Showing posts from November, 2016

Eliezer's account and Leah's Thanksgiving

Greeting guests and more in Vayera

For this week's parsha, I posted a blog on Times of Israel  that looks at what we learn from Avraham's actions in preparing for guests.  It contains a link to Rabbi Frand's Lesson #1 In Hospitality: Don’t Let Your Guests Feel Inferior.

For what my grandfather wrote about Sarah's laughter in the parsha,  and a brief insight into Lot's wife turning into salt see

For how Rivka is introduced see this explanation.

We can't identify with perfection

Today I went to Michal Horowitz's parsha shiur. She spoke about Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's take on the Avos and other Jewish leaders. He makes the point on Bereishis 12:10 on the question of Avraham's directing his wife to say she is his sister. The Ramban identifies this as a lack of faith on the patriach's part, but R' Hirsch offers a rationale. 
In ancient Egypt, it would have been safer to appear as  single woman escorted by her brother than as a married woman with her husband. That's becuase anyone who wanted to take the married woman would kill her husband, and the woman would be left defenseless and dishonored. That's what Avraham explains, "and they will kill me, but you they will keep alive" (12:12). That expression, “keep alive” is the same one used in Shmos in which the Egyptians plot to kill the Israelite baby boys but keep the girls alive for their own carnal purposes. By acting as her brother, Avraham would be able to negotiate and …

The right word

The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. -  Mark Twain ( in 1888 )

Which word will bring which effect? The answer, of course, depends on the context.

As I reviewd Parashas Noach, I recalled a lecture that Rabbi Copperman delivered about the effect of language and why particular expressions are employed in particular contexts in the Torah.  When Noach is directed to gather the animals into the ark, he is told to take a pair of each (Bereishis 7:2):
וּמִן הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא טְהֹרָה הִוא שְׁנַיִם אִישׁ וְאִשְׁתּוֹ
and of the animals that are not clean, two, a male and its mate.

That  formulation is repeated agin in the eight verse:
מִן הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה וּמִן הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר אֵינֶנָּה טְהֹרָה Of the clean animals and of the animals that are not clean

It's particularly striking because the Torah doesn't add in excess words, and it is possible to write this in…