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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

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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