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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


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