Parashas Chaiyei Sarah

In this week’s parashah, the Torah states (Bereishis 24:1): “And Avraham was old, advanced in years, and Hashem blessed Avraham with everything.” The Midrash, linking this verse to Tehillim 24, expounds (Bereishis Rabbah 59:5):
Who shall ascend the mountain of Hashem? This refers to Avraham, as it is written (Bereishis 22:12): “Now I know that you are God-fearing.” And who shall stand within His holy place? This refers to Avraham, as it is written (ibid. 22:3): “And Avraham arose early in the morning … and he rose up and went to the place that God had told him.” One with clean hands. “If a string or a shoelace, or if I take anything of yours” )ibid. 14:23). And a pure heart. “Far be it from You to do such a thing” (ibid. 18:25).  Who has not taken his soul in vain. [In Tehillim 24:4 it is actually written “My soul,” but in the Midrash it is written “his soul.] This refers to the soul of Nimrod [whom Avraham killed, not in vain, but in self-defense]. And has not sworn deceitfully. “I raise up my hand to Hashem, the Supreme God” (ibid. 14:22). He will bear blessing from Hashem. “And Avraham was old, … and Hashem blessed Avraham.” Avraham would bless everyone, as it is written (ibid. 12:3): “And the all families of the earth shall be blessed through you.” And who blessed Avraham? The Holy One Blessed Be He blessed Avraham, as it is written: “And Hashem blessed Avraham with everything.”
The Maggid explains this Midrash as follows.  A craftsman typically will keep on hand only the tools he needs for his own craft. A tailor keeps needles and other sewing implements; a smith keeps sledgehammers, axes, and the like. If we would see a sledgehammer in a tailor’s shop, or sewing needles in a smith’s shop, we surely would be puzzled. But there is a class of people for whom it is perfectly natural to keep on hand the tools of a wide variety of crafts – namely storekeepers, who stock tools for craftsmen to buy. Similarly, each person is blessed with the specific abilities and resources he needs to fulfill the mission Hashem has assigned to him in this world, and Avraham was in charge of dispensing these blessings. Thus, Hashem tells Avraham, “You shall be a blessing,” and the Midrash elaborates (Bereishis Rabbah 39:11): “Until now, I had to bless My world. From now on, the blessings are given over into your hands.” Hashem entrusted Avraham with the general reservoir of blessing, from which everyone’s portion of blessing is drawn. Accordingly, He blessed Avraham with everything. Avraham served as an agent on behalf of the world at large, making the trip up to Hashem’s mountain to collect blessing, bring it down to the world, and distribute it. The background information about Avraham presented at the beginning of the Midrash indicates why Hashem chose Avraham as the one to be in charge of dispensing blessing. Avraham’s fear of God, clean hands, pure heart, upright conduct, and shunning of falsehood made him the man most qualified for this role.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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