Chayei Sarah 5779

Significant jewelry[1]

ויקח האיש נזם זהב בקע משקלו ושני צמידים על ידיה עשרה זהב משקלם
…the man took a golden nose ring, the weight of a beka, and two bracelets for[2] her arms, the weight of ten golden shekels[3] [4]

Avraham sent his trusted servant Eliezer[5] to find a wife for his son Yitzchak. When Eliezer decided that Rivka was the appropriate match for Yitzchak, he gave her several presents[6]. Rashi points out[7] that these gifts weren’t arbitrary; they contained subtle hints to future events. The first gift he gave was a golden nose ring, which was the weight of a beka. A beka is the weight of the half-shekel coin that the Jews gave in the wilderness[8]. Eliezer also gave her two bracelets, צמידים in Hebrew. This is a hint to the two tablets which contained the Ten Commandments, which are described as מצומדות, a pair[9]. They also weighed ten golden shekels, an allusion to the Ten Commandments themselves.

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Vayeira 5779

A very holy meal[1]

אם-נא מצאתי חן בעיניך אל-נא תעבר מעל עבדך: יקח-נא מעט-מים ורחצו רגליכם והשענו תחת העץ: ואקחה פת-לחם וסעדו לבכם אחר תעברו כי-על-כן עברתם על-עבדכם וגו’‏
…If I have now found favor in your eyes, please don’t pass by your servant. Let there be some water taken [for you], and you’ll wash your feet, and relax under the tree. I’ll take some loaves of bread and you’ll satiate your hearts, since you have passed by me. For this is the reason you passed by your servant[2]

A prime example of Avraham’s hospitality is found in this week’s parsha. Three Angels, disguised as Arab nomads[3], passed by Avraham’s tent. Despite being in recovery from his recent circumcision[4], Avraham insisted on taking care of their needs. He wined and dined them, going beyond the call of duty. He slaughtered three calves in order to feed each of them their own cow tongue[5]. He had his wife bake bread special just for them. Avraham clearly didn’t realize that they were Angels[6]. Not wanting to be rude and go against societal norms[7], the Angels pretended to eat[8], despite their lack of physical needs. Little did Avraham know that his alacritous hospitality would have a tremendous impact on the destiny of his future descendants.

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Lech Lecha 5779

The unknown destination[1]

ואמר יקוק אל-אברם לך-לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך אל-הארץ אשר אראך
Hashem said to Avram: “Go for yourself from your land, from your birthplace, from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you”[2]

This week’s parsha contains the first record of Hashem interacting with Avraham, our forefather[3]. It was a command for him to leave everything behind, and to travel to the (future) land of Israel. This land was for his future descendants to inherit as their own. This was considered one of Avraham’s ten tests[4], which he passed successfully. He had to abandon his entire family, save for his wife Sarah and nephew Lot[5]. Avraham, who was the pillar of chessed, lovingkindness, could be accused of neglecting to take care of his aging father[6]. Nevertheless, he followed the word of Hashem.

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Noach 5779

Creating love towards another[1]

ואתה קח לך מכל מאכל אשר יאכל ואספת אליך והיה לך ולהם לאכלה
You shall take for yourself from all the food that will be eaten, and gather it to you, and it will be for you and for them for consumption[2]

As part of Noach’s preparations for the impending flood, Hashem commanded him to gather all the necessary provisions for his family’s yearlong[3] stay in the ark. They would not only themselves need to eat, there was also a need for food for all the animals that were with them in the ark. Some suggest[4] that the seemingly extraneous word לך, “for yourself”, is really meant to be understood as “from yourself”. That is, all the food gathered must be Noach’s own expense[5]. All the food had to be his. This command was so Noach wouldn’t think that he could take food away from other people. He may have thought it was permissible, as they were anyways going to die in the flood. It had to be specifically his own. However, there are many problems with this interpretation.

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Bereishis 5779

The downward escalator of life[1]

הלא אם תטיב שאת ואם לא תטיב לפתח חטאת רובץ וגו’‏
Is it not that if you improve then you’ll cheer up[2], and if not, sin crouches at the door…[3]

The two sons of Adam, Kayin and Hevel, took two different paths in life. Kayin became a farmer, and Hevel became a shepherd[4]. At some later point, Kayin decided to bring an offering to Hashem[5]. He brought from the worst of the fruit of his land[6]. Hevel was also inspired[7] to bring an offering. Unlike his brother, he brought the best of his cattle[8]. Hashem accepted the offering of Hevel, but ignored the offering of Kayin. This caused Kayin to become depressed[9]. Hashem, as a form of encouragement, taught Kayin a lesson. He told him that if he improves, then he will cheer up[2]. However, if he doesn’t improve, then sin crouches at the door[10]. What does this lesson mean?

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