The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, November 28

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 Yahrtzeit is this coming Sunday.


At the end of this week's parsha, after expressing his desire to kill Yaakov, Eisav is informed (28:6) that his parents had sent Yaakov away to Padan Aram. If he knew that Yaakov was in Padan Aram, why didn't he kill him there? The obvious answer is that Eisav himself established (27:41) that he did not intend to kill Yaakov until after his father's passing. However, when Eisav finally did confront Yaakov in parshas Vayishlach with apparent intent to kill him, Yitzchak was still alive. Obvioulsy, Eisav's declaration that he would wait until Yitzchak's passing was not a comitment he was particularly dedicated to keeping. So we are still unclear as to why Eisav never confronted Yaakov in Padan Aram.


Perhaps the next pasuk gives us a hint. We are told that Yaakov "listened to his parents" and went to Padan Aram. We know that Eisav was very strongly dedicated to the mitzvah of kibud av va'eim. Perhaps he had so much respect for that mitzvah that when he saw that Yaakov went to Padan Aram, obeying a direct order from his parents, he simply could not bring himself to harm him there. Only when he returned from the fulfilling of this mitzvah could Eisav confont him. The Sefer HaYashar at the end of Parshas Vayeitzei writes that when Yaakov escaped from Lavan, Lavan sent messengers to Eisav to cut Yaakov off and kill him. Perhaps it is because of the above that Eisav arranged this correspondence with Lavan.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Friday, November 21

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 possess the gate 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 possess the gate 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 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.

[Intuitively, I might have suggested the exact opposite of the above - hatred is something kept in the heart while one truly becomes an oyeiv only when they act on that hatred.]

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

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Friday, November 14

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeira

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

Rashi on 19:24 notes that the destruction of Sedom happened at day break, when the sun and moon were in the sky at the same time. This was because they used to worship the sun and moon. HaShem therefore brought the destruction when both were out as a proof to all the sun and moon worshipers that the sun and moon are powerless. Had the destruction taken place when they were not in the sky, one could have argued that they were not "there" to save them. This is a rather simple statement by Rashi but the astronomical basis for it is quite interesting.

It is not always that the sun and moon are out together at day break. It is also not always that it is the only time that they are out together. The moon's rising and setting times occur approximately 48 minutes later each day. This is a result of the moon orbiting  the earth. Just as the moon's position is reset at the end of every month, so are its rising and setting times. (The figure of 48 minutes is achieved by dividing 24 hours by the length of the month, 29.5 days, 44 minutes, 3 and a third seconds. More precisely, the figure is 48 minutes, 45.5 seconds.) At the beginning of the month, the moon follows a very similar schedule to the sun. The moon rises at the beginning of the day and sets at sundown. As the month progresses, the moon rises and sets later and later. At the middle of the month, the moon has virtually the opposite schedule to the sun. It rises when the sun sets and sets when the sun rises. As we enter the second half of the month, the moon begins to rise later in the night and thus, becomes visible at the beginning of the day.

The Midrash (Bereishis Rabba 50) teaches that Sedom was destroyed on the 16th of Nissan. As explained, at that time of the month, the moon would have set very shortly after sunrise. Therefore, the only time in the entire day that both the sun and moon were out at the same time was very early in the morning and that is why the destruction took place specifically at the very beginning of the day. [Nevertheless, it is puzzling that Rashi uses the term "Alos HaShachar" which refers to a time before sunrise.]

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Friday, November 7

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 of 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.

Shelah 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 stages, that something must be done before it develops into something more grave.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka