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 Maggid’s commentary on this verse brings out various facets of Avraham’s greatness. We present here a segment from this discussion. After Avraham prevailed in his war against the four kings, Hashem told him (Bereishis 15:1): “Do not fear, Avram, I am a shield for you – your reward is very great.” The Midrash expounds (Bereishis Rabbah 44:4):
Avraham was afraid, for he thought: “I went into the fiery furnace [of Nimrod] and I was saved; I went to war against the four kings and was saved. Perhaps I have received my reward in this world, and I have nothing left for the world to come.” Said the Holy One Blessed Be He: “Do not fear – I am a shield for you. All that I did with you in this world I did for you for nothing, and you have great reward in store for you in the world to come.” Your reward is very great, as it is written (Tehillim 31:20), “How great is Your blessing that You have hidden in store for those who fear You!” [The Midrash builds on the similarity between the word מָגֵן, meaning shield, and the Aramaic word מַגָן, meaning for nothing.]
The Maggid explains that Hashem was telling Avraham that the miracles He had done for him were not intended as reward, but rather as means to enable him to carry on with his sacred mission and accomplish still more good. The people of the world, having beheld the miracles that had occurred for Avraham’s benefit, would see that he was a true man of God, and they would then cleave to him and follow his word. In this way, Avraham would be able to lead masses of people onto the path of serving Hashem. Accordingly, these miracles served as the means through which Avraham would accrue “very great” reward.
It is with the same idea in mind, the Maggid says, that Hashem told Avraham earlier (Bereishis 12:2): “I shall bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing.” As a result of attaining a great name among the nations, Avraham would succeed in his holy endeavors, and would thereby gain eternal blessing.
On another occasion Hashem tells Avraham (Bereishis 17:1): “I shall set My covenant between Me and you, and I shall increase you very, very greatly (במאד מאד).” The Maggid notes that the prefix ב- in the phrase במאד מאד is unusual; the natural phrasing is simply מאד מאד. The Maggid ties the unusual phrasing into the above discussion. He explains that we can read the prefix ב- as meaning through, and interpret Hashem’s statement as follows: “Through the very great blessing that I put into your hands, you will attain a very great increase in blessing.” We can interpret in the same way the message Hashem sent to Avraham through the angel He sent to him at the time of the binding of Yitzchak: “Because you performed this deed … I shall surely bless you (אברך אברכך).” The double verb suggests repeated blessing, alluding to an initial grant of blessing being used to generate further blessing.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.