The Weekly Shtikle Blog

An online forum for sharing thoughts and ideas relating to the Parshas HaShavua

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Friday, November 17

The Weekly Shtikle - Toledos

My nephew, Yisroel Meir Shonek, who was celebrating his aufruf exactly five years ago, along with his wife Miriam welcomed a new baby girl into the family this week whom they named Tzirel Nechama, after my mother.

 

On a closely related note, our own (Tzirel) Nechama is celebrating her Bas Mitzvah this coming Sunday evening. Special Mazal Tovs to the Tzirel Nechamas and their families.

 

When Eisav comes back from the field, he is so wiped out that he is on the verge of death. He demands of Yaakov, who was cooking up a lentil soup, "Pour me some of that red stuff!" The pasuk continues to say that for this, he was called Edom (red). This name has endured as a reference to Eisav throughout the generations. Why would we designate an eternal name for Eisav based on this seemingly insignificant exchange? And why is the focus on the colour of the soup? It would seem more appropriate to refer to them as "hal'iteini-niks."

 

Daniel Scarowsky, z"l, explained that we are taught (Rashi 26:34) that Eisav is compared to a pig. A pig has split hooves but does not chew its cud. When it sleeps, it sleeps with its hooves stretched out as if to show the world, "look at me, I'm kosher" when, in fact, it is not. The pig symbolizes superficial and external obsessiveness, a misguided focus on outer appearance and neglect of the importance of inner essence. It is this very trait that is being illustrated here by Eisav. Even in this most desperate time, when he was in such dire need of sustenance, the lentil soup was nothing more to him than "red stuff." This exchange, therefore, is a significant indication of Eisav's character and thus, he was given the name Edom which would go on to be his national identity.


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 10

The Weekly Shtikle - Chayei Sarah

This past Shabbos, Baltimore lost one of its great leaders, Rabbi Mendel Freedman, who led Bais Yaakov of Baltimore for close to 40 years. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Menachem Mendel Don ben Aryeh Leib.

 

Today, the 21st of Chesvan, is the  yahrtzeit of my great uncle, Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits, z"l. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yisroel be Yoel.

 

Rashi (24:10) comments that Avraham's camels were discernible for they would go out muzzled so as to prevent them from eating from fields that did not belong to him. Ramba"n (pasuk 32) asks on this based on the Midrash that refers to the donkey of R' Pinchas ben Yair about which it is said that even the animals of tzadikim, HaShem does not bring about bad through them and the donkey would not even eat tevel. (Chullin 5b) If so, how could it be that Avraham had to be worried about his animals stealing to the point where he had to muzzle them? Should this same merit not have been present in the house of Avraham Avinu?

There are a number of answers given. R' Ovadia miBartenura answers that perhaps the donkey of R' Pinchas ben Yair was different because it was the donkey he used personally for travel and there was a stronger bond, so to speak, between the donkey and him. But these camels were not camels that Avraham used but just camels that he owned and perhaps that is why they were not subject to this merit. But maybe Avraham's own personal donkey was.

R' Yaakov Kamenetsky, in Emes l'Yaakov, makes an interesting suggestion, based on one of the kinos from Tisha B'Av. It seems that this "miracle" of the animals avoiding issurim was connected to Eretz Yisrael. Maybe it was only in Eretz Yisrael that this happened. But in chutz la'Aretz, Charan for example, the animals would need to be muzzled. The difficulty I found with this offering, though, is that this seems to be based on Rashi and Ramban's argument being later on in pasuk 32. But Rashi says already on pasuk 10, when Eliezer first left, which was in Eretz Yisrael, that the camels went out muzzled. A reader has pointed out, though, that perhaps we can suggest the kedushah of Eretz Yisroel which is presumably the catalyst of this miracle, was not yet present to the same degree in the times of Avraham. 

Sha'arei Aharon offers a different approach. Tosafos in Chullin seem to make a distinction between food that is itself forbidden in its essence and food that is not by its nature forbidden, but is forbidden due to external circumstances. The example in Tosafos is eating before havdala where there is nothing wrong with the food itself but rather the time it is being eaten. Perhaps that is the difference here. The donkey of R' Pinchas ben Yair would not eat tevel. Tevel is universally forbidden in its essence. But the food that Avraham's camels would have eaten was not forbidden by nature, but only because it belonged to others.

Another suggestion made by the same reader as above is that the animals' special, observant behaviour is very much a miracle. In the story of R' Pinchas ben Yair's donkey, he was not aware that the food was tevel. Avraham, however, would not be permitted to rely on this miracle and assume that his camels would not eat other people's food. Additionally, Avraham constantly endeavoured to set an example to the people around him as to how a person should act. Even if he could rely on his camels to not steal from neighbouring fields, it was necessary for his camels to be muzzled to set an example to the masses.  

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, November 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeira


This week's shtikle, as per tradition for parshas Vayeria, is dedicated le'ilui nishmas my brother Efrayim Yechezkel ben avi mori Reuven Pinchas, whose yahrtzeit is this coming Tuesday, the 18th of Cheshvan.


A special Weekly Shtikle mazal tov to my niece Kayla (née Levy) on her marriage this week to Yosef Marx of Passaic. Mazal Tov to the extended Levy, Bulka and Jakobovits mishpachos. In honour of the wedding and sheva berachos, the source of this week's shtikle is R' Shimon Schwab, zt"l, the chosson's great grandfather.

At the end of this week's parsha, Avraham faces the ultimate challenge of akeidas Yitzchak. It is certainly not unreasonable to consider this the greatest of Avrhaham's 10 tests on a number of different levels. It is certainly worth noting that this is the one time the Torah actually refers to the episode as a test, (22:1) "VehaElokim nisa." However, Rashi, based on a gemara (Sanhedrin 89b) cites a deeper meaning of the beseeching nature of HaShem's request which seems, at first glance, to border on hyperbole. HaShem uses the word "please" as if to say, "Please stand up to this test so that people do not say of the first tests that there was nothing to them." Suppose Avraham had difficulty with this command. Suppose he had questions about this daunting, impossible task. Would that really have detracted from the utter devotion he showed in the previous tests?


R' Schwab, in Ma'ayan Beish HaSho'eiva, explains that while the first 9 challenges were all great in their own right, there was one very important element missing – the involvement of his progeny. Passing these tests were of great significance on a personal level for Avraham. But that, on its own, would not be enough to pass on to the great nation of which Avraham was to be the father. We often speak of Avraham as having instilled the will and the strength of self-sacrifice in all future generations. But this is not accomplished simply through genetics. Akeidas Yitzchak was a trial of sacrifice that Avraham and Yitzchak would experience together as father and son. Only through enduring this test and persevering together could this virtue be passed on. Indeed, if Avraham were to have failed this test in any way, his previous accomplishments would be of much lesser value to the generations that followed. This explains the urgency of HaShem's request.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: The Mysterious Midrash by R' Ari Storch
AstroTorah: I Can't Believe it's not Fresh by R' Ari Storch

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