We begin this week with a comment from a reader:
From: Michoel ben Shlomo Zvi Halevi
I feel compelled to write to you with regard to this week’s Dvar Torah on Parshas Lech Lecha, or is it Parshat Lech Lecha. When I see errors I must bring them to the attention of the mechaber.
Firstly, Kvod Harav, I am in no way disparaging as I am a Gabbai and a mispallel, although I am often shocked with your Torah thoughts and Parsha interpretations.
Let’s start with typos and simple Hayaros. Glenn the famous astronaut and later before he died, his claim to fame is that he was a horrible contestant on Dancing with the stars, not to be confused with the stars he visited on his spaceship in the 1960’s. In addition, his name is spelled with 2 nn’s.
Lastly and most importantly the Rav repeated the fourth and fifth reasons for Mazel as one and the same. If you reread the Gemara in Rosh hashana, daf tes vuv, (15), amud beis (2) at the top of the page, the fourth reason to change your luck is through actions….. not location.
I feel relieved to have written this and to be Mochiach the great scholar that you are as you have taught me and hope I have not offended the Rav in any way. Have a gutte voch and a hatzlachadika week and may the best group or people win the Powerball and the Mega Millions…..bshaa tovah oo-moo-tzlachas
Sincerely, I remain,
Michoel ben Shlomo Zvi Halevi the Gabbai
Michoel ben Shlomo tzvi Halevi suggests that the Oisvorfer’s review of Lech Lecha had several errors. He points first to the misspelling of John Glenn’s name with but one ‘n’ instead of two as is the correct spelling. On this point, he is somewhat correct, ober, were he to read the review carefully each week, he would avada notice that the Oisvorfer uses phonetics, abbreviations, chasiddisims, and yinglish translations when writing. If the RBSO has not written or mentioned that He is upset with how the Oisvorfer refers to Him, zicher Shlomo should pay no heed to Glen being spelled with but one ‘n’. He also mentions and correctly so that the Oisvorfer erred when he quoted the heylige Gemora on ways to change one’s mazel. The fourth way is indeed through actions and the fifth, through a change of location. Thank you for your comment.
According to most leading authorities, including Wikipedia, Google, and many others, breast feeding is zicher preferred and mistama much healthier for newborn babies. Over the years, many studies have confirmed the benefits of breast feeding versus formula and other substitute products. So numerous are the benefits of breast feeding that in centuries past many employed the services of a wet nurse to feed an infant when its natural mother was either incapable of producing enough milk, or when for other reasons, she refused to nurse her child.
Ober what has all this breastfeeding information have to do with this week’s parsha of Vayero which -like parshas before and many after- features so many amazing storylines? Among other subjects, Vayero recounts the birth of Yitzchok, the Akeydo (binding), the destruction of Sodom and Gemora, and let’s not forget efsher the most important of all: the sperm of Loit which impregnated his two daughters. Loit’s sperm did what? Just last Friday night while the heylige Oisvorfer, as guest speaker, was delivering the devar Toirah, he mentioned that the medrish commends Loit for cleaving to Avrom as Avrom and his family left Choron. Ober it’s one shabbis later and a new chapter in the heylige Toirah will tell us that following the destruction of Sedoim, Amoira (Sodom, Gomorra), and neighboring cities, and while Loit and his daughters were holed up in a cave, both of them plied Loit with wine and had sexual relations with their own father, say it’s not so please. The heylige Gemora and medrish (most opinions) fault Loit for having had sex with his daughters but give the daughters a pass though it appears from the heylige Toirah that it was they who made the pass. Shoin, they made and got the pass. Givaldig! In any event, Loit’s sperm eventually trickled down to give us Rus (Ruth), and in later generations, none other than Dovid Hamelech (king David) who was a direct descendant of Loit’s generous donations. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Moshiach himself -may he arrive speedily in our time- is also destined to trace his roots (and sperm) all the way back to Loit. Supersperm! And all this before DNA analysis. Efsher he too was part Indian, ver veyst!? The bottom line: as mentioned many times by the Oisvorfer, for reasons only the RBSO knows, He has a history of selecting those from questionable and spotty backgrounds for greatness, leadership, and kingship. There is good news for most of you, not so good for those super righteous from stellar backgrounds. Nu, geloibt der Abishter (thank the RBSO).
Shoin, after all that, let’s repeat the question we opened with: how is breast milk at all related to our parsha? Let’s find out. Let’s lay the foundation. In last week’s parsha we were introduced to Avrom, later to be renamed Avrohom and his wife Sorai, she later renamed Soro. The heylige Toirah told us they were childless, she seemingly barren, or worse, missing a uterus. Missing a what? Says the medrish (Medrish Rabbah 59), azoy: Reb Yehudah said in the name of Reish Lokish: “Soro did not possess a womb.” That would of course help us understand why she was childless for so many decades. Seemingly that was her fate while named Sorai, ober her luck -mazel- would change with her name and with the RBSO’s promise. Later in the parsha, the RBSO told Avrom that indeed his descendants would be innumerable. Avrom of course believed what the RBSO stated. Let’s not forget, he was to pass all ten faith tests the RBSO put before him. And taka he earned his place as the first of our three forefathers. Also in last week’s parsha, Avrom did father a child, ober that child, Yishmoel, was rejected and would not inherit Avrohom. Sefer Bereishis (the book of Genesis?) is -let’s not forget- all about selection versus rejection. It began with Kayin and Hevel, continued with Chom (Ham,) Noiach’s son being rejected, and this week, the rejection of Yishmoel. It will continue.
In this week’s parsha, malochim (angels), or angels dressed as persons told Avrohom and Soro that indeed they would have a child within the year. And guess what? When the RBSO sends His own angels down to deliver a message, of course the results are guaranteed. Those same angels -though each had his own mission- were sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorra, save Loit and his family, and of course to heal Avrohom following his bris at the age of 99. Why did he need healing? Nu, as you can imagine, a bris at any age is somewhat painful, ober at 99 and when acting as one’s own moiel, it could not have been very pleasant. According to one medrish however, things were not that bad. The medrish tells us that Avrohom merely looked down at his member and shoin, the piece fell off. Let that be lesson to the rest of you: too much looking, or perhaps too much other abuse, can have a deleterious effect on one’s member. Veyter and back to Soro. Of course, Soro, with a brand new womb, became pregnant and just as the malochim had predicted, a child was born. And with that givaldige introduction, let us learn a few pisukim innaveynig. Said the heylige Toirah (Bereishis: 21:5-8), azoy:
|5. And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born to him.||הוְאַבְרָהָ֖ם בֶּן־מְאַ֣ת שָׁנָ֑ה בְּהִוָּ֣לֶד ל֔וֹ אֵ֖ת יִצְחָ֥ק בְּנֽוֹ:|
|6. And Sarah said, “G-d has made joy for me; whoever hears will rejoice over me.”||ווַתֹּ֣אמֶר שָׂרָ֔ה צְחֹ֕ק עָ֥שָׂה לִ֖י אֱלֹהִ֑ים כָּל־הַשֹּׁמֵ֖עַ יִֽצֲחַק־לִֽי:|
|7. And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children, for I have borne a son to his old age!”||זוַתֹּ֗אמֶר מִ֤י מִלֵּל֙ לְאַבְרָהָ֔ם הֵינִ֥יקָה בָנִ֖ים שָׂרָ֑ה כִּֽי־יָלַ֥דְתִּי בֵ֖ן לִזְקֻנָֽיו:|
|8. And the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.||חוַיִּגְדַּ֥ל הַיֶּ֖לֶד וַיִּגָּמַ֑ל וַיַּ֤עַשׂ אַבְרָהָם֙ מִשְׁתֶּ֣ה גָד֔וֹל בְּי֖וֹם הִגָּמֵ֥ל אֶת־יִצְחָֽק:|
Though many of you have read and learned this section of the parsha dozens of times in your lives, and let’s not forget that this particular section of our parsha is also read on Rosh Hashono, what you are about to read may be new to many, mistama to most oisvorfs. Be assured however, that all the Oisvorfer is about to share is found in the medrish (Medrish Rabbah) and avada you are urged to check it out for yourselves. Says the medrish: many miracles surrounded the birth of Yitzchok (Isaac), destined to become the second of our three forefathers. Among them:
1- When Yitzchok was born, Soro added light to the luminaries, meaning the sun, the moon, and the stars. They all became brighter. That’s nice ober listen to miracle number two surrounding his birth.
2- Said Reb Pinchas: the “standing crop” of our patriarch Avrohom was dry but it became moist. What? Standing crop? Moist? What is the medrish telling us? What are these metaphors meant to tell us? Was Avrohom a farmer? Seemingly Reb Pinchas is of the opinion that Soro blessed the RBSO for two separate things: 1- for causing Avrohom to become rejuvenated (“moist”) enough to father a son, and 2- for causing her to nurse children.
Shoin before we get to the nursing part, let’s make sure you chap what Reb Pinchas said. Soro blessed the RBSO for having woken up Avrohom’s ‘dead crop,’ meaning unable to stand, if you chap, and allowing it to suddenly stand. Shoin, with the RBSO one one’s side, who needs Viagra? Certainly not Avrohom. Moreover and let’s not forget this very important point. Once the RBSO caused or allowed Avrohom’s crop to stand and also to become moist, and avada you chap what that means, Avrohom remained rejuvenated. Next week we will learn that following Soro’s sudden unexpected and untimely passing, Avrohom remarried and guess what? Somewhere between the ages of 140 and 175, he fathered six more children. A bumper crop! As an aside, each of those six -all non-Jewish- would go on to lead their own nations. Shoin! Does everyone agree with Reb Pinchas? Of course not! Some (the Yefeh To’ar) suggest that Avrohom’s “crop” was already dead and dried out for years, and that the RBSO needed to rejuvenate him prior to even fathering Yishmoel. Once fixed, he was good to go, if you chap. Nu, where were we?
Now, let’s read posik seven above one more time. In fact, let’s read it together. “And she said, “Who is the One who said to Avrohom, ‘Soro would nurse children’ for I have borne a son in his old age.” Nurse children? How many children did Soro have? Only one! Therefore it would efsher have been more appropriate for Soro to state ‘she would nurse a (single) child.’ This verbiage of course bothered the medrish which tells us azoy. Again pay close attention as what you are reading is direct quote from the medrish.
The medrish justifies the wording of Soro’s statement that she would nurse multiple children. How so? “Our matriarch Soro was very modest. Our patriarch Avrohom said to her, “this is not the time for modesty.” Rather, reveal your breasts so that all may know that the Holy One, blessed be He, has begun to perform miracles.” Thereupon, Soro revealed her breasts, and they were gushing milk like two springs.” You hear this raboyseyee? But wait, there’s more. Noblemen would come and have their children nurse from Soro and they would say “we are not worthy of having our children nurse form the milk of this righteous woman.” What’s pshat here? Soro revealed her breasts? She nursed other children? She produced milk excessively like a fountain, nursing all the babies. Her breasts were shooting milk like springs? Vus geyt du fur (what’s happening here)? Is this the image we want in our heads of Soro Emaynu (our mother Soro)? Says the Yalkut: Although Soro was indoors and only women were present because avada it’s understood that Soro was of course modest and would never have bared her breasts for all to see in public, her husband Avrohom instructed her to temporarily abandon this modest practice. Says the heylige Gemora (Buba Metzia 87A), azoy: Avrohom threw a big party and invited all the great men of that generation. Who were these great men? Says the Yalkut: included on the invite and attendee list were Shaim, Ever, they of the famed Shaim and Ever yeshiva where famous Toirah personalities were enrolled, King Avimelech and perhaps another 31 other kings. They all attended with their wives and infants, ober sans their wet nurses. How to nurse all these infants? Not to worry. Says the heylige Gemora: Soro’s breasts “opened like two fountains,” she nursed all of them. Gishmak, very!
Efsher you’re wondering why the RBSO caused all these events to take place? Why would Soro have all this milk? Not just enough milk at her age to nurse baby Yitzchok, but so much that her breasts were gushing to a point where she could, and did nurse so many others? Rashi and others tell us that all these events were put in place by the RBSO in order to quiet the scoffers who were rumor mongering about Soro having become impregnated when taken -against her will- to King Avimelech’s castle for a palace tour, if you chap. And Avrohom now invited the King back to a party where Soro bared her breasts? What’s pshat here? People were saying that both Avrohom and Soro were too old to produce a child. The RBSO avada restored their youthfulness and shoin.
The bottom line: the heylige Toirah tells in verse 21:8 above tells us that Yitzchok suckled from Soro until he grew up. When was that? Though the word ‘vayigdal’ typically connotes bar mitzvah age, as it does elsewhere in the heylige Toirah (Yaakov and Eisav, as well as Shimon and Levi), of course the medrish could not imagine that Yitzchok was being nursed -though Soro was seemingly blessed with geysers- until he was bar mitzvah age. When did he grow up? Shoin, that’s another debate, ober medrish tells us that he was nursed until he was two years old. Seemingly, during that time period, many other children were nursed by the first of our four foremothers Soro who acted as their wet nurse. Ober why would all these mothers have brought their infants over to Soro for milk? Were they all working mothers and unable to nurse their own kids? Was it socially not acceptable back then to nurse their own children? Nu, this question too was pondered and says the Yalkut Shimoni as well as Pirkei Di Rebe Eleizer (ch. 51), azoy: the RBSO performed yet another miracle to show that Soro was indeed young enough to conceive a child, and did. He caused all other women to be milkless. They were incapable of nursing on their own. This resulted in many women showing up to Soro’s tent where she had -from her breasts which acted like springs- enough for all of them. Got milk?
A gittin Shabbis!
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv