Dr. Shoshana Levy and Tovah Levy
Rabbi Chaim Silverstein
חק לישׂראל – Chok L’Yisrael
עניני הסדרה – Perush on the Chumash
Dr. Barry Levy
Torah from the Parsha:
1) Negotiations with Efron – What does וּפִגְעוּ־לִ֖י in Verse 23:8 Mean
2) Where was Avrohom Living?
3) Where was Yitzchok?
4) Eliezer’s Shidduch Mission
5) Success in America
This week was a tough week. On Sunday, November 13, 2022 we drove into Toronto because my mother in law, Blanche Janowski, was not well. Monday night we took her to Mount Sinai. She was not eating and was getting dehydrated. She was in the emergency room for two days. They drained fluid from her lungs and gave her fluids intravenously at my wife’s insistence. She was doing better and went home Thursday night. Once at home she perked up, and her eating and drinking picked up.
Dr. Shoshana Levy and her daughter Tovah came on Thursday afternoon, the 17th. I picked them up from the airport and took them to Dr. Laffa at 78 Gerrard Street East. Delicious. They froze in the cold Toronto weather coming from Florida. We had a great Shabbos.
Friday night at the BAYT Rabbi Chaim Silverstein spoke. He is the founder of Keep Jerusalem – Im Eshkachech – אם אשכחך
Shabbos morning I davened at the BAYT. Rabbi Korobkin spoke and was his usual best.
At the Shalosh Seudos meal, Rabbi Mordechai Becher spoke and his topic was Sarah is My Sister: Does the End Justify The Means. Excellent speech. https://www.yutorah.org/rabbi-mordechai-becher/
On Sunday morning my son Eli came in and we all went to breakfast at Cafe Sheli. I met Rabbi Chaim Silverstein who was having breakfast with his traveling companion. I paid for their lunch and then played Jewish Geography. He told me that he was recently in Chicago and met with Lisa and Sidney Glenner. My head exploded. I told him that Lisa is my sister. They are close to Rabbi Chaim Silverstein and when they are in Israel, Rabbi Chaim Silverstein takes them to hidden places in Yerushalayim.
Rabbi Chaim Silverstien and myself at Cafe Sheli on November 20, 2022
Torah from this Parsha:
I opened up Rabbi Leibush Noble’s חק לישׂראל on Shabbos morning at 4:00 AM to learn Chmosh. Rabbi Leibush Noble was my mother in law’s father and was a Tzadick, founder of the Etz Chaim elementary school in Toronto. The Chok l’Yisrael (Hebrew: חֹק לישראל) is a compendium of Jewish texts designed for daily or weekly study. The Chok was a very popular Sefer in Europe. His Chok was printed in Warsaw in 1898. The Sefer has a Perush on Chumash that is called עניני הסדרה which is a running Perush on the Torah that was compiled from 50 different Seforim. The only other Sefer that has the עניני הסדרה is a Mikros Gedolos published by Lewin-Epstein in the 1950s called Penimim. Notice that the Chok L’Yisrael of Reb Leibush Noble was published in Europe by the same publisher, Lewin-Epstein. Unfortunately, the עניני הסדרה is no longer in print. Rabbi Korobkin spoke out an Alishich, which was quoted in this Perush on this week’s Parsha and I will talk about it later.
I took my granddaughter to meet Dr. Barry Levy and discuss the Chok L’Yisrael with him. I lent this Sefer to Dr. Barry Levy who is writing a book for Urim Publications on the history of the Mikraos Gedolos. Dr. Barry Levy told me that the Chok was first published in Egypt. It only had Rashi and no other commentaries. Its purpose was not for in-depth study. Dr. Levy showed me a Chok published in 1890 that only had Rashi and no other commentators on Chumash. Reb Leibush Noble’s edition had Rashi, Sifsei Chacomin, Rashbam, Daas Zekeinim, Baal Haturim, and the עניני הסדרה. What is great is that when I used the Chok, the above Rishonim takes precedence. Dr. Levy gave my granddaughter two pieces of advice about her future education and career. Tovah wants to go into Jewish History. Dr. Levy said that 1) you have to know the language of the source documents to read them to be able to understand the topic at hand. 2) find a good professor/mentor/teacher who is excellent and you attach yourself to the professor and learn from him/her. There is a Maamer Chazel on a Rebbe/teacher that says this very thought.
Dr. Barry Levy and myself from this past summer.
Description of the Chok from Wikipedia:
The work is based on the rules of study laid down in the Peri Etz Chaim of Hayyim ben Joseph Vital, in the Sha’ar Hanhagat Limmud (chapter on study habits). In this he recommends that, in addition to studying the Torah portion for the forthcoming Shabbat each week, one should study daily excerpts from the other works mentioned, and lays down a formula for the number of verses or the topic to be studied each day depending on the day of the week.
The compendium was first issued in book form by Rabbi Yitzchak Baruch. Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai added the extracts from books of law and morality and brought the collection to its present form.
The work is often used by busy working people who do not have time for in-depth Talmud study, particularly in Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. The approved method is to read the section for the day immediately after morning prayers, while still wearing tallit and tefillin. Hayyim Vital, in his Sha’ar Ha-mitsvot, parashat Va-etchanan, states “And this was the custom of my teacher (meaning Isaac Luria): after coming out of synagogue and eating his breakfast, he would wrap himself in tzitzit and put on tefillin, and afterwards read the readings as set out below, with the preliminary meditations set out below.”
Consistent with Wikipedia, on the face page there is a picture of the Ari, Reb Chaim Vital, and the Chida.
Torah #1) Genesis Verse 23:8
וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אִתָּ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר אִם־יֵ֣שׁ אֶֽת־נַפְשְׁכֶ֗ם לִקְבֹּ֤ר אֶת־מֵתִי֙ מִלְּפָנַ֔י שְׁמָע֕וּנִי וּפִגְעוּ־לִ֖י בְּעֶפְר֥וֹן בֶּן־צֹֽחַר׃
and he said to them, If it is your wish that I remove my dead for burial, you must agree to intercede for me with Ephron son of Zohar
What does וּפִגְעוּ־לִ֖י mean? When I first read it, I thought it meant to arrange a meeting. Avrohom was asking the people of Ches to set up a meeting for him with Efron and Avrohom would negotiate directly with Efron. However Rashi says that this is not the meaning rather –
(1:16 ופגעו לי. לְשוֹן בַּקָּשָׁה כְּמוֹ: אַל תִּפְגְּעִי בִּי (רות
Meaning that Avrohom was asking the people of Chas to ask Efron themselves on behalf of Avrohom. Very smart negotiating tactics. Avrohom was being very smart with his dealings with Efron. He got buy-in from all the people of Ches and had them talk to Efron and urge him to give the Machpelah cave to Avrohom. Avrohom would close the deal.
This year I added the following:
Rashi references Rus 1:16, which says:
וַתֹּ֤אמֶר רוּת֙ אַל־תִּפְגְּעִי־בִ֔י לְעׇזְבֵ֖ךְ לָשׁ֣וּב מֵאַחֲרָ֑יִךְ כִּ֠י אֶל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר תֵּלְכִ֜י אֵלֵ֗ךְ וּבַאֲשֶׁ֤ר תָּלִ֙ינִי֙ אָלִ֔ין עַמֵּ֣ךְ עַמִּ֔י וֵאלֹהַ֖יִךְ אֱלֹהָֽי׃
But Ruth replied, “Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Rashi – אַל תִּפְגִּעִי בִי. אַל תִּפְצְרִי בִי:
In Bereshis Rashi uses the word בַּקָּשָׁה – a request and in Rus 1:16 he uses a different word
“אַל תִּפְצְרִי בִי “ which means do not press me, leave me alone.
A request is benign and urging is aggressive. I did not understand Rashi referencing Rus. If they are the same meaning of a request that in Rus, Rashi should have used the word .בַּקָּשָׁה ?
I called Rabbi Avrohom Isenberg, the son of the famous Rabbi Hersh (Adele) Isenberg who was Mr, Dikduk in Chicago, and he gave me the answer. The word פגע means to confront. There are many different types of confrontations. The Contemporary Shilo Dictionary defines פגע as “to meet; to stumble upon; to push; to attack; to entreat,beg; to afflict” Rashi also translates the word as to ask. Rashi is telling us that here in Bereshis that it does not mean like I originally thought “to arrange a meeting”, but is the language of requesting. Similarly by Rus, she is requesting from Noami not to further press Rus. Both Bereshis and Rus express the same idea of requesting. Asking is a benign request and pressing which is a more aggressive request.
Life is a series of פגע’s – confrontations. We have to handle every confrontation properly. Facing confrontations properly enhances one’s life, our families, our jobs, and our overall well being. Not handling confrontation appropriately is destructive on all levels. Even if our failure is minor, it still wreaks havoc to one’s own self, one’s equilibrium. Sometimes we have to ask, sometimes we have to urge, cajole; sometimes we need a meeting to express ourselves in person; sometimes we have to be combative; and sometimes it is like Yaakov on his way to Charan, reaching a destination. The destination can just be that, an arrival – we confront the destination. It can be an arrival to somewhere special for us that is associated with joy and unfortunately other times with sorrow. The highest level is an arrival of holiness.
Torah #2) – Why did Avrohom go to Beer Sheva after the Akidah:
There is a question that I have dealt with in the past. Sarah died in Chevron, yet the previous Parsha said that Avrohom went back to Beer Sheva after the Akidah. In fact Rashi on this Parsha in Verse 23:2 says that Avrohom came from Beer Sheva to Chevron to bury Sarah from Beer Sheva. Why would he go to Beer Sheva when his wife was in Chevron? Rashi of Verse 21:34 clearly says that Avrohom and Sarah were living in Chevron when the Akedah happened. Additionally, the end of Rashi on Verse 21:34 says that Avrohom and Sarah went to Chevron 12 years before the Akaidah. You have to say that there was a reason why he went to Beer Sheva, however, the Torah does not tell us why.
The עניני הסדרה brings down a Peshet that in fact Avrohom and Sarah were living in Beer-Sheba before the Akediah. The עניני הסדרה argues on Rashi. The עניני הסדרה holds that they lived in Beer Sheva from the time Avrohom was 99 years old until he was 137, which was his age at the Akedah. Why was Sarah living in Chevron if their home was in Beer Sheva?
The answer is that Avrohom and Sarah were aging. Avrohom wanted to be buried in Chevron, in the cave where Adam and Chava were buried. He felt that if one of them dies and the surviving spouse comes to Chevron to purchase the cave of Machpelah, the people Ches and Efron would be suspicious and either not sell them the Machpelah cave or sell for a price that the surviving spouse did not have. Therefore they decided that Sarah would move to Chevron, establish residence, and then request to purchase the Machpelah cave for a burial spot. I guess that their life was in Beer Sheva and Avrohom could not just pick himself up and abandon the Eishel and their community. Only Sarah moves to Chevron. However, what happened was that Sarah died almost immediately after her move to Chevron. Therefore after the Akediah, Avrohom returned to Beer-Sheva, his place of residence. I assume that when Avrohom returned to Beer-Sheva, a messenger was waiting for him to tell him that Sarah had died. It’s interesting that although Avrohom was a prophet, he was not told about his wife’s death.
Torah #3) – Where was Yitzchok?
The Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel says on Genesis Verse 22:19 in last week’s Parsha “And the angels on high took Izhak and brought him into the school (medresha) of Shem the Great; and he was there three years. And in the same day Abraham returned to his young men; and they arose and went together to the Well of the Seven, and Abraham dwelt at Beira-desheva.”
My question is why did the angels have to take him, Shem was seemingly living in Yerushalayim and his Yeshiva must have been there. Why did angels have to take him when he could have gone there on his own. Now that I am thinking about this, perhaps it does not mean that they carried him and flew him, but they may have told Yitzchok to go to the Yeshiva of Shem and walked with him.
Torah #4) Rabbi Korobkin talked about Shidduchim; how the wrong words, a grimace can ruin a Shidduch.
When Eliezer relates the events, Besual and Levan say ”this is all from God, take Rivka and go.”
Verses 24:50 and 24:51
וַיַּ֨עַן לָבָ֤ן וּבְתוּאֵל֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ מֵיְהֹוָ֖ה יָצָ֣א הַדָּבָ֑ר לֹ֥א נוּכַ֛ל דַּבֵּ֥ר אֵלֶ֖יךָ רַ֥ע אוֹ־טֽוֹב׃
הִנֵּֽה־רִבְקָ֥ה לְפָנֶ֖יךָ קַ֣ח וָלֵ֑ךְ וּתְהִ֤י אִשָּׁה֙ לְבֶן־אֲדֹנֶ֔יךָ כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָֽה׃
The next morning their tune is different. They say let Rivka stay here a year and if not a year, then ten months, as it says in Verse 24:55 וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אָחִ֙יהָ֙ וְאִמָּ֔הּ תֵּשֵׁ֨ב הַנַּעֲרָ֥ אִתָּ֛נוּ יָמִ֖ים א֣וֹ עָשׂ֑וֹר אַחַ֖ר תֵּלֵֽךְ ׃
Eliezer insists that they leave immediately, Verse 24:56 – וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵהֶם֙ אַל־תְּאַחֲר֣וּ אֹתִ֔י וַֽיהֹוָ֖ה הִצְלִ֣יחַ דַּרְכִּ֑י שַׁלְּח֕וּנִי וְאֵלְכָ֖ה לַֽאדֹנִֽי ׃
Lavan and her mother still want to delay and says, let us ask Rivka
וַיֹּאמְר֖וּ נִקְרָ֣א לַֽנַּעֲרָ֑ וְנִשְׁאֲלָ֖ה אֶת־פִּֽיהָ׃ Verse 24:57
Verse 24:58 – Rivka is asked and she responds, I want to leave with Eliezer.
וַיִּקְרְא֤וּ לְרִבְקָה֙ וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֵלֶ֔יהָ הֲתֵלְכִ֖י עִם־הָאִ֣ישׁ הַזֶּ֑ה וַתֹּ֖אמֶר אֵלֵֽךְ׃
What happened between the night when they said, this is directed by God, take Rivka and go; and the next morning when they wanted to delay?
Rabbi Korobkin gave two answers and I will offer a third.
Answer #1 – My answer
Things always look differently in the night vs. the reality of the next morning. At night when Eliezer recaps the events, they are gung ho, however, after they slept on it, they ask themselves, what did we do? This always happens when I am at a banquet or fundraiser at night and pledge money. The next morning I have buyers remorse and regret what I did.
Answer #2 – Rabbi Korobkin’s first answer.
At night Eliezer was speaking to the men, Besual and Lavan. Men can easily be persuaded and say, Yes this is from God. The next morning Eliezer was talking to the mother. Women are more realistic and more practical. Rivka’s mother says, wait a minute, I want my daughter to stay a little longer with me.
Answer #3 – Alishiach brought down in the עניני הסדרה, modified by Rabbi Daniel Korobkin.
What changed between the night and the morning. Verse 24:53 happened.
וַיּוֹצֵ֨א הָעֶ֜בֶד כְּלֵי־כֶ֨סֶף וּכְלֵ֤י זָהָב֙ וּבְגָדִ֔ים וַיִּתֵּ֖ן לְרִבְקָ֑ה וּמִ֨גְדָּנֹ֔ת נָתַ֥ן לְאָחִ֖יהָ וּלְאִמָּֽהּ׃
Eliezer gave Rivka gold and silver vessels, and clothes. What did the family get? Godiva chocolate! They got מִ֨גְדָּנֹ֔ת – Rashi – ומגדנות. לְשׁוֹן מְגָדִים, שֶׁהֵבִיא עִמּוֹ מִינֵי פֵּרוֹת שֶׁל אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל: – dried fruit, other delicacies from Israel. True it was delicacies but not money. Eliezer misread the situation and he should have given all the money to the family, not to Rivka. Lavan was greedy and was only interested in money. He thought to himself Rivka received expensive rings and bracelets just for drawing water, I should get much more gold and silver for feeding the entire caravan and providing lodging. The עניני הסדרה does not say that he wanted Shidduch money. It says that Lavan was greedy and that he was delaying until Eliezer got the hint and gave him big money. When they asked Rivka to stay longer at home, Lavan was hinting to her to agree to stay with the family.
If not for Rivkah’s insistence, the future of Klal Yisroel could have been different.
Torah #5) Success in America
Another thought hit me during Rabbi Korobkin’s speech.
Terach and Avrohom leave the family homestead while Terach’s other son, Nachor, stays in Aram Naharaim. I would guess that Nachor told his father, why are you leaving, we are successful here. You will struggle and Nachor probably told his brother, Avrohom, what is with this spiritual lifestyle? You will be poverty stricken. Avrohom subsequently traveled even further away, living as a sojourner in Canaan. As the Parsha says at the beginning of Lech Lecha that one who constantly travels generally does not have a large family size and is usually not successful monetarily. Rashi on Verse 12:4 says ואעשך לגוי גדול. לְפִי שֶׁהַדֶּרֶךְ גּוֹרֶמֶת לִשְׁלֹשָׁה דְבָרִים, מְמַעֶטֶת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה וּמְמַעֶטֶת אֶת הַמָּמוֹן וּמְמַעֶטֶת אֶת הַשֵּׁם, לְכָךְ הֻזְקַק לִשְׁלֹשָׁה בְּרָכוֹת הַלָּלוּ, שֶׁהִבְטִיחוֹ עַל הַבָּנִים וְעַל הַמָּמוֹן וְעַל הַשֵּׁם: Additionally, Avrohom opened up an Eishel, spending huge money for good deeds.
Years later, who is greedy and wants money? Lavan, the one who stayed on the farm where his grandfather felt he had financial security, wants money from the Tzaddik Avrohom. Years later who is the rich one and who is the one who is greedy and wants money. Avrohom is the rich one and Lavan has this need for money.
My Zedi, Sholem Sklar came to America in 1923, the last of six siblings. My mother would always tell me that they said “Sholem, in America you cannot be Frum”. When my mother died in 2018 she had 133 living descendents and altogether my grandparents must have over 400 living descendents. They are successful financially, some very wealthy, learning Torah, and doing charity work. From my Zedi’s 5 other siblings, maybe there are 50 living relatives. When my mother’s first cousin was threatened with foreclosure, I stepped forward and made her mortgage payments for a year. The family members of the five siblings did not step up. I am not wealthy, but I could not see her on the street. Those family members whose parents said, in America to make it, one must throw off their religion, did not step up. My Zedi’s grandson stepped up, the descendent of the one who refused to work on Shabbos