Toras Chaya Sorah

During the week, no words of Torah hit me on this week’s Torah portion of Chaya Sorah.  However, Shabbos morning, I needed a walk, and decided to walk to Anshe Sholem for health reasons and hear the Torah of the Synagogue.  I ended up walking 4 miles and decided to go to my regular Synagogue to make sure we had a Minyan.  I was able to think about the Torah portion and the following six items is  the result.

1)      Chapter 23, Verse3:

Abraham in addressing the people of Ches said:

ד  גֵּר-וְתוֹשָׁב אָנֹכִי, עִמָּכֶם; תְּנוּ לִי אֲחֻזַּת-קֶבֶר עִמָּכֶם, וְאֶקְבְּרָה מֵתִי מִלְּפָנָי.

4 ‘I am a stranger and an inhabitant with you: give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.’

גר ותושב אנכי עמכם: גר מארץ אחרת ונתישבתי עמכם. ומדרש אגדה אם תרצו הריני גר, ואם לאו אהיה תושב ואטלנה מן הדין שאמר לי הקב”ה (לעיל יב ז) לזרעך אתן את הארץ הזאת:

I am a stranger and an inhabitant with you: [I am] a stranger from another land, and I have settled among you. [Consequently, I have no ancestral burial plot here (Rashbam, Sforno).] And the Midrash Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 58:6) [states]: If you are willing [to sell me burial property], I am a stranger, but if not, I will be as an inhabitant and will take it legally, for the Holy One, blessed be He, said to me, “To your seed I will give this land” (above 12:7).

Rashi explains the words, “I am a stranger and an inhabitant”.    The first explanation is the simple meaning of text.  However, in explanation two Rashi brings in a Medresh Rabbah that is very difficult to comprehend.  Is this a threat?  Did Abraham actually say this to the inhabitants of Ches that if you do not  agree, I will take the cave of Hamachpelah by force?  This Medresh is inconsistent with the entire dialogue with the inhabitants of Ches in which Abraham treats them with personal humility.

I have no answer for this Medresh, however I would like to suggest  that this Medresh is a   very Zionistic Medresh.  Of course, Abraham never threatened the Bnei Ches.  The Medresh is saying to the world,  especially to Jews, that Israel belongs to the Jews, now and  forever – even when we are not in the land.   When Binyamin Ze’ev – Theodore Herzl told world Jewry that Europe is burning, community upon community should have been set up in Israel, as my Zedi wanted, based on this Verse.

2)  Every year when I read the words “I am a stranger and an inhabitant”; I always think that this is a message to the children of Israel in the diaspora over the last 2,000 years.   Jews always become inhabitants of the land.  We grow up in the culture of society around us, we identify with it, we will join the army; however, we must always realize that at the same time we are strangers.  We have to be loyal to the Torah, set up Yeshiva’s and Kolleleim, we have to understand that we have to be, collectively, a light to the nations.  However, we better have one foot in Israel.  We have to understand that nations change, events change, leaders change, and there may come a time when we have to leave.  Watch again the last 15 minutes of Fiddler on the Roof.   This took place in the 1880s+.  It got worse under communism in 1917.  I repeat. when Binyamin Ze’ev – Theodore Herzl told world Jewry that Europe is burning, community upon community should have been set up in Israel, as my Zedi wanted.

2)      Verses 5 -16:

Verse 9 states: 

That he may give me the Machpelah (double) Cave, which belongs to him, which is at the end of his field; for a full price let him give it to me in your midst for burial property.”

 

Abraham handled the negotiations skillfully.  He was humble; he never said I want to purchase the land.  He always called it a gift to appeal to the local’s sense of generosity, meaning it  is more than a purchase.  Abraham is saying, it is a favor to me, and in return I want to give you a gift of money.   Abraham also described  the land in verse 9,  “ which is in the end of his field” – meaning it really has no use and it does not break up Ephron’s land.  The Hebrew word is “Ketz” which implies something of no value. He is telling the people of Ches that they are not giving up anything, it cannot be developed, etc.

3)   Chapter 24, Verse 15:

“Now the maiden was very pretty”.  Although we believe that the proper  beauty is  inner beauty – one who has proper manners,  kindness, generosity, and has a Neshamah; however, never forget that physical beauty is important.    As we know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so everyone has the ability to make themselves physically beautiful.

4)  Chapter 24, Verse 30:

The verse describes Lavan approaching Eliezer and states:

וַיְהִ֣י ׀ כִּרְאֹ֣ת אֶת־הַנֶּ֗זֶם     –  23:30.

30. And it came to pass, when he (Lavan) saw the nose ring and the bracelets on his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of his sister Rebecca, saying, “So did the man speak to me, ” that he came to the man, and behold, he was standing over the camels at the fountain.

Notice, the Torah Trop right after the word, V’Yehi, is a Yisef P’sik, which is a stop.  What is this doing here,  as the proper reading for the first line of this verse is one thought. The V’yehi goes along with the next word and it should be read as “and it was when he saw”.

I think the answer is that the word “V’yehi” in usage by the Bible means something bad is happening or going to happen.  I think the Yisef P’sik is telling you and when Lavan saw the wealth of Abraham, it was not good.  V’Yehi – it was bad.  There was jealousy.  A person should not openly display riches.  Evil, jealous, nasty people set their eyes on the wealth and they want to take it away from  you.  Even not an evil person, it can be interpreted as you are trying to show someone up.

5)  Eliezer does a masterful job relating to Rivkah’s family the events and at the end of his narration, both Bethual and Lavan, who are say, this is from God.  However, in Chapter 24, Verse 53 it says:

53. And the servant took out silver articles and golden articles and garments, and he gave [them] to Rebecca, and he gave delicacies to her brother and to her mother.

Rivka gets gold and silver and Lavan gets as Rashi says, fruits of Israel.  What is Eliezer doing.  Lavan gets a few grapes from Israel?  It could be that the fruits of Israel have curative powers and were very valuable, however, it seems that Eliezer blew it.  In fact I believe the Alshiach says that when Bethual saw that Eliezer was giving them these fruits, he wanted to renege on Rivka marrying Yitzchok and  was killed.

The answer as suggested by Rabbi Montel from Sefas that after Eliezer got the agreement from Rivkah’s family and made the Shiddach, Eliezer was rebuking Lavan, trying to impart to him the lesson that it is always not about gold and silver, it is about appreciating life, spirituality, tasting delicious fruits of Israel, things that appeal to the soul.

6)  Rashi on Chapter 25, Verse 6 brings down a Medresh to  explain the gifts that Abraham gave to the children of Ketura was the gift of Tumah, of uncleanliness, of demons.  Abraham, who represented decency to the world and spread the morality of God is giving them uncleanliness.  What is the explanation.  This I have no answer for this question.

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The Torah of Boca Raton Synagogue is refreshing and truly Toras Hashem

I was in Boca Raton helping take care of my grandkids for the last week and a half. It was very nice. I was there for Parshas Noah and Parshas Lech Lacha. I had a bad cold for Noah so my Shabbos was muted. Lech Lecha I was back on my game and Boca Raton Synagogue had some great speakers.

The following is Torah I learned at BRS.

Friday Night, October 10, 2013:

Arrived in Shul for Mincha and Kabalas Shabbos.  I picked up the BRS weekly and loved what I saw.  Rabbi Rabinovici is in Boca to teach Torah and there is a scholar in residence.

Boca Raton Synagogue Weekly

Went home for a delicious Shabbos meal with the kids.  

Shiur 1:

9:15 PM – Went to Rabbi Moscowitz’s house for a Shiur by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovici. It was a Shiur on adding the prayer for rain in the Shmoei Esra – V-Sain Tal U’matur Levracha -which in Israel begins on the 7th of Marchesvan and in the Diaspora begins on December 4th, which is supposed to be 60 days after the fall equinox. However, we add 10 days due to the adjustment of the Gregorian colander in the late 1500’s. I am not sure why it is the night of December 4th, which is 73 days after the fall equinox. Rabbi Rabinovici mentioned the Rosh who asks, the 60 days after the fall equinox was for Babylonia, and why in other parts of the world isn’t it at different time based on when rain is needed, such as south of the equator. The Rosh said that although the date for the start of praying for rain should be different for different parts of the world, the custom is to do it for all of the diaspora on December 4th. The Shiur was excellent.

Shabbos morning, October 11, 2013:

Shiur 2:

Made it to the 7:25 AM Haskama Minyan at 7:55 AM, during the end of Chazaros Hashatz. Typical for me as I am always late. Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Rabbi of BRS, spoke beautifully. He quoted Newton’s first law of motion – “ . . .an object either is at rest or moves at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.[2][3]

Chapter 11, Verse 31 states:

And Terach took Abram, his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter in law, the wife of Abram his son and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees to go to the land of Canaan, and they came as far as Charan and settled there.

Chapter 12, verse 5 states that Abram left to go to the land of Canaan, and he came to the land of Canaan. 

It is interesting that Terach also left his land to go to Canaan, just like Abram. The difference is that Terach stopped in Charan and settled there. Terach also wanted to go to Canaan, a land of a higher spiritual level. However, Terach got distracted and settled in Charan. He was enticed by the bright lights of Charan. Abram on the other hand was not distracted from his mission and made it to the land of Canaan. Rabbi Goldberg continued, we all have the power and ability to achieve spirituality and/or greatness. Many of us get distracted from our mission. We have to be like Abram and actually make it to the promised land, achieve higher spirituality, and fully achieve our mission in life.

Listened to the Torah reading

Shiur 3:

During the Torah reading, I noticed a Targum Onkalys who seems to disagree with Rashi. Chapter 16, verse 12 is the conversation between the angel and Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant.

יב.      וְהוּא יִהְיֶה פֶּרֶא אָדָם יָדוֹ בַכֹּל וְיַד כֹּל בּוֹ וְעַל פְּנֵי כָל אֶחָיו יִשְׁכֹּן

12. And he will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be upon all, and everyone’s hand upon him, and before all his brothers he will dwell.”

Rashi translates the Verse as follows:

And he shall be an “outdoorsman who loves hunt”, his hand shall be against every man, “a robber”, and every man’s hand against him, “everyone will hate him and contend with him”; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren. This is very harsh.

Onkalys translates it is follows:

And he shall be a rebellious person, he will need everyone and everyone will need him, and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren.

I was puzzled on how to fully understand Onkalys, and asked Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda and Rabbi Rabinovici for their opinion.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda said that Onkalys was more of an open person and explained Onkayls that while the nature of Yismael is to be rebellious, he is an integral part of the world. (This is how I understood Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda)

Rabbi Rabinovici said differently. Yismael will be rebellious and you will want to avoid him, just as we avoid difficult people. However the Torah tells us, you will not be able to avoid him because he will need everyone and everyone will need him

Shuir 4:

I listened to the reading of the Torah and while the Haskama Minyan davened Mussaf, I davened Shachris, and caught Tefilah B’zibbur. Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik confirmed that according to Rabbi Chaim Brisker, I fulfilled Tefilah B’zibbur.   Rabbi Moshe Solevichik’s grandfather, who has the same name and was Rosh HaYeshiva of YU, as a student once was in Shul, and while the congregation was at Mussef, he was at the Shachris prayer.  Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, TZL, davened the Mussaf prayer with the congregation and afterwards said the Shacharis prayer.   Reb Moshe, TZL, asked his father, Reb Chaim Brisker,  if it was proper to first say the Mussaf prayer and then the Shachris prayer.  Reb Chaim Brisker answered his son that had his son said the Shachris prayer while the congregation was saying the Mussaf prayer, then it would have been Tefilah B’Tzibbur and proper.

After davening took a small bowl of Cholent to the Board room to attend Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda’s Shiur.  Reb Theo was there to provide the Diet Coke.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda said two amazing Torah insights:

1) In the first test and the tenth test,  the Torah uses the same type of descriptive terminology.   The Torah is telling  us that there is a commonality between the two.

First test was for Abram to leave his home and go to Canaan:

Chapter 12, Verse 1:

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָוּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ

:1. And the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.

The tenth test of Abraham was the Akeidah – Chapter 22, Verse 2

The Torah uses to the same type of expression: :

ב.וַיֹּאמֶר קַח נָא אֶתבִּנְךָ אֶת יְחִידְךָ אֲשֶׁר אָהַבְתָּ אֶת יִצְחָק וְלֶךְ לְךָ אֶל אֶרֶץ הַמֹּרִיָּה וְהַעֲלֵהוּ שָׁם לְעֹלָה עַל אַחַד הֶהָרִים אֲשֶׁר אֹמַר אֵלֶיךָ:

2. And He said, “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love, yea, Isaac, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains, of which I will tell you.”

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda said beautifully.   In both places the Torah increases the intensity of the moment, emphasizing that what is asked of Abram is difficult, something of great importance, and meaning.   By asking Abram to leave  his home, God was asking Abram  to give up his past;  and at the Akediah, God was asking Abraham to give up his future.

2)  Rabbi Tzvi  introduced his next piece of Torah by reading this Rashi on Chapter 22, Versa 12.  I can still  hear in my mind how beautifully Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda read the below Rashi in his scholarly voice:

כי עתה ידעתי: אמר רבי אבא אמר לו אברהם אפרש לפניך את שיחתי, אתמול אמרת לי (לעיל כא יב) כי ביצחק יקרא לך זרע, וחזרת ואמרת (שם כב ב) קח נא את בנך, עכשיו אתה אומר לי אל תשלח ידך אל הנער. אמר לו הקב”ה (תהלים פט לה) לא אחלל בריתי ומוצא שפתי לא אשנה, כשאמרתי לך קח מוצא שפתי לא אשנה, לא אמרתי לך שחטהו אלא העלהו, אסקתיה אחתיה

12. for now I know: Said Rabbi Abba: Abraham said to Him,“ I will explain my complaint before You. Yesterday, You said to me (above 21:12): ‘for in Isaac will be called your seed,’ and You retracted and said (above verse 2): ‘ Take now your son.’ Now You say to me, ‘ Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad.’” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him (Ps. 89:35): “I shall not profane My covenant, neither shall I alter the utterance of My lips.” When I said to you,“ Take,” I was not altering the utterance of My lips. I did not say to you,“ Slaughter him,” but,“ Bring him up.” You have brought him up; [now] take him down. — [from Gen. Rabbah 56:8]

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda also said that when it comes to an animal,  וְהַעֲלֵהוּ , uplifting spiritually always means a Sacrifice to God. However, when it comes to people הַעֲלֵהו always means that when we uplift someone to God, we uplift them by teaching them knowledge, and educating them.

Shiur 5:

Went into the main Shul to Daven Mussaf.  After services the scholar-in-residence, Rabbi Shmuel Bowman spoke. He spoke emotionally about what he does. He is the Executive Director of Operation Lifeshield,  a not-for-profit organization that provides above ground air raid shelters. He said that he went to Israel as an educator and found his calling running this important organization. He said that in 2006 Israel decided that they could not build underground shelters. Israel cannot be a country living underground and that it was too much a reminder of the Holocaust. He spoke about what it means to Israeli’s who are in harm’s way from rockets to have these shelters.

Nachum Caplan:

I took my granddaughter, Tiferet, to visit Nachum Caplan by his in-laws house in Captiva. His mother-in-law is from South Africa and I met some of the BRS South African contingent at her house. His cousin was there. His cousin’s wife is a granddaughter of Rabbi Walkin, who was a Dayan in Pinsk. My Bubby was from Pinsk and I spent a Shabbos in 2005 in Pinsk.

Shiur 6:

Shabbos afternoon – Rabbi Shmuel Bowman spoke before Mincha.

Rabbi Shmuel Bowman talked about his disagreement with the book, The Giving Tree.  I never read this kid’s book, however, my niece, Chanie, read the book as a kid in Texas.   In the book, a kid over his lifetime tells the tree that he is unhappy and would like various things.    The tree constantly gives and gives the kid part of herself to try to make the kid happy.   The tree is cut down piece by piece,  until years later, the tree is only a stump.  Even after all these years of the kid getting what he wants, and now he is an older man, he is not happy, and the tree even as a stump offers the kid her stump for him to rest.  

Rabbi Bowman’s disagreement with The Giving Tree is self evident.

Rabbi Bowman then talked about a Gemorah is Shabbos in which a Tanna walks into the study hall and  silences the learning.  The Tanna tells the entire study hall, I have just heard a beautiful saying from a child.  Imagine walking into the Bais Medresh and stopping learning for a kids poem.  

The Tanna said he heard a child say that the entire Hebrew alphabet teaches  life and moral lessons.  

Aleph – Beis.   Aleph Bina – The primary thing to knowledge.

גּ  –  ד stands for Gomel Dalim – translated as being generous to people in need.  The Tanna is amazed that even the form of the Hebrew letters have great insight.  We can see this lesson in the form of the letters גּ  –  ד .   The Daled – person in need – cannot see the Gimel – the  person who gives.  The top of the Gimal arches over as he is giving to the Daled.  The top right of the Daled has a little piece that extends back towards the Gimal. This symbolizes that the person in need puts his hand behind him to receive the largess from the Gomel.

Shiur 7:

At the third Sabbath meal, Rabbi Bowman spoke about Christian Evangelicals and their support for Israel. He has asked them why they support Israel.  He was told that Christian Evangelicals believe in the Torah; and what is said in Chapter 12, Verse 3, is to be taken  literally.

Chapter 12, Verse 3 states:

וַאֲבָרְכָה מְבָרֲכֶיךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה

And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you.”

Rabbi Bowman spoke of being at the Christian United for Israel (CUFI) convention.  Two years ago, Rabbi Lopatin spoke from the pulpit about being at the same CUFI convention. 

Rabbi Bowman also mentioned that the Christian Evangelicals have a new slogan, popping up at conventions.  It is Esther 4:14. 

 Esther 4:14 states:

14. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and rescue will arise for the Jews from elsewhere, and you and your father’s household will perish; and who knows whether you attained the kingdom at this time just to save the Jews.”

When Rabbi Shmuel Bowman takes Christian Evangelical ministers to show them the need for shelters, he tells them Esther 4:14.  He tells them that God will provide us with money for shelters, even without your money, however, “who knows whether you attained the kingdom at this time just to save the Jews.”

Shiur 8:

Sunday morning Daf Yomi with Rabbi Ben Sugerman.

Operation Lifeshield