Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Table Talk Toldos 2 - Could You Eat Avraham's Food?

You've just invented a time machine out of a Delorian (or some other nifty car), and have decided that the first person you'd like to visit is our forefather, Avraham Avinu. You get in the car, speed up to 88mph, and in a flash you're back in Cana'an basking under Avraham's tree. Naturally, Avraham runs to greet you, and before you know it, he's offering you dinner. Only after he places the tongue and roast beef in front of you do you begin to wonder: "Hey, can I eat this? Is it even kosher?" That all depends on how much you trust -- and take literally - the commentary of Rashi.
The Torah tells us that when Yitzchak attempts to journey to Egypt to avoid a famine, God appears to Yitzchak commanding him to remain in the Land of Cana'an, and God will give him the blessings of his father. Why does Avraham deserves these blessings? עֵקֶב, אֲשֶׁר-שָׁמַע אַבְרָהָם בְּקֹלִי; וַיִּשְׁמֹר, מִשְׁמַרְתִּי, מִצְו‍ֹתַי, חֻקּוֹתַי וְתוֹרֹתָי - "because that Abraham hearkened to My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.'"
We're left to wonder what these different terms refer to. What statutes does Avraham keep? Rashi (Bereishis 26:4) immediately explains each of these terms clearly.

וישמר משמרתי - גזרות להרחקה על אזהרות שבתורה, כגון שניות לעריות ושבות לשבת:
מצותי - דברים שאילו לא נכתבו ראויין הם להצטוות כגון גזל ושפיכות דמים:
חקותי - דברים שיצר הרע ואומות העולם משיבין עליהם כגון אכילת חזיר ולבישת שעטנז שאין טעם בדבר אלא גזירת המלך וחקותיו על עבדיו:
ותורתי - להביא תורה שבעל פה, הלכה למשה מסיני:

Clearly according to Rashi, Avraham not only keeps the accepted ethical and moral laws that apply to any society. Moreover, he not only observes normative Torah law including Sha'atnez and prohibited foods. Rather, Avraham keeps everything -- the big and small, Torah and rabbinic, including the Oral Tradition and everything in-between. He wears tzitzis and washes neigel vasser in the morning, puts a blech on his stove on Shabbos, and uses a kos shelishi to make his tea on Shabbos (if he holds like R. Moshe). How does he learn all of this Torah? The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 95) wonders the very same thing.
מהיכן למד תורה אברהם? ר' שמעון בן יוחי א' נעשו כיליותיו כשני כדין שלמים והיו נובעות תורה.
Those are some pretty knowledgeable kidneys! In any case, it seems clear that had you stopped to pick up Rashi on the way to Avraham Avinu in your time machine, while you might not have eaten the food, Rashi clearly would have.