Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dvar Torah for Parshas Chayei Sarah

       In this week’s parshah, Avraham’s servant, Eliezer, is sent on a mission to Aram Naharayim, the hometown of Avraham’s brother, to find a wife for Yitzchak. Miraculously, he arrives at the well outside of the city on the very same day he left and davens to Hashem to help him find the right girl. He says that whichever girl he asks to give him water to drink offers not only him to drink but his camels as well, will have proven herself to be a big enough Ba’alas Chesed (Person whose natural tendency is to do kind acts for other people) to be worthy of marrying into the family of Avraham who was the ultimate Ba’al Chesed. Rivka did exactly this, prompting Eliezer to thank Hashem for this immediate answer to his prayers and give her gifts.
       The Pasuk in Shlishi describes the gifts Eliezer gave Rivka at the well. “…וַיִּקַּח הָאִישׁ נֶזֶם זָהָב בֶּקַע מִשְׁקָלוֹ וּשְׁנֵי צְמִידִים עַל יָדֶיהָ עֲשָׂרָה זָהָב מִשְׁקָלָם“…the man took a golden nose ring, its weight a beka, and two bracelets on her arms, ten gold shekels their weight” (Bereishis 24:22). Rashi explains that there was a deeper significance behind these gifts. The gold ring weighed a beka, the same weight as the half-shekel which each person in Bnei Yisrael gave to the Beis Hamikdash in order to pay for the Public Sacrifices which would be brought throughout the year. The two bracelets he gave her represented the two Luchos (Tablets) which were given at Har Sinai and they weighed ten gold shekels to represent the Aseres Hadibros (Ten Commandments) that were on them. But why did he do this? Why did Eliezer or whoever gave him these presents, choose to represent these two mitzvos with Rivka’s gifts?
       The Gur Aryeh answers that with the representation of these two mitzvos, Rivka became a complete person. The Mishnah is Avos teaches us, “על שלושה דברים העולם עומד, על התורה ועל העבודה ועל גמילות חסדים“The world stands on three things, on Torah, service of God, and on acts of kindness” (Avos 1:2). As we said earlier, Rivka was a tremendous Ba’alas Chesed, she watered a group of men and ten camels all on her own! The bracelets represented the Luchos, which represent Torah, and the ring represented the half-shekel which helped paid for Korbanos in the Beis Hamikdash, executing the service of God. By receiving these gifts, Rivka now had all three properties necessary to support the world.
       The Kli Yakar answers that the half-shekel nose ring was given as a “protection” for the two Luchos bracelets. He explains that one of the reasons why the first set of Luchos were able to be destroyed was because of Ayin Hara (Evil Eye). In order to avoid Ayin Hara, we try not to broadcast or call extra attention to any big events or special traits that we have, at least not more than is necessary. The miracles surrounding the giving of the Torah are well documented in Parshas Yisro. The lightening, the thunder, the mountain floating in the air, Hashem himself on the mountain, the entire world aware of the tremendous event that was taking place, all of these huge miracles opened the Luchos up potentially to the effect of Ayin Hara. Normally, Hashem would have protected the Luchos from this but with the sin of the Golden Calf, this protection was lost, resulting in the Ayin Hara taking effect and the Luchos being destroyed. (It is not that the Luchos were destroyed only because of Ayin Hara, obviously it was because of the sin of the Jews. Still, the potential for Ayin Hara had always been there because of the great display by Matan Torah. So while the sin was the ultimate cause for the breaking of the Luchos, at the end of the day, the actual destruction came through Ayin Hara.)  
       The Kli Yakar explains that the punishment for causing an Ayin Hara to happen is for Ayin Hara to take effect over you. This is because of the rule of מדה כנגד מדה. In order to protect the Jews who were guilty of the Eigel (Golden Calf) from this punishment, Hashem commanded the nation to bring the Machatzis Hashekel (Half-Shekel), which is protection against Ayin Hara. This is why the mitzvah of Machatzis Hashekel was originally given in the desert, for the nation’s protection. One of the traits Eliezer looked for when he saw Rivka was whether or not she had Ayin Tova (a Good Eye). After seeing that she indeed did have this middah, he gave her the half-shekel ring as a protection against Ayin Hara, along with the Luchos bracelets as a symbol of what would be protected.
Shabbat Shalom!


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