April 13, 2020 7:05 pm at 7:05 pm #1849363abukspanParticipant
4. A Split for a Split: Beautiful Lesson from a virtually unknown vort
וישכם אברהם בבקר ויחבש את חמרו ויקח את שני נעריו אתו ואת יצחק בנו ויבקע עצי עולה
And Avraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him, and Yitzchak his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering (Bereishis 22:3).
It says in the Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 21:8) that years later, when the Jews were leaving Mitzrayim, Hashem said, “Bizechus Avraham Ani bokea lahem es hayam baavur mah she’asah she’ne’emar, ‘Vayevaka atzei olah,’ ve’omer, ‘Vayibaku hamayim.” Rabbi Banya says that it was in the merit of Avraham that Hashem split the sea for the Jews. Before the Akeidah, it says that Avraham split the wood for the offering, and at Krias Yam Suf, the pasuk says that Hashem split the sea – both times with the shoresh of בקע .
What is the middah keneged middah? The magnitude of Avraham’s merit shouldn’t lie in his splitting the wood, but rather in the culmination of the Akeidah, where he tied down his son and brought the knife to bear. Chopping the wood seems incidental to the greatness of the act later on, where he showed his willingness to slaughter his own son at the request of Hashem. Is the Midrash merely using the play on the same word to reference the Akeidah of Yitzchak as a whole, or is there a correlation between splitting the wood and splitting the sea?
Rav Shmuel Vitzik of Baltimore told me the following thought, which he heard directly from Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank. The Gemara writes that it is easier to carry ten kav (a dry measure) of gold than ten kav of straw. While both weigh the same amount, the gold – with its denser mass – is compact and manageable. That amount of straw, on the other hand, is very bulky; carrying it is both awkward and cumbersome.
If so, why did Avraham chop the wood before embarking on what was to be a three-day trip? The pasuk cited above finds Avraham preparing the wood the very morning he and his party left. Schlepping a bag of chopped wood is more unwieldy than taking an intact log. It would have been easier to take a whole log and do the chopping upon arriving at the as-of-yet unknown destination.
What’s the problem with that scenario? Avraham would take out his trusty hatchet. As Yitzchak looked on, he would carefully chop up the log and then set up the wood on the altar that he built. As willing as Yitzchak may have been to give his life for Hashem, there would still be an element reminiscent of what is known as inuy hadin – not prolonging the mental anguish.
In order to be more compassionate toward his son, Avraham chopped the wood before leaving. He was willing to take on the extra hassle of carrying the cut wood, which was bulkier, in order to alleviate the distress his son would experience were Avraham to chop it on-site.
This same compassion was in play when Hashem split the Yam Suf. Rav Tzvi Pesach brings a Midrash that says that initially Hashem intended to have the water recede as the Yidden walked in. They would walk in the water for the distance of one foot, and the water would recede one foot. They’d take another step, and the water would again back up. Says the Midrash that the compassion of Hashem overcame and He split the water from beginning to end.
Were the water to back up as they progressed, the Yidden would have still been terrified. Although they were witnessing the ongoing miracle of the water receding, they would have faced a mountain of water, and they would always worry if the miracle will continue. There would have been an element of constant dread – inuy hadin. By splitting the sea all the way through, Hashem assured them that the path would stay open.
The Midrash says: In the merit of Avraham splitting the wood before his trip, making it more difficult on himself in order to alleviate the stress of another, Hashem split the water in a way that also alleviated the stress of others. Interestingly, although one Midrash says that Avraham made two cuts of wood, others say that there were 12 cuts. Therefore, the water split into 12 separate paths for the Yidden, as a reward for the 12 pieces that Avraham made.
We see that it wasn’t just the splitting that Hashem did for Avraham’s children in the merit of his splitting, but the compassion with which He did the action; this was the reward for Avraham’s display of compassion toward his son.April 13, 2020 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm #1849409Reb EliezerParticipant
The Maasei Hashem on Hagadah says that the four children were:
Chacham – Yitzchok
Rasha – Eisov
Tam – Yaakov
Sheina Yodea Lishal – Yishmoel
Yitzchok asks a smart question above. Eisov asks why these belong to you? He was jealous. Yaakov was asking what is this of Lavan when he saw Leah istead of Rochel. Yishmoel did not ask but his belief needed re-enforcement.
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