Kli Chemdah - Parshas Vayeira

What offering did Avrohom offer to Hashem from his celebratory feast for his son?

(22,1) “And it was after these things, that Hashem tested Avrohom…”

Rashi explains here that some say that this happened after the words of the Satan, who, concerning the great feast that Avrohom had made on the day that his son, Yitzchok, had been weaned, said accusingly: From the whole feast that Avrohom made he did not sacrifice before You even one bull or one ram! Hashem replied to him: Did he not do it only for his son? If I were to say to him to sacrifice him before Me, he would not hold back.

But behold, there still a problem here, because the question still stands - why did Avrohom not bring an offering to Hashem, and therefore what exactly was Hashem's reply to the Satan?

However, it seems to me that Hashem gave to the Satan a crushing answer, but first we need to review that which is written in parshas Lech Lecha (14:18), after the successful war that Avrohom waged against the four kings: “Malchi Tzedek, the King of Shalem, brought out bread and wine”, to Avrohom, “and he blessed him, and said: Blessed be Avrom to the Most High G-d, Who makes heaven and earth”. Rashi wrote that the Midrash explained that the bread and wine hinted to him the meal offerings and wine libations which his children would offer up.

It seems to me that the explanation of this is that, as the Rambam ruled, a non-Jew is also allowed to bring offerings to Hashem. However, he can only bring burnt offerings, but not peace offerings, which can only be offered by Jews. The commentaries explained that the reason for this is that only offerings which are completely burned on the altar are relevant to non-Jews. But peace offerings, which also eaten by Kohanim and the owner of the sacrifice, and their eating is also considerd as part of the service of the sacrifice - as Chazal have taught, “they acquired this part of the sacrifice from the table of the Most High” - in these the nations are not included.

The reason is because Hashem created the universe that it should be with the powers of nature, and that this world should run according to the laws of nature and the dictates of the arrangement of the planets. However, He chose Yisrael to be His treasured people and gave them the Holy Torah, that through their acceptance of the Torah and their going in the ways of the Torah they would be elevated above the powers of nature, and they would be managed only by Hashem. Our first forefather, Avrohom, was told by Hashem to leave his astrology because there is no mazal to Yisrael, and he was raised up above the powers of nature, and instead everything would be under Hashem's supervision alone.

Now, Chazal have taught that Hashem wanted לזכות (usually translated 'to merit') Yisrael, therefore He increased for them Torah and mitzvos. The meaning of this teaching it seems to me, is that the word לזכות here means 'to purify'. That is, because Hashem wants to purify His people Yisrael, so that also their material body should be purified, therefore He increased for them Torah and mitzvos, so that through their involvement in the Torah and doing all material matters for the sake of a mitzvah, the material things will become sanctified and become like spiritual entities. This is what it means that He increased for "them" Torah and mitzvos, that He made all the matters of Yisrael in this world to have in them Torah and mitzvos, in order to purify them.

And this is what Malchi Tzedek the King of Shalem hinted to Avrohom when he brought out the bread and wine. The bread alludes to the two loaves of bread which are brought on Shavuos, which is the only offering that does not have in it a part which goes to Hashem, since although it is supposed to be brought together with sheep, it can be brought by itself, and is consumed completely by the Kohanim. This hints to the fact that through the power of the Torah one can offer such an offering, which even though it is consumed completely by people, and the altar receives no part of it, it is nevertheless a complete offering. But the wine is the complete opposite, that people have no part of it, but rather it is completely consumed by the altar.

Thus, Malchi Tzedek was hinting to Avrohom that his children will offer bread and wine, and just as wine is an offering which is completely consumed by the Holy, so too the bread is such an offering, even though it is essentially only for the consumption of the Kohanim. And this is through the power of the Torah. As the Ramban wrote in his commentary on the Torah, that for this reason even though offerings made from flour are normally brought as matzah, the loaves of Shavuos are entirely chometz, to teach that through the Holy Torah one can bring also chometz as an acceptable offering to Hashem.

And for the same reason Malchi Tzedek blessed him “Blessed is Avrom…who makes heaven and earth”, saying that Avrohom had already reached this level where he made heaven from earth, that he sanctified all material matters to Hashem, and all of his eating and drinking was holy, like the holy sacrifices. And therefore his offspring merited to receive the Torah through which they too could serve Hashem in this fashion, as is alluded to by the two loaves of Shavuos. Because at the giving of the Torah all Yisrael were Kohanim, as it is written “and you shall be to me a kingdom of Kohanim”, and they were all fitting to eat the two loaves. And this was a complete sacrifice since this is the true purpose of Yisrael, as I wrote above.

All of my words are alluded to in Hashem’s reply to the Satan, who asked why Avrohom had not offered a sacrifice to Hashem from the celebratory feast, and Hashem replied: Did he not do it only for his son? If I would say to him to sacrifice him before me, he would not hold back. That is, he would be prepared immediately, without any delay, to sacrifice his son before me, because it was so precious to him to fulfil all the words of Hashem with everything in the world. Therefore, his rejoicing over his son was also only because he had merited through this to fulfil the commandments of Hashem, who commanded him to be fruitful and multiply, and also the name of Hashem had been sanctified by everone seeing this wondrous miracle that he and Sarah now had a child. This was the whole cause of Avrohom’s rejoicing, and for this reason he had made a feast. If so, this itself is a true offering, since the whole purpose of the feast and the rejoicing was to publicise the greatness of Hashem and his supervision of this lower world, and so the feast was sanctified with the holiness of the holy offerings. This seems to me a correct and clear explanation of the words of Rashi.

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