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)


Anonymous said...

Are the astrological forces unique to Mars the operating factor in this Torah or is there an associated reason, such as Mars' position?

Shabbat shalom


Ari S. said...

Although the position of Mars at Yitzchak's birth could be what Rav Eibshitz is referring to, most probably he is talking about the day of the week that Yitzchak was born. (See Ibn Ezra Reishis Chachma) Each day of the week (and each night) is considered under the influence of a different planet, Sunday is sun, Monday is moon, Tuesday is Mars, Wednesday is Mercury, Thursday is Jupiter, Friday is Venus, and Shabbos is Saturn. (See Gemara and Rashi Shabbos 15a) Based on this the Gemara mentions that Avraham's was Jupiter. I am not familiar with a source from that time period mentioning Yitzchak's, so I can't say for sure that that is what Rav Eibshitz is referencing.

Ari S. said...

Sorry for the typo, I meant Shabbos 156a