Od Yeshoma Be’oray Yehuda: We begin this week with extended wishes of Mazel tov to the Oisvorfer, the eishes chayil (Lisa) and the entire family upon the marriage this past Sunday, finally, of their son Zachary to Ariella Perl. Mazel tov to the grandparents, Ellie and Irving Bader, who hosted a beautiful sheva brochos earlier this week. Mazel tov as well to the Machatunim, Karen and Allen Perl, to Ariella’s grandmother Margot Silverman and their entire extended family.
Mazel tov to our good friends Esty and Avi Goldstein who will be celebrating the bar mitzvah of their son Daniel this coming Shabbis. Avi is an occasional reader ober a dedicated follower of the Oisvorfer. Sadly, we will miss this simcha but wish them much and only nachas from Daniel and from their other great kids.
Mazel Tov as well to our longtime friends Chana and Jay Fenster on the bat mitzvah celebration this coming Motzoei Shabbis of their daughter Leora. We of course thank Chana and Jay for pushing off this celebration for a week so that we could attend Zachary’s wedding. We look forward to sharing this simcha with them.
And a big mazel Tov to Beverly and Leon Mehl on the aufruf this coming shabbis of their son Alex and upon the forthcoming of his marriage to Eden Glaser. The Oisvorfer was in attendance when Beverly and Leon got married and we look forward to sharing with them and dancing at this wedding.
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Nu, a year ago Parshas Chaya Soro, the Oisvorfer, his family and many others were still without power following Sandy’s knockout punch to the five towns and elsewhere. A year later, we barely remember her and hope that by now, all insurance claims have been paid, and all are back on their feet. Somehow, life goes on. Settle in and let’s learn some parsha. Parshas Chaya Soro contains three amazing stories; each one is surrounded by many medroshim who try valiantly to plug a few holes here and there, a minhag many of you have adopted, if you chap. Let’s briefly learn the parsha and then, time and space permitting, we’ll dig a shtikel tiffer into one of the storylines.
Soro Emanu, Avrohom’s first wife, has passed away. He negotiates the purchase of an adequate burial plot in Chevroin; this piece of land is still being contested thousands of years later. Our Arab cousins were not happy and remain so. Hundreds of lives have been lost over this piece and tens of thousands more, over other pieces the Yiddin own outright. Why, ver veyst? According to our gishmake tradition, though the source cannot avada be verified, this cave is also the burial place of Odom and Chava. How they got there before Avrohom bought the place, ver veyst? Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful medrish, go prove otherwise! Veyter: Avrohom, like any father of a 37 year old is worried about his still single son – Yitzchok. Eliezer, his trusted servant, is hired as the first shadchan ever to find Yitzchok a suitable mate. Avrohom will make him take an oath by chapping his groin; more on that below. Shadchonim (matchmakers) point to this parsha as the basis of their entire business; shoin yet another Toirah sanctioned and inspired gisheft (business opportunity). Eleizer is off to Aram Naharayim, (somewhere between the Tigris and the Euphrates) on a bride hunting mission. He meets Rivka, quite the eligible bride though she may be as young as three, decides she’s a good catch – the heylige Toirah points out that she was a virgin- negotiates with her family, puts her on the camel and off they go to meet her future husband. A love story mamish. Rivka sees Yitzchok, falls off the camel ober not to worry; Yitzchok takes her to his mother’s tent, knows her, if you chap, and will also love her. Note the order of events: Chasidim point to this possik (verse) as rationale for marrying any girl and learning to love her post marriage. Avrohom remarries, has six more kids, bequeaths most of his estate to his favorite son Yitzchok and in game show tradition, sends the other boys away with some parting gifts. Avrohom dies in 2123 – 1638 BCE. at the age of 175.
Did we just read that Odom and Chava were already buried in the very cave that Avrohom was negotiating on and eventually paid full price for? Indeed we did and the particulars of Avrohom’s negotiations to buy the Meoras Hamachpelo (the cave within a cave) are delineated in great detail. The give and take and negotiations between Avrohom and Ephroin the Chiti are recorded. Avada we should chap the importance of this detail, the heylige Toirah does not have any extra words, not even one letter. Zicher you recall your rebbe teaching you this very basic concept as he was using his shtekin to reinforce the information. Avrohom’s negotiating skills were efsher a shtikel rusty as he demanded to pay in full though Ephroin insisted more than once that he give it to him for free. Based on these negotiations, was Avrohom mamish the first Yid? Ober we have to assume that Avrohom, through ruach hakoidesh (divine spirit), knew that one day our cousins would complain about its ownership and that the details in the Toirah would help secure ownership for the Yiddin. In any event, Avrohom eventually successfully negotiated its purchase at considerable cost and buried Soroh in the Meoras Hamachpelo in the town of Chevroin. Nice ober what about Odom and Chava? How did they get there?
Ober listen to this givaldige Medrish (Yalkut Tehillim 20) which mamish illuminates the gantze myseh. If it’s emes, ver veyst ober it’s still gishmak, mamish. Says the heylige medrish azoy: efsher you recall that last week in Parshas Vayero, following Avrohom’s bris (on himself), the RBSO stopped by for a visit. During His visit, three people, who turned out to be the malochim (angels) by the name of Michoel, Gavriel and Refoel, also turned up and he, Avrohom, offered them food and drink. In fact, if you recall the menu, he gave them some milk and meat. How he served them milichiks and fleishigs together or even a few minutes apart, ver veyst? Ober Raboyseyee, let’s not forget that this menu was kosher before matan Toirah, and before kosher laws were established. And says the heylige Toirah: ואל הבקר רץ אברהם , Avrohom ran to the herd of cattle and says Rashi, and who knew better azoy: he wished to slaughter three animals in order to give each of his guests a tongue, which was obviously a great delicacy. And now for the juicy part:
Says the Medrish: the particular animal he, Avrohom, had earmarked, ran away from him. He pursued it until it came to a cave and it disappeared inside. When he followed it, he saw a great light and eventually realized that buried there were Odom and Chava. He also realized that there must have been a good reason why the RBSO illuminated cave in this fashion. This was in fact the Meoras Hamachpela. In other words: when he eventually bought the cave, it came with Odom and Chava already interred, seemingly by the RBSO Himself, maybe. Gishmak mamish! And of course that’s why Rashi tells us that that one of the reasons for its name -Meoras Hamachpela- (double cave), is because there were four pairs of husband and wife buried there including, Odom and Chava, Avrohom and Soroh, Yitzchok and Rivka, and Yaakov and Leah. Efsher this could also answer the question of why Avrohom insisted on paying for the cave instead of getting a freebie from Ephroin. Mamish gishmak.
And taka says the heylige Gemora (Buba Basra 112; Moied Koton 13, Toisfis; Chofetz Chaim) azoy: Avrohom wanted to teach the people of his time and future generations how to carry out land transactions; Real Estate 101. Efroin offered the cave as a freebie, a gift mamish. Ober Avrohom refused and insisted on paying full price for the burial ground. Is this the reason some question if Avrohom was taka the first Yid? Would a real Yid turn away a freebie, ver veyst? Ober the emes is that this transaction was intended to show future generations that the land was owned outright, with no liens; this holy site is the rightful property of the Yiddin. Though the RBSO promised the Holy Land to Avrohom and his descendants and though he had full right to obtain the land, instead he preferred to buy the land outright, making full payment up front. And says Rabbeinu Bechaya azoy: Avrohom made a careful and conscious choice not to start a war against Efroin in order to obtain the burial land. This was done to ensure that the RBSO’s name would be sanctified and not disgraced. Veyter.
And now let’s look in on Yitzchok and his new eishes chayil Rivka. How did all this unfold? Like any father who has an unmarried son in his 30’s, Avrohom realizes he must get involved. Without consulting Yitzchok, he instructs his house servant whom the Medrish (Bereshis Rabba 59:5) identifies as Eliezer and makes him swear that he’ll bring back a suitable match. So far so good, but Avrohom wants Eliezer to swear about his mission; no big deal….until – that is until he hears details of the swearing process and this is how it went down. Want more details? Hold on….and that’s exactly what Eliezer is told to do.
Said Avrohom: Place your hand under my thigh. And I make you swear by Hashem, G-d of the heavens and G-d of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose midst I dwell (Bereishis 24:2-3). Eliezer placed his hand under his master Avrohom’s thigh, and swore to uphold his promise. He did?
|And Abraham said to his servant, the elder of his house, who ruled over all that, was his, “Please place your hand under my thigh.”||ב. וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֶל עַבְדּוֹ זְקַן בֵּיתוֹ הַמֹּשֵׁל בְּכָל אֲשֶׁר לוֹ שִׂים נָא יָדְךָ תַּחַת יְרֵכִ|
Says Rashi and who knew more or better, quoting the heylige Gemora (Shevuois 38b) azoy:
under my thigh: Since one who swears must take with his hand an article related to a mitzvah such as a Torah scroll or Tefillin, and circumcision was his first mitzvah, and he had fulfilled it with pain, it was dear to him; so he took it.
|תחת ירכי: לפי שהנשבע צריך שיטול בידו חפץ של מצוה, כגון ספר תורה או תפילין, והמילה היתה מצוה ראשונה לו ובאה לו על ידי צער והיתה חביבה עליו ונטלה:|
Says Rashi: the thigh is a euphemism for the Mila (Penis). Even Rabbi Art Scroll agrees! Circumcision was the first mitzvah for him, and it came to him through pain, and it was beloved to him. Not much has changed; most men still love their mila and chap it regularly, though not as regularly as in the past. And taka with the advent of the blackberry, iphone, galaxy touch and other such devices, men are busy holding onto their devices and have dramatically cut down on swearing and the entire swearing process, if you chap. And, says Rashi, there is indeed a connection between placing the hand under the thigh and swearing. In fact, the heylige Gemora quotes the incident in our parsha as the source for the ruling that a person swearing must hold onto an item of mitzvah (nekitat chefetz). Toisfes advises that up to this point, Avrohom had not yet been commanded to fulfill any mitzvah other than circumcision.
Says the Ibn Ezra: this practice continues in India ad hayoim hazeh (until today). It so happens that this tradition also continues daily in your own house but what you didn’t know is that the next time the eishes chayil asks you why your hands are always in your hoizen (pants) – you can always respond by telling her that you are about to swear and in order for it to be valid, you’re holding on to the milah, and that you are but following in the ways of your forefathers. And isn’t following in the ways of our forefathers and foremothers exactly what our parents always wanted from us? Gishmak, mamish
So he took what and placed it where and held what? Did we just read that Rashi says that Avrohom made Eliezer hold onto his mila (penis) in order to validate the oath? Gevald! A himmel gishraei mamish (OMG)!! In Tanach we find a number of citations for ways one can demonstrate a commitment, including the removal of a shoe and a handshake, but holding onto the member? Another such exciting Mila grabbing incident takes place later in Parshas Vayichi when Yankif makes his son Yoisef swear and also by grabbing his Mila but let’s not jump ahead. Placing his hand under Avrohom’s thigh isn’t exactly a modest gesture. And the bottom line? Let’s all thank the RBSO for delivering the Toirah and other ways of swearing.
As expected, a big machloikes erupted as to whether this issue of grabbing onto something of a mitzvah to validate an oath is a Toirah requirement (d’oiraysa) or was this added as a rabbinic decree which uses our verse, not as a source, but as support (asmachta)?
Toisfis, the Rema and others including Choishen Mishpat seem to be of the opinion that holding the object in your hand is d’Oraisa: The Rosh and Rambam hold that it’s but a Rabbinic requirement instituted by the wayward rebbes order to have a valid defense 35 years later when one surviving bochur brings an action in court. In any event, whether you hold the penis or some other mitzvah, you’re in good hands, so to speak. Got that? Veyter!
Back to the shadchan: Eliezer arrives to his destination and here comes Rivka. The Toirah states that she was very beautiful (seemingly a requirement of all the Ovois when selecting a mate) and specifically tells us that she was a virgin and moreover, that she was not known to any man. What’s p’shat here? Why the double language? Avada if she wasn’t known to a man, she was a virgin and even farkert, so why the double loshon (language)? Nu- let’s see what Rashi quoting the medrish, and who knew better, has to say; let’s follow along…you oisvorfs will surely be pleased with p’shat.
|a virgin: from the place of her virginity. — [Gen. Rabbah 60:5]||בתולה: ממקום בתולים:|
|and no man had been intimate with her: in an unnatural way. Since the daughters of the gentiles would preserve their virginity but were promiscuous in unnatural ways, Scripture attests that she was completely innocent. — [Gen. Rabbah ad loc.]||ואיש לא ידעה: שלא כדרכה, לפי שבנות הגוים היו משמרות מקום בתוליהן ומפקירות עצמן ממקום אחר, העיד על זו שנקיה מכל:|
Rashi, and who knew more or better, tells us that the local girls had strange sexual practices that enabled sexual activity without the surrender of one’s maidenhood. (He really does say that, by the way- see the box above you chazir.) How Rashi knew this little factioid, ver veyst but can argue with Rashi? He suggests that unlike other women of the time who patchkeed (experimented) maybe with their bff-s, Rivka was pure. Nu, one would certainly hope so given that according to our mesoro (tradition), she was all of three years old at the time. Was she?
Avada you’re thinking three years old, where in the Toirah does it say that? The answer is nowhere. The midrashim deduced that Rivka was three years old when she was discovered by Eliezer and brought into Yitzchok’s tent for consummation of their marital relationship. How can this be? Was Yitzchok some kind of pervert? Ver veyst? Are we to believe that at three she was schlepping jugs of water, feeding ten camels and making decisions about her future? Ver veyst: it’s taka shver to chap this and at least one Toisfes (Yevomois 61b) suggests that she was 14. Nu, the concept of a 14 year old, is avada easier to chap, especially in Thailand, where at 14, a few are considered over the hill. And the bottom line on her age? Ver veyst but there at least three opinions and another time, well dig further.
Efsher you recall that while Soro, wife number one, was barren, she asked that Avrohom marry Hogor and that made two wives. And efsher you’re also wondering why after having two and at the advanced age of 140, he decided to get remarried for a third time and sire six more kinderlach? And after having them, why did he send them away? Is this a nice trait from one our forefathers? These are all excellent kasha and what’s taka pshat
Ober say many though zicher not all, that it’s not emes: he didn’t have three wives. Instead he had but two! Hogor now with a change of identity to Kitura, was his third wife. In other words: it was the second coming of Hogor, wife number two. Are you chapping all of this? Seemingly Avrohom did. Nu, let’s chazir one more time and try to chap what Avrohom had in women.
Says the medrish (Tanchuma, Chayei Sara 8) azoy: “Rebbei said: Hogor is the same as Ketura. Why is she called Ketura? Because she was completely celibate [after originally being banished by Avrohom]. But the Sages said: He married a different woman. Nu, either she was Hogor or she was not, it’s none of your business! Ober let’s taka see if we can chap what went down in Avrohom’s household. Avrohom is now a young 140 year old and mistama doesn’t enjoy living alone. What to do? He remarries some woman named Kitura and as would be expected when an older gentleman married a younger shiksa, she, in short order, gave him six more children, all boys. Quite impressive given his slow start and advanced age but hey, he’s Avrohom Oveenu and the RBSO loves him. And let’s not forget that he’s aced every test, all 10 of them.
As you can only imagine, not all the medroshim were happy to hear that Avrohom would marry a woman with a name like Kitura and avada you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s a machloikes among many, as to who this mysterious Kitura really is. Is she or was she Kitura like the Toirah tells us, or was she someone else altogether. Nu, much to your surprise, the medroshim posited different opinions. And who was she? Halt zich eyn (wait a second; we’ll get to that).
According to our basic reading of the text, it would appear that Kitura is Avrohom’s third wife. Avada you recall that he married Soro Emaynu, then with Soro’s blessings (at the time), also Hogor and now, Kitura; shoin! And so say the Rashbam, Ibn-Ezra, The Radak and the RambaN. Case closed? Not at all!
But who and why Keturah? The simplest approach is that she was a local – a shiksa Canaanite women. Avrohom married a shiksa? Avada some Medroshim could not let this slide by. Says the medrish (Yalkut Shimoni, Iyov – 903) azoy: “Avrohom married three women: Soro, the daughter of Shem; Ketura, the daughter of Yofes (Japheth); Hogor, the daughter of Chom (Ham)”. All three are the children of Noaich, he of the great mabul fame. And in fact he married them in the order in which the “fathers” appear in the heylge Toirah(6:9) – first the daughter of Shem, then the daughter of Chom, and finally the daughter of Yofes. At the end of his life, in his post-Soro life, Avrohom fulfills the last piece of the RBSO’s special brocho – through him, (Avrohom) the world is blessed and populated. After years of isolation, Avrohom becomes the father of a multitude of nations.
To bolster this point of view, says the heylige Toirah about Avrohom- VA’YIOSEF (he added) and VA’YIKACH (he took) a wife, and her name was Keturah. And take her he did, if you chap, as she bore him Zimran and Yokshan and Medan and Midian and Yishbak and Shuach. Next and immediately thereafter, meaning after fathering six more, we learn that Avrohom bequeathed all his possessions to his favorite son Yitzchok. Efsher he had guilt feelings about binding him like a sheep and trying to slaughter him? Ver veyst. In any event, it’s clear that the kinderlach that he fathered from his new eishes chayil, got nothing, well almost nothing. The emes is that he gave them each a few parting gifts, much like the losers on Jeopardy. The possik tells us V’LIVNEI HA’PILAGSHM) and for the children of the concubines, Avrohom gave gifts, and then sent them off away from Yitzchok his son while he was still alive, eastward to the land of the East (Bereishis 25:1-6). Says the son of the RambaM (Reb. Avrohom ben HaRambam azoy: after being sent away, they become successful traders in spices, gold and precious stones (Yeshaya 60:6; Yechezkel 27:15, 20, 22).
Says the Medrish (Bereishis Rabbah 61:4) that Keturah was not his third wife but the second coming of his second wife. You chap that? In other words: he married her, chased her away but with his jealous nagging eishes chayil Soro now gone, he went back and married the shiksa one more time. Of course she had no issues giving birth. Seemingly the shiksa girlfriends or pilagshim never do.
And to bolster the Kitura being Hogor argument, asks the Gur Aryeh (the Maharal of Prague, c. 1525-1609) azoy: it’s taka emes that the text tells us that Avrohom married Kitura but why don’t we get background on her. Where was her shidduch resume? Who were her parents? Where was she from? Would Avrohom marry just anyone and especially after setting the bar so very high in this parsha when he instructs Eliezer to find a suitable wife for his son Yitzchok? What’s pshat here? And who was Kitura? Therefore, he concludes that Kitura is not introduced because she previously was: she’s Hogor!
And why would Avrohom send them off and cut them out of his will? What’s pshat here, was he heartless? Ober in Divrei HaYamim (I 1:28-33), Yitzchok and Yishmoel are called Avrohom’s children, while the others are called the children of Keturah, Avrohom’s concubine. Says the Radak azoy: Avrohom married Keturah, as he had married Hagar earlier, as a full-fledged wife. However, the children of the concubines mentioned here at the end of the parsha, refers to other unnamed children from other unnamed women Avrohom took as concubines. Avrohom had additional women in his life? Well, blow me down! And if you’re now dizzy and wondering how many kinderlach Avrohom had altogether, you’re not alone. In fact, some say he also had a daughter and her name was Bakol. And how do we know this? Says the heylige Toirah that Avrohom got old and the RBSO blessed him Bakol (meaning everything) and from this word, several medroshim concluded that Bakol was his daughter. Shoin! What happened to her?
Seemingly she nebech died, much earlier. Avrohom didn’t feel the pain for this lost daughter so much until he lost Soro as well.
And why would Avrohom remarry the wife he once chased out of the house? Say the Zoihar, Chizkuni, Kli Yakar and others azoy: Hogor, was chapped in by one of the early baal tshuva movements, mistama Chabad, became a heartfelt ba’alas teshuva, (returning from her bad ways). Now cleaned up with a new name to boot, Avrohom saw her in a new light and remarried her. Givaldig! Shoin: now it all makes perfect sense.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv