Parshas Lech Lecha 5777
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November 11, 2016
Volume 13 Issue 2
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Dvar Torah

Sign for Growth 
  By Rabbi Moshe Yosef Spiegel

In this week's parsha, an extremely peculiar, almost mind-boggling episode is recounted. Lot, Avraham's nephew, chose to join Avraham and his camp as the followers of Hashem. Lot eventually became the principal student and chief disseminator of Avraham's teachings. The underlying theme of Avraham's classes was that the world came into existence by design through a Designer. An argument broke out between the shepherds of Avraham and the shepherds of Lot to the point that they had to separate. When choosing where to go, the verse states that Lot went 'mikedem,' which literally means "from the east." Rashi, quoting the midrash, says this is an allusion to what he was escaping from. "Kedem" also can mean precede. He was running away from the Forerunner of the World - Lot was running away from Hashem. This is astounding! Here we have someone, who Avraham referred to as his brother, his brother in belief, who is trying to get away from Hashem and join the most corrupt society in the world, Sodom, a place where denying Hashem permeated every aspect of life.

This anomaly can be explained based on a comment of the Vilna Gaon on Mishlei. The passuk states, "Teach a child according to his way, and even when he ages he won't stray from that path." Typically, this is understood to mean that when a child is forced to act in a way that does not take into account his particular temperament and characteristics, he will rebel when the pressure is removed. The Vilna Gaon however explains that this isn't a conscious reaction of the child. Rather, with the pressure relieved, the child naturally reverts back to his base instincts. Similar to a reed bent against its natural path of growth, it will only remain in this bent position as long as force is applied. Lot had some unseemly natural instincts. However, he never worked to improve them. While under the close watch of his uncle, Avrohom, they were kept in check. But as soon as they parted ways, like a Jack-in-the-Box, they popped back up. Thereafter, Lot simply followed his desires, which let him straight to Sodom.

With this we can understand a mitzvah given in this week's parsha. Hashem makes a covenant in the form of circumcision with Avraham and his descendants. The sign of the covenant is to remove the foreskin, a part of the body not needed for any purpose. Hashem could have chosen anything to act as the sign of the covenant. Why did he have to create unnecessary skin just to have it removed? Indeed the midrash in Tazria records that Turnusrufos HaRasha asked a very similar question to Rebbi Akiva.

The Sefer HaChinuch, when explaining the reason for the mitzvah of Milah, writes that Hashem clearly desired that the Jews remove the foreskin. By removing it, we learn that although we were created lacking, it is within our power to perfect ourselves. We see that although our spiritual being isn't perfect, we can improve by working on our character traits. Like Milah, one should focus on our less than perfect aspects of our natural character, and begin the process of refinement.

May we all merit to make use of our time on this earth and make the best we can of ourselves.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Shenayim Mikra
By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
There are numerous ways that one may fulfill this mitzvah in a l'chatchila (preferable) fashion. The earliest time one may begin learning the parshah, is Mincha time of the preceding week. For example, he may start at Mincha time of this week [Parshas Lech Lecha] to learnParshas Va'ayrah. The reason is, since the congregation starts reading the following week's parshah it is considered as reading the parshah together with the congregation (Mishneh Berurah 285:7). As an aside, regarding shenayim mikra, "Mincha" is referring to Mincha Gedolah [which is the earliest time one can daven Mincha], since this is the earliest time one can begin the following week's leining (Shemiras Shabbos Ke'hilchasa 42:ftnt. 218). 

There are numerous opinions when one should finish the parshah. Some Poskim are of the opinion that it is preferable for one to finish on Friday, while others hold before going to shul on Shabbos morning. Still others maintain one has until before leining in shul or by the time one starts his Shabbos morning meal. Others are of the opinion that it should be done by Shabbos Mincha (See Shulchan Aruch 285:4 & Mishneh Berurah 285:7-9). If one did not finish on Shabbos, he should attempt to finish by the following Tuesday (Mishneh Berurah 285:11). The reason is we are taught in the Gemara [Gittin 77a] that Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are still connected to the previous week.

Ideally, one should make sure not to read targum first, before any mikra (Mishneh Berurah 285:6). If he did he is not required to repeat what he learned (Shaar Hatziyon 285:10 & Aruch Hashulchan 285:3).

Most opinions hold that one has to actually read himself shenaiyim mikra v'echad targum and it does not suffice to hear it from someone else (Mishneh Berurah 285:2 & Aruch Hashulchan 285:3). Additionally, someone who knows how to lein with the trup, it is proper to learn shenaiyim mikra with the trup (Sefer Bekeurei Chaim 3:4 quoting Rabbeinu Yonah Sefer Ha'yirah 303). One may quietly read the leining along with the baal koreh to count as one time mikra (Mishneh Berurah 285:14 & Aruch Hashulchan 285:3). It is important to note, that one is also required to hear the leining, so one should be careful to hear the baal koreh while reading (Mishneh Berurah 285:14). A baal koreh who is practicing leining, can count this for shenaiyim mikra (Sefer Bekurei Chaim 7:25).

One should be careful to read the parshah in order and not skip around (Mishneh Berurah 285:6). If one did accidentally skip, he may read the posuk that he missed [and is not required to go back to that point and continue straight] (Sefer Bekurei Chaim 3:2).

There is a machlokes whether one may interrupt [with talking] while he is in the middle of learning shenaiyim mikra [and not at a "stopping point," for example in between parshiyos]. The Chofetz Chaim [Shaar Hatziyon 285:11] holds it is prohibited, however the Aruch Hashulchan [285:7] holds there is no problem.

A common scenario that arises is he is in question whether he already learned shenaiyim mikra or not [e.g. he does not remember whether he already learned a certain aliyah]. In this type of situation it is proper to go back to the place that he for sure read (Chut Shani, Shabbos 4: pg. 113 s.v. me & Koveitz Halachos, Shabbos 1:19:37).

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