Vol 35.11 - Vayeira 3 Spanish French Audio Video
(5750 Vol 35, XXXV Pg 76)
1. On the verse (Gen.22:12):
“And he said, "Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad, nor do the slightest thing to him, for now I know that you are a G-d fearing man etc.”
Rashi, on the first comment of the words, “for now I know” cites the statement of R’ Abba:
“Avraham said to Him, ‘I will explain my complaint before You. Yesterday, You said to me (above 21:12): ‘for in Yitzchak will be called your seed,’ and You retracted and said (above verse 2): ‘Take now your son.’ Now You say to me, ‘Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad.’”
The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him (Ps. 89:35): “I shall not profane My covenant, neither shall I alter the utterance of My lips.” When I said to you, “Take,” I was not altering the utterance of My lips. I did not say to you, “Slaughter him,” but, “Bring him up.” You have brought him up; (now) take him down. “
The commentators have already wondered regarding this:
One must also examine:
The source of this statement is in Midrash Bereshit Rabba. However, there, in the version before us, in addition to its being said in the name of R’ Acha (and not R’ Abba) together with other textual differences – there is also a critical difference in the context:
The Midrash states:
“Rabbi Acha said, "Avraham started to wonder ('התחיל אברהם תמי). These words are only words of wonder (דברים של תימה). “Yesterday, you said to me etc.”
In other words, Avraham wondered about G-d’s conduct.
Furthermore, even according to the version (that is closest to Rashi’s wording) that Avraham said,
“Even You speak ambiguously?”(‘אף את לפניך שיחות (בתמי)),
the intent with this is like the explanation of the Midrash Rabba that is attributed to Rashi (and similarly in the Yalkut Shimoni), that,
”Avraham said, it is possible that You also speak like people who switch their words?”
Whereas in Rashi, the version is,
”I will explain my complaint before You”. This wording is not an expression of wonder toward G-d, and does not pertain to the “talk” (words) of G-d, but rather it pertains to Avraham’s words (“my words” (שיחתי)).
One must understand:
2. It appears that indeed this is Rashi’s intent in citing this wording (“I will explain my complaint before You”), to elucidate that Avraham’s intent with these words was not to wonder about G-d’s words,
(For according to the simple meaning of the verse, one should not say that Avraham questioned G-d’s ways (הרהר אחרי מדותיו של הקב"ה). For this is as is explained in a previous Rashi (Gen. 12:10) that G-d tested Avraham “whether he would question the words of the Holy One, blessed be He (אם יהרהר אחר דבריו של הקב"ה), who ordered him to go to the Land of Canaan, and now He was forcing him to leave it.” -
For although they are contradictory words, nevertheless he did not question (even) “the words of the Holy One, blessed be He”. We also find in a comment of Rashi following this (at the end of Parshat Shmot) with regard to our case, that this was the advantage of Avraham over Moshe Rabbeinu. G-d said to Moshe,
“You have questioned My ways, unlike Avraham, to whom I said, ‘For in Yitzchak will be called your seed’, and afterwards I said to him, ‘Bring him up there for a burnt offering’, yet he did not question My ways”.
(In other words, not only did Avraham not possess any weakness in actually carrying out the command, but even in his thought, there did not arise any question, “regarding My ways”).
If so, certainly also at the conclusion of the episode, when the contradiction of, “Now You say to me, ‘Do not stretch forth your hand’” was pronounced –
Avraham did not question G-d’s ways (and certainly to an extent that he would express his wonder in words)),
but rather, to explain before G-d his (Avraham‘s) intent in the words preceding this.
For in the comment before this, Rashi explains:
“Do not stretch forth: to slaughter (him). He (Avraham) said to Him, “If so, I have come here in vain. I will inflict a wound on him and extract a little blood.” He said to him, “Do not do the slightest thing (מְאוּמָה) to him.” Do not cause him any blemish (מוּם)!”
In other words, there was an exchange of words between Avraham and the angel. For Avraham wanted to inflict a wound on Yitzchak (for if he did not do so it would be, “I came here in vain”). To this, the angel replied, “Do not do the slightest thing to him. Do not cause him any blemish”.
And after this, Avraham explained these words of his. Namely, that the reason that he wanted to wound Yitzchak was because “Yesterday, You said to me. . and You retracted and said etc.”. On this (G-d through) the angel replied, “For now I know etc.” (And there is no need even for a wound), as will be explained.
3. The explanation of the matter is:
After Avraham said, “If so, I have come here in vain”, and was answered in the negative (בשלילה)
(“Do not do the slightest thing to him”),
Avraham thought that perhaps the reason that he was commanded, “Do not stretch forth your hand etc.” (The opposite of the command, “take your son etc.”) is because he was not fitting (ראוי) for this and that he did not withstand the test properly, for his heart was not whole with Him (כי לבו אינו שלם עמו).
(For although he was prepared to fulfill the command in actuality, nevertheless, he questioned G-d’s ways etc.).
Therefore, they did not allow him to fulfill the command, “take your son etc.”
Avraham thought that this is also the reason that his request, “I will inflict a wound on him” was not granted. For with this “it was acknowledged” (הודה) that in truth he was not prepared to fulfill the command of “take your son”. Therefore, he requested that at least he be permitted to fulfill a part of the command (through wounding and drawing blood) in order that his coming here would not be “in vain”.
Therefore, he was answered in the negative:
Furthermore, in order to refute this supposition, Avraham continued to claim, “I will explain my complaint before You”. Namely, that his request, “I will inflict a wound on him etc.” after he was commanded, “Do not stretch forth your hand to slaughter” was
(Not to detract from fulfilling G-d’s command, namely the request to be allowed to fulfil, at least, “part” of the command, “take etc.” but)
because according to his thinking, it was apparent that this was, from the onset, the intent of the command, “take etc.”. In other words, it was not that he should slaughter his son, but rather that he should draw blood in order to sprinkle it on the altar.
The reason that he thought that this was the original command (הציווי מעיקרא) - was explained by his saying:
“Yesterday, You said to me, ‘for in Yitzchak will be called your seed,’ and You retracted and said, ‘Take now your son.’ Now You say to me, ‘Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad.’”
In other words, at first, Avraham indeed did not understand how it would be possible to fulfill both of G-d’s two statements (“for in Yitzchak” and “take your son etc.”) that were contradictory.
(However, since he was explicitly commanded “take your son etc. . . and offer etc.” he fulfilled this without questioning G-d’s ways).
However, now that he was commanded, “Do not stretch forth your hand to slaughter”, he was able to differentiate between the two statements (להכריע בין שני הכתובים) and to fulfill both of them – through inflicting a wound and drawing blood (and sprinkling it on the altar).
This was the claim of Avraham “I will inflict a wound on him”. Namely, that through this he would be able to fulfill G-d’s command completely, and that he would fulfill all three of G-d’s statements –
On this G-d answered, “now I know”, and there is no deficiency at all (חסרון)-
For he was not prevented from fulfilling G-d’s command since from the very onset “I did not say to you, “Slaughter him” but, “Bring him up” You have brought him up; now take him down.”
(And this is the reason that there is no contradiction between the two aspects of “For in Yitzchak” and “take your son etc.”) -
we thus find that Avraham fulfilled G-d’s command (“offer him up”), in completeness.
4. According to this Rashi’s necessity to explain so, is answered simply. For here, there were additional exchanges between Avraham and G-d (“Yesterday, You said to me . . I shall not profane My covenant etc.”). For the necessity is from G-d’s words to Avraham, “For now I know” (upon which Rashi wrote his comment).
The explanation of this is:
Seemingly, this requires explanation:
For what purpose did G-d need to say to Avraham that he withstood the test (even without slaughtering Yitzchak) and that “now I know that you are a G-d fearing man”?
Indeed, just as Avraham did not question G-d’s ways when he was commanded, “take your son etc.”, but rather rushed to fulfill the command without seeking any reason and answer for this command. Certainly, when G-d further commanded, “Do not stretch forth your hand” there was no need to explain to Avraham the reason for this
(Namely, that even without slaughtering Yitzchak, he had already withstood the test, and “now I know”).
For Avraham did not question G-d’s ways
(Especially since he certainly was able to understand on his own that all this was just a test and that there is no need for G-d to expressly tell him “now I know etc.”).
Therefore, one must say that G-d’s words “For now I know” do not come (just) to explain to Avraham the purpose of the test of the Akedah. Rather that this was also the answer to Avraham‘s words that he should not err to say that he does not fear G-d and that he did not fulfill the purpose of the test. Rather, on the contrary, “now I know that you are a G-d fearing man”.
In other words, as above, when Avraham heard the command, "Do not stretch forth . .nor do the slightest thing to him”, even though G-d commanded him, “take your son . . and bring him up there for a burnt offering.” he concluded from this that perhaps the reason that G-d is not allowing him to fulfill the commanded “take etc.” is because he is not fitting for this – and on this G-d answered, (“Do not stretch forth” etc.) “For now I know that you are a G-d fearing man etc.”. For the reason that He commanded him, “Do not stretch forth etc.” is not because of a deficiency (חסרון), G-d forbid in Avraham. Rather, on the contrary, “now I know that you are a G-d fearing man”. Rather it is because, “I did not say to you, ‘Slaughter him,’ but, ‘Bring him up’”.
5. In this manner, one can also resolve why Rashi cites the author of the statement, and why he specifically chose the version that states that it is R’ Abba (and not R’ Acha – like the Midrash Bereshit Rabba that is published).
According to the aforementioned one could say that Rashi’s intent in citing R’ Abba’s name is to hint, that the reason that R’ Abba held that Avraham‘s words “Yesterday, You said to me etc.” were not said as a wonder on G-d’s ways,
(Rather it was just to explain his own words, namely that he wanted to fulfill G-d’s command completely) –
Is because he follows his general opinion (כי לשיטתו אזיל)
In tractate Chagigah, we learn
“Anyone who has no concern for the honor of his Maker etc. (כל שלא חס על כבוד קונו)
The Talmud there states,
“What is lack of concern for the honor of one’s Maker? R’ Abba said: This is one who looks at a rainbow. .as it is written: “As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the L-rd” (Ezekiel 1:28)”
Even though in simplicity, R’ Abba‘s intent is that gazing at a rainbow is like gazing on the appearance of the Shechinah
(since the “appearance of the rainbow is . . the appearance of the brightness round about”)
Nevertheless, we find that the prohibition of gazing at the rainbow is also relevant to the sign of the rainbow (לאות הקשת) that there should not be another flood
(Which is why we recite the blessing when seeing a rainbow: “Blessed be He that remembers the covenant”, as is cited in the continuation of the section of the Talmud there).
6. One can understand this by prefacing the precise wording “one who gazes at the rainbow” (המסתכל בקשת). The intent here is not just cursory glancing at the rainbow, for the Sages enacted a special blessing for seeing the rainbow. Rather the intent here is gazing in a manner of looking fixedly and intently.
One could explain this precise wording:
The connection between a rainbow to G-d’s honor is because of the ‘appearance of the rainbow” that the prophet Yechezkel saw in the Merkavah (Ma’aseh Merkavah - the Design of the Divine Chariot).
(As it states, “As the appearance of the rainbow . . so was the appearance of the brightness round about).
This is especially so according to what is told in the Talmud beforehand that when R’ Yehoshua began expounding on the design of the Merkavah, “the heavens became filled with clouds, and there was the appearance of a kind of rainbow in a cloud”.
From this, it is understood even more so, that the appearance of the rainbow is connected to the Ma’aseh Merkavah. This is the essence of the prohibition to gaze at the rainbow, for this alludes to gazing and contemplating the aspects of the Ma’aseh Merkavah, which is contrary to the honor to G-d. For these aspects must specifically be hidden (בהסתר דוקא)
(Like the wording of the verse, “The honor of G-d is to conceal a matter”)
since they are above the understanding of human intellect, and contemplation of them will bring questions and doubts etc.
(According to this, the two aspects in the Mishnah -
are one theme).
According to this, one could say that the essence of this prohibition is also related to the sign of the rainbow (לאות הקשת). For due to “the honor of his Maker” it is not proper to gaze and contemplate the essence of the aspect of the rainbow, for it is possible that, through this, a question and difficulty could arise concerning G-d’s ways, because of which the sign of the rainbow was given.
Indeed, the reason that there will not be another flood on the earth (upon which the sign of the rainbow is based) is expressly stated in the verse, “I will no longer curse the earth because of man, for the inclination of man's heart is evil from his youth”.
This reason itself serves as a reason for the bringing of the flood, as it states,
“And the L-rd saw that the evil of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of his heart was only evil all the time.”
What changed, that in the beginning this reason dictated the bringing of the flood, whereas afterward this very reason itself dictated that another flood should not be brought upon the earth?!
Since G-d created man, from the very onset, in a manner that the “inclination of man's heart is evil from his youth” it is certain that G-d knew that in the end, it would come to a condition that “the inclination of his heart was only evil all the time.” Yet nevertheless, G-d created His world. What therefore, was innovated afterward, because of which He “regretted that He had made man”?
This what R’ Abba meant by saying that if one gazes upon the rainbow –
In other words, one who delves and contemplates the essence of the sign of the rainbow –
is in the realm of having “no concern for the honor of his Maker”.
For this contemplation is possible to cause one to have doubts regarding G-d’s ways.
R’ Abba follows his opinion, namely, that it is certain that Avraham did not intend to wonder about the contradictory words of G-d –
“Yesterday, You said . . and You retracted etc.”-
which is the opposite of having “concern for the honor of his Maker”. Rather his intent was solely and just to explain, before G-d “my words”, as aforementioned at length.
MSichas Shabbat Parshat Vayeira 5748
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