Parshas Chayai Sarah

וַתָּמָת שָׂרָה בְּקִרְיַת אַרְבַּע הִוא חֶבְרוֹן בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן וַיָּבֹא אַבְרָהָם לִסְפֹּד לְשָׂרָה וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ: -בראשית כג/ב

And Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and to cry. (Braishis 23/2)

Zera Shimshon asks that the words in this possuk seem to be out of order. Concerning the seven days of mourning the Gemorro in Moad Katan (27b) says that, “the first three days of mourning is for weeping and the next days are to eulogize.” First comes tears and then comes the eulogy.  Similarly, the eulogist usually cries before he gives his eulogy. Therefore, seemingly, it would be more correct to write, “And Avraham came TO CRY AND EULOGIZE Sarah and not EULOGIZE SARAH AND TO CRY. Why then does the possuk mention that Avraham came to eulogize before he cried.
Secondly he asks that the letter “chahv” in the word “lifkos”- to cry- is written smaller then other letters in the Sefer Torah. What is Torah coming to teach us with this?
He answers in light of an idea that the Sefer Maavar Yabok writes. He writes that the tears that are shed for someone who passed away are tremendously beneficial for the deceased person. They open up for him the “Gates of Tears” (Shaari Dimma) in heaven which is a place where people are judged very very mercifully. However the Sefer Maavar Yabok adds that not all tears are equal.Only tears that are shed for the benefit of the deceased’s nefesh (soul, spiritual part of a personO have the ability to open Shaari Dimma. Tears that are directed towards the deceased’s body, that is gone forever (or crying himself – how difficult it will be for him, his family, or his community without the deceased etc.- do not open the Shaari Dimma.
Eulogizes obviously focus on the deceased’s good deeds and his spiritual strengths. Therefore the Torah writes that Avraham first eulogized Sarah and then cried to show that Avraham weeped for Sarah nefesh and and not for the physical lose.
This is also the reason that the “chahv” is written small to show that although there were two reasons to cry, for her nefesh and for the lose of the body, his tears were directed only towards her nefesh and not towards her physical body or towards himself at all

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גֵּר וְתוֹשָׁב אָנֹכִי עִמָּכֶם תְּנוּ לִי אֲחֻזַּת קֶבֶר עִמָּכֶם וְאֶקְבְּרָה מֵתִי מִלְּפָנָי:בראשית כג/ד

On the possuk (Braishis 23/4), “I am a foreigner and a resident among you…” Rashi comments, “A Medrash Aggado explains, ‘If you wish I will act like a foreigner (and I will buy the Maaras HaMachpaila from you), but if (you will) not (sell it to me then) I will act as a resident and take it by rights since HaKodesh Baruch Hue said to me, “To your offsprings I will give this land.””
From this medrash we learn that Avraham Avinu was determined to bury Sarah Eimainu in the Maaras HaMachpaila and offered Bnei Chais to choose one of two options how it would become his; either he would buy it from them or he would take it because Hashem promised it to him and therefore it was legally his.
Zera Shimshon asks that if Avraham was really entitled to the land because of Hashem’s promise, then why did he offer to buy it from Efron like a foreigner? Why would Avraham want to pay for the land that is rightfully his?
He answers in light of a machlokos brought in Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 163/2). The halacha is that if a person buys a house in a city he automatically becomes a citizen of that city with all of its obligations and benefits. There is a machlokos, though, in which specific situation does this halacha apply. Some say that this is only if he bought the house in order to permanently live there. Others say that it applies even if he intends to live there for only a short period of time.
According to this, explains Zera Shimshon, Avraham didn’t want to take the Maaras HaMachpaila as a gift but he wanted to buy it. However he didn’t only buy a small plot but the whole field. Because he also wanted to buy the whole field he was concerned that Bnei Chaiss would think that he planned to permanently live next to his wife’s grave. Therefore Avraham was concerned that Bnei Chais did not want him to be a part of their city and because of this they would not let Avraham buy it.
To put them at ease he told them that if the custom in Chevron was like the first opinion in Shulchan Aruch, that only a person who plans to live in a city forever becomes a citizen, then he will buy the field and stipulate that he will continue to be a foreigner. If however the custom in Chevron was like the second opinion, that even one who buys a house to live there for a short period becomes a citizen, then he will take from his legal rights!

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Concerning Avraham’s burial of Sarah the Medrash comments: This is the meaning of the verse “Whoever runs after righteousness and kindness finds life, prosperity and honor.” (The possuk is referring to Avrohom)…Whoever runs after righteousness” … “and kindness” (is referring to when Avrohom) was kind to Sarah (at the time of her funeral).
The Zera Shimshon asks why is Avrohom described as someone who “runs after kindness” for burying Sarah? The halocho requires every husband to bury his wife! What then was so special about what Avrohom did?
He answers this question by first asking another question.
Right after Sarah passed away Avrohom spoke to B’nei Chais and asked them to approach Effron to ask him to sell Maaros HaMachpaila to him to bury Sarah. The Zera Shimshon asks why didn’t Avrohom speak to Effron directly? The normal reason that a person doesn’t directly negotiate is either to convince the seller, who is hesitant to sell, to sell or to bargain for a good price.
Concerning Avrohom, however, these two reasons weren’t relevant. Firstly, Avorohm specifically said that he didn’t care how much it cost. And secondly, we don’t find anywhere that Effron was hesitant to sell!
And even if he wanted a middle man for some other reason, why did he need a whole nation to be present? Why wasn’t it enough that only one person would speak to him?
He answers that the reason he called of B’nei Chais was not to mediate a good deal. Rather he felt that Sarah deserved a big funeral. The way he orchestrated this was by calling B’nei Chais to mediate the selling of the burial plot. Like this, Avrohom reasoned, since they were there, they would stay for the funeral and Sarah would have a big funeral that she deserved.
This, concludes the Zera Shimshon, is why the Medrash praises Avrohom for burying Sarah. Even though a husband is obliged to bury his wife he certainly isn’t required to go to great lengths to insure that a lot of people will attend. The only reason that Avrohom did do it was because he ran after kindness!

HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.

The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about practical kabbolo but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.

He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name Zera Shimshon) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies ... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things... and wealth and honor......

If you are interested in buying your own copy of the Hebrew version of Zera Shimshon

Call 05271-66-450 in Eretz Yisroel

or

347-496-5657 in the U.S.A.

You can now  HEAR shiurim of Zera Shimshon on Kol Halashon:

In E. Yisroel: 073-2951-727 or 03-617-1111 and then press 1,1,3,24

In U.S.A. (718) 395-2440 and then press 2,6,4,24

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Parshas VaYairo

Parshas Vayairo

וַיִּקַּח חֶמְאָה וְחָלָב וּבֶן הַבָּקָר אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיִּתֵּן לִפְנֵיהֶם וְהוּא עֹמֵד עֲלֵיהֶם תַּחַת הָעֵץ וַיֹּאכֵלוּ: בראשית יח/ח

He took curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and set these before them; and he waited on them under the tree as they ate. (Breishis 18/8)

The Gemorro in Babba Metzia (daf 86b) explains, “R. Tanchum bar Chanilai says: A person should never deviate from the local custom, (a proof of this:) … the melachim (that came to Avraham) descended down to this world, and they ate bread. (The Gemorro asks,) Did they really eat (bread)? Can it enter your mind that they actually ate food? Rather, they merely appeared as though they ate and drank.

Tosfos quotes the Seder Eliyahu Rabah  that says that it didn’t just look like they ate but they actually did eat! After he quotes the Seder Eliyahu Rabah Tosfos adds a phrase, “and this argues on (what is written) here (in our Gemorro)”.

Zera Shimshon asks what is Tosafos adding with this phrase? It’s pretty self evident that they argue. In our Gemorro it says that they didn’t really eat but only looked as if they ate and Seder Eliyahu Rabah says that they actually did eat. How could one think that they agree?

He answers that this phrase is not referring to their opinions of what exactly the melachim did; did they actually eat or it just looked like it. Rather it is referring to the fact that there is also a  machlokes in halacha between them which is a derivative of the first machlokes.

The Mishna in Pesachim (beginning of the fourth perek, daf 50a) says that there are some places that the minhag is not to work Erev Pesach and there are some places that the minhag is to allow work Erev Pesach.

The Mishna continues to say that if one travels from a place where people are accustomed to do work to a place where people do not work, or from a place where people do not work Erev Pesach to a place where people do work, Chazal impose upon him the stringencies of both the place from which he left and the stringencies of the place to which he came. (In both cases, he is prohibited to do work.) The Mishna concludes that the reason for this is so there will be no disputes and arguments.

The Ran holds that since the reasoning behind this prohibition  is to avoid disputes then in a situation where no one knows what he is doing, for instance if he does it in private, he does not have to follow the minhag of the place where he is, but he can follow his own minhag

Tosafos, in essence, agrees with the Ran but he holds that work, even if it is done in the privacy of his own home, will eventually “leak out” and therefore it is prohibited to do work even in private. (However a minhag that is not connected with work even Tosafos agrees that it is permitted to do it in private.)

Zera Shimshon suggests that even though that surely according to our Gemorro this is the halacha, the Seder Eliyahu Rabbah argues and holds that one must follow the minhag of his surrounding community even if they do now know what he does.

Zera Shimshon explains that each of their opinions is based on their understanding of what the melachim did when they came to Avraham.

Our Shas explained that they didn’t really eat, and only acted “as if”. From this we can learn that one can follow his own minhag (like the melachim’s not eating) as long as no one realizes that he is not following the surrounding community’s minhag (since they made “as if” they were eating.)

Correspondingly, Erev Pesach a person who has the custom to do work, even if he goes to a place that doesn’t do work, can do work in private since no one knows what he is doing. (According to the Ran. According to Tosafos this halacha only applies to minhagim that are not connected with work.)

Seder Eliyahu Rabbah explained that the melachim really did eat and deviated from their custom of not eating because he holds that it is prohibited to not follow the custom of the surrounding community (in the case of the melachim; that mortals eat) even if he could have done it without anyone knowing (pretending “as if”

Correspondingly, a person who has the custom to work cannot work, even in the privacy of his own home, when the surrounding community has the custom not to work.

To allude to this machlokes in halacha Tosafos adds “and this argues on (what is written) here (in our Gemorro)”

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וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו אַיֵּה שָׂרָה אִשְׁתֶּךָ וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה בָאֹהֶל. בראשית יח/ט

And they (the Angles) said to him (Avraham), “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, Behold! She is in the tent.”

The Gemorro in Babba Metzia (87A) explains that this dialogue was written to make known that Sarah was a modest woman.”

Zea Shimshon asks why did the Torah find it so important to make special mention that Sarah was modest? Since it is well known that she was tremendously righteous, obviously she was also modest! Besides this, Avraham Avinu already realized that she was modest before they went down to Mitzrayim right after they entered Eretz Yisroel! ( Rashi mentions this on the possuk, “I know that you are a very beautiful lady…”)

He answers that the Torah isn’t telling us that she was simply modest. This was obvious. Rather the Torah is telling us that she reached a remarkably high level of modesty.

However the second question still remains, Avraham already knew this.

He answers in light of the Gemorro in Shabbos (53B), “The Rabbis learnt: A certain man was once married to a woman with a stumped hand, yet he did not notice it until the day of her death. Rebbi Yosef observed: How modest this woman must have been, that her husband did not know her! R. Chiya replied, For her it was natural; but how modest was this man, that he did not scrutinize his wife!”

From here we see that a wife is not the only one who creates modesty between a couple. It could be the result of the combined effort of the husband and his wife.

According to this, the fact that Avraham didn’t recognize her beauty all the years of their marriage is not a proof that Sarah was exceptionally modest. It could be that the modesty in their home was the outcome of both of their modest behavior.

If this is true, however, then what exceptional modesty did Sarah Imainu display by staying in the tent?

Zera Shimshon answers that the main reason for a woman not to mingle with men is to make it easier for men, who have a strong yetzer horra, not to sin. Sarah and Avraham knew that their guests were really angles and that therefore that they have no yetzer horra (as Rashi points out on the possuk (18/5), “And I (Avraham) will take (for you) a little bread, and sustain your hearts…”). Since even with beings who have no yetzer horro Sarah acted modestly and stayed in the tent to be away from them, we see that she was intrinsically very modest!

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The Medrash in the beginning of the parsha comments that after Avraham Ovina circumcised himself he said that many gentiles will come to attach themselves to this sign of the covenant (between Avraham and his descendants and Hashem) and convert.

Zera Shimshon asks how can we understand Avraham’s reasoning? Before Hashem commanded Avraham to make milah,  a person could convert painlessly, just keeping Hashem’s commandments.  After Hashem gave the mitzvo of mila a person has to suffer the pain of circumcision to convert. Why then did Avraham feel that there would be more converts now?

Zera Shimshon answers that Avraham always felt uncomfortable about his sinful beginning. (According to Rebbi Yochannon Avraham only recognized his Creator at the age of 48!) He was afraid that Hashem didn’t look at him like a total tzaddik but rather slightly blemished. He felt that Hashem looked at him  like a dirty garment that even after it gets dry cleaned, it doesn’t look completely new but  small remnants  of dirt always remain on it.

This changed, however after he circumcised himself.

In the parsha we see that Hashem sent three types of remedies to heal Avraham after his milah.

Firstly, “the heat of the day”. the Medrash explains the reason that Avraham sat near the entrance of his tent “in the heat of the day” is because heat helps to heal.

Secondly, Hashem sent the Malach Rephael to heal him.

And thirdly, Hashem payed Avraham a bikkur cholim visit. Chazal teach us that the mitzvo of bikur chollim helps a sick person  recuperate.

Why did Avraham need all three remedies?

Zera Shimshon explains that the heat of the day was simply to heal the physical wound of the mila.

The Malach Rephael added to Avraham’s recovery. Avraham didn’t only get back his strength like he was  right before he did the milah. Rather, he became to make him strong like when he was much younger. This was in order that he would be able to have more children.

Hashem’s visit was in order that Avraham wouldn’t only recover physically be he become completely clean from all of his sins!

It says in the Gemorro Nedarim (41a) Reb Alexandri said in the  name of Reb Chiya bar Abba, “A sick person doesn’t recuperate until he has been forgiven for all of his sins….” Rav Hammuna said “He returns to his youth…” Rashi explains, “He returns to his youth: like a young child who never sinned.”

In other words, in the merit of  milah, Avraham not only merited to become stronger than he was prior to the milah but he also merited to be completely and totally cleansed of any remnants of sin that tainted his soul.

After realizing the huge benefit of mila we can now understand why Avraham felt that the mitzvo of mila would cause more people to convert.

HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.

The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about practical kabbolo but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.

He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name Zera Shimshon) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies ... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things... and wealth and honor......

If you are interested in buying your own copy of the Hebrew version of Zera Shimshon

Call 05271-66-450 in Eretz Yisroel

or

347-496-5657 in the U.S.A.

You can now  HEAR shiurim of Zera Shimshon on Kol Halashon:

In E. Yisroel: 073-2951-727 or 03-617-1111 and then press 1,1,3,24

In U.S.A. (718) 395-2440 and then press 2,6,4,24

_________________________
To have new D’vrei Torah sent directly to your inbox fill in boxes below: