Sunday, October 29, 2006

Parshas Lech Lecha: Benefitting from a Neis

Breishis 15:1. After the war with the Arba Melachim, Hashem told Avrohom “al tiroh, anochi magen lecha, s’charcha harbei me’od.” Rashi— have no fear, because the miracle that happened in beating the four melachim did not diminish your zechusim.

See the Netziv’s kashe here and in the footnote: why did Ya’akov later have the same concern when he was miraculously saved, if he knew that Hashem had told Avrahom not to worry about diminished s’char after a hatzalah. More fundamentally, he asks why was Yakov’s schar indeed diminished, while Avraham’s schar was not diminished? (On the topic of M'nakim, see Taynis 20b about menakim lo mi’zechuyosav, and the Gemara on 26b about the boatload of grain that came through a neis that they were told to avoid eating if at all possible. Also, see Mitzpeh Eison Menachos 69, about the wheat that came from the clouds, brings the kashe about how is it muttar to use for menachos, if it’s assur to be neheneh, and there’s a din of mashkeh yisrael? Answers, it’s only assur mimidas chasidus. However, the Sdei Chemed brings from R’ Shlomo Kluger that it’s assur miderabanan gamur.)

The Netziv answers that by Avraham, he never was faced with imminent danger, and the nes was that Hashem kept him from ever coming to that point. But by Yaakov, he did face Lavan, and he was in danger, and a nes in that situation is minakeh from the zechusim.

In Fall of 1999 I asked the family the Netziv’s question, and my Ishah Chashuvah shetichyeh and my son, Moshe sheyichyeh, said excellent terutzim:
The Rebbetzin:
Yaakov was trying to save himself, and his protection derech neis was m’nakeh from his zechusim. Avraham, on the other hand, put himself into danger to save his nephew. This was an act of chessed, and mimeila there was no nikui. Avi Mori (shlita) Zatzal added that this is why it says ‘secharcha harbei me’od’. Not only was there no nikui, but he also received schar for being willing to endanger himself to save another person.
I later saw that the Pardes Yosef 2 page 19 says a svara that gives a lomdus to my wife's teretz.  Regarding the rule that M’nakim mizechuyosav in the Gemara in Taynis, he says that if the neis and its aftermath occur in pursuit of mitzvah there’s no din of menakin, because lav leihonos nitnu, and menakin is only when you are neheneh from the neis.  Avraham was saved b’derech neis while he was involved in a mitzvoh of piku’ach nefesh of his nephew. Therefore, the benefit he derived is covered under “lahv leihonos nitnah,” and there would be no m’nakim. But in the case of Yaakov, the neis occurred to protect Yaakov from a personal danger, and there was no mitzvoh element involved, so there would be m’nakim.
Avrohom’s life was all nissim, starting with Ur Kasdim, and continuing with the constant presence of malachim at his home, as we see from Hagar’s talk with the malach. Maybe his madreiga of bitochon was greater, and mimeileh his madreiga of hashgocho protis was greater (see above 1:1 from the Malbim), and there was no difference to him between r’tzon Hashem of teva and r’tzon Hashem of nes, as we see in the case of Chanina ben Dosa, who was melumad be’nissim.
I later saw that R Moshe in Kol Rom III later in Vayishlach on Yaakov sending Malochim, Breishis 32:4, says exactly like Moshe.

Yeish lazahav mohtza.

Horav MR told me that he saw a Mahrsha that asks why Chanina ben Dosa did nissim all the time, like the story of shemen veyadlik, or the story of Nachum Ish Gamzu with the house that was about the cave in, all in the twenties in Masecehes Taynis, and answers, like Moshe, that his madreiga of understanding that teva is a neis meant that for him, nissim were no different than what, for the rest of us, is teva. I would like to see the Mahrsha inside. All I saw in the Mahrsha was that when Nachum told them to leave him in the house, he asks, but what about R’ Yanai’s din that it’s assur to put yourself into a makom sakana, shema lo ya’asu lo neis? And he answers that that’s only because “shema yigrom hachet,” and Nachum knew that he was a tzadik gamur and that he didn’t deserve to die the missah chamura of skila. The Mahrsha there does not asks from the second half of R’ Yanai’s din, that a neis is m’ma’eit from a person’s zechusim. Anyway, there is a problem applying this here, because how can we say that Avraham was on a higher madreiga than Yaakov, especially since Yaakov was called the “b’chir ha’avos.” You certainly cannot say it just because it will answer the question— you need additional evidence.


  1. Your post is so lengthy that it requires @ comments(1)one of the most controversial kashes in its allegation of did Rav Chaim really ask it is-How could the chasmonyim be yotzey with the extra oil isn't it problematic as shemen nes(2)Cholila I'm not measuring the gadlus of the avos etc. but even assuming one was bigger in aggregate still the other could of been bigger in one middoh like bitochan.(I am not saying that was the case)

  2. Yehuda, the Mitzpeh Eison would answer the kashe of shemen neis as far as the issur of being neheneh from something that comes derech neis. Anyway, the issur would not apply to the menorah burning longer, unless they put it out and relit it every evening (and morning according to the Rambam). The kashe I heard from R' Chaim is that the shemen should have been entirely possul since it was not shemen zayis, because it did not come from the pressing of olives.

    And what am I supposed to do about the posts being lengthy? Cocktail party torah is not my style.

  3. Regarding the Netziv's question I would like to suggest the following. Hashem worded His guarantee to Avrohom that his Zechuyos would not be diminished by saying "Anochi MAGEN Loch". The Gemara says that the Chasima of Magen Avrohom was given exclusively to Avrohom and not to the other Avos. Perhaps Yaakov realized that he did not have the special Havtacha of "Magen" which is necessary for the protection of one's Zechuyos when he merits a Nes. (Although Rashi separates "Anochi Magen" from "Secharcha Harbeh" the Midrashim don't).

    1. I would add that what you're saying and what my son said are similar- why are we choseim with magen Avraham? Many people (Rav Sternbuch, for example,) say that the Midda of Chesed will ultimately be the reason Klal Yisrael survives and for the geula. If so, the chasima with Avraham is another way of referring to his midda of Chesed- and if the danger came because of his pursuit of chesed, they are not menakeh.