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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Lech Lecha, Breishis 14:12-14. Og and Ulterior Motives.

Rav Meir Bergman, in his Shaarei Orah on Parshas Devarim, has an interesting discussion about Og's interaction with Avraham Avinu.  It's not mine, but it's sharp and new to me.
וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת לוֹט.... וַיָּבֹא הַפָּלִיט וַיַּגֵּד לְאַבְרָם הָעִבְרִי.... וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם, כִּי נִשְׁבָּה אָחִיו וַיָּרֶק אֶת חֲנִיכָיו יְלִידֵי בֵיתוֹ... וַיִּרְדֹּף עַד דָּן
Lot was captured, and the "Palit" came to tell Avraham what had happened, and when Avraham learned that his nephew had been taken captive, he unleashed his army and routed the captors and saved his nephew.

The Medrash in Parshas Devarim says

ויאמר ה' אל משה אל תירא אותו כי בידך אתננו אין כתיב כאן אלא כי בידך נתתי אותו. אמר הקב"ה כבר פסקתי דינו
מימות אברהם כיצד בשעה שנשבה לוט בן אחיו ובא עוג ובישר את אברהם שנאמר (בראשית יד) ויבא הפליט אמר ר"ל משום בר קפרא פליט היה שמו ולמה נקרא שמו עוג שבא ומצא את אברהם עסוק במצות בעוגות הפסח ולא בא לשם שמים אלא לשם נויה של שרה. אמר בלבו הריני מבשר אותו והגדוד הורגו ונוטל אני את שרה אשתו אמר לו הקב"ה אי רשע כך אמרת חייך שאני נותן לך שכר רגליך ומאריך לך שנים ומה שחשבת בלבך הריני הורג אברהם ונוטל את שרה ביד בני בניה עתיד אותו האיש ליפול.
Hashem told Moshe not to fear Og, the king of the Bashan, because he was long fated to fall to Moshe.  His fate was sealed from the time that he brought the news of Lot's capture to Avraham.  His name was not really Og, it was Palit.  Why was he called Og?  Because when he came to Avraham, he found him busy making Matzos- Ugos- for Pesach.  He did not come with pure motives, but because he was infatuated with Sarah's beauty; he thought, I will tell Avraham about his nephew, Avraham will rashly confront the captors, and he'll be killed, and I will take Sarah!  Hashem said, Ay, you piece of filth, that's what you think?  I will pay you for having told Avraham about Lot; you will live a long life; and you will long enough to be killed by the descendants of the woman you wanted to steal from her husband.

Why is it so important to know that Avraham was baking matza when Og came?  And even if we need to know that, perhaps so we should know that Avraham Avinu kept a form of Pesach, why did this pertain to Og to the extent that the Torah refers to him forever after as Og, in commemoration of the matzos/ugos?

Antibody or DNA testing can determine the presence or absence of yeast in baked products.  A laboratory can determine with absolute certainty that a given baked item was totally unleavened.  A perfect, beautiful Matza that was baked for general use and was later determined to be totally unleavened can not be used for the Mitzva of Matza.  The halacha of Shimur is that the harvest and the milling and the kneading and the baking must be supervised with the intention of avoiding leavening so it can be used for the Mitzva of Matza.  Without this specific intent, you certainly could use it on Pesach, but you would not be yotzei the mitzva.

When Og came to Avraham with his evil plan,he found Avraham baking Matza.  Matza is the archetype of proper intent; without the proper intent, matza is just a flat piece of bread.  If intent matters in a simple thing like a matza, how much more so in something so deeply powerful and beautiful, in a matter of life and death, good intent can make it even more meaningful, and bad intent can pervert and degrade the entire effect.  Og could have learned the lesson of the Ugos.  Unfortunately for him, he did not.  He is like B'tzeikos shel Nachrim (Pesachim 40a), an example of lost potential for greatness.  He was not a Matza, he was a Bulkeh.  Bulkeh, the King of the Bashan.

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