The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Thursday, November 23

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 tomorrow, the 3rd of Kisleiv.

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.
    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 his recently released "Tif'eres Aryeh," offers a novel approach. This sale is altogether puzzling as the first born-rights are not something that has yet come into fruition, "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 sales 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 unnecesary.
    From the gemara (Nedarim 28a) 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.

Friday, November 17

The Weekly Shtikle - Chayei Sarah

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.

    Rashi on 24:10 comments that Avraham's camels were discernable for they would go out muzzled so as to prevent them from eating from fields that did not belong to him. The Ramban (pasuk 34) 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 zchus 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 zchus. But maybe Avraham's own personal donkey was.

    R' Yaakov Kaminetzky, in Emes leYaakov, has an interesting suggestion, seemingly based on one of the Kinos from Tisha B'Av. It seems that this "miracle" of the animals avoiding isurim was something connected to Eretz Yisroel. Maybe it was only in Eretz Yisroel 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 34. But Rashi says already on pasuk 10, when Eliezer first left, which was in Eretz Yisroel, that the camels went out muzzled.

    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.

Have a good Shabbos
Eliezer Bulka

Friday, November 10

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeira

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

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.
    After Avimelech mistakenly takes Sarah from Avraham, HaShem comes to him in a dream at night and tells him that he will die for his sin. Avimelech then proceeds to plead his innocence after which HaShem responds and lets him off the hook. The response begins (20:6) "Elokim said to him in the dream..." From pasuk 3 we are already aware that HaShem was speaking to Avimelech "bachalom halaylah," in a dream of the night. Why is it necessary to repeat this point?
    We have before discussed the many differences in the conduct of Avimelech as opposed to Par'oah in just about the same circumstance. (See  In addition to those points, Paroah was not even given the honour of a visit or warning from God, presumably because he simply was not worthy of such a revalation. Avimelech, on the contrary, did merit that visit. Yet, we do not ever see Avimelech referred to as a prophet. Wouldn't this dream constitute prophecy.
    I therefore suggest, although without any textual source to support this theory, that true prophecy consists not only of a message from HaShem but the ability to converse with Him in the context of that prophecy. What happened here is that Avimelech actually awoke after receiving the message from HaShem in his dream. His words, quoted in the pasuk, were exclamations uttered while awake. He then went back to sleep and HaShem  answered him in yet another dream. Indeed, when HaShem comes to Bil'am in his dream (Bemidbar 22:9-12) there is a clear dialog, although I suppose it is not clear that that was even a dream. Nevertheless, due to this nuance, Avimelech is not considered a navi.
    I normally don't like making shtikles too long. However, in preparing the above I stumbled upon a very interesting observation which I feel must be shared. In an old shtikle on parshas Shofetim ( we discussed the Rambam's view (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 10:4) that only a prophecy for the good which does not come true is indicative of a navi sheker but not a prophecy for the bad. The commentaries struggle to find a source for this. We had previously discussed R' Chaim Kunyevsky's obscure source for this assertion of the Rambam. However, is the above episode not the clearest source you could find. Not only is it a prophecy, it is the direct word of God, which ultimately is not fulfilled. HaShem told Avimelech, "You will die" and in the end, he did not. To me, this seems the most blatant evidence that a negative prophecy may be overturned.
Have a good Shabbos.

Friday, November 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Lech Lecha

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.
    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, hi 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 "hi." 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 the name of 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.
    Suprisingly, 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.