Thursday, October 29, 2009

לך לך and the sensitivity of syntax

Yet another guest post from someone who wants his name concealed:

How about this one for a Shabbos Table pleaser?

At the beginning of this week's sedra, 'ה tells אברם, as he is called at this point, that ואברכה מברכיך ומקללך אאור - I will bless those who bless you and those who curse you, I will curse.
Why does 'ה change around the order of the verbs - following ואברכה מברכיך, it should say ואאור מקללך, thereby keeping the syntax the same?

There are 2 stunning answers that I saw a Rav - whose name escapes me at present - bring:

Firstly, the Vilna Gaon says as follows: we know that a ברכה given by an עשיר is going to be more generous than that of an עני, as he has the experience and comfort with which to issue such a ברכה. Conversely, an עני, who generally is perceived to suffer more, will likely give heavier curses than a wealthy man. Therefore, says the Gaon, it says ואברכה first with regards to ''מברכיך'', so that anyone who is blessing you should already be an עשיר at the point in time that he blesses you, so that the ברכה is maximised. However, when it comes to ''מקללך'', it only says that 'ה will curse him afterwards, so that at the time he curses אברם, he will still be an עשיר and the curse will be minimal!

That's beautiful answer number one...

Now for beautiful answer number two - from the כלי יקר: we have a concept of מחשבה כמעשה, that 'ה treats our thoughts as if they were acted upon. however, חז''ל point out that this is only with regards to our intended מצוות. with regards to our עבירות, Hashem doesn't treat our negative thoughts as having been acted upon.
Therefore, ואברכה - 'I will bless', occurs even before a man is an actual מברך, even at the point that he thinks it. מה שאין כן with regard to the מקלל who will only receive the reciprocal curse from 'ה if he vocalises it. Therefore, אאור only comes after he is established as such!

Now that is stunning!

מתוק מדבש!

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