Note: The idea that he says from the sefer "Chamin Bi-motzei Shabbos" is from the Tolna Rebbe Shlita. וכל האומר דבר בשם אומרו מביא גאולה לעולם.
Rabbi Reisman – Parshas Chayei Sarah 5777
1. Topic - Kibbud Av V’aim
As we prepare for Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah. I would like to share with you a few thoughts on this week’s Parsha starting from the beginning and working our way towards the end. At the beginning of the Parsha we have the Eved Ne’eman, Eliezer coming to the home of Lavan and Besuel, trying to get Rivkah as a Shidduch for Yitzchok. We find there in 24:50 that in that discussion (וַיַּעַן לָבָן וּבְתוּאֵל וַיֹּאמְרוּ, מֵיְרוָר יָצָא הַדָּבָר). That they reply (מֵיְרוָר יָצָא הַדָּבָר). Rashi says (רשע היה וקפץ להשיב לפני אביו). That Lavan was a Rasha because he answered before his father. The question was asked in front of the father and son and the son should have waited until the father has had a chance to answer first and he should respond second.
I saw a very important Mussar idea in a Sefer named Chamin B’motzoei Shabbos. About a year (or so) ago someone gave me this Sefer as a gift and I originally saw a Sefer Chamin B’motzoei Shabbos and I thought wow they are writing a whole Sefer on eating hot food on Motzoei Shabbos, it seems like a very specialized world and I put it aside. Only later did I realize that it is a Sefer with beautiful Shmuzzin on the Parshios of Sefer Beraishis. There, he addressed this question. He says Rashi says that (וַיַּעַן לָבָן וּבְתוּאֵל), he was a Rasha in that he spoke before his father. He asks a Kasha. Lavan was a terrible Rasha. As it says in the Haggada (וְלָבָן בִּקֶּשׁ לַעְקֹר אֶת הַכֹּל). Lavan was out to get rid of Klal Yisrael, he was out to destroy the Jewish people.
Rashi at the beginning of Parshas Toldos says (אלא להגיד שבחה, שהיתה בת רשע ואחות רשע). She grew up in the house of a Rasha who was a Rasha from beginning to end. The question is if you have such a terrible Rasha this is what you say about him that he speaks ahead of his father? The Torah goes and shows us that he was terrible that he spoke ahead of his father. He did much worse things than speaking ahead of his father. There are some Frum Yidden who don’t realize and speak up first.
He answers, that on the contrary, the Torah is teaching us that the Inyanim of Kibbud Av V’aim are so important, Chomer She’bachamuros, they are so Chomer that this teaches us that Lavan was a Rasha. We look with great gravity at somebody who doesn’t respect his father.
He brings that the Divrei Chaim (Halberstam of Sanz 1793 - 1876) once had to Pasken an Aguna Shaila and he called his son Rav Yechezkel (Shraga Halberstam), the Shinever Rov (1813 – 1898) to come and join him in the deliberations about this Agunah Shaila. How did the Shinever Rov, Rav Yechezkel prepare himself? He prepared himself by Chazering Dinei Kibbud Av V’aim. This is because he was afraid that in the deliberations his father would say something and he would contradict his father. There are ways in which a person should disagree with his father and proper language to use. That is how he prepared to go to a Din Torah about an Agunah by being careful not to be Over on Chomer Shebachamuros, on one of the most Chomer Aveiros.
He also brings that someone once came to the Chazon Ish and he told the Chazon Ish that I just got married and I have been diagnosed with a terrible illness and the doctors are ready to give up hope. He explained to the Chazon Ish the different Segulos that he did, checking the Mezuzos, checking his Tefillin and everything. The Chazon Ish said you don’t have a father or a mother? Why are looking at strange Segulos from strange places? Kibbud Av V’aim is Arichos Yamim.
Many of us think that we are careful with Kibbud Av V’aim and hopefully we are, but the strict interpretation which the Shulchan Aruch gives is something which most people are unaware of. If a father says take an umbrella it is raining outside and the son knows that it is not raining, he is not allowed to say no it is not raining. One is not allowed to contradict his father directly. He can say something like let’s see maybe it stopped raining. He can say something B’derech Kavod but a direct contradiction is Assur.
The same thing is true about saying my father is right. That is also not considered to be Kavod. A person has to be careful how he speaks, you really have to learn Shulchan Aruch. That is the idea that Lavan who spoke ahead of Besuel even for a person who is (בִּקֶּשׁ לַעְקֹר אֶת הַכֹּל) this shows how terrible he is, how awful he is. Be careful at home, look around at the Shabbos meal, does somebody speak ahead of his father when a question is asked and not let the father be the first to answer. Think about it.
2. Topic – (לְעֹלָם, בָּהֶם תַּעֲבֹדוּ)
Let’s move on in the Parsha. Eliezer is successful in accomplishing the Shidduch and there is a Pirkei D’rabbi Elazar which has become well-known. After the Shidduch was concluded, Eliezer was freed by Avraham Avinu and we don’t find again Eliezer Eved Avraham or Eved Yitzchok at all. I think that Rav Chaim Kanievsky writes that it was his Shadchanus, the Shadchanus was to be freed from being an Eved.
There is a problem here. The Torah says in Vayikra 25:41 (לְעֹלָם, בָּהֶם תַּעֲבֹדוּ) that if you have an Eved (Kenani) you are not allowed to free him. (לְעֹלָם, בָּהֶם תַּעֲבֹדוּ). It is very famous that in the Gemara that Rav Gamliel in the Mishna who had an Eved named Tevi and he was Me’tzar that he couldn’t free him as it is a Mitzvah D’oraissa. So how could Avraham Avinu free Eliezer?
To answer that there is a Kler. Did Eliezer give Kiddushin or did he bring Rivka back and Yitzchok gave the Kiddushin? What happened? It is clear from Chazal that Eliezer was Mekadeish her as a Shaliach of Yitzchok. The Gemara says in Maseches Kesuvos 57b (top of page) that when Lavan said as it says in 24:55 (תֵּשֵׁב הַנַּעֲרָ אִתָּנוּ יָמִים אוֹ עָשׂוֹר). Let Rivkah live with us a year or ten months. The Gemara learns from there that it is a Derech to give a year or ten months space between the Kiddushin and the Nisuin. So clearly there was a Kiddushin.
Tosafos in Kesuvos on Daf 7b (שנאמר ויקח בועז עשרה אנשים. ובמסכת כלה דמייתי קרא דויברכו את רבקה (בראשית כד) איכא למימר דהתם ברכת אירוסין והכא ברכת נישואין ויש ללמוד משם שיש לברך ברכת אירוסין לאשה המתקדשת על ידי שליח שהרי אליעזר שליח היה ונראה דאסמכתא בעלמא היא דעשרה לא מישתמע מהתם ולא איירי פשטיה דקרא בברכת אירוסין:). That there was an Eirusin. Clearly Avraham Avinu understood that we have to get this done or they might change their minds. Let’s make Eliezer a Shaliach and the Shaliach will be Mekadeish Rivka and it will be a done deal.
The Kasha is that a person can’t be a Shaliach for something if he is not in the Parsha of that Mitzvah. An Eved Kenani who is not in the Parsha of Kiddushin can’t be a Shaliach for Kiddushin. How did Yitzchok make Eliezer a Shaliach?
The answer has to be that he was freed and now he became a Ben Chorin and now Eliezer can do the Shlichus. But you are not allowed to free somebody because of the Posuk (לְעֹלָם, בָּהֶם תַּעֲבֹדוּ)?
The answer is in the Ran in Nedarim who says that it is only Assur to free an Eved if you are doing it for the sake of the Eved. If someone frees an Eved for his own sake because he has a benefit like the Gemara’s example when someone needed a 10th man for the Minyan so he freed his Eved to be a 10th man for a Minyan (Ed. Note: This can be found in Maseches Gittin 38b on the top of the page, where Rabbi Eliezer frees his Eved). When you free someone for your good, says the Ran that is Muttar.
If so, we now have a better picture of what took place. Avraham didn’t free Eliezer because it is Assur, he hadn’t freed him all of the years because of that. Now he had an opportunity because it was important for Avraham that Eliezer be Mekadesih Rivka but he can’t be Mekadesih Rivka as long as he is an Eved because an Eved can’t be a Shaliach for Kiddushin. Therefore, Avraham freed him. Why was he freeing him? For his own sake. He wanted him to be able to be a Shaliach for Kiddushin. With this, we Far’enfered the Kasha of how did Avraham free him and we get the whole picture of the event that took place in a much better way. He was freed and it was all part of the deal.
3. – Topic – Difference between Avodah Zorah by Avraham Avinu and everywhere else.
Let’s move to a third idea that has to do with the end of the Parsha. At the end of the Parsha we find that Avraham Avinu takes another wife. 25:1 (וַיֹּסֶף אַבְרָהָם וַיִּקַּח אִשָּׁה, וּשְׁמָהּ קְטוּרָה). He takes a woman named Keturah. Rashi says who is this woman? None other than this same woman Hagar. Why is she called Keturah? (ונקראת קטורה על שם שנאים מעשיה כקטרת). Her actions are beautiful like Ketores.
The Kasha is asked by Meforshei Rashi. What do you mean Hagar’s Maisim were like Ketores. Earlier in Parshas Vayeira when Hagar was sent away in 21:14 (וַתֵּלֶךְ וַתֵּתַע, בְּמִדְבַּר). Rashi says (חזרה לגלולי בית אביה). She returned to the Avoda Zorah of her house. So what does it mean that her Maisim are nice like Ketores? She returned to Avoda Zorah, so her Maisim are not nice like the Ketores. It is a Stirah in two Rashis.
The Satmar Rebbe, the Divrei Yoel on the Parsha says a beautiful Teretz with the following Hakdama. The Gemara says in the first Perek of Avodah Zorah that the Masechta Avodah Zorah of Avraham Avinu had 400 Perakim. Our Masechta Avodah Zorah has 5 Perakim. What was in Avraham Avinu’s Masechta? If you are going to say that he just has more Lomdus that wouldn’t explain why you need a new Perek, it should have just been longer Perakim. A new Perek, 400 Perakim indicates that there were other aspects of Avodah Zorah that Avraham Avinu dealt with.
Says the Satmar Rebbe, Avodah Zorah comes in many forms and there are many things that are a kernel of Avodah Zorah not Avodah Zora itself. Apikursis for example is Avodah Zorah. Anger is Avodah Zorah. כל הכועס כאילו עובד עבודה זרה)). Even things that sometimes people do smells of Mi’nus. Sometimes you have a person who doesn’t want to wear Tzitzis, he says you are not Michuyav to wear Tzitzis. I don’t want to wear Tzitzis and I don’t want the Schar. There are times when that smells of Apikursis, a little bit of rebelliousness. It is also a M’ain to a sensitive soul that it smells of Avodah Zorah.
Avraham Avinu’s Maseches Avodah Zorah dealt with all of these things. It dealt with the Avodah Zorah that was the smells of Avodah Zorah. That was something special about the home of Avraham Avinu.
Getting back to Hagar. (שנאים מעשיה כקטרת) She was a person of an extraordinary Madreiga. (חזרה לגלולי בית אביה). She went back to her father’s house. The definition of Avodah Zorah in Avraham’s house didn’t exist anymore. She went back to her father’s house where the regular rules of Avodah Zorah apply. She was very careful not to be Oved Avodah Zorah, however, it wasn’t the Madreiga of Avraham Avinu’s house. (חזרה לגלולי בית אביה). Still (שנאים מעשיה כקטרת). It is not a contradiction.
And so, we have a tremendous insight not only into answering this question but as the Satmar Rebbe says we find in Tanach very often that Klal Yisrael has Avodah Zorah in the most unlikely places. We find that Yaakov tells the Shevatim in Beraishis 35:2 (הָסִרוּ אֶת-אֱלֹהֵי הַנֵּכָר, אֲשֶׁר בְּתֹכְכֶם). Remove the Avodah Zorah. We find in Yehoshua 24:23 (הָסִירוּ אֶת-אֱלֹהֵי הַנֵּכָר אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבְּכֶם) saying the same thing. We find in Shmuel Aleph 7:3 (הָסִירוּ אֶת-אֱלֹהֵי הַנֵּכָר מִתּוֹכְכֶם) that Shmuel says the same thing. Take away the Avodah Zorah that is within you. What Avodah Zorah? You mean to say that at this point they had real Avodah Zorah? The answer is no. This was an Avraham Avinu Avodah Zorah. It was a very unique type of an Avodah Zorah and that unique type of Avodah Zorah is also an Avodah Zorah, not Yehareig V’al Yaavor, but something which really pulls a person away from the Borei Olam.
And so, with these three thoughts on Parshas Chayei Sarah I wish everybody an absolutely wonderful, meaningful and holy Shabbos. A Shabbos of Kedusha and Taharah, of time spent in the Bais Hamedrash. Those people who are fortunate enough to have off on Thanksgiving Day weekend use it to give thanks to the Borei Olam by being in the Beis Medrash the way it should be. Going to a slower Davening, staying in the Beis Medrash after Shacharis and learning.
It was beautiful this morning, we had a Hakhel in Shul, hundreds of people, men and women who came to hear Divrei Torah on their day off and the very same people will undoubtedly be there tonight for Mishmar. Because someone who is committed is committed. Someone who is Farshpielt is Farshpielt. Everybody has the time. The same person who can’t find time after Shacharis in the morning to stay in Shul can’t find time at night. It has nothing to do with the reality, it has to do with the resolve. Devarim Peshutim! With this I wish everybody a Good Shabbos and a wonderful Parshas Chayei Sarah and a rededication to Shidduchim! Kol Tuv!