Alumni Corner: Avrohom Feldman
Parshas Toldos וַיִּגְדַּ֖ל הָאִ֑ישׁ וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ הָלוֹךְ֙ וְגָדֵ֔ל עַ֥ד כִּֽי־גָדַ֖ל מְאֹֽד׃ - and the man grew richer and richer until he was very wealthy (כג:יג)
There is a triple lashon of "gadol" that Yitzchak grew to greatness. The Baal HaTurim asks why do we need three separate leshonos to tell us this? It seems a bit redundant to say the same thing over and over and over again... we get the point. However, Chazal teach us that it was neccessary as a triple bracha for Yitzchak, and was meant to parallel the triple bracha that he received from Hashem at the time of the Akeidah - כִּֽי־בָרֵ֣ךְ אֲבָרֶכְךָ֗ וְהַרְבָּ֨ה אַרְבֶּ֤ה אֶֽת־זַרְעֲךָ֙ כְּכוֹכְבֵ֣י הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם... וְהִתְבָּרֲכ֣וּ בְזַרְעֲךָ֔ - For I will bestow my bracha upon you and I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars... And the nations of the world shall bless themselves by your descendants (כב:טז-יח)
These three levels of 'gadlus' paralleled the three berachos that he received at the time when Avraham almost offered Yittzchak up as a korban. We find Rashi explains that Yitzchak was so successful that the people of Gerar, where he was living at that time, would praise Yitzchok's extraordinary success. When discussing financial matters and wealth, they would discuss the manure of Yitzchok's donkeys, over their own King Avimelech's riches and gold. This shows us how tremendously successful Yitzchak was, they would prefer to discuss the waste of Yitzchak over the riches of their own king. Yitzchak was super successful in comparison to Avimelech, yet, we find that when Avimelech challenges Avraham to leave Gerar, we find something fascinating happen. Yitzchak leaves to "Nachal Gerar" - which Rashi explains to mean he left to a far away land from Gerar. In other words, he was obedient to Avimelech's wishes! This is unbelievable! Yitzchak was granted a triple blessing, and his success made Avimelech's storehouses look like child's play. Yitzchak's wealth was the talk of the town, and as they say, money speaks! Yitzchak shouldn't have had to listen to anything that Avimelech told him to do. Yet, we find just the opposite - Yitzchak obeys Avimelech without a complaint! He could have organized his wealth and power, and turned his success against Avimelech. But Yitzchak was the true definition of a mentch. Yitzchak's actions speak of the importance of derech eretz and acting like a mentch. Yitzchak had every reason to disobey Avimelech, but he respected the fact that he was in Avimelech's land and didn't continue to challenge him. Yitzchak's lack of entitlement and humility teach us that even when you feel that you are the 'bigger man', you still have to respect the authority and space of others, even though you may technically disagree with it. At the end of the day, once we understand where we come from and where everything we have is from, we can know that everything we have is G-d given. We are humans, and sometimes Hashem allows us to touch upon power, wealth, health, intellect, and many other skills. Our strengths and talents are given to us to allow us to overflow our cups and enrich this world to make it a better place for us all to live in, and thereby bring Hashem's Name into our everyday lives and actions. Avrohom Feldman ~ Avrohom is originally from Chicago, IL, and spent two years in Yeshivas Lev Zion. He is currently learning in Rabbi Barry Klein's chaburah in Beis Yisroel.