Thursday, October 28, 2010

Leaving Eretz Yisrael, Going to Mars

We are taught that Yitzchak was unable to leave Eretz Yisrael, so it was necessary for Eliezer to travel on his behalf in order to find a wife from Chutz La'Aretz and bring her back. The most common reason given is that Yitzchak was considered to be like a Korbon Olah and was therefore unable to leave the sanctity of the Holy Land. (See Tiferes Aryeh Inyonim Shonim BaShas regarding the Ramban's opinion that Yitzchak did, in fact, leave Eretz Yisrael.)

Rav Yehonasan Eibshitz zt"l offers a different explanation. The pasuk states that Hashem blessed Avraham "bakol" (with everything). The Midrash takes the numerical value for "bakol" and states that it equals 52, the same as "ben" meaning son. The Midrash therefore deduces that Avraham was blessed with a son.

Rav Eibshitz learns that this son was none other than Yitzchak. Yitzchak should have been subjected to the harmful astrological forces of Mars which portend blood and death. It was necessary for Yitzchak to be bound and almost slaughtered in order to mimick his own death and thereby overpower these forces. Thus, the command was given to Avraham to do so at the akeidah. In fact, says Rav Eibshitz, this is why Avraham wanted to draw blood even when told that Yitzchak should not be slaughtered. He felt that in order for Mars to find its blood it was necessary for a minimum scratch to at least be made.

All the countries on Earth are subject to astrological forces with the exception of Eretz Yisrael, continues Rav Eibshitz. (See Rabbeinu Bachye Parshas VaYelech who maintains the same.) Thus, it was not permissible for Yitzchak to leave Eretz Yisrael lest the influence of Mars gain power once again. Therefore, it was necessary for Eliezer to find Yitzchak's wife and Yitzchak had to remain at home. (Tiferes Yehonasan Bereishis 24:1)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Like the Stars

In this week's parsha we read about Hashem's promise to Avraham Avinu that his children will be like the stars. (Bereishis 15:5) There are many beautiful explanations that uncover some of the depth of this fantastic blessing. One of these can be found in the writings of Rav Yehonasan Eibshitz zt"l.

Rav Eibshitz mentions that the comparison to stars includes the aspect of individuality that one can see amongst the stars. The nightly stellar display is something both gorgeous and awesome. Part of the beauty is due to the fact that each brilliant star stands alone. Each star, just like each member of Klal Yisrael, has a radiance that shines forth and allows it to stand alone and shine. While each one may not appear to touch the others, still it is the display in its enitrety that creates the breathtaking sight. Each individual of Klal Yisrael follows in his path just as each star follows its prescribed path, but it is when one sees all of Klal Yisrael working together that the true beauty can be seen.