The first part focused on the Torah reading of the first
day of Rosh Hashonoh that discusses the birth of Yitzchok and
the expulsion of Yishmoel from Avrohom's house by Soroh with
Avrohom's consent. The Ramban says that Soroh Imeinu was
punished for this, as well as Avrohom for letting her do it,
in that Hogor was given a son who was a pere odom, and
who later oppresses the descendants of Avrohom and Soroh.
HaRav Bergman explains that it was evident to Soroh and
Avrohom that it would not be possible to educate Yitzchok in
one house together with Yishmoel and Hogor. Avrohom and Soroh
certainly knew that by expelling Hogor and Yishmoel they were
committing a grievous injustice, but they did it nonetheless,
lesheim Shomayim, in order to safeguard the education
of Yitzchok. It was a type of aveiroh lishmoh. They
also knew that, as HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz says, an offense
bein odom lechavero is like a burning flame and a
cutting sword: it cuts and burns even if the intentions are
pure. So sending away Yishmoel and Hogor was an act of
mesirus nefesh on their part and on the part of their
descendants who would be persecuted by the descendants of
Yishmoel for all generations. And yet they still did it for
the sake of Yitzchok's education.
Since it was done lesheim Shomayim, that is why
Soroh is still said at her petiroh to have been like a
twenty-year-old, free of sin.
It may be argued that the Ramban is only talking about the
first story in Lech Lecho where there was no Divine
command to afflict Hogor (although the angel that met her
when she was fleeing said to her, "Return to your mistress
and submit yourself to her" (16:9), which constituted a quasi-
consent to the act of affliction, there was no explicit
command to afflict Hogor), and that in the second incident in
parshas Vayeiro (21:2), where there was such a
command, Avrohom and Soroh's acts in expelling Hogor and her
son cannot be considered blameworthy in any regard.
However, the Baal Haturim in Lech Lecho (16:8) writes
along similar lines to the Ramban, and also adds in the
second story in Vayeiro as follows: "Soroh was
punished for having expelled Hogor from her house, and her
descendants were subjugated and expelled from there." So we
see clearly that even in the second story, where there was a
direct Divine command, she was still punished in that her
descendants were subjugated.
This is an astounding principle: Even when there is a Divine
command, if there is some flaw in bein odom lechavero
it needs to be rectified.
The explanation for this seems to be that HaKodosh Boruch
Hu created man in His Image, and whoever causes anguish
to another offends against that person's Tzelem
Elokim. As Chazal say (quoted by Rashi in Ki
Seitzei 21:23) on the posuk, "For he that is
hanged is a reproach to Hashem": "It is a disgrace for the
King that someone who was made in His Image . . . this may be
compared to twin brothers who resembled each other. One
became king and the other one became a robber and was hanged.
Everyone who saw him said that the king had been hanged."
Similarly, if an earthly king asks someone to throw some dirt
at the king himself, the person obeying the king cannot be
said to have committed a crime since he had been commanded to
do this, but he is still showing a lack of respect towards
the king — a certain flaw which needs to be
Similarly, we find a gemora in Sanhedrin (102b) on the
posuk from Melochim I (22:22), `And there came
forth the spirit, and stood before Hashem, and said, I will
persuade him. And Hashem said to him, What with? And he said,
I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of
his prophets. And he said, You shall persuade him, and also
prevail. Go forth and do so.' Ravino said: Go forth from
within my barrier, as it is written, `He that tells lies
shall not tarry in my sight'". This was his punishment, even
though HaKodosh Boruch Hu told him to go forth and do
We are also now in a position to understand the Medrash
Rabboh (56:1) on parshas Vayeiro: The Soton came
to Avrohom Ovinu and said to him, " `Old man, you have lost
your mind, you are about to slaughter a son given to you when
you were a hundred years old'. He replied, `I will do it
nevertheless.' He said to him, `Tomorrow you will be
considered a murderer for having spilled your son's blood!'
He replied, `I will do it nevertheless.'"
Many have found this medrash difficult since surely
Avrohom had been commanded by Hashem to kill his son. So why
should he be considered a murderer?
It would appear from the medrash that Avrohom granted
the Soton's claims and, instead of telling him that he was
wrong, he replied that he would nevertheless go ahead and
fulfill the Divine command, even though he would afterwards
be called a murderer. According to what we explained, the
Soton was telling Avrohom that he should realize that at the
end of the day his action would be a sin against a fellow
man. It would be a murderous act and he would have to pay for
it, because Hashem's decree is that amends have to be made
for such an act under all circumstances. We see then that
Avrohom, by proceeding with the Akeidoh, was willing
to obey the Divine command even though he knew he would have
to pay for it afterwards.
This principle can also explain an apparent contradiction
between two Rashis. In Brochos (5a) Rashi (D.h.
"Yissurim shel ahavoh") writes that HaKodosh Boruch
Hu makes a person suffer in this world without his having
committed any sin, in order to increase his reward in the
next world beyond his other merits. In omud beis, D.h.
Dehavo lehu bonim umeisu, he writes that a person "will
have yissurim shel ahavoh because mourning atones for
a person's sins."
This is astounding because on the other side of the
daf Rashi had just said that yissurim shel
ahavoh refer to a person suffering without having sinned.
We can only conclude that there this refers to the concept of
sinning even when fulfilling a Divine command, and that such
an act has to be atoned for.
Now we can understand why Chazal decided that on the first
day of Rosh Hashonoh we should read the parsha of
VaHashem pokad es Soroh, which relates the sacrifice
of both Avrohom and Soroh who sacrificed their descendants of
future generations for the sake of fulfilling the Will of
Hashem by expelling the maidservant and her son for the sake
of Yitzchok Ovinu's education.
Unlike the later Akeidoh of Yitzchok, this
akeidoh actually took place. We thus read about a
prime example of Avrohom and Soroh's self-sacrifice and pray
that the merit of this great akeidoh should protect
us. It is because of this akeidoh that we are
suffering from the golus of Yishmoel to this day,
The Yalkut says on the posuk in parshas
Toldos (27:34), "And he cried with a great and bitter
cry": "Yaakov Ovinu made Eisov utter one cry, and he was
punished for this in Shushan the capital (Esther 4:1),
`And he (Mordechai) cried with a loud and bitter cry.' Eisov
shed three tears, one on the right, one on the left, and one
disappeared into his eye, and they were responsible for their
being fed bread of tears and being made to shed rivers of
tears (lit. `for being given a threefold dose of tears to
drink'). The Jews said, `Eisov Horosho aroused mercy by
shedding three tears. How much more mercy should you have on
us who cry constantly day and night, as it says
Tehillim (42:4), `My tears have been my food day and
night.' Dovid Hamelech says, Do not be quiet in the face of
"Rivkoh had commanded Yaakov to dress up and take the
brochos. The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel (27:4) says that
this command was al pi ruach hakodesh and the Or
HaChaim Hakodosh (27:8) writes on the posuk, 'Shema
bekoli,' that she told Yaakov that although there was an
element of deceit in what she was telling him to do, he
should still obey her. In other words, in addition to the
mitzvah of kibbud eim, which is a mitzvas
aseih, she was also a prophetess, and as Moshe Rabbenu
tells us (Devorim 18:15) we have to obey the prophet
of Hashem even if he tells us to violate one of the
commandments of Hashem, if it is on a temporary basis."
See also Medrash Rabboh (65:5) on the posuk
(27:14), "And he went and fetched and brought them to his
mother," that Yaakov was "constrained, bent and crying," and
yet Chazal still say that Yaakov was punished for the one cry
which he caused Eisov to utter for having had the
brochos taken away from him. Even though Yaakov was
not to blame — on the contrary, he fulfilled the words
of the prophecy against his will — but the fact was
that he was committing an offense against the Tzelem
Elokim by making Eisov suffer. Because of this we are
also suffering from Malchus Edom.
See the Yalkut in parshas Lech Lecho on the
Bris Bein Habesorim: "R. Eliezer says that at the
Bris Bein Habesorim, HaKodosh Boruch Hu showed Avrohom
Ovinu the rise and fall of the four kingdoms, as it says,
`Take for me a heifer three years old' — refers to the
kingdom of Edom, which is like a trampling heifer, `a she-
goat of three years old' — refers to the kingdom of
Greece, as it says (Doniel 8:8), `And the goat
magnified itself exceedingly.' `And a ram of three years old'
— refers to the kingdom of Media and Persia, as it says
(Ibid. 8:20), `The ram which you saw having the two
horns.' `And a turtle- dove' — refers to the
descendants of Yishmoel, for tor in Aramaic is an ox,
and when the ox will unite with the female they will open up
and plunder all the plains." The Zayis Raanan on the
Yalkut explains that when the male (Yishmoel) and the
female (the heifer Edom) will unite they will destroy the
world, chas vesholom.
End of Part II