Rabbi Reisman – Parshas Chaya Sarah 5782
1 – Topic – A Thought from Rav Chaim Shmulevitz on the Parsha
As we prepare for Shabbos Parshas Chaya Sarah, Shabbos Mevarchim as we head from the month of Cheshvon to the month of Kisleiv, heading towards Chanukah and a time of Kochos of redemption. For Parshas Chaya Sarah let’s start with an Inyan of Machshava and perhaps go on to an Inyan of Halacha. Starting with a Machshava thought, Rashi in the beginning of the Parsha on Posuk Beis talks about Sarah’s death as is well-known. Rashi says that the Semichus of Akeidas Yitzchok to the death of Sarah is based on the fact that the Satan showed Sarah the Akeida, that her son was about to be killed and from that she passed away. That is a Davar Pele that needs an explanation.
I have heard Darshanim say that she passed away from great Simcha but that is not Pashut Pshat as the Satan was not looking to give her great Simcha, and the Targum Yonason says B’feirush that it was from Tzar. She died from the Tzar. She had a baby after 90 years, her one son, her future to be a Klal Yisrael, and certainly the simple Pshat is that she died from Tzar. So this needs an explanation.
#1 – Rashi’s style is not to bring Stam Medrashim, and certainly not Medrashim that are Chiddushim unless it has something to do with Pshat or at least to teach us something.
#2 – Sarah was greater than Avraham in Nevius. We have the Ribbono Shel Olam himself saying that to Avraham. So how could it be that you have here two people certainly close to each other in their level, and if anything Sarah was greater, and Avraham is told and he goes and he is willing to do it he takes a knife in hand and goes out to Shecht his son and Sarah on the opposite extreme dies from the shock and the pain of what she sees. It needs an explanation.
Rav Chaim Shmulevitz in the Sichos Mussar of Taf Shin Lamed Gimmel (Maimar Yud Aleph, page Mem Gimmel (מידת ההסתגלות)) explains with an important Yesod. Yes Rashi is teaching us an important idea. This is with a Hakdama of a Rashi in Parshas Vayeira which is also well-known. HKB”H said to Avraham in 22:2 (קַח-נָא אֶת-בִּנְךָ אֶת-יְחִידְךָ אֲשֶׁר-אָהַבְתָּ, אֶת-יִצְחָק). Rashi says that He told him step by step. First take your son, I have more than one son. (אֶת-יְחִידְךָ) your one son and Avraham said that each one of my sons are (וזה יחיד לאמו). (אֲשֶׁר-אָהַבְתָּ), I love both of them. (אֶת-יִצְחָק), take Yitzchok. Take him where? What? Then HKB”H says to take him to (אֶרֶץ הַמֹּרִיָּה) and to be Makriv him there. Avraham Avinu was told L’at L’at, he was told a little bit at a time. It was broken into him a step at a time. He was told to take his son. Which son? He understood that it was something very serious that he had to do to his son but slowly he got broken into the idea that it was because Yitzchok was to be offered as an Olah.
When something is broken in slowly a person can slowly be Misgabeir Al Haga’guim (in the language of the Sichos Mussar). He has a personal desire, a personal nature, and if you suddenly tell him go against your nature it would be a shock and a pain. If it would be broken in slowly with one step at a time he can handle it far better.
Mashe’ain’kain Sarah was told suddenly and she didn’t have the time to Misgabeir Al Haga’guim to strengthen herself against the natural feelings. When something is sudden, it is a different impression. This is the idea. This is a very important lesson in human nature. Very often we are called upon to do something and our initial reaction is that it is too hard, it is too difficult, it involves too much sacrifice, I can’t do it. Even though G-d said to do it, it is hard, it is difficult. L’hisgabeir Al Haga’guim, a person has to take the time and slowly work on the fact that he really wants to do something that is different. Let it sink in for a minute or two. Don’t tell somebody I want you to give up and sacrifice right now, get up and go to the Beis Hamedrash for Mishmar. It is very hard. A person wants to go to bed. Why a person wants to go to bed so much I don’t know but let’s say that a person wants to jump into bed. So don’t spring it on him right away at 9 o’clock at night to go out. No! Tell him 2 o’clock in the afternoon and give him advance notice and he can be Misgabeir Al Haga’guim.
I want to tell you something that happened a number of years ago. I was giving a Shiur and in the Shiur I mentioned that people like to be middle of the road. Everybody in his own imagination likes to be middle of the road. Among Jews in the world it is that way. The Reform Jews say that there are unaffiliated Jews there are very religious Jews, we are right in middle. The conservative Jews say there are Reform Jews, there are Orthodox Jews and we are right in middle. L’havdil the Modern Orthodox say there are Jews who are Reform and Conservative, they are not religious at all, then there are the Bnei Torah and Chassidim on the other side and we are right in middle. People are very comfortable in middle. Bnei Torah look and they say there are the Modern Orthodox on one side and there are Chassidim on the other side, we are right in middle. Chassidim probably don’t consider the Modern Orthodox, they just say look there are Yeshiva’leit on one side and there is Satmar on the other side and we are right in the middle. Everybody seems to comfortable right in the middle. Except for Satmar. Satmar is very comfortable being on the edge. They say we like to do everything the best. Everybody else needs a little protection, a little comfort. Somehow there is some comfort by being in the middle.
I mentioned that, that Yiddishkeit shouldn’t be that way. If you are convinced that something is the right thing to do, who cares if it is the right or the left. Who cares if people are doing it or not doing it? Do what is right, forget about the image of being protected by the crowd. This is something that I had said in a Shiur.
I got a call from a good friend of mine that summer. He told me that his brother in law had called him to give him the idea of taking a week off and going to Lakewood for a week for Yarchei Kallah week, to go learn for a week. He told him I am not that type to go. I have Sedorim, but I am not that extreme to go and take a week off and go away. When he hung up he remembered what he had heard in the Shiur. He remembered that he didn’t like it at the time. What is wrong with being in the middle? Now he understood what I had meant. He picked up the phone and he went. If it is the right thing to do, who cares if it is the middle or not the middle, who needs the middle?
When you are told something that first impression, it is not you, it is not me, it is too hard, it is too difficult, who goes, who learns Daf Yomi, who gets up so early, only extremists, I am safe in the middle. Mishmar? Who does Mishmar? Unfortunately not enough people. You know, I learn something at night. I learn in the Beis Medrash for an hour, I have to go for two or three hours? What? You will have that first impression, but afterwards be Misgabeir Al Haga’guim. That is the idea, the message of the difference between Avraham and Sarah. They were equally shocked by the idea, but Avraham had time and was Misgabeir Al Haga’guim and that was a different story.
2 – Topic – A Thought from the Chasam Sofer
Let’s move on to a second thought in the Parsha which comes from the Chasam Sofer “Hachadash” and the Chasam Sofer applies a beautiful Halachik concept to something in the Parsha. Eliezer the great Shadchan comes to the home of Rivka and is offered food to eat and he says as is found in 24:33 (וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אֹכַל, עַד אִם-דִּבַּרְתִּי דְּבָרָי). I will speak first and eat later. Freigt the Chasam Sofer what is wrong with eating. Many things are accomplished over what we call today a “working lunch” many people do that. That is how people get acquainted. Why didn’t he want to eat and talk over the Seudah?
Zagt the Chasam Sofer a wonderful thing. We know that Besuel wanted to poison Eliezer and Eliezer must have been suspicious that he is not in such a perfect home. He probably didn’t feel 100% safe. Why did Besuel want to poison Eliezer? We have a concept based on a Gemara in Nazir 12a (top line) (האומר לשלוחו צא וקדש לי אשה סתם), somebody who says to a Shaliach go be Mekadeish an Isha, he doesn’t say who he says just find me a wife and the Shaliach dies on the way, (אסור בכל הנשים שבעולם). Now this man can’t marry anybody because whoever he marries might be the sister of his wife. He doesn’t know to whom the Shaliach gave the Kiddushin. Therefore, Besuel wanted that by killing Eliezer he would effectively make it that Yitzchok can’t get married. This is a well-known idea.
Says the Chasam Sofer let’s look at the whole Gemara in Nazir 12 (האומר לשלוחו צא וקדש לי אשה סתם אסור בכל הנשים שבעולם) is true. If you tell someone Stam to be Mekadeish an Isha he is Assur to all the women of the world. But if he said to go to a certain place and be Mekadeish an Isha then even if the Shaliach dies the man is Muttar, he is not Muttar to people from that area, from that neighborhood where the Shaliach was sent to go. But since the Shaliach was only given permission to give Kiddushin to certain people, he is Muttar afterwards to marry other people.
Zagt the Chasam Sofer, Eliezer said I am not going to start eating because maybe they are poisoning me. They think that they will Assur Yitzchok from every other woman in the world. (עַד אִם-דִּבַּרְתִּי דְּבָרָי) Let me first tell you, Avraham said in 24:4 (כִּי אֶל-אַרְצִי וְאֶל-מוֹלַדְתִּי, תֵּלֵךְ). Avraham didn’t make me an open Shaliach. Avraham said go only to my land, to my family. Even if you kill me Yitzchak will be Muttar to marry someone not from Avraham’s family, and therefore, there is no purpose of killing me. Azoi Zagt the Chasam Sofer a Drush in these Pesukim.
3 – Topic – A Thought from Rav Aharon Kotler on the word BaKol
Let me close with a Nekuda. HKB”H as it says in 24:1 (בֵּרַךְ אֶת-אַבְרָהָם, בַּכֹּל). Avraham got everything. The Ramban is Marich on what (כֹּל) is. He says it is a Remez and a Sod of HKB”H of what (כֹּל) is. What is (כֹּל)? He says there is a Middah of Hashem of (כֹּל) and he goes off on an explanation which is Kabbalistic. Artscroll doesn’t translate it, no one translates it because it is Kabbalistic.
Rav Aharon Kotler in the Mishnas Reb Aharon in Cheilek Aleph on page Kuf Daled has a brief explanation Nigla of what the Midda of (כֹּל) is and he says Gevaldig. He says there is a Midda of Histapkus, a feeling of I have what I need. Not being jealous of others, being happy with what you have. He says there are two types of being happy. One type of being happy, a person says look Baruch Dayan Ha’emes, I would really like to have more but I accept what HKB”H gave me as G-d knows what is good for me. This is the Emes. That is one Middah.
The Middah of (בַּכֹּל) is a higher Middah. The Middah of (בַּכֹּל) is when a person understands that he has everything that he could possibly have. L’mashal to someone who is writing a Sefer Torah and he gets to the last letter, the Lamed. He says I finished everything. He is asked don’t you want more? There is no more. There is nothing else. That is the Middah of (בַּכֹּל). There is nothing else. I have everything. The Middah of Histapkus, HKB”H blessed Avraham (בַּכֹּל). The Middah of satisfaction, of Histapkus. What he had was (בַּכֹּל). Wow! What a wonderful Middah.
With that I want to wish everybody an absolutely wonderful Shabbos, a meaningful week to come and B’ezras Hashem as we march into Kisleiv we see Chanukah on the horizon and we start to prepare for that Ohr of Chanukah. We should be a Klei Kibbul. We should be people who are ready to be Mekabeil that special Ohr that comes to the world on Chanukah. A Gutten Shabbos to all!