The Shabbos Table – Lech Lecha: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: Ma’asei Avos Yetzirah L’Banim
This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi (Hareini Kaparas Mishkavah), my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-Yonatan Menachem Mendel Ben Orly, Eli Aharon Michel Ben Chaya
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and other tragedies.
-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael during this dire time, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
The wounded should experience Refuah Shileimah, the captives should be returned safely, the fallen should experience Kevurah and Aliyah for their Neshamos, their Krovim should experience Nechamah, the Chayalim should be Matzliach and Minatzei’ach, and Am Yisrael should experience Geulah.
Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)
“Ma’asei Avos Yetzirah L’Vanim – The Model House”
Sichah – Lech Lecha: The Life and Legacy of Avraham Avinu
Ma’asei Avos Yetzirah L’Banim (Yomim MiKedem – Parshas Lech Lecha, Page 56)
Glaring Omissions and Remarkably Unremarkable Additions
Throughout several Parshiyos, the Torah highlights the life and legacy of Avraham Avinu. The Ramban in several places is bothered by what the Torah includes and what the Torah omits. If you were describing the life of Avraham Avinu, you would probably spend a significant amount of time discussing the early years of Avraham. However, the Torah hardly tells us anything at all. The Ramban points out (Bereishis 12) that, despite the fact that the Midrash records story after story, it is somewhat surprising that the Torah does not record any of it. And yet, later (Bereishis 12:6), the Ramban is bothered in the other direction, that the Torah records seemingly extraneous details that serve no purpose. Why is it that the Torah records journeys and Be’eiros (wells) of Avraham Avinu, but not the Kivshan HaEish in Ur Kasdim?
Mesiras Nefesh for Bris Milah
The Gemara (Shabbos 130A) tells us that throughout history, there were certain Mitzvos for which B’nei Yisrael were Moser Nefesh, such as Bris Milah, and that such Mitzvos become Muchzekes B’Yadam (lit., grasped / presumed in their hand, i.e. steadfastly observed). Why were Jews so careful for Bris Milah? Because Bris Milah itself is a Mitzvah which entails Mesiras Nefesh, and Mesiras Nefesh assures that we will continue to cling to it. The Ran (Shabbos 49A; 22 in Dafei HaRif) points out that even though Rambam holds that we typically do not sacrifice our lives for a Mitzvah (Yesodei HaTorah 5), there have to be exceptions, HaRaiyah (the evidence is) Bris Milah, because throughout the millennia, B’nei Yisrael were Moser Nefesh for the Mitzvah of Bris Milah, indicating that apparently, we have a right to do so, at least at times. The question is: Where did that come from? What was the inspiration, or even more, what was the cause for this?
Ma’asei Avos Yetzirah L’Banim
We are used to hearing the phrase, “Ma’asei Avos Siman L’Banim”-“The deeds of the Avos are a sign for the children” (Cf. Tanchuma 9), but the word “Siman” can be misinterpreted as, sometimes, “Siman” means a mere sign or omen. That is perhaps why the Ramban, in his Pesichah to Sefer Shemos, does not use that phrase. He refers to the Mikrei HaAvos (happenings of the Avos) as a “Yetzirah L’Zar’am”-“formation for their offspring.” Ma’asei HaAvos is not just a “Siman,” but it is “Yetzirah.” What the Avos did informed the generations. Our capacity to be Moser Nefesh for the Mitzvah of Bris Milah is due to the Mesiras Nefesh of Avraham Avinu for the same Mitzvah. If not for Avraham’s Mesiras Nefesh, it would not be possible for us to manifest that Mesiras Nefesh.
The Beis Avraham, the Idyllic Model
So, I would just add the following: Indeed, if you were describing the life of Avraham Avinu, in fact you would have probably spent a significant amount of time discussing the early years of Avraham. It’s not easy growing up in the house of Terach. The Rambam writes that when we recite in the Haggadah, “MiTechilah Hayah Avoseinu Ovdei Avodah Zarah” is a reference to none other than Avraham Avinu. Avraham Avinu had to transition from Avodah Zarah to Avodas Hashem. That transition must have been incredible.
And herein lies the Yesod (foundational point): The reason that the Torah mentions each fact and detail that it does is that each one of them serves as a Yetzirah, a model for future generations. Therefore, the Torah only presents that, regarding the life of Avraham Avinu, which should be a model L’Doros (for generations). When a person is faced with a Beis Avodah Zarah, one surely must fight that battle to counter the Beis Avodah Zarah. But that is not the idyllic legacy of Avraham Avinu. The Torah’s idyllic form of Avodas Hashem is not the Beis (household of) Terach, but the Beis Avraham. That is why the Torah emphasizes the Beis Avraham, the birth of Yitzchak, and the birth of Yaakov. We know so much about the Shidduchim of Yitzchak Avinu and of Yaakov Avinu, but we know nothing about the Shidduch of Avraham Avinu and Sarah. That is because this Shidduch, brokered in the Beis Terach, was not a model L’Doros. It is true that under those circumstances that that was what was necessary, but the Torah is not just filling in details, but it is providing a Yetzirah L’Zaram front and center, the idyllic form and model of Avodas Hashem, the Shalsheles HaMesorah (chain of tradition). That is the Beis Avraham, the legacy of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.
The Home Where He Started vs. the Home He Created
Therefore, the Torah glosses over the early years of Avraham which was not the appropriate model. And yet, the Torah emphasizes every other minute detail, such that when Avraham Avinu dug a well, it was something transformative in the life of the B’nei Yisrael. The Ramban writes that the Be’eiros represent the emanation of Torah, the Be’eir of Shalosh Regalim. When the Torah records that Avraham Avinu went to Shechem, it was not merely for the journey, but as the Ramban writes, it was because of what subsequently would be experienced by Kneses Yisrael in Shechem. The legacy of Avraham has less to do with his upbringing and the home in which he grew up, as it does with the Bayis that he created.
*We should all be Zocheh to follow the Yetzirah and model of Avraham Avinu, yearning and succeeding to build the idyllic Bayis of Avodas Hashem, founded on Mesiras Nefesh for Torah U’Mitzvos, and Hashem should enable us, as a nation, to rebuild that ultimate, idyllic Bayis of Avodas Hashem, the Beis HaMikdash with the coming of the Geulah in the times of Moshiach, Bimheirah Biyomeinu! Have a wonderful Shabbos!