Saturday, 19 November 2016

Parsha: Hayyei Sarah & Toldoth, "Navi vs. Halachah"

There is a story told in Y'shivot

Hossid will give you
15 answers to a single question
Litvak will give you 
a single answer to 15 questions.

Here are two related knotty problems.

In Hayyei Sarah, Avraham assigns Eliezer to find Yitzchak a mate. The Talmud admonishes us that we should not act the same way since Eliezer's technique involved "Nichush."  If so, then how could Eliezer use this means to select a proper shidduch? Alternatively, how can it be that Yitzchak's great match was manifested through such "under-handed" means?

Similarly, in Toldot, Yaakov "usurps" the brachah from Esav via deception.One may not excuse Yaakov's behavior on the grounds that he was obeying his mother, since one may not violate Halachah on the say so of a parent. So how was Yaakov permitted to engage in such a masquerade?

My approach is similar and simple. In each case, the alleged offense was committed under the instruction of a Prophet/Prophetess; Scripture actually makes this quite clear on a P'shat level

Avraham told Eliezer that a Malach will accompany him and that Hashem will cause him to succeed. Given this CONTEXT, his Nichush was under Divine Providence and therefore did not involve superstition or "dark forces"

Similarly, Hashem told Rivka [directly so - if we set aside Rashi] that "Rav Yaavod Tsa'ir." Given that this n'vuah is also in the text, her command to Yaakov is therefore that of a prophetess and not simply that of a Mom. Yaakov is therefore engaged to commit this deception in this extraordinary circumstance.

This also explains why the text orders these Prophetic pronouncements just before the questionable behaviour. It does so to set up a proper context so that we would understand the dynamic here and not learn the wrong lessons about Nichush and deception

Shalom,
RRW

Parsha: Hayyei Sarah, "Sh'nei Hayyei"

The pun on Sh'nei Hayyei Sarah offers much in the way of Drash when read as "Sarah led [past tense] TWO lives"
Here are some of my favourites...
  1. A life here in Olam Hazzeh, and another life in Olam Habba.
  2. A life as a wife, and another life as a mother.
  3. A life as a public figure, and another life as a private figure, for example, as both mother and wife.
  4. Similar to #1 a Life as a real alive human being, and a postmortem life as a Matriarch and iconic legacy for the ages.
Shalom
RRW

Parsha: Hayyei Sarah, "K'turah"

This came from another list:
This past Shabbat, totally out of the blue, a congregant came up to me and asked me a question. Apparently, I must have missed that class. I didn't know the answer. Forgive me as I post my ignorance, but as I do not have the answer, I turn to you...

When Sara hears that she will become pregnant, her response includes the fact that she says Abraham is old. She implies that he is not exactly the stallion he may have been in his younger years.

Much later on, we discover that Abraham has married Ketura and had more children. How did he do it?

---"Reuven"

Here are two approaches:
  1. Both Abraham and Sara had a rebirth/rejuvenation (reJEWvenation?) when their names got changed because of the principle that a Convert is like a newborn [ger shinisgayer kekatan shenolad dami].

  2. Ein mukdam um'uchar batorah. This story is out of sequence. It's just here as part of a flashback sequence to fill us in on the old news that Abraham had previously married another woman named Keturah.  It's placed right next to Abraham designating Isaac as his successor (excluding Isaac's half-siblings) before Abraham's own death.

Shalom,
RRW