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Friday, October 29

The Weekly Shtikle - Chayei Sarah

In pasuk 24:28, Rivka runs to her mother's house and tells them "kadevarim ha'eileh", like these words. Why does it say kadevarim ha'eileh and not simply hadevarim ha'eileh? Rada"k writes that this is the way of those who tell over stories, to shorten or to lengthen a bit, and not to tell the exact story.

I suggest that perhaps the answer to this question lies in Rashi later on pasuk 47. There, Rashi comments that Eliezer really gave Rivka the ring and bracelets before he asked her who her father was but he did not want to upset Lavan so he told him that he did it the other way around. Perhaps Rivka, too, was aware that her parents would not be impressed by the order in which Eliezer went about this and therefore did not tell her parents exactly how it happened but switched things around to keep the peace.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: Leaving Eretz Yisroel, Going to Mars by R' Ari Storch

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,

Friday, October 22

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeira

This week's shtikle is dedicated le'ilui nishmas my brother Efrayim Yechezkel ben Avi Mori Reuven Pinchas, a"h, whose Yahrtzeit is this coming Tuesday, the 18th of Cheshvan.

    As the evil city of Sedom is destroyed, Lot and his family are escaping the mayhem when his wife disobeys her orders and looks back at the carnage. She is instantly turned (19:26) into a pillar of salt.

    Why salt? David Farkas offered the following explanation of R' Moshe Eisemann of Ner Yisroel: 

     The reason why salt was chosen, is because salt is a retardant, used to curtail growth. Marauding armies would thus sow their enemy's lands with salt to prevent it from being farmed, and even today we use it for pickling, to prevent the growth of decay. The reason why Lot and his family were commanded not to look behind them is because they had become part of the Sedom culture. It was only in the merit of Avraham that they were saved. For their own merit, they needed to show that fleeing the city was a complete divorce from that evil society. They needed to move on and to grow to become new people. If they were to look back, it would show that they simply were not ready to leave their previous life. When Lot's wife looked back, she showed just that. She was unable to grow. As the saying would go, "You could take Lot's wife out of Sedom, but you just couldn't take the Sedom out of Lot's wife." This was most accurately symbolized by her transformation into a pillar of salt.

      A little humour related to the above: Apparently, Lot's daughters wrote a book called "Our mother the Netziv." (I didn't make it up. Not sure where I heard it.)

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: Lot's Twilight Escape by R' Ari Storch

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,


Friday, October 15

The Weekly Shtikle - Lech Lecha

When Avraham and Sarah, then Avram and Sarai, come to Mitzrayim, Avraham asks her to tell the Mitzriim that she is his sister "l'ma'an yitav li ba'avureich, v'chaysa nafshi biglaleich" (12:13), so that they will do good to me and I will live because of you. Rashi comments on "l'ma'an yitav li" that they will give him presents. The obvious question that many ask is why does Avraham seem to be so interested in gifts. We know from later in the parsha that Avraham was not one to desire gifts. Why is this different? Also, why in the pasuk is the receiving of presents put before survival? Surely receiving presents was not more important than coming out alive.

The Ta"Z, in his sefer on Rashi, Divrei Dovid, answers the first question beautifully. When they came down to Mitzrayim, they had a dilemma. Surely, they did not want the Egyptians to think they were married. That would be the worst case scenario. But for them to come into Mitzrayim and for Sarah to say out of nowhere "He's my brother" would also have looked very suspicious. Like "Who asked you anyway?". But if they never asked, and she never told, they ran the risk of the assumption that they were indeed husband and wife. So they needed a plan to tell them that they were brother and sister without looking suspicious. This was their plan: Sarah would come to Mitzrayim with Avraham and say "This is my brother, a very poor man. Please give him some money." By doing this, there is a very legitimate reason for her to say that he is her brother. This would invoke a feeling of pity and the Mitzriim would be likely to give gifts. If she had just come in with any beggar of the street they might not be inclined to give him. Now they have told the Mitzriim that they are brother and sister without looking suspicious. And the Mitzriim will give gifts to Avraham because of Sarah. 

This answer may be used to answer the question as well. Only "v'chaysa nafshi..." is really what Avraham wanted to get out of the whole deal. The phrase "l'ma'an yitav li" is not as much a statement of what Avraham wanted, but more of what he wanted Sarah to say, that they should give her brother presents as the Ta"Z explains.

I propose another suggestion, though, exclusive of the Ta"Z's explanation. The two results of the situation are not put in order of what was important to Avraham, but more of an order of events from the Mitzriim's point of view. If they were husband and wife, surely they would know they have no chance with Sarah and they would kill Avraham right away. But now that they are brother and sister, they will simply give Avraham gifts to convince them to let them have Sarah. But if this does not convince him, then they will still have to kill him. So the Mitzriim had the mindset "If he accepts the gifts, we will let him live." That is why the order in the pasuk is "they will give me gifts, and they will let me live" because it is the accepting of the gifts on which his survival relies.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: Two Posts on the Stars in the Sky - one by R' Ari Storch and one by me

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,

Friday, October 8

The Weekly Shtikle - Noach

This past Wednesday was the Yahrtzeit of my dear friend, Daniel Scarowsky, o"h. This week's shtikle is dedicated leiluy nishmaso, Daniel Moshe Eliyahu ben Yitzchak.

    The first pasuk of this week's parsha declares Noach a "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 discrepency 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 - certainly not a discussion for now) 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.

Have a Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: The Weight of the Teiva and The Constant Rate of Recession (not about the current economy)
AstroTorah: Interesting Calendrical Facts about the Mabul by R' Ari Storch
AstroTorah: Noach's Celestial Ark by R' Ari Storch
AstroTorah: The World's First Boat?

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,