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Friday, November 18

The Weekly Shtikle - Chayei Sarah

Before Rivkah's family sees her off, they give her a blessing. The blessing concludes with the words (24:60) "veyirash zar'eich eis sha'ar son'av," and your progeny shall seize the gates of those who hate them. This phrase is quite similar to that found in the berachah given to Avraham by HaShem following the akeida, (22:17) "veyirash zar'acha eis sha'ar oyevav," and your progeny shall seize the gates of their enemies.


The obvious difference is the use of the word oyevav with Avraham as compared with son'av with Rivkah. But before attempting to explain the difference between the two, it is quite interesting to note that Onkelos translates both words exactly the same - san'eihon.


To better understand the difference between the words, it is best to observe them side by side as we do in Shemos (23:4-5.) We are commanded to return the ox of one's oyeiv if we happen upon it and it appears to be lost. If one encounters a donkey belonging to his sonei crouching beneath its burden, he is commanded to lend a hand and help unload the burden.


It would seem the defining difference between these two cases is that when you find someone's lost ox, you are not coming in direct contact with the individual initially, just the ox. When you aid in the unloading of the burden, however, you are doing so together with the owner. It would follow, therefore, that hatred is something felt up close while enmity is felt even from a distance. Perhaps this suggests that the berachah given to Avraham was greater and farther reaching than that given to Rivkah as it included the demise of even the distant enemies.


[Interestingly, even in the above passages from Shemos, Onkelos once again uses the exact same word to translate both oyeiv and sonei.]


Netziv, in Ha'amek Davar, explains further that an oyeiv refers to a feeling felt in the heart whereas sin'ah is when that hatred is carried out into action. Thus, HaShem refers to enemies in his blessing to Avraham as only He truly knows what lies in the hearts of others. On a human level, we can only be aware of the son'im.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Different Forms of Yirash

Dikdukian: My Master's Brother(s)

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