Points to Ponder

Chayeii Sarah 5776


Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and to cry for her (23:2) – Rashi explains that she passed away when she heard about how Avraham took her son to the Akaida and was almost killed. Rav Shimson Dovid Pincus ztl. points out that we need to always be careful to offer the end of the story – positively –before the danger. Sometimes offering the negative first can be so devastating that it can have disasterous effects on the listener.


And she hurried (24:18) – Why does Rivka hurry so much in the story? Why is it so important to note her time factor? The Brisker Rav ztl. answers that Eliezer first came close to Shkiya and davened and requested of Hashem to bring the episode to a close that day. Why did he demand the rush? The Brisker Rav explains that as far as Tzaddikim are concerned Shidduchim should not take so long and so Eliezer wanted to move things forward fast.


And I said to my master perhaps the woman will not follow me (24:39) – Rashi notes that the lack of the letter Vav implies that Eliezer hoped that Avraham would allow Yitzchak to marry HIS daughter. The Kotzker Rebbe notes that in the original story the word Ulai is written WITH a Vav. He answers that the Torah is letting us know that in his own mind, Eliezer thought he was doing his master’s bidding with a full heart. It is only the Torah that get into the depths of a person’s heart to note if he is fooling himself. Rav Dovid Povarsky ztl. added that we see from here that even when one does something positive, he needs to check out his intentions to see if his motivations are indeed complete and pure.


And she will say drink and I will also give your camels to drink she is the one whom you proved is for Yitzchak (24:14) – Why is this the ultimate distinction of Chessed? Rav Ovadiah Yosef ztl. suggested that the ultimate description of Chessed is to do it irrespective of whether someone else helps. Here Eliezer would be sitting with servants, maidservants and himself and she will still rush to feed the animals irrespective of everyone around her. That is the one who deserves to be included among those who are called Merkavei HaShechina – they are blind to everyone else when the Mitzva of Hashem is before them.


I will also draw for your camels (24:19) – Why was she allowed to quench his thirst before that of the camels? Rav Schachter Shlita cited the Mogen Avraham who suggested that the rules for eating require feeding animals first while drinking puts man first. He then added in the name of Rav Soloveitchik ztl.  that in one’s own home, he knows that he is personally a sinner and must work harder for his bread as opposed to the animal who does not. However, when dealing with one’ guests it is a lack of Derech Eretz to invite the guest and then feed the animal before the respect the guest deserves.


And I came today (24:42) – Rashi cites Rav Acha who notes that Hashem prefers the chatter of the servants of the Avos even more than the Torah of the children. Hence, the entire story of Eliezer is repeated. But why repeat? What is in it for us? Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky ztl. suggested that when the Rambam offers his commentary on the Mishna he is generally brief. However when it comes to the matters of the faith at the beginning of the last chapter of Sanhedrin, he is exceptionally verbose. The reason, suggests Rav Yaakov, is that the fundamentals of the faith are spelled out there and thus, it needs to be complete. Similarly, the fundamentals of Judaism are in these stories and they need to be spelled out. Two crucial lessons here include the fact that the evil idol worshipper Lavan admitted that the story was clearly proof of Hashem and the fact that Eliezer was consistent in his fulfillment of his masters wishes and really checked Rivka out well – and prayed to find her.


And these are the days of the life of Yishmael (25:17)-  Rashi explains that the only reason we mention these dates is in order to help us understand the days of Yaakov’s life. The Turei Even (Megillah 17a) asks  why do we not assume that Yishmael deserves mention simply because he did Teshuva? He answers that the years of the life of the majority of the Shevatim do not get mentioned unless there is a definite need (as in the case of Yosef or Levi). The Maharsha opines that when one does Teshuva, it does not justify the years of sin and therefore we need an additional reason for the reference to his longevity. Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita suggests that although he did Teshuvah, Yishmael never became a Tzaddik and remained a Hediyot. That is not a reason to give him mention in the Torah.


Haftorah: Avishag Hashunamis– Why is the look of the girl so important? And why are all of the Jewish nation involved? Rav Ezra Schwartz Shlita suggests that the entirety of the process was controlled by the Avdei HaMelech who seem predisposed to Adoniyahu and their desire to discredit Dovid so that Adoniyahu could ascend the throne. Why then would Dovid go along with their plan? It seems that Dovid had a different intention here – he wished to prove that he had done Teshuvah for the Batsheva episode and indeed Shlomo was legitimately entitled to the throne.