OU TORAHDedicated by the Jacobs and Chill Families in Memory of Harold and Pearl Jacobs
Dora Bas Rivka Silver O'H
Eliyahu HaNavi, Eliyah HaTishbi, Eliyahu HaGiladi
Elijah (Eliyahu) was a prophet (navi), who came from Toshav (making him a Tishbi) and lived in Gilad (also making him a Giladi - now you get the song!). Elijah went to Ahab with the following message: I swear by G-d that there will be no rain until I say so. (This was Elijah speaking, not G-d.) G-d then told Elijah to go hide by a certain stream off of the Jordan. Elijah was to drink from the stream and G-d would send ravens with food. (The Talmud in Chulin, 5a, says the ravens stole the food from Ahab.) After a year, the stream dried up, so G-d told him to go to a city called Tzarfas, where a local widow would support him.
When he arrived at Tzarfas, Elijah asked the widow for bread and water. She went to get the water, but she told him that she only had enough flour and oil to prepare one last meal for her son and herself. Elijah assured her that if she fed him, her flour jar and her oil jug would not run out until the rains resumed. She fed him and her oil and flour became never-emptying supplies.
After this incident, the woman's son became very sick. The Navi says that his breath stopped, but it is unclear whether or not he actually died. In either case, the woman cried to Elijah, who took the boy and laid him on his bed. Elijah cried out to G-d and stretched himself out over the boy and he was revived. He brought the boy back downstairs to his mother and said, "Look, ma'am, your son is alive!" (Modestly, Elijah did not say, "Look what I did!") Despite the previous miracle of the flour and oil, this miracle enabled the woman to see how great a prophet Elijah truly was.
A clever Rashi on Parshas Noach: The Torah tells us that before sending the dove, Noah tried sending a raven. The raven went back and forth "until the waters dried up" (Genesis 8:7). Rashi quotes the Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah, that this means that the raven was put aside for a different job, namely delivering food to Elijah when "the waters dried up" in our chapter.
A short Insight into I Kings, Chapter 17The Chasam Sofer ( Responsa – Y.D. 258) shares a beautiful insight into a subtle difference found in the texts of the Sephardic texts of the Nevi'im.
The Beis Yosef writes that the Sephardic scribes generally write the letter “ches” with a roof that is a straight line. This follows Rashi's opinion concerning the proper structure of a “ches.”
The one exception is the “ches” found in the word “chai” in the first verse of our chapter. The verse reads, “Eliyahu HaTishbi, a resident of Gilad said to Achav, 'As Hashem, G-d of Israel “chai” (lives) – before Whom I stand - [I swear that] there will be not dew nor rain during these years, except by my word.'” The roof of that “ches” is written with a with a hump in the middle (like a sloped roof).
The Chasam Sofer theorizes why this “ches” is an anomaly.
He explains that the gemora (Sanhedrin 113a) and the Yalkut Shimoni (see yesterday's “Insight”) tells us that Achav denied the validity of the prophecy of Moshe Rabbeinu by stating that despite all of the idol worship for which he was responsible, the rains still fell despite the verse (Deuteronomy11, 17) warning that that there would be no rain if there is idol worship.
The flaw in Achav's conclusion is that Hashem has already taught (Devarim 32,40), “For I shall raise My hand to heaven and say, 'Chai anochi l'olam' (I live forever).” Chazal teach us that a judge normally carries out a sentence immediately. That is essential since the judge might not be alive at another time to impose a sentence. Hashem is different. Since Hashem is “chai l'olam” - lives forever - He is no rush to carry out a sentence. Hashem might wait to see if those worshiping other gods repent without severe punishment like a water shortage.
Therefore, in the word “Chai” in our chapter even the Sephardim make the roof with a hump pointing upwards. Since Achav mistook the absence of a drought as a sign that punishment does not necessarily befall sinners, the word “chai” in our chapter differs from the others in Tanach according to Sephardic tradition. As the gemora in Menachos teaches pointing upwards is a sign that we recognize that Hashem is eternal and can carry out his plans at any time. Therefore, the roof of the “ches” in our verse is humped. It is as if we are pointing to the eternal Hashem and therefore recognizing the serious mistake made by Achav.