Lech Lecha- The Tent of Sarah

In this week’s Parsha there is a cryptic Pasuk about the tents of Avrohom and Sarah. When Avrohom enters Eretz Yisroel, he travels to the east of Beis El[1]. We are told that he pitches his tent, and then builds a Mizbeach. The word for tent is Ohalo- which is the possessive of Ohel. It should be written with a Vav, which is the usual way to write a possessive noun, but instead is written with a Heh at the end. Since a Heh usually carries the connotation of the feminine in Lashon HaKodesh, Rashi says it means he first prepared Sarah’s tent, and only then prepared his own[2].

In the Sifrei Mussar and Shalom Bayis this Rashi is brought numerous times, as how a husband is to take care of his wife. And all of that is correct and very important, but is there anything more here?

The Meshech Chochma writes something that can help us understand the depth, but itself requires understanding in this context[3]. The world is created in a way of male and female. It is not by accident that HaShem created such a world, but his is the way by which we are Mashpia- we influence and provide which is described as masculine, and are Mekabel- accept and make ourselves into a receptacle for these influences which is described as feminine. In the writings of the Maharal, this is a very basic concept. In order to bring a Korban to HaShem we need to first recognize the fact that we are receptacles of HaShem’s Shefa- and then we can turn and in some way- return a gift to HaShem. Therefore, Avrohom first builds the tent of Sarah, the feminine side, then his own, and then he can build a Mizbeach to HaShem. Yakov also does the same.

This is even more clear if we see the Rashi[4] about the power of the tent of Sarah. The tent of Sarah was a Bais HaMikdosh. There was a Shulchan- where the bread remained fresh from one week to the next, as the Lechem HaPanim. There was a candle that burnt from one week to the next as the Menorah also needed to be extinguished only to fulfill the Mitzvah of relighting it. And there was a cloud of glory, the Anan, which was parallel to the Anan HaKetores, that arose from the Mizbeach HaZahav. Till you build the Bais HaMikdosh you cannot bring Korbanos.

In the home of Avrohom and Sarah, the external part of the Shechinah was seen in the tent of Sarah. That is why the But as Rashi says the one who built it was Avrohom. The external part is the feminine, but the creation is the masculine of Avrohom. When these two join together you can bring a Korban.

The Meshech Chochma says that this was the misunderstanding of Yakov outside Shechem. He purchased the plot of land to build a Mizbeach. As the Seforno[5] says there, he purchased the land because how can one sing the song of HaShem on foreign land. But he first pitched the tent of the male, and then built the Mizbeach. Therefore he is punished that Dinah, who is the female descendant of Yakov is abused there.

Noach on the other hand does pitch a female tent[6]. But he has his own failing, and even though he pitched a female tent, he sinned in the use of it.

This could also explain why a Kohein Gadol requires a wife before the Avodah on Yom Kippur. He needs to have that tent of the feminine to serve HaShem completely. And Nadav and Avihu, we are told that one of their sins was their failure to find a Zivug, so their entrance into the tent of HaShem was lacking.

So we can put the two ideas together. A person who wants to be Shalem- whole and complete, needs to know how to create a complete Bayis, by the precedence of his wife. The he can enter into the tent of HaShem, and build a Mizbeach as Avrohom does.

[1]  ספר בראשית פרק יב – (ח) וַיַּעְתֵּק מִשָּׁם הָהָרָה מִקֶּדֶם לְבֵית אֵל וַיֵּט אָהֳלֹה בֵּית אֵל מִיָּם וְהָעַי מִקֶּדֶם וַיִּבֶן שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַידֹוָד וַיִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם יְדֹוָד:

[2]  רש”י על בראשית פרק יב פסוק ח – אהלו – אהלה כתיב בתחלה נטה את אהל אשתו ואח”כ את שלו. ב”ר:

[3]  משך חכמה על בראשית פרק לה פסוק א – קום עלה בית אל ושב שם ועשה מזבח – יתכן דבזוהר פ’ ויחי דף רל”ט אדם כי יקריב מכם הכא איתרמיז מאן דיעביד פולחנא דקורבנא שלים דישתכח דכר ונוקבא כו’. לכן אמר גבי אברהם ויט אהלה (פ’ לך, יב, ח) בתחלה נטה אהל אשתו ואח”ז שלו ויבן שם מזבח. וכן ביעקב (להלן לה, כא) ויט אהלה מהלאה למגדל עדר כו’…לכן אמר ושב שם שיקבע דירה לדור בקביעות ויהא מותר להיות עם נשיו ואז יעשה מזבח ודו”ק.

ואולי לזה כוון המדרש (בראשית רבה פ-ד) על ותצא דינה ר”ל מייתי לה מהכא ויבן שם מזבח. פירוש דעל זה נענש בדינה בתו לפי שבנה מזבח בחלקת השדה אשר נטה שם אהלו ולא אהלה שלא נטה שם אהל אשתו ובנה מזבח ועבד פולחנא דקרבנא שלא כדין לכן נענש שיצאה דינה ושכם עינה אותה. לכן לרמז ע”ז מייתי ריש לקיש ויבן שם מזבח הנאמר אצל אברהם ששם כתוב ויט אהלה ואחר זה ויבן מזבח. ולא כן עשה יעקב שלא נטה אהל נשיו ויצב מזבח לכן נענש על זה וזה כוונה קרובה במדרש.

[4]  רש”י על בראשית פרק כד פסוק סז – האהלה שרה אמו – ויביאה האהלה והרי היא שרה אמו כלומר ונעשית דוגמת שרה אמו שכל זמן ששרה קיימת היה נר דלוק מע”ש לערב שבת וברכה מצויה בעיסה וענן קשור על האהל ומשמתה פסקו וכשבאת רבקה חזרו (ב”ר):

[5]  ספורנו עה”ת ספר בראשית פרק לג – (יט) ויקן את חלקת השדה. ויצב שם מזבח. כאמרו איך נשיר את שיר ה’ כו’:

[6]  ספר בראשית פרק ט – (כא) וַיֵּשְׁתְּ מִן הַיַּיִן וַיִּשְׁכָּר וַיִּתְגַּל בְּתוֹךְ אָהֳלֹה:


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