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Friday, November 11

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. 

    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 discussed before the many differences in the conduct of Avimelech as opposed to Par'oah in just about the same circumstance. 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. Instead of mere hints that something was not right, he received a message directly from HaShem, much in the way, it would seem, that any other prophet did. 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. There was never an actual two way conversation going on within the dream itself. Contrarily, 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.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: The Mysterious Midrash by R' Ari Storch
AstroTorah: I Can't Believe it's not Fresh by R' Ari Storch

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