Avrohom’s Eight Sons
Back in parshas Lech Lecha, with Avrom and Sorai still childless, Sorai insisted that Avrom “come” to her handmaid Hogor. Avrom did just that, if you chap, and shoin, a son by the name of Yishmoel was born. Sorai had a shtikel and more remorse, efsher mistreated Hogor who then ran away. An angel of the RBSO encountered Hogor and talked her into retuning for more abuse. Last week in parshas Vayero, at some point following the birth of Yitzchok to Avrohom and Soro, Soro insisted that Avrohom get rid of Hogor and her son. And while Avrohom was zicher not happy, the RBSO sent him a message saying that he should indeed listen to the words of his wife. “Whatever Soro tells you, listen to her voice.” These words are often quoted by women to their husbands while attempting to knock some sense into their heads. The bottom line: don’t marry anyone by the name of Soro! We all recall reading and learning how Avrohom awoke early in the morning, took some bread and a pouch of water and then sent them both packing. Oy vey. When the bread and water ran out and with Yishmoel on the verge of death, the RBSO send down an angel to save baby Yishmoel and his mother Hogor. Let’s roll forward forty years to this week’s action packed parsha of Chaya Soro which features a real estate transaction recorded thousands of years back but still in dispute today in our times over a piece of land in Chevron, the burial of Soro, the adventures of Eliezer when commissioned -before the advent of Frumster, JDate and myriad other online sites, and way before professional shadchonim (matchmakers) figured out how to make money setting people up- to find a wife for 37 year old Yitzchak, the marriage of Yitzchok to a very young Rivka (three according to many), Avrohom’s second or maybe third marriage, his siring of six more children after his 140th birthday, Avrohom’s passing, and Yishmoel’s descendants.
Avrohom’s what? He had how many more sons? Any daughters? We will address that below. Nu, the gantze velt (entire world) avada knows that Avrohom sired Yishmoel with Hogor (Hagar), and at the age of 100, also Yitzchok with Soro, the first of our foremothers. Seemingly, Chava, though referred to as “the mother of all living” and though buried near Soro in the very same cave- did not rank. Who buried her there? Shoin: you should recall that the RBSO Himself as Rashi tells us in this week’s parsha (Bereishis 23:19) buried both Odom and Chava (Adam & Eve) in that very cave. Why was she disqualified as a foremother? Did her involvement with the snake, if you chap, which according to the medrish, the snake did- disqualify her?
Shoin! Let’s begin our 9th review of parshas Chaya Soro near the very end of the parsha by reading a few pisukim. Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 25: 1-6), azoy:
|1. And Avrohom took another wife and her name was Keturah.
|אוַיֹּ֧סֶף אַבְרָהָ֛ם וַיִּקַּ֥ח אִשָּׁ֖ה וּשְׁמָ֥הּ קְטוּרָֽה:|
|2. And she bore him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Jishbak and Shuah.
|בוַתֵּ֣לֶד ל֗וֹ אֶת־זִמְרָן֙ וְאֶת־יָקְשָׁ֔ן וְאֶת־מְדָ֖ן וְאֶת־מִדְיָ֑ן וְאֶת־יִשְׁבָּ֖ק וְאֶת־שֽׁוּחַ:|
|3. And Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan, and the sons of Dedan were Ashurim, Letushim, and Leumim.
|גוְיָקְשָׁ֣ן יָלַ֔ד אֶת־שְׁבָ֖א וְאֶת־דְּדָ֑ן וּבְנֵ֣י דְדָ֗ן הָי֛וּ אַשּׁוּרִ֥ם וּלְטוּשִׁ֖ם וּלְאֻמִּֽים:|
|4. And the sons of Midian [were] Ephah and Epher and Enoch and Abida and Elda’ah; all these were the sons of Keturah.
|דוּבְנֵ֣י מִדְיָ֗ן עֵיפָ֤ה וָעֵ֨פֶר֙ וַֽחֲנֹ֔ךְ וַֽאֲבִידָ֖ע וְאֶלְדָּעָ֑ה כָּל־אֵ֖לֶּה בְּנֵ֥י קְטוּרָֽה:|
|5. And Avrohom gave all that he possessed to Isaac.
|הוַיִּתֵּ֧ן אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־ל֖וֹ לְיִצְחָֽק:|
|6. And to the sons of Avrohom’s concubines, Avrohom gave gifts, and he sent them away from his son Isaac while he [Avrohom] was still alive, eastward to the land of the East.||ווְלִבְנֵ֤י הַפִּֽילַגְשִׁים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לְאַבְרָהָ֔ם נָתַ֥ן אַבְרָהָ֖ם מַתָּנֹ֑ת וַיְשַׁלְּחֵ֞ם מֵעַ֨ל יִצְחָ֤ק בְּנוֹ֙ בְּעוֹדֶ֣נּוּ חַ֔י קֵ֖דְמָה אֶל־אֶ֥רֶץ קֶֽדֶם:|
And whom did he select? A woman by the name of Kitura, so the Toirah tells us explicitly. In the very next posik, we learn that Avrohom -who was fatherless for decades, now fathered not one and not two, but six more children, all boys. And then we learn azoy: Avrohom bequeathed his entire estate to his favorite son Yitzchok. And to the “children of the concubines,” he gave parting gifts before sending them away to the east.
And the questions are azoy: Who is this Kitura person? Why would Avrohom cut them and Yishmoel out of his will -with mamish gornisht, with but parting gifts? Why did he send them packing? Did he not learn his lesson after sending Yishmoel away? Is it nice for a father to send a kid away? And years later, six more? What gifts did they get? Whatever happened to these boys?
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: “Rebbe 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 loved him. And let’s not forget that he’s aced every faith 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 heylige 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’PILAGSHIM 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). Parting gifts? What kind? Cash? Says the Rashbatz, whomever he was, azoy: the verse does not at all refer to tangible gifts. Why not? Because the preceding posik (verse) tells us that Avrohom bequeathed all “that was his” to his son Yitzchok. And if Yitzchok already got everything, what was left for the six boys? Seemingly nothing tangible. What then? Seemingly he gave them the secrets of the unclean arts, whatever that means. He taught them sorcery and demonology, whatever that means. Ober how could a nice man like Avrohom teach the boys about these unclean and Toirah forbidden arts?
Says Rashi, he gave them “the name of impurity.” He gave them what? Seemingly what this means according to the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 91A) and specifically the notes which annotate the Gemora, is azoy: Avrohom gave them knowledge which taught them how to combat evil spirits and demons. Seemingly they would need these skills in the Far East where they settled and eventually began nations of their own. Avrohom gave them what? What if anything did our zeyda, our forefather Avrohom who believed in the RBSO only and passed every faith test, know about spirits and demons? Did he believe in these things? Are these things not verboten? Are they not avoido zoro, idol worship? What’s pshat here? And why would Avrohom bequeath this knowledge, if he had any, to the six son’s he fathered late in life with either Kitura who was, or wasn’t really the reincarnation of Hogor? In fact, why would Avrohom know these things? Were these subjects on the curriculum at the yeshiva of Shaim and Ever? How could Avrohom enable his sons to learn and study crafts which are Toirah forbidden? Didn’t he observe the entire heylige Toirah though it was not revealed for another few hundred years? Are you confused yet? I am!
Nu, some say that Avrohom acquired this skill set while sojourning over in Mitzrayim. Ober says Rabbi ArtScroll: Avrohom knew -mistama through divine spirit (ruach hakoidesh) that the natives in the Far East practiced idolatry and used sorcery and other arts to perform miracles. Avrohom did not want his sons to fall prey to these arts and spirits and accordingly armed them with knowledge they needed to avoid being sucked into these false gods. Moreover, the heylige Toirah does not forbid the study of these arts, only the practice. Avrohom gifted them knowledge of theses arts as self-defense mechanisms needed in the land he sent them off to. The bottom line: the boys got screwed: cash would have been a whole lot better. Is it a wonder these nations never liked the Yiddin? 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).
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.
Why would Avrohom remarry at 140 years of age? And why would Avrohom remarry the wife he once chased out of the house? Says the medrish so gishmak, azoy: from Avrohom’s actions -remarrying- we learn that a husband bereaved of his wife will marry off his children and afterwards remarry. Ober why? Shoin, our sages declared that a widower who has had children, should in fact marry them off, and then remarry. Why? To avoid having impure thoughts which could lead him to taking matters into his own hands, if you chap. Says Shlomo Hamelech in Koheles (Ecclesiastes 11:6) so gishmak, azoy: “in the morning (of your life) sow your seeds and in the evening withhold not your hand for you know not which will prosper, whether this or that, and perhaps they will both be equally good.” Seemingly, some take Shlomo’s words literally, if you chap. Did he mean to remarry and davka avoid the hand, if you chap? Says 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 Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv