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Volume 31, Issue 3
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ואברכה מברכך ומקללך אאר
“And I will bless those that bless you, and those that curse you I will curse…” (12:3)
The two parts of this verse present a contrast. In the first part, the predicate is followed by the object, whereas in the second part, the object precedes the predicate. Kli Yakar, noting this contrast, offers an illuminating insight. Good intentions, though not yet carried out, are rewarded by Hashem as accomplished deeds. Evil intentions, on the other hand, are punishable only when they have been put into effect.
Therefore, the Torah states, “I will bless them” at the beginning of the verse in order to indicate that they will be blessed from the moment they intend to bless you; even though they have not yet actually done so as of yet. The opposite is true of “those that curse you.” Here, bad intentions do not count as deeds. Therefore, “I will curse” follows after “and those that curse you.” (Kli Yakar)
אמרי נא אחתי את
“Please say that you are my sister…” (12:12)
Many commentators try to explain an amazing midrash on our verse: “From here we see that we may slaughter an animal on Shabbat for a sick person.”
Doesn’t Avraham’s entire plot here indicate a lack of faith? Why did he not simply rely on G-d’s protection rather than resorting to lies? Because although he had confidence in G-d, one must still do everything in his power to save himself. Therefore, Avraham is not condemned for this deception, even though the Torah tells us he used it constantly (20:13)!
So, too, says our midrash, we might have thought that if someone is deathly ill on Shabbat, rather than desecrate the day in order to feed him, we should rely on G-d to keep him alive until Shabbat ends. But from Avraham we learn that we must do our utmost for ourselves and others. (Yalkut Eliezer)
ויאמר אברם אל לוט אל נא תהי מריבה ביני וביניך…כי אנשים אחים אנחנו
“And Avram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no quarrel between me and you, for we are brothers…” (13:8)
Brotherly quarrels are usually the most painful and enduring. As it is written, “Faithful are the wounds of a ‘lover’…” (Mishlei 27:6), on which Tosafot comments that once a wound is opened among good friends, it goes deep and lasts long (Ta’anit 20a). Therefore, Avraham wanted to separate from Lot before their dispute escalated. (Haderush Vehaiyun)
In the previous verse, the quarrel is described as a “riv,” a masculine noun, while our verse features the feminine form, “merivah,” suggesting that once their wives were drawn into the argument, Avraham took action! (Toras Gavriel)
According to numerous commentators, Avraham feared that this quarrel between a preacher of G-d’s love and goodness and his own nephew – between “brothers,” as it were, who, according to a midrash quoted by Rashi, even resembled each other – could create a chilul Hashem and undercut his spiritual influence. Likewise, he rushed to save his nephew from captivity (Bereshit 14) lest his captors confuse the two and attribute Lot’s shortcomings to Avraham himself.
ויפרדו איש מעל אחיו אברם
“Thus, they parted, one from his brother…” (13:11-12)
The final letters of the four words איש מעל אחיו אברם , spell the word שלום , peace. This tells us that they parted in order to maintain peace between them. (R’ Munk)
כה יהיה זרעך
“So shall your offspring be…” (15:5)
This phrase alludes to the fact that in twenty-five years – corresponding to the gematria of
כה – there will be offspring to him. For Avraham was seventy-five years old at the time of the Bris ben Habesarim – Covenant between the Parts and he was one hundred when Yitzchak, his main offspring, was born. (R’ Munk)
Rav Avraham Mordechai Alter zt”l of Gur (Imrei Emes) would say:
“The Torah tells us that there was a dispute between the shepherds of Avraham’s cattle and the shepherds of Lot’s cattle. The verse ends with the words: ‘And the Caananim and Prizim were there living in the land.’ Why was it necessary to mention these last words, and how do they connect to the beginning of the verse? The answer is to teach us that the presence of strangers during a dispute causes a chilul Hashem.” (Torah Tavlin)
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