1) Baal haTurim comments on the little letter kaf in וַיָּבֹא֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִסְפֹּ֥ד לְשָׂרָ֖ה וְלִבְכֹּתָֽהּ׃:
ולבכתה – כ״ף קטנה שלא סכה אלא מעט לפי שזקנה היתה א״נ שהיתה כמו גורמת מיתתה שמסרה דין ועל כן נענשה היא תחלה והמאבד עצמו לדעת אין מספידין אותו.
The first explanation is that Sarah was very old, so her death was not unexpected, and Avraham did not cry much. The second explanation is based on a gemara in BK 93 that says that since Sarah complained "chamasi alecha," about Avraham having a child with Hagar and not davening for her, the midas ha'din rebounded against her and caused her to die first. Being me'orer din against someone inevitably comes back to haunt you. The Baal haTurim suggests that the danger is so great it's tantamount to suicide, and the halacha is that someone who commits suicide does not deserve a hesped.
B'shalama according to the first explanation, I understand why the kaf in livkosa is small, but the second explanation has nothing to do with crying -- it has to do with a halacha of hesped. Shouldn't it be a letter in the word "lispod" that is small?
The second explanation does help resolve a point that many meforshim struggle with, namely, we are given every nitty-gritty detail of the negotiations involved in the purchase of Me'aras Hamachpeila, but not one word of the hesped for Sarah. The Midrash Tanchuma fills in the blank and writes that Avraham said eishes chayil for Sarah, and it darshens how all the descriptions apply to her life. But ikar chaseir min ha'sefer, none of that is in the text. "Va'vavo Avraham lispod" -- he came to say a hesped. Did he actually say one? According to the Bh"T, he may not have.
2) וַתָּ֣מׇת שָׂרָ֗ה ...וַיָּבֹא֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִסְפֹּ֥ד לְשָׂרָ֖ה וְלִבְכֹּתָֽהּ׃ It's obvious that Avraham was coming to cry for and be maspid Sarah -- why repeat her name a second time?
Sarah's name was originally Sarai. Rashi (17:15) explains that Sarai is a possessive, it connotes לי ולא לאחרים, a relationship that was exclusive to Avraham. Gur Aryeh explains פירוש שהקורא קורא לה ׳שרי׳ מפני שלא נעשת שרה לכל העולם, לכך היתה נקראת שרי The change to the name Sarah shows that she effected the entire world. Just as Avraham was megayeir men, Sarah was megayeir women. She, no less than he, was involved in outreach and teaching the dvar Hashem.
When Sarah died, explains R' Simcha Bunim Sofer, Avraham must have felt great personal loss. Yet he put that in the background. His hesped was about Sarah, the public figure name, the loss to society that resulted from her death, not about the inner pain he must have felt.
It's a nice idea, but it doesn't feel right to me. Klal Yisrael recently suffered the loss of R' Dovid Feinstein and R' Jonathan Sacks. I have read many of R' Sacks books, I read his parsha sheets, I feel I know a little something at least of R' Sacks the public personality, the writer, the thinker (I do not know much about R' Dovid Feinstein). It was Gila Sacks' hesped that I found most moving because she spoke of a dimension of R' Sacks that we, the public, could never fully know: R' Sacks as a father. Not someone who gave lectures and wrote books, but someone who chatted with his kids while putting the kettle up. When Dayan Binstock spoke, the most moving part of his hesped I thought was when he quoted what R' Sacks himself had told him once: "When I die I don't want to be remembered as the man who wrote lots of books. I don't want to be remembered as the man who was Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth. I want to be remembered as the man who gave out sweets to children in shul."
We get so caught up in the big accomplishments of big people that we sometimes forget that what they valued most in their lives is often what seems to us to be little things, the intimate relationships that exist on a micro- level. But it's the attention to the little things, not just the big, public performance, that makes great people truly great.
If the purpose of hesped is for us to learn to improve our lives by emulating great people, then it makes more sense to speak of the things these people had in common with us -- being a father, mother, son, sister, friend -- than the exceptional things they did that we cannot hope to duplicate. Odds are most of us will not write a best selling book on Jewish thought, but it's within the grasp of most of us to to make a child's life, or even an adult's life, just a little bit sweeter.
R' Simcha Bunim suggests a different explanation for the little kaf we spoke about above. The Midrash writes that Hashem arranges things so that there is a new tzadik ready to step on the stage before He takes an existing tzadik from the world. Last week's parsha ended with the birth of Rivka, who would become the next one of the Imahos, and the world was now prepared for Sarah to depart. The knowledge that there would be continuity, that there would be someone to fill Sarah's shoes, mitigated Avraham's grief.
If I can use running a company as a mashal, what Chazal are telling us is that Avraham and Sarah Inc would continue business as usual even after the co-CEO's passing. The loss of Sarah as the public face of the company would not crush business -- a little kaf in livkosa was there, but life would go on.
Knowing that the "company" would continue was of small comfort to Yitzchak when Shabbos came and he no longer saw his mother's candles on the table, when he no longer could taste the sweet taste of her challah. That loss seemed irreplaceable. And the truth is that without that dimension of greatness on the micro level -- of being the great mother, wife, etc, -- the company of Avraham and Sarah Inc may have the same logo, the same brand name, the same product, but it would not the same company. It is the Rivka's ability to recreate the home of Sarah which is what made her a true heir to the legacy of the Imahos, not just her ability to step into Sarah's role as a public leader.
3) The episode of Avraham's purchase of Me'aras Hamachpeila ends וַיָּ֣קׇם׀ שְׂדֵ֣ה עֶפְר֗וֹן אֲשֶׁר֙ בַּמַּכְפֵּלָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר לִפְנֵ֣י מַמְרֵ֑א Rashi explains that of course a field does not get up off the ground; what the pasuk means is that תקומה היתה לו, שיצא מיד הדיוט ליד מלך, the field went up in status, in ruchniyus, as it was transferred from a common person to a king, to Avraham.
R' Nissim Yagen reminds us that there is another instance of the word va'yakam in the parsha, all the way at the beginning: וַיָּ֙קׇם֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֣י מֵת֑וֹ There are people who are crushed when a loved one passes away; there are people who lose faith, who question why it happened. Avraham rose above it. He became a stronger and better person from the inspiration and memories of Sarah that he took with him.
+ yakam + yakam
at 23:7, Avraham accepts ("va'yakam") the elevated title from 23:6, n'si Elokim, and then bows accordingly (tzelem Elokim) -- wherever you find the greatness of G-d, there you find His humility (pesikta zutra, eikev);
at 23:20, the status of the cave/field complex rises ("va'yakam") beyond 23:17, once the body of Sarah is installed...
"1) ...we are given...not one word of the hesped for Sarah"Delete
can a gezeira shava provide a hint? Avraham expressed immeasurable confirmation of the marriage (as many as are prutas in 400 shekels, kicha kicha)
"2)" happily hand a candy to a child. this is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary...
תיקון- צ"ל ר' שמחה בונם סופרReplyDelete
Thanks -- that was a silly mistakeDelete