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Friday, November 22

The Weekly Shtikle - Chayei Sarah

This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for Moshe ben Rachel.

 

In this week's parsha, as Avraham ages, he makes arrangements to ensure Yitzchak finds a worthy bride. We are told (24:1) that Avraham was ba bayamim. But we were already told at the beginning of last week's parsha that Avraham and Sarah were zekeinim, ba'im bayamim. Why does it need to be stated again here?

 

Sure enough, this question is raised in Shaarei Aharon. He discusses a number of different answers, most of which center around a common theme. The Torah is not simply stating a fact here since we already knew that. Rather, the Torah is explaining the reasoning behind Avraham's inspiration to act at this time. Seeing his wife pass on, Avraham feared his days too were numbered was inspired to find a wife for Yitzchak.

 

Tur offers an interesting approach based on the Midrash. Just as Sarah experienced rejuvenation and return to youth in order to enable her to conceive Yitzchak, Avraham experienced a similar rejuvenation. When the Torah recounts here that Avraham was zakein, ba bayamim, that is for the second time.

 

I suggest a slightly different definition of ba bayamim which might explain this apparent repetition. The term does not have a specific connotation but simply means "on in years" and can take on different meaning in context. In Vayeira, the rest of the pasuk makes it quite clear what the subject was. They were well shy of the average life expectancy in those days so it could not have referred to general old age. Rather, with regards to their ability to conceive children, Avraham and Sarah were on in years and those days were behind them. Here, though, it is clear, as many commentaries explain that Avraham was reaching a point where he felt his days were numbered. Fortunately, though, he still had many good years left.

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

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

Friday, November 15

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 tomorrow, the 18th of Cheshvan.

 

This week's shtikle is courtesy of R' Ari Storch:

In the beginning of the parsha we see that Avraham Avinu went to tremendous lengths in order to prepare feasts for the passersby that were lucky enough to be his guests. During the feast that he served the three angels that visited him after his bris, he had Sarah Imeinu make bread from three se'ah of fine flour, he had three oxen slaughtered to serve three separate tongues with mustard, and he had butter and milk brought to them. We see clearly how dedicated Avraham was in his hachnasas orchim. (See Bereishis 18 and Rashi's commentary.)

 

It is interesting to see that Avraham did not seem to have anything prepared for these wayfarers. We are taught that Avraham epitomized kindness. One would have thought that he would have had food prepared for the occasional guest that might accept an invitation. Nevertheless, in this week's storyline we see that Avraham clearly asked the visitors to rest for a bit while he went to prepare their food. Why would Avraham risk losing these guests by not having food ready for their possible arrival? The answer is simple. Avraham wanted everything to be fresh. What sojourner could pass up a fresh meal filled with the choicest foods? Avraham knew that he would not lose guests if he asked them to relax while he prepared them a meal that was fit for a king. Therefore, he purposefully did not have food ready for their arrival. Additionally, while they rested Avraham would have ample time to strike up a conversation with them and teach them about HaShem.

 

It is interesting to note that Avraham clearly wanted everything to be fresh so that he could serve his guests the finest delicacies. The meat was freshly slaughtered and the bread was freshly baked. Why then was the milk and butter only brought to the meal and not milked and churned that day? (See Bereishis 18:8) Perhaps, the answer lies in the date of this monumental feast, Pesach. (Rashi, Bereishis 18:10) It is prohibited to milk animals in order to drink their milk on Yom Tov, and it is also prohibited to churn butter on Yom Tov. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 505:1; and Rema 510:5) As such, Avraham would not want to violate this holy day. Therefore, he had butter and milk prepared in anticipation that guests might arrive, but the rest of the meal was prepared on the spot.

 


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, November 1

The Weekly Shtikle - Noach

The world was created with Adam HaRishon as its first inhabitant. Thus, the generic Hebrew term for a person is ben Adam, son of Adam. However, the world was destroyed and civilization began anew with Noach taking on the roll as the father of all humankind. Nevertheless, in the Talmud and other halachic sources, the term ben Noach is used specifically to refer to gentiles. We do not include Noach as one of the forefathers. Rather, Avraham is considered the father of Judaism. Considering that Noach is lauded as a righteous man in his generation, why is it that he is dismissed as a forefather and is not a vital player in our ancestry?

 

R' Ephraim Eisenberg, z"l, of Ner Yisroel, offers a possible approach. Rashi writes (7:7) that although Noach fulfilled HaShem's every command, he did not enter the ark until the rain actually began to fall. Although there are many interpretations offered to shed a more positive light on this comment, Rashi undeniably describes Noach as miketanei amanah, from the lesser believers. It is this trait that disqualifies Noach as a forefather. There are two types of believers. There are those who obey HaShem's word for no reason other than to fulfill their Divine command. Others, although faithful, are swayed by other forces and influences. Noach was not faithless. However, with this display, he placed himself firmly in the second category. He did not enter the ark because he was told to but because it began to rain.

 

In next week's parsha, Avraham Avinu exhibits the exact opposite trait. He is asked by HaShem to leave his place of birth and journey to a foreign land. Rashi comments that Avraham was told that the move would be to his benefit. Nevertheless, the pasuk recounts, (12:4) "And Avram went as HaShem told him." Avraham did not pick up and leave because of the personal gain that was promised to him, but merely because he was told to do so by HaShem. This is the virtue to which we aspire in the service of HaShem and that is why Avraham is a forefather and not Noach.

 

***

 

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. 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?

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