Friday, November 22, 2019

Zera Shimshon - Chayei Sara

Zera Shimshon - Chayei Sara 
(ואברהם זקן בא בימים ( דכ ' א 

"And Avraham was old, well on in years" (21:17) 

The Medrash relates (Bereishis Rabba 59:1), that R' Meir went to the town called Mamla and he only saw black-haired people (young people); there were no seniors who lived there. 

He asked the inhabitants of the town if perhaps they were from the descendants of Eli Hakohen who were cursed to die at a young age, which they confirmed. 

They begged R' Meir to pray on their behalf, for although there was a decree that they should die young, nevertheless, the power of prayer of such a righteous person could help nullify the decree partially. 

R' Meir responded that if they wanted to reach זקנה, old age, they should engage in tzedaka. 

This R' Meir based on a passuk in Mishlei (16:31) which says, 
"the crown of ripe old age can be attained through tzedaka."

 This is also learned from Avraham Avinu about whom the passuk says taught his children to guard the way of Hashem to do tzedaka (Bereishis 18:19) and Avraham Avinu merited longevity as the passuk says, "And Avraham was old etc. "

The Zera Shimshon asks - 
How is Avraham Avinu a proof that tzedaka would bring the inhabitants of Mamla to live to old age? 

Perhaps tzedaka only helps when there is no decree? 

But since the residents of Mamla were descendants of Eli Hakohen, it was decreed on them to die while in their youth, 
the passuk in Mishlei mentions שיבה, ripe old age, which is even older than זקנה as the mishna in Avos says (5:26), sixty is the age of זקנה and seventy is the age of שיבה .

Why then did R' Meir tell the people of Mamla that through tzedaka they will merit זקנה, old age, if the very passuk he used spoke about living to שיבה, ripe old age? 

The Zera Shimshon explains that the reason why a person merits to live to ripe old age by doing tzedaka is because the passuk says (Mishlei 10:2), "tzedaka saves from death."
 This automatically means a person who is involved in tzedaka must live until sixty since dying before that age is classified as Kares. 

However, even living until sixty does not really show that tzedaka added length to a person's life since many people live until sixty. 

Therefore, the passuk says that tzedaka is the way to live until 'ripe old age' - שיבה . 

However, the descendants of Eli Hakohen died in their twenties, thus, for them living until sixty - זקנה, is a clear indication that tzedaka lengthened their lives. 

This is why although the passuk says that tzedaka brings שיבה, ripe old age, R' Meir told the residents of Mamla that it would bring them זקנה, old age. 

Although the Zera Shimshon doesn't explicitly say this, it would seem that the decree would not allow them to live to שיבה in any case. 
Tzedaka could only push their lifespan to זקנה . 

 The Zera Shimshon ends off that the main mitzva of tzedaka is giving it without knowing who it is going to. 

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