The Jewish Eye
Parshas Lech Licha (Lech Lecha)
Chassam Sofer - Avrohom's Good-Bye Party Was A Real Dud
To describe Yaakov's departure from Be'er Sheva the Torah uses the word VaYetzei. Rashi famously comments that a tzaddik's departure makes and impact as he takes with him the beauty, glory, and luster of the place. When Avrohom left his father's house it says "Lech Licha", why did it not say VaYeitzei?
The Chassam Sofer answers that Yaakov left a city steeped in Torah and Yiras Shamayim that were the hallmarks of all those that came far and wide to be under the influence of Avrohom and Yitzchok. These good people appreciated Yaakov and therefore his departure was a blow to the entire atmosphere of the city. However when Avrohom left his city, it was almost entirely under the influence of Nimrod and his heretical beliefs. Avrohom was a pariah. Therefore his leaving did not impact anyone in the city. In fact they were quite happy to see him go.
Was There a Mystery Man In Sara's Life?
Since the Mitzriyim wouldn't take an Eishes Ish and would kill Avrohom to free up Sara how can Avrohom ask Sara to be oveir on Eishes Ish and also fool the Mitzriyim into this issur to spare his own life. The Sifsei Chachomim says based on a Chizkuni that Avrohom's story had one more element in it. True Sara was only his sister but she was indeed married to another man who was in a different country at the moment. This way they wouldn't kill Avrohom or take Sara since she was married.
This answers another difficulty. Why did Avrohom need to tell Sara that if she tells this little fib they will be good to Avrohom. Spare his life yes, but who cares that he will benefit from this lie? He answers that since Avrohom was the only person they knew who knew the identity of Sara's supposed husband, they would need him to either extract a divorce or find out if he died so that Sara would be free for their taking. In order to get him to cooperate they would give him the royal treatment.
What Happened To All Of Avrohom's Geirim?
"VaYikach Avraham ... ViEs Kol HaNefesh Asher Asu Bi Charan"; "Avraham took all the souls that he made in Charan to the Land of Canaan." Rashi explans, Avraham converted the men and Sarah converted the women. All these Geirim were brought to Eretz Yisroel.
Pirkei Drabbi Elazar asks, what happened to the descendents of these Geirim? Have you ever heard of someone saying that he is a descendent of Avraham's Geirim???? He answers; when Avraham died they went "off the derech" and back to their old ways. Pardas Yosef explains that this was because they did not respect Yitzchok as much as Avraham and therefore "cooled off" in their Yiddishkeit!!
Kli Yakar and Vilna Gaon on Bracha and Klala
"Vavorichah Mivarachekah Umikalalechah Ahor"; "And I will bless the ones that bless you and the ones who curse you I will curse" The Meforshim ask, just like the pasuk says, "I will bless the ones that bless you" - stating "I will bless" first, so too should the pasuk end, "I will curse the ones who curse you". Why does the pasuk reverse it by saying, "The ones who curse you I will curse?"
The Kli Yakar answers, "Machshava Tova HaKadosh Baruch Hu Mitzaref Limaaseh, Machshava Raah Ayn HaKadosh Baruch Hu Mitzaref Limaaseh"- Hashem considers a good thought (when one thinks about doing a Mitzvah) as if the person actually did it; but concerning an evil thought, Hashem only punishes when the thought come to fruition and the person commits the sin. That is the pshat in this pasuk. "Vavorichah Mivarachekah" - "And I will bless them even before they bless you. When they just have a thought to bless you I will consider their Machshava as if it was done. But Umikalalechah Ahor" - only after they actually curse you will I curse them, since Hashem only punishes when the thought come to fruition.
Vilna Gaon offers another explanation. He says that the blessing of a rich man is greater than that of a poor man, since the rich man knows what it means to have pleasure. He therefore will give a greater Bracha. On the other hand, a poor man's curse is greater than a rich man since he experienced pain in his life and can give a harsher curse. The Hashem is saying to Avraham, "Vavorichah Mivarachekah" - I will bless them before they bless you, therefore making it a blessing of a rich person who gives a more lavish Bracha. "Umikalalechah Ahor" - I will only curse them after they curse you. This way it won't be a curse of a poor man whose curse is harsh.
Lot vs. Avrohom - Can You Put Limits On Frumkeit?
The Medrash tells us that when Lot left Avrohom to settle in Sedom he said "I cannot live not with Avrohom and not with His G-d." Maybe this can be explained with something interesting often said by Rav Shimshon Pincus. Imagine you were invited for Shabbos to the house of the Chassam Sofer. What an amazing opportunity to spend time in the presence of a Malach Elokim and observe him up close for an entire Shabbos. Watching him eat. Hearing him sing. Listening to his divrei torah. Seeing him interact with his family.
Motzaei Shabbos comes and it's time for you to go but the Chassam Sofer says "You know it was such a pleasure having you that we want you to stay another day." Wow, how flattering. So you unpack your bags and stay for another day. The day is spent learning with flames of fire. More davening more kedusha, more tahara. Sunday night the Chassam Sofer asks you to stay for another week. At this point you've had as much tziddkus as you can handle for a year. You just want to go home and live a "normal" life.
Lot spent many years with Avrohom and his adventures. The chesed, the geirim, it was nice and exciting but he was getting older and it was too much. He just wanted to be a "regular" guy. He wanted to live in a nice neighborhood and relax. He was more than happy to do Hachnosas Orchim but in his book there were limits to kedusha and he didn't want to "over do it". The end of Lot we all know.
Embarassed, Lot Sneaks Away
When Lot departed from Avraham and chose to live in the cities of the Kikar HaYarden the pasuk says "VaYisa Lot MiKedem" - "And Lot traveled from East to west". If one looks at a map of Eretz Yisroel, one will notice that the Yarden is the eastern border of Eretz Yisroel. If so, how was Lot traveling to cities of Kikar HaYarden in a direction from east to west, he should have been traveling from west to east?
The Taz answers, Lot was embarrassed to show Avraham that he wanted to live among the evil people of Sdom. He therefore tried to fool Avraham in to thinking that he was headed in the opposite direction (westward). When Avraham was out of sight, he turned around and headed eastward towards the Kikar HaYarden!
Sedom and Mitzrayim - Was Avrohom a Gift Taker or Not?
Despite the fact that Avrohom earned all the bounty from Sedom because of his victory over the 4 kings, still, he told the King of Sedom that he will not take any bounty since he didn't want the king to say he made Avrohom rich. This begs the question of how Avrohom took sheep and cattle from Paroh when he didn't even deserve it.
Rav Yehonoson Eibishitz suggests that Avrohom didn't actually take anything from Paroh. Paroh may have appointed him to an important position in his court and therefore he earned a great fortune through his position. He points out that the pasuk doesn't say that Paroh gave him cattle rather it says "He was good to Avrohom because of Sarah" and as a result of this goodness continues the pasuk, "He had sheep and cattle". There is never any indication that the sheep and cattle came from Paroh.
The Netziv says that Avrohom knew the personalities of the two Kings. When PAroh offered him riches he felt that Paroh was doing this to make himself feel important and not to feel superior to Avrohom. It was a gift offering to a royal personage. However Avrohom felt that the King of Sedom was giving this as charity to Avrohom so he refused to accept.
Was Avrohom In Eretz Yisroel Before Hashem Told Him "Lech Licha"?
"ViAvraham Ben Chamesh Shanim ViShivim Shana Bitzaso MeCharan"; "Avraham was 75 years old when he left Charan." The pasuk tells us in Parshas Bo that the Jews left Mitzrayim at the end of 430 years. Rashi explains that 400 years prior to Yitzias Mitzrayim Yitzchok was born, and 30 years before that was the Bris Bain HaBisarim. We know that Avraham was 100 years old when Yitzchok was born. If the Bris Bain HaBisarim was 30 years before that, it would come out that Avraham was 70 by the Bris Bain HaBisarim. This would be difficult to understand, since the pasuk in Lech Licha tells us that Avraham was 75 when he entered Eretz Yisroel. Rashi tells us that the Bris Bain HaBisarim took place in Eretz Yisroel. How is it possible that Avraham was in Eretz Yisroel for the Bris Bain HaBisarim at the age of 70 if he first entered Eretz Yisroel at the age of 75?
The Daas Zekainim and also Tosafos in Berachos answer that Avraham went to Eretz Yisroel twice! The first time at the age of 70 for the Bris Bain HaBisarim and the second time at the age of 75 when Hashem commanded him "Lech Licha" - "Leave your land and go to Eretz Canaan"
Back to top
A Different Kind of News
Questions or Comments? Send an email to:
Copyright © The Jewish Eye 2008 All Rights Reserved