat from the tree and that allowed her to believe the snake temporarily. But as soon as she actually ate from it, she looked at herself and said "my goodness, what have I done!" She came back to reality and realized that indeed she was going to die. She then tried to bring her husband with her.

 

Ohr HaChayim on the very next pasuk explains similarly. We are told that Adam and Chava's eyes were opened. This speaks to their instant realization of the gravity of the sin they had just committed.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

 

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Do you Sea what I Sea

Dikdukian: And the Days Was
AstroTorah: Emunah in Time and Space

AstroTorah: The Two Luminaries

 

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