Parsha Q&A - Parshas Vayera

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Parsha Q&A

Parshas Vayera

For the week ending 18 Cheshvan 5759 / 6 & 7 November 1998

Contents:
  • Parsha Questions
  • Sherlox Holmes
  • I Did Not Know That!
  • Recommended Reading List
  • Answers to Parsha Questions
  • Solution to Sherlox Holmes
  • Back issues of Parsha Q&A
  • Subscription Information
  • Ohr Somayach Home Page

  • This publication is also available in the following formats: [Text] [Word] [PDF] Explanation of these symbols 

    Parsha Questions

    Answers | Contents

    1. Why did Hashem appear to Avraham after the bris mila?
    2. Why was Avraham sitting at the entrance to his tent?
    3. What were the missions of the three angels?
    4. Why did Avraham enjoin the guests to wash the dust off their feet?
    5. Why did Avraham ask Yishmael to prepare the food for the guests?
    6. The angels asked Avraham where Sarah was. Why?
    7. When Hashem related Sarah's thoughts to Avraham, He did not relate them precisely. Why?
    8. What "cry" from Sodom came before Hashem?
    9. How many angels went to Sodom?
    10. Why was Lot sitting at the gate of Sodom?
    11. Lot served the angels matzos. Why?
    12. Why did Lot delay when he left Sodom?
    13. Why were Lot and his family not permitted to look back at Sodom?
    14. Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. Why was she punished in this particular way?
    15. In what merit did Hashem save Lot?
    16. Why did Avraham relocate after the destruction of Sodom?
    17. Why did Avimelech give gifts to Avraham?
    18. Why was Avraham told to listen to Sarah?
    19. Why did Hashem listen to the prayer of Yishmael and not to that of Hagar?
    20. Who accompanied Avraham and Yitzchak to the akeidah (binding)?

     
    Solution 
    Contents

    Sherlox Holmes And The Weaning-Party Mystery

    "Dr. Watstein," said world famous detextive Sherlox Holmes, "sometimes you need to know the entire Tanach in order to understand a single word of it. That's why I'm especially delighted to invite you to the big feast I'm making tomorrow in honor of my recent completion of the study of the entire Tanach."

    "Congratulations, Mr. Holmes!" said Watstein. "Speaking of big feasts, perhaps you could help me understand this difficult text: And Avraham made a great feast (mishteh gadol) on the day that Yitzchak was weaned." (Bereishis 21:6)

    "It makes sense to me," said Sherlox.

    "It's Rashi's comment that's stumped me. Rashi says that it was called a great feast because the generation's great people were there - Shem, Ever and Avimelech."

    "Would Avraham, known throughout the land as 'Prince of G-d,' make a big feast without inviting these prominent people?" asked Sherlox.

    "That's irrelevant!" cried Watstein. "The only relevant thing is, what does the phrase 'mishteh gadol' really mean? To me, it seems to mean a big feast, plain and simple; 'Gadol' (great) describes the feast, not the guests. Why, then, does Rashi take this word gadol seemingly out of context? Why does Rashi say that it describes the prominence of the guests? What's bothering Rashi?"

    "You sometimes need to know the entire Tanach in order to understand a single word of it," said Sherlox.


    I Did Not Know That!

    "And you will call his name Yitzchak…(17:19)"

    Because Avraham invited the angels to "sit under the tree" (Bereishis 18:4) his offspring were rewarded with the mitzvah of succah.

    (Midrash Tanchuma)


    Recommended Reading List

    Ramban
    18:7
    The Love of Kindness
    18:13
    For the Sake of Peace
    18:15
    Sarah's Laughter
    19:8
    Lot's Disgrace
    22:1
    The Meaning of a Trial
    22:16
    The Promise of Eternity
    Sforno
    18:2
    The Love of Kindness
    18:22
    Persistence
    19:8
    Lot's Reasoning
    19:11
    The Nature of the Wicked
    19:37-8
    Meaning Well


    Answers to this Week's Questions

    All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated

    1. Why did Hashem appear to Avraham after the bris mila?
      18:1 - Avraham was sick, so Hashem came to 'visit' him.

    2. Why was Avraham sitting at the entrance to his tent?
      18:1 - He was looking for guests.

    3. What were the missions of the three angels?
      18:2 - To announce that Sarah would give birth, to heal Avraham and to destroy Sodom.

    4. Why did Avraham enjoin the guests to wash the dust off their feet?
      18:4 - He thought they were Arabians who worship the dust, and he didn't want any object of idolatry in his home.

    5. Why did Avraham ask Yishmael to prepare the food for the guests?
      18:7 - To train him in the performance of mitzvos.

    6. The angels asked Avraham where Sarah was. Why?
      18:9 - To call attention to Sarah's modesty, so as to endear her to her husband.

    7. When Hashem related Sarah's thoughts to Avraham, He did not relate them precisely. Why?
      18:13 - For the sake of peace.

    8. What "cry" from Sodom came before Hashem?
      18:21 - The cry of a girl who was put to death because she gave food to a poor man.

    9. How many angels went to Sodom?
      19:1 - Two; one to destroy the city and one to save Lot.

    10. Why was Lot sitting at the gate of Sodom?
      19:1 - He was a judge.

    11. Lot served the angels matzos. Why?
      19:3 - It was Passover.

    12. Why did Lot delay when he left Sodom?
      19:16 - He wanted to save his property.

    13. Why were Lot and his family not permitted to look back at Sodom?
      19:17 - Since they too really should have been punished, it wasn't fitting for them to witness the destruction of Sodom.

    14. Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. Why was she punished in this particular way?
      19:26 - She was stingy, not wanting to give the guests salt.

    15. In what merit did Hashem save Lot?
      19:29 - Lot had protected Avraham by concealing from the Egyptians the fact that Sarah was his wife.

    16. Why did Avraham relocate after the destruction of Sodom?
      20:1 - Because travel in the region ceased and Avraham could no longer find guests.

    17. Why did Avimelech give gifts to Avraham?
      20:14 - So that Avraham would pray for him.

    18. Why was Avraham told to listen to Sarah?
      21:12 - Because she was greater in prophecy.

    19. Why did Hashem listen to the prayer of Yishmael and not to that of Hagar?
      21:17 - Because the prayer of a sick person is more readily accepted than the prayer of others on his behalf.

    20. Who accompanied Avraham and Yitzchak to the akeidah (binding)?
      22:3 - Yishmael and Eliezer.



    Mystery
    Contents

    Solution to Sherlox Holmes

    "Look elsewhere where the Tanach states that someone 'made a feast'," said Sherlox. "In every case, the verse tells for whom the feast was prepared."

    "Really?" said Watstein. "Hmm, let me think...Yitzchak 'made a feast for them' (Bereishis 26:30), Lot 'made a feast for them' (Bereishis 18:3), Pharaoh 'made a feast for all his servants,' (Bereishis 39:20). But is this always true? Are there other examples?"

    "There are many such examples throughout Tanach," said Sherlox. "To the best of my knowledge it is always true: Whenever it states that someone 'made a feast' it always tells who the guests were. Therefore, Rashi is bothered by an incongruity: Why doesn't this verse state or imply for whom Avraham made the feast? Why is this feast different than all other feasts?"

    "I see," said Watstein. "If not for Rashi's explanation, the verse would be out of step with dozens of similar expressions throughout Tanach; It would be missing the guest list, so to speak! Therefore, by explaining that 'great' refers not to the feast but rather to the guests, Rashi addresses this difficulty: Avraham made a feast for the greats."

    "Dr. Watstein, you're headed for greatness."

    (Source: Maskil L'David; Sherlox" is by Reuven Subar,
    inspired by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek's "What's Bothering Rashi")

    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Eliyahu Kane & Rabbi Reuven Subar
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Eli Ballon
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