Our Parshat HaShevua, Chayei Sarah is sponsored by Dr. David and Tamar Kallus and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort Lilui Nishmas the First Yahrtzeit of HaRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, z”l. David is the current President of Kehillah Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham in Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Kallus family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.
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With Sarah Imeinu’s passing, we learn that Avraham Aveinu becomes occupied with the burial of his wife, and then subsequently, to find THE shidduch for Yitzchak.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin summarizes the posukim regarding sending his servant, Eliezer, to travel to his (Avraham’s) former homeland seeking a wife for Yitzchak in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text” (Volume One, Sefer Breish’t, pages 107-110):
As Avraham’s life draws near its end, he turns to his trusted servant, Eliezer, and instructs him to return to his homeland, Aram Naharaim, in order to find a wife for Yitzchak. He specifies that he does not want Yitzchak to marry a woman from the Canaanite nations…(Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t, Perek 24, posukim 1-9) …. Padan Aram, mentioned in the text as the birthplace of Rivka and the home of her extended family, (ibid, Perek 25, posuk 20) refers to a specific region within Aram Naharaim.
Rav Goldin provides background and commentary regarding Avraham’s decision (“Unlocking The Torah Text”, Volume One, Sefer Breish’t, pages 107-110):
After all, isn’t this the very land that Avraham himself was commanded [by Hashem] to leave… to separate himself from… his birthplace and the home of his father? What possible reason could there be now to return to that land?
Complicating matters is the fact that there seem to be no difference between the inhabitants of Canaan and the inhabitants of Aram Naharaim. Both locations were populated by idol [avodah zora] worshipers.
Some classical commentators suggest that Avraham specifically wanted wife chosen for Yitzchak from his own family.
The Midrash HaGadol suggests two reasons for this preference. Firstly, Avraham reasoned… “The people I should first convert to Judaism are the members of my family.” Secondly, Avraham believed that… his family were “closer to repentance.” (Midrash HaGadol, Sefer Breish’t, 24:4)
…Commentaries, among them Rabbeinu Nissim ben Reuven (the Ran)… suggest a fundamental moral contrast between inhabitants of Canaan and those of Aram Naharaim. While both cultures were idolatrous, Canaan society was particularly marked by its evil practices. (Drashot HaRan 5) ….Rashi states, “The nations [of Canaan] conquered by B’nei Yisrael were more corrupt than any other.” (Rashi, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 18, posuk 3)
Perhaps, however, a totally different explanation for Avraham’s decision to send Eliezer back to Aram Naharaim might be proposed…. Beneath the surface… lies an… important narrative: Avraham’s dramatic negotiation for self-definition as a ger v’toshav, a stranger and a citizen.
Avraham, through this two-word phrase [ger v’toshav], not only describes himself but also delineates the place his descendants will take in society throughout the ages. To survive and succeed the Jew must be both a stranger and a citizen in any country where he lives, participating in the culture which surrounds him while maintaining his own unique identity.
Having arrived at his own self-definition, perhaps Avraham… begins to fear [for the future]: “… I began in this land as a stranger. I came from a foreign land, and have always been able to maintain my distance from those within Canaan. Yitzchak, however, is different. My son was born here. He is too close to those around him. He is familiar only with this culture, with this population and with this land. How do I know that he will learn to discern the dangers that surround him…. that he will be able to distance himself from the elements of society counterproductive to his spiritual development? How do I know that he will maintain the appropriate balance and truly be a ger v’toshav?”
Avraham then sets about guaranteeing the continuation of his legacy…. Yitzchak’s wife will, it is to be hoped, be able to see herself as a ger v’toshav. She will begin with a natural distance from the Canaanites surrounding her. Given her foreign background, she will have a head start in maintaining the perspective needed to discern and confront the dangers around them.
The Patriarch hopes that his son’s wife will ensure the survival of the Jews by maintaining the delicate balance of self-definition that he himself has achieved.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that as the story of the second patriarchal generation unfolds, Rivka emerges as the more perceptive parent. She alone sees their two children, Yaakov and Esav, for who they really are, and she alone acts with strength to perpetuate Avraham’s legacy through Yaakov. (Rav Goldin citing Sefer Breish’t , Perek 27, posukim 1-46)
Later, in Parshat Vayechi, in the era where Yaakov goes down to Egypt, finds that his long-estranged son Yosef is still alive, and eventually dies there, the Lubavitcher Rebbe learns: “Yaakov is Alive” for “His Descendants are Alive. Yaakov is alive because his people, who bear his name, Yisrael lives.”
In contrast to Avraham, whose legacy’s perpetuation depended solely upon his son Yitzchak, “Yaakov is Alive” because his legacy lives on in the generations of Jews through today and onward.
So. to repeat this author’s text from last week’s Parshat Vayeira, the legacy of our beloved Rav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, z”l is soo massive and many-faceted in scope. From the incredible volume and mastery of his Torah knowledge, to his ability to “think outside the box,” to his high level of knowledge of the world and human nature, to his editing of the Artscroll Gemuras — both the Bavli and Yerushalmi Gemuras, to his wit and his mentchlicheit to a degree that he related to an entire Kehillah on each of their individual levels, Rav Malinowitz inspired a Kehillah and the entirety of Ramat Beit Shemesh. HaRav is missed and leaves an imprint on us all.
But. as we live and perpetuate the legacy of HaRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, “The Shul Must Go On” and Beit Knesset Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham undertook it’s search for a new Rav, just as Avraham Aveinu became occupied, via his servant Eliezer, with finding THE Shidduch for his son Yitzchak.
The thought processes, kindness and sensitivity with which the Shul’s Board of Directors conducted the Probeh (Rav search), under the most trying of conditions due to the Chinese corona virus pandemic and with the utmost respect to the candidates for the position and for the Kehillah at large, as well as the method of the subsequent vote for the new Rav, seem to this author to correlate with the high degree with the care with which Eliezer, on behalf of Avraham Aveinu, went about his search with Hashem’s help for Yitzchak’s Shidduch. They further testify to the Shul’s mission statement and to the impact and perpetuation of the inspiration and legacy of HaRav Malinowitz going forward.
And so, just as Avraham’s legacy lived on through both his son Yitzchak Aveinu and his grandson Yaakov Aveinu, and the legacy of Yaakov Aveinu lives on through his sons, the Shevatim of B’nei Yisrael, through to this day, the spirit, inspiration and legacy of HaRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz lives on through Kehillah Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham — through the adults of this generation, their offspring and to future generations. To kind of borrow from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, HaRav Malinowitz is still with us as his Kehillah and community lives on.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free, as Naama Issachar is now free and home — which can only occur when Jonathan is home in Israel and carrying for his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.