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Can we please start a Torah Study thread? - Page 3

post #41 of 101
Noach and matzah?

I was reading something over Shabbos that Chem and Shaim and Yafet all mean...emotions; science; and art and literature? Is that right? Or maybe I have their names mixed up with the meanings....?
post #42 of 101
Originally Posted by mamaverdi View Post
Noach and matzah?

Oops. Didn't translate.

Matza is (aside from being unrisen bread-type food for Passover) from the Hebrew verb "to find." Past tense, third person singular. (My ulpan teacher would be proud of me. )

So "Noakh matza " translates to "Noakh found."

And yeah, I can only understand the Zornberg book if I have quiet time to read it, no kids in the room. So this Shabbos I was up in the middle of the night, couldn't sleep ... quiet Shabbos midnight reading. Finest kind of reading there is.
post #43 of 101
I love getting up early on Shabbos and everyone is sleeping, and I get to read.
post #44 of 101
So, how long are we keeping this thread going? To the end of Sefer Beraishis or until it gets too big and unruly?

So, onto Lech Lecha. Abraham and Sara's story, right? (I haven't read it since last year.)
post #45 of 101
Thread Starter 
I vote for whichever happens first.

Lech lecha... if i recall correctly, that means "Get your butt moving" or some such, right?
post #46 of 101
Yup. Found it personally a very intense parsha last year. Am finding it equally intense this year.

post #47 of 101
OOH! What a great thread!

We haven't been to Shabbat services in a while. It got hard with two little one's that would go to bed around service time, and then we moved, and with dh in medical school now, he doesn't have much spare time. I know that sounds totally lame. But, we're cherishing every moment that we can spend together as a family, and joining a new synagogue has really been low on the priority list.
post #48 of 101
Here's a great commentary on Lech Lecha.

This parsha, like much of Bereishis, is so unbelievably full. What's more, at least to my thinking, is the incredibly intense level of teaching we get from these parshiot. The 'pshat' (face value/simple) level of the text, and then the much deeper analyses of Rashi and other commentaries that bring down not only the stories of the people involved, but the deep lessons about the spiritual birth of our people.

Lech Lecha is really the beginning of that journey. Somewhere I read a fabulous d'rash (lecture?) on the immense symbolic significance just of using the verb twice ("Go, You Go" or "Walk, You Walk" is how Lech Lecha was translated there). I forget what it was, does anyone know what I'm talking about?
post #49 of 101
Nic Nice.

Here's another translation of lekh lekha ... go to yourself. To who you really are, deep in the inside of the inside of yourself. Courtesy of R' Raz Hartman of Nakhla'ot ... very short and very sweet.
post #50 of 101
Originally Posted by merpk View Post
Here's another translation of lekh lekha ... go to yourself. To who you really are, deep in the inside of the inside of yourself. Courtesy of R' Raz Hartman of Nakhla'ot ... very short and very sweet.

Far be it from me to put my posts on a pedestal, but I really love that Torah. So figured I would quote it.

So anyway, not davka on the parsha, but Reb Shlomo on Avraham Avinu ... and what exactly is magen Avraham.

And from the holy yeshiva in Bat Ayin, very short and very sweet, Avraham Avinu our role model for being ourselves ... "Watch closely Avraham and what he does and how, and let us all take it upon ourselves to work towards being islands of sanity and positivity in a world that seems to be falling apart ..."

post #51 of 101
It's a little late in the week for this, but since she's in the parsha and often neglected ... Hagar.

She was royalty, after all, the daughter of Pharoah ... and then ended up Sarah Imeinu's maid. The midrash (Midrash Raba) says that Pharoah sent her there for her safety ... after he saw what happened to himself and his house because of his treatment of Sarah.

R' Simkha Weinberg gave a great shiur about Hagar and Sarah that we have on tape ... will hopefully listen to it this morning and pass it on in time for y'all across the sea to catch before Shabbos ...

post #52 of 101
Like the avatar Amy .

A short vort from R. Berel Wein:
Why The Land of Israel?
By Rabbi Wein

The Torah teaches us that our father Avraham was told to leave his home in Mesopotamia and to travel to an unknown land, which eventually turned out to be the Land of Israel. Midrash points out to us that the entire success of Avraham’s mission in life – to spread the idea of monotheism and the universal God – was dependent on his living in the Land of Israel.

The question naturally arises why this should have been so. After all, he could have been successful in so doing had he remained in Mesopotamia, which then was the center of human civilization and culture while the Land of Israel was somewhat of a backward, out of the way place.

There are many possible answers to this question but the one that intrigues me most is as follows. Being successful in spiritual missions and growth always requires sacrifice and some physical discomfort. The prophet castigates those that are complacent and comfortable in Zion.

A person is born to toil and accomplish, to be busy and productive. Without undergoing the arduous and potentially dangerous journey to the Land of Israel, Avraham will never fulfill his spiritual destiny. Avraham is the symbol of challenges in life.

The ten tests that he undergoes shape him and mold him into the father of our people and the symbol of human civilization and monotheistic progress. Only by leaving his comfortable and familiar surroundings can he achieve greatness. It is therefore imperative for him to leave and to wander, to be a stranger and an alien in foreign society in order to grow into his great spiritual role of influence and leadership.

But why the Land of Israel as the desired destination for Avraham? Jewish history provides us with this insight. It is in the Land of Israel that a Jew can truly achieve spiritual elevation and development. The Land of Israel provides greater challenges to Jewish development than any other location on the face of this earth.

Throughout Jewish history, the Land of Israel has posed the greatest challenge to Jewish communal living. It is no surprise therefore that we who live in Israel find it to be a daily struggle in our lives. Nevertheless, it is the place for the greatest Jewish accomplishments and achievements. And therefore it is the destination for Avraham in his quest for spiritual growth and attainment.

He will find it to be a difficult place to live in. But as he struggles with his tests in life and rises to each challenge and occasion the Lord promises him that the Land of Israel will be his place on earth for all of his generations.

The challenge of living in the Land of Israel has never waned but God’s promise to the Jewish people has always remained in force as well. It seems obvious that the ultimate fulfillment of Jewish life can only be realized in the Land of Israel. The problems faced there sometimes seem overwhelming. But the rabbis stated that according to the pain and difficulty so is the reward. As the children of Avraham and Sarah we are bidden to rise and overcome all of our tests and challenges as well.
post #53 of 101
A quickie from the sweet singer Shlomo Katz, written a few years ago on Vayera that's also l'kavod R' Shlomo ben R' Naftali Carlebach, whose yarzheit is next week ...

Shavu'a tov, mamas ...
post #54 of 101
Rather than waiting until Thursday or so when I get the PiaN emailed to me, I think I'll post the link to this week's Parsha in a Nutshell NOW.


I'm still incredible troubled by the whole story of Sarah kicking Hagar and Ishmael out of her house.
post #55 of 101
Thread Starter 
You know, the midrashim about that story never did it for me, either. It seemed like Hagar couldn't win no matter what she did. She just never had a prayer. Nor Avram, really... I just felt like Sarai was a bit of a control freak. I understand now that she was probaby feeling seriously inadequate as a woman, but that doesn't really excuse her behavior, afaic. She didn't have to force Avram and Hagar into that position, she could have had faith in God, too. Kwim?
post #56 of 101
Have no idea what I was going to type. :

Anyone have interesting midrashim to post?
post #57 of 101
This is a very nice commentary on Sarah and Hagar.

Rashi comments, based on the Midrash, that when Sarah was 100, she was like a 20-year-old regarding sin. Until the age of 20 one is not held responsible for one's actions -- i.e. sinless -- and Sarah was clean of all sin at 100 years of age. When she was 20, the Midrash continues, she was like a 7-year-old regarding beauty. Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch explains that a 7-year-old as only an innocent child can be beautiful. So Sarah was sinless and beautiful all her life (one of the three most beautiful women of the Tanach.)

Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik explains further that the greatness of Sarah can be culled from the words of Rashi: "The years of Sarah's lifetime: all were equal for the good." [Rashi 23:1] She was 100, she was 20, she was 7. Most people pass from one stage of their lives to the next, leaving the previous stage behind, perhaps taking with them some fond memories. Each one of these ages -- 100, 20, 7 -- has something unique about it. The 7-year-old has innocence; the 20-year-old has strength; the 100-year-old has wisdom. The secret of the greatness of Sarah was that throughout her entire life she was 100 and 20 and 7.

All of Sarah's years were equal. At every point in her life, she remained the same. She was always as innocent as a 7-year-old, with the strength, determination and idealism of a 20-year-old, and always possessed the wisdom of a 100-year-old.

Let us take a deeper look at each of these traits:

In order for people to pray, they need to feel that God is really listening. Adults often become cynical and lose the ability to stand before God and share their innermost secrets and aspirations. The child, who is innocent, has not developed such cynicism. The child possesses the ability to pray. When we pray, we need to feel that God is our Father in Heaven; we are His children. Sarah always felt that way.

The greatness of a 20-year-old is physical strength and idealism. The 20-year-old feels that he or she can change the world, can do just about anything -- there are no limits, no rules, only potential. Sarah never felt limited. Sarah always had strength. Sarah was always idealistic.

The 100-year-old possesses wisdom. After years of living, a person gains the perspective which only experience can give. Great sages are almost always elderly people whose skills have not diminished over the years. Quite the opposite: they possess wisdom that transcends "book knowledge". Sarah always had this wisdom.

Sarah was always 100, and 20, and 7. Throughout her life she possessed all these skills. This is the greatness of Sarah. This is why she was our first Matriarch.

But there is more we can learn about the greatness of Sarah from the Torah. As we saw above, this portion, Chaye Sarah -- "the lifetime of Sarah" -- in fact begins with the death of Sarah. A great deal of the narrative is devoted to the burial of Sarah on the one hand, and the search for a wife for Isaac on the other. It marks the transition of matriarchs, from Sarah to Rebecca, and for that matter of the patriarchs as well, from Abraham to Isaac.

Rabbi Yosef Dov Solovietchik once noted that without Sarah "Abraham takes leave of the world stage." Despite Abraham's relative longevity, he seems to disappear after Sarah's death. He ceases to be a major player as the mantle of leadership passes to Isaac and Rebecca.

Abraham and Sarah were complete partners, and therefore the death of the one causes the focus to be removed from the other. Abraham was keenly aware of this partnership. Hence, as soon as the burial and mourning period ended, a replacement for Sarah in the family camp -- a wife for Isaac who could fill the matriarchal role -- was sought.

The fact that Abraham and Sarah were indeed partners can be discerned from the very outset. In the Torah portion Lech Lecha, we are told that when Abraham and Sarah started out for the Land of Canaan, they brought with them "the souls which they made in Haran." We understand this to mean the people they converted to monotheism. Rashi tells us: "Abraham converted the men and Sarah converted the women." Thus Abraham and Sarah were equals, each working in his or her own realm.

Sarah was obviously more than just the woman who prepared the meals for Abraham's guests. She clearly took a much more proactive role in educating and inspiring other women. Of all of her students, one stands out in particular: Hagar. Hagar is introduced in the Torah as an Egyptian servant of Sarah, acquired during Sarah's brief stay in Pharoah's court. [see Genesis 12:11-20] The Midrash cited by Rashi gives us some biographical information about Hagar:

R'Simeon ben Yohai said: "Hagar was Pharaoh's daughter. When Pharaoh saw what was done on Sarah's behalf in his own house, he took his daughter and gave her to Sarah, saying, 'Better let my daughter be a handmaid in this house than a mistress in another house'" [Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 45:1)

Hagar was royalty. She was an aristocrat. When it became apparent to Sarah that she would be unable to bear children, she saw Hagar as an appropriate partner for Abraham, one with the most illustrious lineage that she could find. A lesser woman than Sarah might have been afraid to bring in such "competition," but Sarah hoped that if Abraham was to have a child, that child must be the greatest child possible. As chapter 16 of the Book of Genesis relates, in an act of complete self-sacrifice, Sarah invites the beautiful Egyptian princess to become a partner with her husband.

Hagar, who had been the primary disciple of Sarah, becomes pregnant and bears a child. As a result, she concludes that God has now chosen her over Sarah and that Sarah is an unworthy partner for Abraham. She begins to conduct herself as the wife.

The Midrash paints the picture:

Hagar would tell (other women): "My mistress Sarah is not inwardly what she is outwardly; she appears to be a righteous woman, but she is not. For had she been a righteous woman, (she would have conceived) see how many years have passed without her conceiving, whereas I conceived in one night." [Midrash Rabbah 45:4]

One can understand, and perhaps even sympathize with the position of Hagar. She believed that she was born to lead, but that the search for truth had led her away from her father's pagan world. Abraham's genius enraptured her, and she came to believe that it was better for her to serve in that house than to rule Egypt. But now she was given the opportunity to rule in Abraham's house; she believed that she had received a divine sign that she, who was born to be queen, would indeed be the queen -- of Abraham's nascent movement. Hagar's mistake was in assuming that Abraham alone led the people, that he alone was a spiritual giant. What she failed to recognize was that it was a partnership, the combination of Abraham and Sarah, which was the basis for the great spiritual movement she herself had become a part of.

Sarah did understand: Sarah responds, not out of selfishness, nor out of jealousy. Sarah understands that she and Abraham are partners and equals. At the point when Hagar gets carried away, Sarah informs Abraham it is time to send Hagar away. Abraham finds it quite difficult. But, of course, Sarah was right. God confirms it.

God said to Abraham: 'Whatever Sarah your wife says you shall listen.'[Genesis 21:12]
post #58 of 101

The last line, BTW, is a "joke" of ours ... whenever I give DH some advice or make a suggestion or tell him to do something, we follow it up with (in unison) "And The L!rd told Abe-raham, listen to your wiiiife." (that's a sort of transliterated drawl-ish accent in there )
post #59 of 101
Thread Starter 
I was taught that a Jewish man is always to move to his wife's level of observance-- is this where it comes from, perhaps?
post #60 of 101
Is it safe to assume that Sara rebuked Hagar many times before kicking her out of the house? That making her leave the household was a last resort, not her first response?
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