Monday, November 17, 2003

Baruch Shekivanti!

From the website of RITSS HIGH SCHOOL:
Rav Greenblatt, a prominent posek and talmid of Rav Feinstein, saw brought down in the sefer of the Maharil Diskin (Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin), based on earlier sources, that the daughter of Avraham Avinu died on the same day that Sarah died. This all originates in the Gemara Bava Basra 16B, which we examined in some detail before, which assumes that Avraham had a daughter according to two opinions. Did she actually die on the same day as Sarah Imeinu? Rav Greenblatt inquired about this from his revered rebbe.

"I did not see (this information about her dying) in the midrashim which I possess", answered Reb Moshe. But Reb Moshe adds that this is not necessarily a proof; just because it was not seen in these seforim, it is not definitely false. However, Rav Moshe Feinstein adds that it is highly unlikely that such a tragedy occurred in Avraham's family...

I think I know exactly what the source is for Sarah's daughter dying the same day Sarah did, because I myself felt compelled to create this self-same neo-medrash.

Bereishit 23:2
וַתָּמָת שָׂרָה, בְּקִרְיַת אַרְבַּע הִוא חֶבְרוֹן--בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן; וַיָּבֹא, אַבְרָהָם, לִסְפֹּד לְשָׂרָה, וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ.
And Sarah died in Kiriatharba--the same is Hebron--in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

The letter kaf in וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ is written small. Rashi says this shows Avraham minimized the mourning and gives the reason why. However, elsewhere, when you have a small letter, the idea of the midrash is to read the word as if the small letter were not there.

Specifically, the aleph in the word ויקרא is written small, and the midrash notes that Moshe asked that it be written small because of modesty, so as not to say Hashem called him but rather ויקר, that Hashem happened upon Moshe.

So, if we read the word without the kaf, the word reads ulevita, "and for her daughter." So Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and for her daughter. This would mean Sarah and her daughter died the same day.

And this would be the source of the midrash (if it indeed an authentic midrash) brought down in the sefer of the Maharil Diskin.

However, continuing from that website, Rav Moshe argues:

If the daughter passed away during Avraham's lifetime, what kind of magnificent bracha could this have been? Also, it seems impossible that this daughter could have died on the day Sarah died. How so? The order of the psukim teaches us this. The death of Sarah is recorded right in the beginning of our parsha, in 23:2. The birth of the daughter to Avraham is in 24:1, AFTER Sarah died! Consequently, this daughter could NOT have died on the same die [sic = day] Sarah died.

In conclusion, states Reb Moshe, "it is clear that it is some type of we see that it is not found in the words of our rabbis, the early commentators (rishonim)". Reb Moshe adds that "until now, I have not seen the sefer of the Maharil Diskin on Chumash, but I will attempt, b'li neder, to see it".

I would point out that if the midrash actually comes from the pasuk I stated, then we have a conflict of two midrashim, and not necessarily are they to be harmonized -- they might argue with each other, a phenomenon we find in many other places.

Furthermore, `ain muqdam ume`uchar baTorah. Also, we may very well be dealing with the pluperfect here. That is, not Hashem blessed Avraham with Bakol, but Hashem had blessed Avraham with Bakol. It still is a very depressing medrash, and it is a good question how the pasuk would say Hashem blessed Avraham with everything (unless Bakol is an alternative to "everything" and not an explanation.)

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin