Thursday, June 04, 2009

Yaer Hashem as a revival of Yitzchak

In parshat Naso, the Kohen's blessing. What is the meaning of yaer Hashem panav eilecha? In this post, I am not concerned with its peshat meaning. Baal HaTurim connects it to Yitzchak, just as he connects Yisa to Yaakov. Basing himself on an existing midrash in Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer, he says
"it is parallel Yitzchak who saw the Akeida and died, and Hashem lit up his eyes and caused him to live, as we see in Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer. And Ya'er is the reverse {letters} of ראי, for he was an olat reiyah. And it {=the pasuk} has in it five words and twenty letters, like Yitzchak who come after 20 generations and kept the five books of the Torah."
The relevant Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer is in perek 31. There we see:

R' Yehuda says: Once the sword reached his neck, the soul of Yitzchak flew up and out. Once he heard His voice from between the two keruvim saying "do not send forth your hand to the lad," the soul returned to his body, and he {=Avraham} unbound him, and he stood upon his legs. And Yitzchak knew {this is a Biblical phrase} reincarnation of the dead from the Pentateuch -- that all the dead will in the future be revived. At that hour, he opened and said Baruch Ata Hashem, mechaye hametim. {Blessed are You Hashem, who revives the dead.}
I wonder if, besides working it into the pesukim -- the pasuk states  וְלֹא חָשַׂכְתָּ אֶת-בִּנְךָ אֶת-יְחִידְךָ, מִמֶּנִּי; and desiring that Hashem did not initially lie or appear to lie to Avraham; and wanting to see Avraham somehow accomplish his goal, there is another level of meaning here. That is, we could take this soul flying out metaphorically. There is a focus on Avraham and his dedication, but very little focus in the pesukim on Yitzchak and his dedication, or his reaction. This must have been very frightful. He fainted when faced with his imminent doom, out of fright, and when deus ex machina saved him at the last moment, he was able to come to his sensed, retake his legs, etc. This midrash might be read as reading this perspective of Yitzchak, and these emotions, into the text.

Compare it with the midrashic account of Sarah's death. Upon hearing of the Akeida, parcha nishmata, her soul flew off, either because she did not hear that Yitzchak had escaped or because of the shock of just how close he came to death. This also seems to be reading the perspective and emotions of Sarah Imeinu into the narrative.

As an aside, the reason he was an olat reiyah, which is brought when one comes to the mikdash, is that this is understood to have been the future site of the Beit Hamikdash.

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