Monthly Archives: 5 Heshvan 5774

Parshas Lech Lecho

Hashem always keeps H.s promises to the “t”. The road to get there isn’t always immediate and straight but in the end, Hashem  ALWAYS keeps H.s  promises. The Zera Shimshon shows a beautiful  example of this in this week’s Parsha.

 וַיְהִי רָעָב בָּאָרֶץ וַיֵּרֶד אַבְרָם מִצְרַיְמָה לָגוּר שָׁם כִּי כָבֵד הָרָעָב בָּאָרץ

The Rambam on Avos explains that this famine was a test. Hashem promised Avrohom to go to Eretz Yisroel in order to become a big nation and to become prosperous. However after he got to Eretz Yisroel there was a famine and Avrohom was forced to leave Eretz Yisroel childless and still poor. This certainly  seemed  like Hashem didn’t keep H.s promise. This was a tremendous test to see if Avrohom would still have faith in Hashem and H.s promises.

The Zera Shimshon asks why was this such a great test. Hashem never gave a time limit for this promise. Therefore there was no real reason to doubt that Hashem would EVENTUALLY  carry  it out.

He answers by pointing out  something very interesting in the first possuk in the Parsha.
This week’s Parsha opens with the possuk:

וַיֹּאמֶר יְדֹוָד אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ

The standard translation is “And Hashem said to Avram, “Leave your land… to the Land that I will show you.”  In other words, the word אראך is referring to the land that I will show you.  Zera Shimshon questions this translation because there is a cantillation note (“trup”) between the word הארץ- the land- and אשר אראך- that I will show you.  This implies that “I will show you” is not at all connected with “the land”. However, according to the standard translation “I will show you” refers to and explains which land!

Zera Shimshon therefore translates אשר אראך that I (Hashem) will show you (Avrohom) to others. In other words, Hashem promised to Avrohom that he will go to Eretz Yisroel and Hashem will proclaim and make known that Avrohom is a tzaddik.

How exactly would Hashem broadcast  Avrohom’s righteousness to everyone?  He explains  that Eretz Yisroel is a very special place that responds to the spiritual level of its inhabitants. When they live on  a high level, there is prosperity, and when they are not…

According to this we can now understand the tremendous test that Avrohom faced. If he would have become wealthy and have children right away then everyone would understand  he was truly righteous just like Hashem promised. However, if he had to leave the land childless and penniless (Rashi explains that he had to borrow money for his lodging on the way down to Mitzrayim) then even if he would eventually prosper, people would not attribute it to his righteousness (because if this was the cause of his being rich why didn’t it happen right when he arrived in Eretz Yisroel.) Rather they would say that it is just his mazal or the sort.

We are still left with a question, though. True, that Avrohom didn’t question Hashem and passed the test. However, how did Hashem eventually keep the promise that he would show the world Avrohom’s righteousness?

He answers that if the land would have begun to blossom immediately following Avrohom’s arrival then Avrohom himself would not have benefitted from it because he was still poor. The  people , therefore would conclude that the prosperity was not because of him and his righteousness.

Therefore Hashem brought a famile which caused him to go Mitzrayim.  There Paroah  tried to marry Sarah and was forced to appease Avrohom with presents which made him into a wealthy man. When he finally returned to Eretz Yisroel the land prospered and Avrohom, who was now wealthy, was able to benefit from it.  Seeing this everyone attributed the  prosperity to the righteousness of Avrohom exactly like Hashem promised!

Parshas Noach

Parshas Noach

 אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת נֹחַ נֹחַ אִישׁ צַדִּיק תָּמִים הָיָה בְּדֹרֹתָיו אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים הִתְהַלֶּךְ נֹחַ

On this possuk the Medrash comments:

… שכל ק”ך שנה היה נח נוטע ארזים וקוצצן אמרו למה כדין אמר להון כך אמר מאריה דעלמא דהוא מייתי מבולא על עלמא א”ל אין איתי מבולא לא אתי אלא על ביתיה דההוא גברא

For 120 years Noach planted ceder trees and cut them. (People who passed by) asked him, “What are you going to do with all this wood”. He answered them, “The Master of the universe is going to bring a flood on the world”. They replied, “If H. brings a flood, H. is going to bring it only on your house”

There are two things that need to be understood. Firstly, why did the people of Noach’s generation  think that Noach deserved to be punished? And secondly, why did they feel that they would be saved? Didn’t they realize that Noach was a bigger tzaddik than them?
The Zera Shimshon explains the people’s thinking based on the Medrash that points out that Noach was different than Moshe. Moshe davvened that Clal Yisroel be saved (after the Golden Calf). On the other hand Noach, not only did he not davven to save his generation from being destroyed , but be he build the ark only to save his own family!

The Gemoro in Makkos tells us that during the time that there were refugee cities (Orei Miklat)  the Kohain Gadol was in danger of dying  because he didn’t davven that the people of his generation would not kill by accident.

According to this we can understand why the people thought that Noach would die in the flood: he didn’t davven for them and therefore, like the Kohain Gadol,  he deserved to be punished.
(Since Hashem did save him we see that their reasoning was wrong.  One reason, Zera Shimshon explains,  was because Noach didn’t have merits of his ancestors (z’chus avos) like Moshe. Another reason was that Noach felt that his generation was so immoral that prayer wouldn’t help.

This only explains, however, why they concluded that Noach deserved to be punished. We still have to understand why they felt that THEY would be spared of punishment.

In actually their mistake is really very easy to understand. A lot of times we justify our bad behavior by blaming … (fill in the blank) our parents, spouse, or bad surroundings. However, this isn’t true. Even  if these people caused our situation, we still have the responsibility to rise above it. Like the saying goes, “It might be their fault, but it’s your problem!”