Pearls of Rashi: Rosh Hashanah

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This coming Shabbos will be Rosh Hashanah, New Year’s (literally the head of the year). Because of the festival, we will push off the regular Torah Portion until the following week. The following is a pearl of a Rashi in the Parshah we will read.  

In the Torah reading of Rosh Hashanah, we read of Avrohom and Soroh miraculously having a baby, our forefather Yitzchak. This is even though Avrohom was already one-hundred years old, and his wife Soroh, our matriarch, was ninety years old, G-d’s promise that they would have children was fulfilled. They gave birth to a son who would continue the chain of Judaism.

This great miracle caused Soroh to declare[1], “Who would have said to Avrohom that Soroh would nurse children, for I have given birth to a son in his old age!” Rashi cites the words from the verse “Soroh would nurse children (in the plural) ” and explains as follows. “Why is the word ‘children’ in the plural? (This is because) on the day of the feast[2], the princesses brought their children with them, and she nursed them. (Why? Because) they were saying that’ Soroh did not give birth, but rather her baby was a foundling from the street.’” In other words, she demonstrated that despite her advanced age, she was capable of nursing babies, many babies. Hence, they knew that she had been pregnant.

It seems that Rashi’s comments are open to question. Granted, the fact that “Soroh would nurse children” proved that she was pregnant. However, it did nothing to dispel the claim that Avrohom was not the father. Further on, the Torah tells us that[3] “These are the generations of Yitzchok, the son of Avrohom; Avrohom begot Yitzchok.”  Rashi cites the words “Avrohom begot Yitzchok” and explains as follows; “the scoffers of the generation were saying that Soroh had conceived from Avimelech, for she had lived with Avrohom for many years and had not conceived from him.”

Here, in our verse, this does nothing to assuage this false claim. It only demonstrated that Soroh was pregnant; however, it did nothing to show that Avrohom was the child’s father!

The explanation is that the princesses of whom Rashi speaks did not question that Avrohom was the father. They knew that Avrohom was able to father Yishmoel at age eighty-six! The only ones who had a question were the “scoffers of the generation.” These were individuals whose primary occupation is to laugh at others. They are not looking for answers; they only seek questions, to be used as ammunition for mocking others.

May Hashem grant us the strength to stand up to these people. He should give all of us the best year ever! Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

[1]. Parshas Vayeiro, Bereishis 21:7.

[2]. They made a feast when Yitzchok was weaned. See Parshas Toldos, Bereishis 21:8.

[3]. See the beginning of Parshas Toldos, Bereishis 25:19.

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