Thursday, September 12, 2013

what the akeidah teaches us about tzadik v'ra lo

My wife did a post on a shiur we heard from R’ Eli Mansour that both of us enjoyed immensely (link here) and which I would recommend listening to or watching once it is posted online.  It is refreshing to hear someone who has a such a straighforward way to present difficult topics in emunah and bitachon.

One chiddush that caught our attention: The Torah reading of the second day of Rosh haShana is devoted to the story of the akeidah and Avraham’s willingness to sacrifice Yitzchak; the climax of the story is the malach stepping in at the last moment to stop Avraham.  We could end the leining right there – everything else is anticlimactic.  But we don’t stop there.  The final aliya tells us of the news Avraham received that his brother Nachor had one child and another child and another etc. from his wives pilagshim until he had a huge family.  Why, asked Rabbi Mansour, do we tack this on?  What does it add to the story; why do we need to hear it on Rosh haShana? 

Let me save myself typing and quote my wife’s blog:
Avraham could have felt some tinge of discontent on hearing the news of all his brother's children and their descendants. It's not fair. He he was the one to bring monotheism into a world of idolatry and a paragon of chesed, and he had waited and prayed for a son that he had just been asked to offer up. His brother, on the other hand, had no such credits to his name, yet he had become a trunk to a substantial family tree.

It is the acceptance of the apparent unfairness in this world that is an affirmation of the tzadik's faith. Reward is not in the here and now, but we don't give up on doing what is right and believing that Hashem will deliver.
We both thought that was a fantastic hesber, one especially poignant given a tragedy that recently occurred in our community.

One additional thought from the shiur: Yitzchak sees Avraham with the wood, the fire, the knife, and innocently asks, “Ayeh ha’seh l’olah?”  Where’s the sheep?  Now, Yitzchak wasn’t stupid, and it’s fair to say that by this point he might have figured out just who the sheep was and why his father took only him along on this special journey.  What was he really asking? 

Rav Mansour quoted the Derashos R’ Yosef Nechemya who reminds us of the last Mishna in sha”s where Chazal tell us that Hashem promises 310 worlds to all the tzadikim.  This is what bothered Yitzchak.  He was saying, “Father – you told me that if I do all the mitzvos and become a tzadik then Hashem will give me this big reward of 310 worlds.  Now you are taking me up to shecht me.  Ayeh ha’seh” -– hey-sin-hey = gematria 310 – Where are the 310 worlds you promised, “l’olah,” for the one who goes up and becomes a tzadik?  I’m going to die and don’t even have this one world anymore!”

And the answer?  Elokim yireh ha’seh l’olah bni.”  Look at the first letters of the words in the pasuk: aleph – yud – hey – lamed.  The letters of Elyh(u) – Eliyahu haNavi.  Yes, there is a promise of 310 worlds, but don’t expect to understand how you will receive your portion, how the Divine justice works out, until the arrival of Eliyahu haNavi who can explain it all to us.
Again, read more from the shiur on my wife's blog and listen to it if you can -- it's worth your time.
I don't know if I'll get to post again before Yom Kippur, so let me wish everyone a gmar chasima tovah and ask your mechila for all the posts that may not have been appropriate or comments that were not responded to properly.  Yes, Yom Kippur is a serious day and a solemn day, but it is also a day of great simcha, as we have the opportunity to get a complete kaparah and total mechila and that is certainly something to look forward to.


  1. I have always wandered why the leining of first day rosh hashonoh carries on and brings the bris with Avimelech?

    The only think I could think of (other than chamishoh keruim) is Avrohom's eshel in the last possuk(which chazel use to refer to achilah, shesiyoh and linoh - and then linking the chesed theme through to Nechamia's Rosh Hashonoh/other connection between chesed and RH.

    Any other ideas?

  2. I thought about it a bit and looked around and have come up empty so far. I guess on the bright side we have until next year to think of something :)

  3. Still on this topic, why does every Yom Tov leining start with a parshah of karbonos? Kol habochor or Keves oh eiz as the case may be?

    I saw a peshat based on the Seforno - Being makdish a korbon takes a flesh and blood animal and turns eating its meat into a dovor sh'bekudshah. So too, effort needs to be made to turn Yom Tov, with its food and drink into a dovor sh'bekudusho.