Friday November 6, 2020: Torah on Parshas VaYera

This Torah is written in Bubbi Blanche’s Apartment for a Refuah Shelaima for Bubbi – Blima Bas Zelda Baila.

Vort #1)  The story of Avrohom continues.  At the beginning of the Parsha it was three days after the circumcision and God came to visit Avrohom.   Three days earlier God changed Avrohom’s and Sarah’s names.  To Avrohom God added a “hey” and to Sarah he removed a “Yud” and replaced it with a “Hey”.

Both new names tell us a change in both of them.  They will become or maybe they already have become world figures, meaning that their influence will be felt over the entire world.  Avrohom will be the Av – father of the entire world and Sarah will be the princess over the entire world.   It seems that names have an influence on someone’s life.  By the Bris Ben HaBisarim, on the Pasuk Bereshis 15:5 Rashi says that based on astrology – nature Avrom cannot have kids, but Avrohom will be able to have kids.  God directs Avrohom to name his future son “Yitzchok”, and previously Hagar to name her kid “Yishmael” so we see that names are significant.  Avrrohom called Yishmael by the name God had instructed Hagar.  This shows Avrohom being intertwined with God.  It is as if he instinctively knew God’s thoughts.  

Vort #2)    Verse 18:2 – 

וַיִּשָּׂ֤א עֵינָיו֙ וַיַּ֔רְא וְהִנֵּה֙ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים נִצָּבִ֖ים עָלָ֑יו וַיַּ֗רְא וַיָּ֤רָץ לִקְרָאתָם֙ מִפֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֔הֶל וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ אָֽרְצָה׃

Translation of Sefaria:  Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground

Translation of Artscroll:  He lifted his eyes and saw: And behold three men were standing before him.  He saw, and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and bowed toward the ground. 

Translation is important and reading words properly are important.  The Torah uses the word   וְהִנֵּה֙ – and behold.  Sefaria ignores the   וְהִנֵּה֙ and also ignores the second  וַיַּ֗רְא.

I believe even Artscoll who acknowledges the word וְהִנֵּה֙ and translates it “behold” cannot convey the full meaning of the word וְהִנֵּה֙ – this word animates the scene.

The Torah uses the word וְהִנֵּה֙ .    This word paints the scene for us, we can feel what Avrohom felt, and not only that we can picture ourselves in the tent with Avrohom.  Picture the scene – Avrohom was looking out and saw nothing.  All of a sudden it seems out of nowhere, three men appear.  An excitement flows through his body, joy spreads through him, which calls Avrohom to action.  We all have had this experience.  Looking up and unexpectedly seeing a relative, a friend, and we are full of emotion.  

Rashi – נצבים עליו. לְפָנָיו, אֲבָל לָשׁוֹן נְקִיָּה הוּא כְּלַפֵּי הַמַּלְאָכִים:

Rashi uses the word נְקִיָּה.  Artscoll does say clean but adds i.e. respectful. Sefaria is similar and translates Rashi as, “ this is a more fitting expression to use of angels.”    However, the word in the Rashi is נְקִיָּה and not  כבוד.   I think that Rashi is telling us something more, two possible explanations.

1)  When we show proper respect and use proper speech, we are clean, we are uplifted.  We become a better person, someone more refined.`

2)  When we speak properly towards Hashem and his representatives in this world we bring God down into this world, we bring Holiness into this world.       I believe that Rashi can also be expanded to include when we glorify Hashen, we bring holiness into our world.

This I believe is what the Kotzker meant when he said, my job is to bring God into this world, perhaps based on this Rashi.

I have to look up the Kotzher for the exact words that were used.  

Vort 3)  Chapter 18 Verse 10:

There is a difference between Rashi and Orach Chaim HaKodeh how to translate the pronouns of וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו in the following Verse”

                               וַיֹּ֗אמֶר שׁ֣וֹב אָשׁ֤וּב אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ כָּעֵ֣ת חַיָּ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־בֵ֖ן לְשָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתֶּ֑ךָ וְשָׂרָ֥ה שֹׁמַ֛עַת פֶּ֥תַח הָאֹ֖הֶל וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו

Then one said, “I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him.

Rashi translates וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו  like the above which is both like Sefaria and Artscroll as follows:

                                                                                                           והוא אחריו. הַפֶּתַח הָיָה אַחַר הַמַּלְאָךְ:  

The Orach Chaim HaKodesh translates    והוא אחריו slightly differently, as follows:

ושרה שומעת מודיע הכתוב כי הבשורה לשרה בשרו כמאמר ה’ בשליחות, והוא אומרו ושרה שומעת וגו‘ והוא המבשר אחריו. וראיתי במדרש כי אף על פי כן נתיסר המלאך על אשר לא דבר הבשורה מפיו אליה ודבר לאברהם, והמלאכים יענשו על השוגג ועל שנוי כל שהוא:

Orach Chaim – And he (the angel) was behind the tent.

Rashi:              And the tent was behind him (the angel.)

 The question is does it make a difference whether we translate as Rashi or as the Orach Chaim?  Perhaps not, but there is a major question, the words of  והוא אחריו are completely extra.  The Posuk said that she was listening, so what do these two words add?

I do not have an answer for this question.

Vort 4)  This was sent out in an email  on November 7, 2020:

Guten Motzei Shabbos.  I offer this Torah in honor and memory of our two great leaders who passed away this weekend.  Rabbi Dovid Feinstien and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  I am listening to Rabbi Shlomo Calrbach’s Selichos, Ashrei and Kadish.  Beautiful.

Over Shabbos I asked a question on Pasuk 18:10 on the needs for two words of   והוא אחריו 

וַיֹּ֗אמֶר שׁ֣וֹב אָשׁ֤וּב אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ כָּעֵ֣ת חַיָּ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־בֵ֖ן לְשָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתֶּ֑ךָ וְשָׂרָ֥ה שֹׁמַ֛עַת פֶּ֥תַח הָאֹ֖הֶל וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו׃

Then one said, “I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him.

There is a major question, the words of  והוא אחריו are completely extra.  Thee Posuk said that she was listening, so what do these two words add.

We can perhaps answer based on a  beautiful Orach Chaim translated as follows:

ושרה שומעת מודיע הכתוב כי הבשורה לשרה בשרו כמאמר ה’ בשליחות, והוא אומרו ושרה שומעת וגו‘ והוא המבשר אחריו. וראיתי במדרש כי אף על פי כן נתיסר המלאך על אשר לא דבר הבשורה מפיו אליה ודבר לאברהם, והמלאכים יענשו על השוגג ועל שנוי כל שהוא:

“And Sarah was listening” –  the Pasuk is telling us that  the news (of the impending birth) was delivered as Hashem wanted, and that is why the Verse says, “she was listening at the entrance of the tent and he was beyond her,” meaning  the angel made his announcement in close proximity to her so she can hear.  This is the first half of the Orach Chaim. 

But it is still difficult because the Torah said that she was listening, so why does it say “he was behind her”.

The Orach Chaim Hakodesh continues and brings in a Medresh.

 וראיתי במדרש כי אף על פי כן נתיסר המלאך על אשר לא דבר הבשורה מפיו אליה ודבר לאברהם, והמלאכים יענשו על השוגג ועל שנוי כל שהוא

Translated as –  (Although the commandment of Hashem was delivered)  the angels were punished for not delivering  the news directly to her, but through speaking to Avrohom.  Angels are punished even for unintentional errors and for even the slightest deviation from what they were sent to do.  (Artscroll).    Meaning the commandment from Hashem was to speak to her directly and they did not do this.

What happened because of their slight deviation and what was the punishment?

I propose as follows:

In verse 18:9 the angels asked where is Sarah?  Meaning they wanted to fulfil their mission of delivering the impending birth to Sarah directly.  Avrohom tersely says, she is in the tent.  Meaning there is no need for her to come out, she can hear from the tent.  The angels should have responded, we need her to come out because our mission is to deliver this message of  great news, directly to her, however, words fail them.  This is like you are in a meeting with your boss about something important and  your boss says something that is a roadblock, and you do not get your way.    Words fail you and afterwards you kick yourself that you did not respond properly and you could have responded property to deflect the roadblock and possibly gotten your way.   This happened to me plenty of times when I was presenting in front of loan committee at the bank.

Verse 10 continues and says that they fulfilled their mission by telling Avrohom the news, with Sarah listening.   The Torah tells us    וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו.    These words are extra to convey that the angel did not fulfill his mission properly because he was behind her, he did not deliver the news directly to her.   

What happened as a result? Verses 11, 12, and 13.  Sarah laughed in derision.  Had he told her directly she would have seen the intensity in his and the other angels eyes, their body language, their Godliness, and would have been overjoyed and it would have been a different laughter, just like Avrohom’s laughter in Verse 17:17.  In Kotzk, Torah had to be given over in the presence of the Rebbe and student.  That is why they never committed Torah to writing.

This is the result of not listening and fulfilling Hashem’s instructions 100%,  even this slight deviation caused Sarah to say something improper and to be embarrassed.  

Perhaps you can say that this is their  punishment of their actions.  They assumed that Sarah would be happy and even if she reacted as she did,  they did not think it would be an issue.  She was a very righteous person, full of charity,  and one misplaced emotion would not be an issue, and would not be brought up to her to embarrass her.  However, it did cause embarrassment and they were the cause of Sarah’s embarrassment.  Imagine if one of us unintentionally caused problems and embarrassment for someone, we would have a week of sleepless nights.   There are plenty of Midrashim that speak of the  emotions of angels.   Especially the angel here who is one of the big four.   

This is what the Orach Chaim HaKodesh means to convey and what the words of  והוא אחריו  tell us.  

Vort 5)   Another lesson from the Torah that when you have great news as Avromon did about having a son and he could have told Sarah, Hashem still  wanted to be the one to deliver the joyous news.  Tell great news directly, not through a third party for obvious reasons.   The joy is magnified.   

Vort 6)   Chapter 18 Verse 9:

 וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֵׄלָׄ֔יׄוׄ אַיֵּ֖ה שָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתֶּ֑ךָ וַיֹּ֖אמֶר הִנֵּ֥ה בָאֹֽהֶל׃

When does is use the word to refer to Sarah’s tent as בָאֹֽהֶל and not  אֹ֖הֱלָה   as in 18:6 וַיְמַהֵ֧ר אַבְרָהָ֛ם הָאֹ֖הֱלָה אֶל־שָׂרָ֑ה .  .  . 

Vort 7)  Chapter 18 Verse 10:

 וַיֹּ֗אמֶר שׁ֣וֹב אָשׁ֤וּב אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ כָּעֵ֣ת חַיָּ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־בֵ֖ן לְשָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתֶּ֑ךָ וְשָׂרָ֥ה שֹׁמַ֛עַת פֶּ֥תַח הָאֹ֖הֶל וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו׃ 

  Why did the Torah describe Sarah’s tent as being behind them.  It was a separate tent.  Verse 18:6 seems to imply that Sarah has a separate tent, but this and the previous Verse may seem to suggest that it was one tent, with dividers.  Either way this is not a relevant point and off subject.

Vort 8)   Chapter 18 Verses 13, 14, and 15:

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֑ם לָ֣מָּה זֶּה֩ צָחֲקָ֨ה שָׂרָ֜ה לֵאמֹ֗ר הַאַ֥ף אֻמְנָ֛ם אֵלֵ֖ד וַאֲנִ֥י זָקַֽנְתִּי׃

הֲיִפָּלֵ֥א מֵיְהוָ֖ה דָּבָ֑ר לַמּוֹעֵ֞ד אָשׁ֥וּב אֵלֶ֛יךָ כָּעֵ֥ת חַיָּ֖ה וּלְשָׂרָ֥ה בֵֽן׃

וַתְּכַחֵ֨שׁ שָׂרָ֧ה ׀ לֵאמֹ֛ר לֹ֥א צָחַ֖קְתִּי כִּ֣י ׀ יָרֵ֑אָה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ׀ לֹ֖א כִּ֥י צָחָֽקְתְּ׃ 

  1.  Why ambush Sarah?  She was a righteous woman and even if she slipped up here, her emotions got the better of her.  Why call her out?   
  2. God is the one who told Avrohom that Sarah laughed?  They were having a meal and God tells Avrohom, your wife laughed?  Seems odd.  
  3. Rashi said that Hashem changed the words of Sarah from “my husband is old” to “I am  old”.  However, Sarah effectively said that she is old in Verse 12  וַתִּצְחַ֥ק שָׂרָ֖ה בְּקִרְבָּ֣הּ לֵאמֹ֑ר אַחֲרֵ֤י בְלֹתִי֙ הָֽיְתָה־לִּ֣י עֶדְנָ֔ה וַֽאדֹנִ֖י זָקֵֽן׃ .   Say it was an omission, not a change of words.  Technically yes, but in verse 12  she meant that I am old. Verse 11 basically said the same thing as a narrator.  וְאַבְרָהָ֤ם וְשָׂרָה֙ זְקֵנִ֔ים בָּאִ֖ים בַּיָּמִ֑ים חָדַל֙ לִהְי֣וֹת לְשָׂרָ֔ה אֹ֖רַח כַּנָּשִֽׁים׃.

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