Lech Lecha

                 ויהי רעב בארץ וירד אברם מצרימה    יב:י

The Ramban holds that leaving Eretz Yisrael because of the famine was an aveirah. Avraham avinu should have had bitachon in Hashem, says the Ramban, since he was commanded by Hashem to go to Eretz Yisrael.

The Michtav Mei’Eliyahu raises a question on this. Maaseh avos siman la’banim. Avraham avinu had to go to Shechem, for example, because, eventually, that would be the location of his descendants making war against the people who defiled Dinah. Another example, he had to go to Beis El because that is where Yehoshua would eventually begin the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. All of Avraham avinu’s travels and experiences were directly being guided by the hashgachah of Hashem in order to pave the way for the future generations. Likewise, it was clearly by divine providence that Avraham avinu had to go down to Mitzrayim in order to pave the way for his descendants who would be enslaved there.

As such, questions Rav Dessler, why does the Ramban label this as a sin on the part of Avraham avinu. The answer is that it was not the action of going down to Mitzrayim that was the sin, but the thoughts behind it. Really, Avraham should have been cognizant of the fact that he wasn’t going down to Mitzrayim because that was his only chance for physical survival, but simply because that is where the Hashgachah was directing him. The fact that he felt that he was compelled to go down to Mitzrayim in order to do hishtadlus to keep him and his family alive was a lack in emunah and bitachon. The Ramban says further that it was precisely because of this sin of Avraham avinu going down to Mitzrayim that his descendants were later subjected to the slavery there. That was the fitting punishment because, “in the place of the sin is the place of the judgment”.  With the above in mind, we understand that it was not simply a tit-for-tat punishment that the Jewish People undergo the slavery in Mitzrayim; rather, it was specifically engineered to correct the deficiency in emunah and bitachon. For the ultimate end of the shibud in Mitzrayim was the ten makos and yetzias Mitzrayim which brought Klal Yisrael to a tremendous level of emunah and bitachon.

(From Rebbetzin Twersky)


מַה־תִּתֶּן־לִ֔י וְאָנֹכִ֖י הוֹלֵ֣ךְ עֲרִירִ֑י וּבֶן־מֶ֣שֶׁק בֵּיתִ֔י ה֖וּא דַּמֶּ֥שֶׂק אֱלִיעֶֽזֶר טו:ב

When Avraham Avinu is describing his plight that he has no children, he says, “I am going barren and the custodian of my home is Damesek Eliezer.”  Why is Eliezer mentioned here?  We encountered Eliezer previously in the war against the four kings.  There he was described as “chanichav” of Avraham Avinu, equivalent to 318.  Chazal refer to him as a sagacious servant, one who exercised dominion over the Torah instruction of his master.  Here, where Avraham is bemoaning his barren state, we are told of his city of native origin, Damesek.  Why?

The answer to this question is based on the statement of the Gaon regarding that which Chazal say, “Kol ha’melamed es ben chaveiro Torah k’ilu yelado, one who teachers another’s child Torah, it is as if he gave birth to him.”  The Gaon says that this is not merely a metaphor.  Rather it is a real birth; not a physical birth, but a spiritual birth.  A spiritual birth that parallels biological birth.

Regarding physical birth, Chazal teach us that there are three partners in every child that is born: Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu, the child’s father, and the child’s mother.  Chazal further delineate the respective input of these three partners.  The father and mother provide the various physical components – the infrastructure – and Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu provides, “ruach u’neshamah dei’ah binah v’haskeil, spirit and soul, knowledge, understanding, and intellectual achievement.”

Teaching Torah is the spiritual equivalent of birth.  Teaching Torah can create spiritual offspring.  What role, we may ask, is given to the partner, to Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu, in spiritual birth?

The obvious answer is that there is a parallel between the two.  In teaching Torah, there are also two components.  The words of Torah themselves, what we call gufei Torah, are transmitted by the Rebbi to the Talmid.  Then there’s the nishmas chaim, the inner living soul of the words of Torah.  The ruchaniyus of the ruchaniyus.  Just as in the human being there is the spiritual life-force within the physical structure; so too, the spiritual words of Torah must have an inner, spiritual component.  Their own living soul.  This is the “knowledge, understanding, and intellectual achievement” that give vitality to the words of Torah.

The Rebbi gives of himself to the Talmid.  He transmits to his talmid his Torah; his perception and comprehension.  Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu, who is partnered in the teaching, gives each talmid his own “knowledge, understanding, and intellectual achievement”, his own living soul.  In every successful transmission of Torah, there exists a corollary of the “Torah tzivah lanu Moshe” from the Rebbi, and the “mi’pi ha’Gevurah”, the contribution of the partner, Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu.

The Gemara in Chagigah says, “words of Torah are fruitful and multiply.”  A talmid learns and receives Torah from the Rebbi in accordance with the comprehension of that Rebbi.  The talmid then applies his own creativity to Torah, developing his own nuances and insights.  Each talmid chacham has his own particular way of viewing a given topic. Divrei Torah are fruitful and multiply when a talmid chacham uses his power of understanding in extrapolating new concepts and principals from that which he has already learned.  Divrei Torah are fruitful and multiply when we see the materialization of the knowledge and understanding that is bestowed by Hashem.

We can conclude, then, when is a talmid a true spiritual offspring of his Rebbi?  It depends on whether Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu was a partner in the teaching, in the transmission of Torah.  If we see that the talmid has achieved his own unique portion in Torah, that the divrei Torah are alive with vitality within him – that to his words of Torah he applied knowledge, wisdom, and intellectual achievement – it must be that Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu was, as it were, a partner in the process and there was a complete process of a spiritual birth.

Chazal tell us that Damesek is an acronym for “doleh u’mashkeh mi’toras rabo, he draws and waters from the teachings of his master.”  Eliezer drew fresh waters of Torah from the wellsprings of Avraham Avinu.  The Rambam writes in Hilchos Avodah Zarah that Avraham Avinu had tens of thousands of talmidim.  Eliezer was at the helm of all those Yeshivos Kollelim and other Torah institutions. He must have delivered an impeccable review of Avraham Avinu’s shiurim.

However, he was merely drawing the water and pouring it further.  Water that goes into a pail emerges unchanged.  In Eliezer, the words of Torah were not in a state of being fruitful and multiplying.  For whatever reason, there was no nishmas chaim in his Torah.  This is why Avraham Avinu mentions Eliezer in this context, and specifically refers to him as Damesek Eliezer.  He was bemoaning the fact that he had neither biological progeny nor spiritual offspring either.  He was barren in the full sense of the word.

Provided courtesy of VayigdalMoshe.com