At the end of this week’s parsha, Avraham gets remarried:
When he gives Yitzchak כל אשר לו, what does that mean? The “כל” of Avraham comes up twice in the parsha:
And they mean different things. The second is financial:
The first is spiritual.
We talked about וה׳ ברך את אברהם בכל last year:
So Rashi here tells us that the legacy that we are talking about here is not about money; it’s about the spiritual legacy. ויתן אברהם את כל אשר לו refers to וה׳ ברך את אברהם בכל.
I want to focus on Avraham’s other children. He gives them “מתנת”. What were those מתנת? Note that מַתָּנֹת is written חסר, which generally leads to a דרש that it is really singular: one gift. And they are אשר לאברהם:
The text is emphasizing that these children were still Avraham’s, even as he sends them away. They simply will not get the ברכה of זרע וארץ. It goes with the idea that this paragraph is not telling us about Avraham’s estate of camels and sheep. It is telling of Avraham’s spiritual legacy. He isn’t rejecting them, but saying that
(בראשית כא:יב) כי ביצחק יקרא לך זרע means they will have another destiny in history.
So Rashi explains (I
will not deal with Rashi’s second answer):
And everyone goes wild over that—what could שם טמאה mean?. It is a straight quote from the gemara:
That doesn’t help. Did Avraham turn to the dark side after the עקידה? Some commentators soften the “כשוף ומעשה שדים”:
But it is still very hard to understand.
We are going to look at these מתנות through the eyes of Reb Tzadok haCohen miLublin. There is a midrash that connects the first perek of תהילים with Avraham’s life:
The midrash here tells us that the בני קטורה were כל אשר יעשה יצליח, part of אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת בָּנָיו וְאֶת בֵּיתוֹ אַחֲרָיו וְשָׁמְרוּ דֶּרֶךְ ה׳.
There is an interesting anecdote in the gemara:
(We will not go into what רבי טרפון mean when he called קטורה, יוחני; See מנחות פה,א)
So בני קטורה were seen by חז״ל as בני אברהם but not at the level of בני יעקב. And Avraham gives then שם טמאה. Why? Avraham’s mission has been to spread שם ה׳ through the world:
and he passes that mission on to Yizchak:
So R. Zadok says that the שם טמאה is the שם ה׳ that is present in the physical world, the world of טמאה. In order to understand him, we have to understand that part of his philosophy is a broader definition of תורה שבעל פה, to mean the ongoing divine inspiration that allows us to understand the Torah:
Similarly, Avraham learned “תורה שבעל פה”, that he passed on to all his children. And it is our job to bring it all together.
The message of the מתנות is that there exists שם בתומאה, that we have something to learn from other nations and cultures, and only by accepting that can we achieve the wisdom of וַתֵּרֶב חָכְמַת שְׁלֹמֹה.