Vayeira 5784


Angelic hospitality[1]

ויאמר שוב אשוב אליך כעת חיה והנה-בן לשרה אשתך ושרה שמעת פתח האהל וגו’ ותצחק שרה בקרבה לאמר אחרי בלתי היתה-לי עדנה ואדני זקן
[The angel] said: “I shall surely return to you, at this time next year, and behold! Sarah your wife will have a son.” Sarah overheard this by the entrance to the tent…Sarah laughed inwardly, saying: “After I have dried up, I would have youthfulness? And my husband is old!”[2]

The commentaries are bothered by Sarah’s lack of belief that she could bear a son. After all, it was an Angel of Hashem telling her that she would have a son, despite her old age. Now, some opinions[3] hold that she and Avraham didn’t realize that these were Angels speaking to them. Or, even if Avraham knew, perhaps she didn’t see who was speaking; she just overheard some stranger saying something that sounded crazy[4]. However, we still have a problem. Hashem Himself told Avraham in last week’s parsha that he and Sarah would have a baby boy. Why didn’t Sarah believe this supposed stranger then, who said the same thing?

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Yisro 5783


The unknown kindnesses[1]

ויאמר יתרו ברוך יקוק אשר הציל אתכם מיד מצרים ומיד פרעה אשר הציל את-העם מתחת יד-מצרים: עתה ידעתי כי-גדול יקוק מכל-האלקים כי בדבר אשר זדו עליהם

Yisro said: “Blessed is G-d! [The one] Who saved you all from the hands of Egypt and from the hands of Pharaoh. [The one] Who saved the nation from under the grasp of Egypt. Now I know that Hashem is greater than all the gods, from to the matter that they “zadu” upon the Jews”[2]

One of the first people to declare Baruch Hashem, Blessed is G-d, was Yisro, Moshe’s father-in-law[3]. Yisro ends his exclamation of praise by explaining what prompted this outburst[4]. He uses an unusual word and says it is because of the matter that they “zadu” upon the Jews. Rashi says it’s a word which means “evil”. Meaning, Baruch Hashem because of the evil that the Egyptians committed against the Jews. This is hard to understand. Onkelos takes a seemingly different approach, and says the word means “thought”. Meaning, Baruch Hashem because of what the Egyptians thought to do to the Jews. Can we make sense of this?

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Shemini Atzeres 5783


Immediate joy[1]

‏…והיית אך שמח
…and you shall be only joyous[2]

There’s an interesting Midrash[3] that compares the time between Pesach and Shavuos, and the time between Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres. The time between Pesach and Shavuos is fifty days, whereas there is no break between Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres. Why is this so? The Midrash answers with a parable. This is similar to a king with many kids. Some are married[4] and live far away, and some are married and live close by. When those who live close by come to visit, when came time to depart the King would let them go without difficulty, since anyways they live close by. However, those who live far away, when they would visit and it came time to leave, the King would hold them back. He would plead with them to stay one more day, due to the distance between them.

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