This week we begin by wishing a special mazel tov to our friends Yonina and Ephraim Stern who will be walking their son Etai down to the chuppah just about now. We have known Etai since he was a toddler; today he is quite the amazing young man. Etai will be marrying Penina daughter of Trana and Daniel Freedman of Englewood. May they have a beautiful life together.
Mazel tov to Rena and David Gross, they of Woodmere and to Karen and Eddie Lifshitz upon the marriage earlier this week (Oisvorfer not invited) of their children Elana and Kevin. May they enjoy many years of blissful marriage. Mazel tov as well to the grandparents on both sides.
And mazel tov again to Debbie and Mark Fenster, very proud grandparents upon the bris earlier this week of a grandson, Emanuel, named after Rabbi Emanuel Rackman OBM. Mazel tov to Emanuel’s parents, Robyn and Dovid Rackman.
And in giving a plug to a good guy, oisvorf reader and follower department, this week, we say hello to Avi Hershkowitz, he of Freilach Music www.befreilach.com. Check them out. You will love their look, their sound is even better and Avi makes it all happen for them.
Raboyseyee and ladies:
Yishmoel, the tzadik.
Shoin, we all agree that parshas Vayero was electrifying and exciting, mamish. Its myriad storylines included among other topics, the birth of Yitzchok Ovenu, the drama at the Akeydo, the destruction of Sedoim, the entire Loit and his daughters episode, Avrohom telling king Avimelech that Soro was his sister, and so much more, Vayero was off the charts. Ober parshas Chaya Soro, most famous because it records the passing of Soro Emainu is equally exciting. In fact, this coming shabbis, over in the holy Land, the city of Chevroin, duly purchased and paid for by Avrohom Ovenu, will see its population swell by tens of thousands, mostly men and boys, who will sleep near or/and on top of one another just for the experience. It’s predator heaven, mamish. Ober let’s not forget that this week’s parsha also records the passing of Avrohom ober not before he will get to marry or remarry Kitura who many say might have been Hogor, whom he chased away at Soro’s behest. She’s back! He will also get to enjoy the company of a healthy number of pilagshim (concubines) and seemingly have children with them as well. Good for him. It’s taka emes that Avrohom, as Soro promised, did leave the bulk of his estate to his son Yitzchok, and after tying him down and nearly slaughtering him as a korban to the RBSO, that was efsher the least he could do. Ober many of you mistama glanced over one critical posik in the parsha which tells us azoy:“And to the children of the concubines, he gave gifts” or what we will call parting gifts. And let’s not also forget that Yishmoel, Avrohom’s bechoir (first born) who was of course rejected and passed over, will also pass in this week’s parsha. Shoin and just like that, three members of the mishpocho were gone.
Lommer unfangin (let’s begin) with this week’s highlights. Soro passed away at the age of 127 and was buried in the Meoras HaMachpeilah (cave) in Chevroin, which Avrohom purchased from Ephroin. Avrohom, worried like any father would be about his then 37 year old single son, sent his servant Eliezer to find a suitable bride for his son Yitzchok. Eliezer returned with a youngish Rivka and they got married. Avrohom passed away at the age of 175 and was buried beside Soro by both his sons, Yitzchok and Yishmoel. Remember this last sentence; we’ll talk about its significance later.
Who cares about Yishmoel’s passing? Seemingly the heylige Toirah does. Moreover, the heylige Toirah will dedicate one full aliya and seven long pisukim to Yishmoel’s lineage including a delineation of each of his children by name. And the Toirah will also tell us that his children went on to become twelve princes who establish the Arabian nations. They are mamish cousins. Yishmoel died at the age of 137. The last posik of the parsha, one you likely pay attention to, states: “[Yishmoel’s descendants] lived in the area from Chavilah to Shur, which borders on Egypt, all the way to Assyria. They overran all their brethren.”
We need to efsher examine why the RBSO dedicated seven pisukim mamish to a person we all consider to be the arch enemy, the Achilles heel of the Yiddin ad hayoim hazeh (until today). What’s taka pshatt? We’ll get to that soon ober ershtens did you know that……….
Parshas Chaya Soro also features real estate negotiations 1.1, the love story of Yitzchok and Rivka, and mistama the most unusual swearing ritual one could ever imagine whereby the person swearing needed to hold onto the bris (penis) of the person he was swearing to. Who was swearing and what was he holding? Shoin, though you remember kimat nothing from all your years of valgering in yeshiva, no yeshiva bochur ever forgot that Eliezer needed to hold onto Avrohom’s mila while swearing. What happened to good old swearing with or without one’s raised right hand? Ver veyst. Was this a bakovidick (pun intended) ritual? Ober, hey, it’s the heylige Toirah. This swearing ritual will appear again later in Sefer Bireishis.
Shoin, a few weeks back we quoted a machloikes(disagreement) as to whether or not Avrohom, was the first Yid. Of course some said yes and others said no; what else is new? Ober this week, the Oisvorfer chapped the rationale and understood for the first time what those saying Avrohom was not the first yid were thinking. Mistama they skipped ahead to this week’s parsha and read how Efroin the Chiti King offered, for free mamish, the cave and land today known as the Meoras Hamachpela in Chevroin to Avrohom. Ober our forefather Avrohom said no; he insisted on paying full price. Shoin, case closed! Would any real Yid pay full price for land offered free? And would any Yid pay full price when offered even a decent discount? And which Yid negotiates from free to full price? Is this the Jewish way? Of course not! And therefore some wiser rabbis declared that Avrohom could not have been the first Yid. Shoin- erleydigt (settled). And if he was, och and vey.
Ober wasn’t this the same Avrohom whose negotiating skills showed early promise? And wasn’t this the same Avrohom who became fabulously wealthy by twice trading his eishes chayil away for an assortment of riches? He was mamish the world’s most skilled negotiator. Twice he got riches and his own wife back. Ober already last week we witnessed a diminution in his skills as he was unable to successfully negotiate with the RBSO over the pending destruction of Sedoim and Gemorrah and this week, as we mentioned just above, he insisted on paying full price on a piece of land that was offered free. Of course that hasn’t stopped our Arab cousins from trying thousands of years later, to nullify the sale and chap back that land.
Shoin, let’s get back to Yishmoel and quickly look at the second possik of the parsha which tells us that Avrohom arrived to bury his beloved wife, “to mourn and cry for her.” Says the heylige Toirah azoy: And Soro died in Kiryas Arba which is Cehvroin, in the land of Canaan, and Avrohom came to eulogize Soro and to bewail her.
ב. וַתָּמָּת שָּרָּ ה בְּקִרְּיַת אַרְּבַע הִוא חֶבְּרוֹן בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָּעַן
וַיָּבאֹ אַבְּרָּהָּם לִסְּפדֹ לְּשָּרָּה וְּלִבְּכתָֹּהּ :
And while we all recall the rebbe telling us that efsher Avrohom didn’t cry and mourn enough for Soro as evidenced by the small Kuf at the end of the word V’lifkoiso, this past shabbis the Oisvorfer was listening to a lecture where the rabbi made note of the fact that Avrohom was the first and the only of the Ovois,(forefathers) who cried for his wife. Ober was he crying because he mamish missed her or was he terribly distraught that he lost the ability to continue trading her away for yet more wealth? Of course the Oisvorfer is just kidding; we can assume that Avrohom loved her and missed her. On the other hand, how distraught could he have been when just after her passing and the mourning period, Avrohom was already on the move and he quickly married Ketura who turned out to be quite the fertile myrtle and bore him five children …boom boom boom and another two of those. Was Avrohom efsher not as tzibrochin (broken-hearted) because he had a replacement wife in the wings, ver veyst? Shoin, who are we to judge? Veyter.
Every year at this time a few readers will send in a comment asking if the Oisvorfer will be touching upon, if you chap, the very interesting swearing ritual that Avrohom had Eliezer perform at least twice. Ober as you know we have well covered this now outdated method of swearing which has long been replaced by swearing on a stack of bibles or just stam swearing. And wouldn’t you be swearing if someone chapped your mila? Mistama yes or at least you should be. And be forewarned: if your kid tells you that his rebbe, as part of his chinuch (education), decided to reenact the Avrohom and Eliezer story, and that your kid was selected to play Eliezer, call the cops. And though most you chazerim want to read, over and again, the controversy over Rivka’s age when she fell off the camel at the sight of Yitzchok and how he married her while she was a virgin and how, as Rashi will tell us – in his own words- that she, Rivka, was not known by any man -in a natural or in an unnatural manner- and though many of you would like the Oisvorfer to repeat the many colorful medroshim that try to make sense of why Eliezer had to grab Avrohom’s mila in order to swear, we previously covered these topics. The assumption is that many of you will click away at the archives until you read them. Taka an excellent idea! Ober we need to cover new ground and given that many extremists around the world are looking to annihilate the Yiddin, we need to look in on Yishmoel whom many say is the father of our enemies.
Shoin, with that shtikel rant out of the way, let’s go veyter and in case you’re a first time reader and have not seen the archives and want to know more about the entire swearing ceremony and what on earth the Mila (penis) has to with swearing, avada you are urged to click here http://toirahruv.com/chaya-soro/ and even here http://toirahruv.com/chaya-soro-2012/. We have previously covered this topic biarichus (at length); few have given the famous words of “sim no yodcho tachas yireychi” (place your hand under my thigh) more extensive coverage than the Oisvorfer.
Ober one topic we never covered and will this week is Yishmoel. And with the world in turmoil and rabbis all over the world referencing on a regular basis that the Bnei Yishmoel of today are the radicalized Muslim Arabs, the Oisvorfer thought we should take another hard look at Yishmoel. And why should we be spending time on Yishmoel? Because Rashi, and who knew more or better, will shock us by telling us that Yishmoel might not have been the terrible person we all thought. It’s taka emes that Avrohom kicked him out of the house along with his mother Hogor ober that was under duress and of course you all recall that Soro gave the order to vacate and the RBSO instructed Avrohom to follow Soro’s orders.
Was there another side to Yishmoel? Did he go to Netiv where he efsher flipped and became a baal tshuva (a penitent)? In past reviews of this parsha, the Oisvorfer has mentioned on more than one occasion that his three favorite words in the entire heylige Toirah are found in last week’s parsha. They are ‘Ba’asher hu shom’ (as he is today) and these words were spoken by the RBSO Himself to the malochim (angels) who inquired as to why Yishmoel, still a child, but near death from lack of water, should be saved. And this week, we will explore these words again and how they may help us chap why Rashi, the heylige Gemora and the medrish come to the conclusion that Yishmoel may have done tshuva (repentance). Was Yishmoel mamish a baal tshuva? Was he the first?
Was Yishmoel as bad then as we were taught in yeshiva? Maybe he was. Do you know anyone named Yishmoel? Have you ever heard from friends that they were considering the name Yishmoel in case it was a boy? On the other hand, if he was taka as bad as we were taught, how was it that we find that a great Tanna was named Yishmoel? What’s a Tana you ask? Och and vey, seemingly you remember mamish nothing. Nu, Tanna’im were rabbinic sages whose views were recorded in the Mishnah. What’s a Mishna you ask? Yikes! The Mishna is a compilation of the first written ‘oral laws’. The period of the Tannaim, also referred to as the Mishnaic period, lasted about 210 years. Noch a mol (one more time): in short, the Tannaim (Hebrew: םיאנת , singular אנת,) were Rabbinic sages.
Nu, we ask again azoy: Yishmoel, bad guy or good guy? Let’s explore. A totally bad guy he couldn’t be because he is shouted out by name in three consecutive parshas and we know from elsewhere in the heylige Toirah that the RBSO has a short fuse for troublemakers. Most of them are gone in the very parsha where they are first mentioned. Then again, He did allow Noiach’s generation to party and orgy for 120 years, ver veyst. Then again, none were mentioned by name. Then again, you’re still alive! On the other hand, Yishmoel plays a prominent role in the last three parshas, a role typically reserved for those the RBSO liked very much: we met him at birth two weeks back in Lech Lecho with the promise to Avrohom that he, Yishmoel would be a great nation. Last week In Vayero, Soro insisted that Avrohom send him away; the RBSO saved his life. And this week, his life ends and his progeny documented. For a bad man, he got lots of Toirah time. Is there more to him? And though we all grew up thinking that Yishmoel was a very bad man, could there be another side to the story?
First some background and then a few revealing and surprising medroshim. Back in Lech Lecho, with Soro still bereft of children and also seemingly barren at the time and already married to her husband for some 75 years, Avrohom, at his wife’s insistence, had relations of a sexual nature, if you chap, with Hogor- her then slave or servant or both. Nu, as many times the case, the shiksa got pregnant immediately, Yishmoel was born. As an aside, 13 years would pass before Avrohom and Soro, now rejuvenated, had Yitzchok. Also as an aside, any wife that allows or, in this case, recommends or maybe even insists that her husband have relations with and also marry a hot shiksa is mamish an eishes chayil and for that reason alone is deserving of the moniker ‘Soro emainu.’ She knew how to keep her man. Veyter.
In any event, we learn that Avrohom was gantz tzifridden(satisfied) with Yishmoel. He was? He loved him as any father should his own son. Soro, not so much. Then again, she wasn’t his real mother. Says the heylige Toirah that his reaction to the divine promise regarding having another son was to proclaim azoy: “If only Yishmoel would live before You!” Avrohom seems to be saying that he would be perfectly happy to see Yishmoel as his heir-as the one who continues his life’s work and perpetuates his special relationship with the RBSO.
Yishmoel, good or bad? Let’s learn what some had to say. Seemingly, many agree that he was both, ober, how could this be? Raboyseyee it’s mamish poshit. Seemingly for most of his life he was taka a bad guy and will be accused in the heylige Gemora and other sources of many crimes including rape, murder, avoido zoro and maybe also eating cholov akum, tearing toilet paper on shabbis, mixed swimming and dancing, ver veyst. Some say he didn’t wear his talis over his head and that his talis didn’t have enough silver. Other suggest that he, like many of you chazerim, had strange thoughts during shmoine esray, if you chap, ver veyst.
On the other hand, we’re about to learn that Yishmoel died as a tzadik, a righteous person mamish. And how could that be? It’s quite poshit (simple): he did tshuva (he repented). Was he the first baal tshuva? Seemingly not and taka the medrish will teach us that at least two preceded him. Soon we’ll tell you ober let’s stay on point. Yishmoel was a baal tshuva?
Does the heylige Toirah tell us anywhere that Yishmoel may have mamish done tshuva? It does not! Does the Toirah mention anyone else, in any of its five books that might have done tshuva? Is the concept of tshuva even discussed in the heylige Toirah? It is not about any one individual. Ober that didn’t prevent our very wise rabbis, our sages of old, to conclude that Yishmoel and several others may have taka done tshuva. And for the shabbis tish and double dessert, here they are by name:
Says the medrish [Bireishis Raba 22] azoy: the first baal tshuva was Kayin (Cain) after killing Hevel (and of course after tough questioning from the RBSO). He did so by confessing and having charoto (regretting) for the crime. And says another medrish (Tanchumo Shemois 15) that Terach, Avrohom’s father also did tshuva. We are also taught in yeshiva that three of the RBSO’s chosen tribes, the heylige shevotim sinned and did tshuva. They are Levi who atoned for killing all male inhabitants of the city of Shechem, and Reuven by fasting following the bed moving or mounting incident with Bilha his stepmother (a few weeks away). The medrish Hagodol (Devorim 6:4) will tell us that his tshuva was accepted, and let’s not forget Yehuda – he the great leader of the shevotim – who had a shtikel roadside encounter with Tamar. His tshuva came about after he confessed that Tamar was carrying his child (twins) from the paid for encounter and as a result of his admission, merited according to the heylige Gemora (Soita 7b), oilom habo (the word to come). Shoin we knew about those ober what about Yishmoel? When and how did he repent? Lommer lernin.
Says the heylige Toirah (Bireishis 25:9) azoy: “His (Avrohom) sons Yitzchok and Yishmoel buried him (Avrohom) in Meoras HaMachpeila (the Cave of the Pairs), in the field of Efroin ben Tzoichar the Chittite which faces Mamre. And? What has this to do with repentance? Shoin, let’s look in on Rashi who pieced it all together. Says Rashi based on the heylige Gemora (Buba Basra 16b) azoy: since the verse lists Yitzchok before Yishmoel when referring to Avrohom’s burial, it’s an indication that Yishmoel had repented (tshuva). OMG! Seemingly our sages learned from this posik that Yishmoel had acknowledged Yitzchok as Avrohom’s true heir, and had thus honored him as such. Is that it? And efsher you’re klerring azoy, is tshuva so easy? Did Yishmoel do tshuva or did our sages deduce that he did tshuva just because Yitzchok’s name is mentioned first at the levaya? Can one isolated act be a true indication of one’s repentance?
But didn’t Soro tell Avrohom that Yishmoel was mamish giferlich because he was being Mitzachake (making sport)? Moreover, didn’t we learn from the Medrish and other sources of all the giferliche behavior Yishmoel indulged in? Doesn’t the Medrish tell us that his entire life, not only his adolescence, was filled with idolatrous indiscretions which included preying on others and so much more? And didn’t the medirsh tell us that while being mitzachake, he killed, stole, committed adultery and that was all in one day? And suddenly Rashi based on the heylige Gemora wants us to believe that Yishmoel was a new man? Was showing up to his father’s funeral and allowing his younger brother to lead the procession mamish enough?
Ober when the heylige Gemora wants to find a way of making someone look good, they know just how. Was the heylige Gemora the first to develop the concept of reputation management? Could be! The Medrish based on the Gemora and looking at the words of the Toirah, concluded that Yishmoel was a changed man. And while there may have been an initial disenchantment with Avrohom’ s monotheistic beliefs and ethical practices, which may have been exacerbated by being kicked out of the house and left to die, and which might have lasted over 100 years, Yishmoel later repented, and took up Avrohom’ s faith and lifestyle once again during his father’s lifetime. Accordingly, he died as a tzadik. Shoin!
A tzadik mamish? Ober how? Raboyseyee the answer is mamish so gishmak, even you can do tshuva. Yishmoel couldn’t go back and undo his past or his bad behavior. Who says one has to erase his entire past to start anew? Starting new means taka just that. The RBSO does the erasing and judged Yishmoel with those three words from last week’s parsha – באשר הוא שם (as he is at the present). His new behavior meant he was a new man. And when Yishmoel, despite being Avrohom’ s firstborn let Yitzchok precede him, because he accepted that Yitzchok was a better man than was he, he was exhibiting new behavior. Rashi will also add that Yishmoel died with the special death reserved for tzaddikim (ויגוע ), stressing this point of Yishmoel’s repentance before his death.
And as further proof of his piety, says Reb Yoichonon (Buba Basra 16b) azoy: Regarding Yishmoel, two terms are used (25:17) to describe his passing: “Geviah” (expiration) and “Aseifa” (gathering). The heylige Gemora assumes then that these particular verbs are used only in connection with particularly righteous individuals. Why? They are used for Avrohom (25:8);Yitzchok (35:29); Yaakov (49:33); Aharoin (Bamidbar 20:26, 29); and Moishe (Devorim 32:3). And if the RBSO used them for Yishmoel, he was a good guy, at least near the end of his life.
“And these are the years of the life of Yishmoel: 100 years and 30 years. And where else do we find such language where the heylige Toirah described the years of a person as having lived years and years? Right here in our own parsha where we are taught in the opening posik that Soro lived 100 years, twenty years and seven years. Pshat being that she was pure and righteous at 100 as she was at 20. Yishmoel, too, was seemingly also in the end, a good guy. Later generations of the extended Yishmoel mishpocho, not so good. And the lesson and take away? One can always do tshuva. Of course we won’t necessarily live to 127 or 135 and therefore since we don’t know when we may pass or just otherwise die, one must consider tshuva every day. Of course that’s easier said than done but a nice thought nonetheless.
A gittin Shabbos
The Oisvorfer Ruv