Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lech Lecha, Bereishis 15:10. The Dove, Indivisible

At the Bris Bein Habesarim, "The Covenant of the Pieces," Avraham was told to sacrifice various animals and birds, and to divide each animal into two pieces, but to leave the birds intact. Hashem gave no explanation for any of these instructions. 

Rashi cites Medrashim that explain that the animals were a metaphor for the nations that choose to not serve God, while the birds represented the Jewish people, namely, those that dedicated their lives to the service of God.

Rashi here:
ואת הצפור לא בתר. 
לפי שהאומות עובדי כוכבים ומזלות נמשלו לפרים ואילים ושעירים, שנאמר סבבוני פרים רבים וגו' (תהלים כב, יג.), ואומר האיל אשר ראית בעל הקרנים, מלכי מדי ופרס (דניאל ח, כ.), ואומר הצפיר והשעיר, מלך יון. וישראל נמשלו לבני יונה, שנאמר יונתי בחגוי הסלע (שיר השירים ב, יד.), לפיכך בתר הבהמות, רמז על האומות שיהיו כלין והולכין, ואת הצפור לא בתר, רמז שיהיו ישראל קיימין לעולם:

...but he did not divide the birds: 
Since the idol-worshipping nations are likened to bulls, rams, and goats, as it is said (Psalms 22:13): “Many bulls surrounded me, etc.,” and Scripture states (Daniel 8:20): “The ram that you saw, the one with horns, represents the kings of Media and Persia,” and Scripture states (ibid. verse 21): “And the he-goat is the king of Greece.” And the Israelites are likened to young doves, as it is said (Song of Songs 2:14): “My dove, in the clefts of the rock.” Therefore, he divided the animals, as an allusion that the nations will gradually perish. “But he did not divide the bird,” as an allusion that Israel will exist forever. [from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer , ch. 28; Targum. Ps. 22: 13]

When Rashi says that the "nations will gradually perish" that is not meant as a threat or a prayer against gentiles. The "Nations" represents alienation from God, in contradistinction to Israel, which has chosen to be the servants of God. The symbolism of the Covenant foretells that the Nations will gradually but inexorably join in the worship of Hashem.

The Ramban here brings a Medrash with a more Halacha oriented slant that refers to the laws of sacrifices in the Mikdash, and we are going to focus on this approach:
"ואת הצפור לא בתר" - נתן התור והגוזל איש לקראת רעהו כי גם הם היו בברית אבל לא בתר אותם בתוך כי בכל העוף הקרב נאמר לא יבדיל (ויקרא א יז) ובבראשית רבה (מד יד) הראה לו הקב"ה שמבדילין בעולת העוף ואין מבדילין בחטאת העוף

This Medrash (44:14, exactly as the Ramban brings it-ואת הצפור לא בתר הראה לו הקב"ה שמבדילים בעולת העוף ואין מבדילים בחטאת העוף-) says that these animals corresponded to various sacrifices that were to be brought in the Beis HaMikdash. Animal sacrifices are always dismembered, but bird sacrifices are not always dismembered. Namely, Olah birds are cut into two pieces (head and body are separated,) but Chatas birds must be left intact (head is left attached to body.)  Avraham Avinu was told to leave the birds intact, as a foreshadowing of the law of Chatas bird sacrifices, which are left intact.

(The Ibn Ezra explains that the word "tzipor" does not indicate singular. It refers to the birds in the bris, so it includes both the tor and the gozal. This is consistent with the Ramban. Also, the Medrash apparently assumes that the Korbanos here were akin to the Chatas, not the Olah, and I assume this is because they were brought as a kappara for Avraham Avinu, not a doron.)

The sefer Mayana shel Torah brings from a sefer called ילקוט הדרוש a very nice vort.  It's not really meant to be a pshat. It's just a nice drush. He says that unlike other nations, when a Jew is found guilty, many people will say "Ha, I knew it, all the Jews are crooks." On the other hand, if a Jew is a hero or a philanthropist, the nations say "That proves nothing. That one Jew is a nice fellow, but all the other Jews are crooks." In matters of fault, the sin of one is the fault of the whole nation. In matters of glory, one Jew's greatness is seen as anamolous, having nothing to do with other Jews.  That's what the Medrash means. Chatas Ha'of, a Sin offering, is left intact- The sin of one reflects on all the Jews. But Olas Ha'of, an Elevation offering, is divided. Just because that Jew is nice, he's just an exception.  Other Jews are not like that!

ואת הצפור לא בתר 
הראה לו שמבדילין בחטאת העוף ואין מבדילין בעולת העוף
כלל מקובל הוא בעולם כי עם או ציבור כלשהו אינו יכול להיות אחראי למעשיו של יחיד. אותו יחיד שעבר עבירה בא על עונשה ואילו השאר נקיים מעוון ומעונש. ברם כלל זה יפה רק לגבי כל העמים פרט לעם ישראל שלגבו קיים העקרון של אחריות משותפת. כאשר עובר יחודי עבירה האחריות לכך חלה על כל היהודים. כאן נוגשים ומכים יהודים משום שנמצאו בקרבם קומוניסטים, ואילו שם מכים יהודים משום שנמצאו בקרבם רודפי בצע קפיטליסטים.
וכדומה מן הראוי היה איפוא לנקוט בעקרון זה גם בצד הטוב ולהוקיר ולכבד את כל העם היהודי בגלל אותם יהודים אשר חידשו והמציאו המצאות נפלאות לטובת האנושות. אך לא כן הדבר! בהיעשות מעשת טוב ורצוי מכירים רק את היחיד העושה זאת, מבלי לשים לב אל הכלל שממנו מוצאו. ואילו בהיעשות מעשה רע, מיד מטילים את האשמה על הכלל.
זוהי מליצתו של המדרש שמבדילין בעולת העוף. אם היהודי מקריב ומקדיש את עצמו לטובת המדינה או לטובת הציבור, מיד מבדילים אותו מן הכלל היהודי, כשם שבעולת העוף היו מבדילים את הראש מן הגוף. ואין מבדילין בחטאת העוף, אבל כאשר יהודי נכשל בחטא, אזי אין מבדילין אותו מן הכלל, כי אם מאשימים את הכלל כולו יחד אתו!זהו צער הגלות אשר נתגלה מראש לאברהם אבינו

This reminded me of a story my father zecher tzadik livracha told me about the Beiles blood libel trial in Russia. 

When the Beilis trial began in 1913, the prosecutor brought in a Christian expert in Talmud who pointed to the Gemara in Yevamos 61-  "אתם קרויים אדם ואין עובדי כוכבים קרויים אדם" You, the Jews, are called "Adam," but the pagans are not called "Adam."  He said that this shows that the Jews view non-Jews as subhuman, that the lives of Gentiles are no more valuable than those of animals. The defense was left speechless and terrified.  They could not think of anything that would deflect this accusation, an accusation that not only would condemn the defendant but would inflame the populace and cause pogroms!  Reb Meir Shapiro sent a letter to the court, and his letter saved the day, and countless Jewish lives.  

Rav Shapiro explained that in Chazal there are four names for humans: Ish, Gever, Enosh, and Adam. Most of these names can be stated in the plural- Ishim, Gevarim, Anashim. But Adam cannot be stated in the plural. The reason is that all mankind comes from Adam, and in his singulariy he inherently comprises the multitudes of humanity, and each man feels connected to other men through Adam, through Adam each man knows that other men are of the same flesh and the same soul. This sense of unity only remains among the Jewish People- when Beilis is accused and sits in the defendant's chair, every Jew feels as if it is he that the finger if pointed at. No other People has this emotional solidarity. An American, told that a fellow American in China is hungry, will not lift a finger. But tell a Jew that a Jew in China does not have Matza on Pesach, he will turn the world over to get Matza to him in China.  It has nothing to do with deprecating Gentiles, it just describes the solidarity expected of and exhibited by Jews.  The judge found this explanation reasonable and this defused the moment of danger.  Beilis was eventually exonerated.

The way my father Zatzal said this story, it relates to the vort from the Maayana shel Torah. Reb Meir Shapiro added that this true Jewish solidarity is sensed by the nations as well- when one Jew stands accused of a crime,  anti-Semites immediately say that all Jews are the same, they're all criminals.  They view us as one person, not innumerable and independent individuals.

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