Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Food for Thought - Nedarim Daf 32

*** The Beraisa quotes Rebbi as making the following statement: Milah is a great mitzvah, as there is no one who was involved in mitzvos like Avraham Avinu, and yet he was only called complete through milah, as the passuk says “walk before me and be complete,” and it says “and I will put my covenant between us.”

The Ksav Sofer asks: Perhaps milah is a minor mitzvah, but it was the mitzvah that rendered Avraham Avinu complete, for even a minor deficiency can prevent completeness?

*** Rabbi Ami bar Aba also says: The “Satan” numerically equals three hundred and sixty four (implying that one day a year he is powerless, which is Yom Kippur).

The Chidah asks: What is the advantage to us that the Satan is powerless on Yom Kippur? Why, there are so many other days in the year where he is detrimental to us?

He answers: On Yom Kippur, the Satan contradicts what he is saying the rest of the year. On Yom Kippur he says that there is no nation with such kedusha as Klal Yisroel. This renders him a liar (for that which he says the rest of the year) and gives us the strength to fend off his attacks on us for the rest of the year.

*** Rabbi Zecharyah said in the name of Rabbi Yishmael: Hashem wanted to have kehunah descend from Shem, as the passuk says “and he was a kohen for Hashem on high.” However, once Shem said a blessing to Avraham before saying a blessing to Hashem, Hashem decided to have kehunah descend from Avraham. This is as the passuk states, “and he blessed him and he said: blessed is Avram to the Hashem on high, Owner of heaven and earth, and praised is Hashem.” Avram asked Shem: Is it appropriate to mention first a blessing of the servant before that of his master? Kehunah was immediately given to Avraham, as the passuk states, “the word of Hashem was to my master, until I make your enemies into a footstool for your feet,” and it states “and he is a kohen for Hashem on high.” This implies that he (Shem) was a kohen, but his children would not be kohanim.

It is written in Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer that Avraham married Keturah, who was Hagar, after she converted.

Reb Yosef Engel asks: If Avraham was a kohen, how was he permitted to marry a divorcee?

He answers: This Medrash is of the opinion that Avraham did not have a daughter. Consequently, he had not fulfilled the mitzvah of procreation yet. There was no other woman fitting for Avraham to marry, and therefore, the positive commandment of procreation was able to override the prohibition against a kohen marrying a divorcee.