“Asarah Nisyonos Nisna’asah Avraham Avinu Alav HaShalom V’amad B’kulam L’Hodiya Kama Chibaso Shel Avraham Avinu, Alav HaShalom.”
I find it very interesting that by Avraham Avinu the title עליו השלום follows his name twice in this Mishna? I am unaware of another Av or Tanna in the gemarah whose name is followed by עליו השלום. I haven’t yet come across any commentator that this addition to Avraham bothered him enough to write some type of explanation. I would like to offer my take on the message that it alludes to especially in the context of this Mishnah.
On the passuk ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים (Bereishis 2,7) Rashi brings the Chazal to explain why Adam was created from both the physical earth and the spiritual soul. On the first day of creation, Hashem brought into existence the heavens and the earth. On the second day, the firmament was created which corresponds to the heavens. On the third day, the lower waters were formed and dry land appeared. On the fourth day, the luminaries in the heavens were created. The fifth day produced animal life in all its forms. Now that all days the days of the week became balanced, what type of creation should come on the sixth day that would still preserve in the world shalom and no jealousy between heaven and earth. Therefore Hashem created Man from both elements, a body from the earth and a neshama from the heavens.
Let us bring another Rashi Bereishis (24,3,7) where we find Avraham making Eliezer, his servant, swear that he won’t seek a shidduch for Yitzchak from the daughters of Cannaan. Avraham mentions in the oath: Hashem who is אלקי השמים ואלקי הארץ the G-d presiding over the heavens and earth. Four pessukim later he describes Hashem as ה’ אלקי השמים אשר לקחני מבית אבי ומארץ מולדתי as the G-d of the heavens which delivered me from the house of my father. The second time the title of אלקי הארץ was omitted? Rashi explains that the second time Avraham is referring to his exodus from his homeland Charan prior to his crusade to spread the word of monotheism to the world when Hashem was only known then as the G-d in the heavens. However, subsequent his many years of ויקרא בשם ה’ and masses of people became associated with ה’ אחד, Hashem became known also as the G-d of the earth.
With the above explanation, we can interpret the passuk (Bereishis 2,4)
אלה תולדות השמים ובארץ בהבראם ביום עשות ה’ אלקים ארץ ושמים
These אלה (that are listed in perek א) were all emanations from the creation of the heavens and earth on the first day of creation. Chazal tell us that in the word בהבראם are the letters of באברהם. We can explain the passuk to convey that it was Avraham who spread the belief that the heavens and the earth were the creation (תולדות) of Hashem (ביום עשות ה’ אלקים ארץ ושמים). This faith was brought about through the avodah of Avraham Avinu.
According to this, one could assume that all these years the heavens were filled with the recognizing of Hashem which is in contrast to the inhabitants of the earth which were void of such a belief, thereby causing the earth to be jealous of shamayim that it alone was a vessel for Hashem’s presence. We find such jealousy by the lower waters who Chazal tell us that they would cry to move closer to Hashem like the upper waters and not be so distant and earthly. However, this imbalance was restored when Avraham spread the emunah in Hashem throughout the land. This was achieved not only by his philosophical debates as the Rambam writes but also through his Ten Tests. The sefarim write that the Ten Tests of Avraham corresponded to the עשרה מאמרות, the Ten Sayings by which the world was created. The ten sayings are the creation of nature and its laws. To the naked eye and to the non-thinker, one can come to erroneously believe that nature possesses its own working entity even without Hashem’s intervention. Every one of the Ten Tests given to Avraham uncovered the veil and camouflage of nature that conceals Hashem as its creator. Every נסיון of Avraham required a super response and discipline from Avraham tantamount to a נס miracle, a change of nature. Through Avraham’s divinely directed actions and deeds, one came to realize the truth that creation came about through the Ten Maamaros of Hashem and not by chance or happenstance. Only an individual like Avraham, who’s every bodily movement manifested G-dliness within him, and served as his GPS the acronym G-dly Person Superlative, can accomplish what he achieved in middos, deeds, and devotion to Hashem.
In other words through the avodah of Avraham Avinu, peace was brought between heaven and earth because the earth ceased to be jealous of the heavens. This is why Avraham is called אחות לנו קטנה. The word אחות is translated in the Medrash (Bereishis Rabba 39,3) as to sew and Avraham sewed together the rip in the world. Which rip? According to our mamar, it is the rip between heaven and earth. The earth was jealous of the heavens which manifest the recognition of Hashem as the creator of the world. With Avraham’s avodah as the ultimate skillful spiritual tailor, shalom was restored and that tear was sewn together once again.
This lesson could be what the Mishna in Avos is alluding to. Ten Tests were given to Avraham through which he revealed that Hashem is the creator and sustainer of the earth as well as the shamayim. Therefore for his incredible achievement, he was crowned with the title of עליו השלום , that the peace brought to the earth by terminating its jealousy of the heavens was עליו due to his merit. No one else can claim such a universal accomplishment.
During the period of the great machlokes between the Gedolei Hador to whether Shabsi Tzvi was real or an imposter, Rabbe Yonasan Eibshitz was once traveling and he stopped at an inn. During his stay, he heard people discussing his name and the position that he took in this controversy. They all became ignited in a heated argument, fully unaware of the identity of the person who was listening to their conversation a few tables away. He approached and addressed them with a novel delivery of mussar. He said that for a very long time he was bothered by a question on the piyut of Chad Gadya that we recite at the Seder Night and only now he thought of the answer which he wants to share with them. The cat that ate the kid goat did a terrible thing. So the dog that bit the cat did the right thing. The stick that hit the dog did the wrong thing for punishing the dog. The fire that burnt the stick acted properly. The water that extinguished the fire was wrong and therefore the ox that drank the water was correct. The shochet who killed the ox acted wrongly and therefore the malach’s killing of the shochet was just. It then appears that Hashem unjustly punished the malach hamavis who was righteous?
The assemblage was astounded by the question and waited with eyes and gaping mouths for the answer. The truth, said Rav Yonasan, is that Hashem must be righteous and the cat was wrong, but then again so was the dog. What is the dog’s business to get involved? The Abba who bought the kid is the cat’s owner and it is his business to punish the cat. The dog’s involvement merely fans the flames of the problem and doesn’t cure it. If anything it makes it worse by causing more outsiders to become involved in something that was never theirs to begin with. In fact, these self recruited individuals in the machlokes might have a stricter judgment in shamayim that the original people of the machlokes. The stick that hit the dog is therefore right and the fire that burnt the stick is wrong. The water, therefore, was correct in extinguishing the fire, and the ox that drank the water was wrong. The shochet that killed the ox was right and the malach hamaves was wrong for killing the shochet. Hashem was therefore correct that he punished the malach.
Make sure to mind your own business if your involvement will not be לתועלת not bringing peace, advice, or a solution to the problem. You could rest assured that playing detective or being the broadcaster with breaking news and the scoop might be intriguing, momentarily break your boredom, and finally get you the attention which you crave. However, it is pure yetzer hara, and your participation and gossip will, unfortunately, end up being detrimental to your and others’ well being.
When there was another famous machlokes amongst different sects of Chassidim, many came to the Zhikover Rebbe to ask his opinion. He decided to refrain from giving his opinion with the following mashal. A hungry lion was walking in the forest and he saw a lamb. He was about to devour it but on second thought said that it does not seem dignified that the king of the animals should rip apart a helpless little animal just because of his hunger. I have a plan. He approached the lamb which immediately started to tremble. The lion said “Nothing to worry about sheep. I have a question for you. What kind of smell is coming from my mouth? The sheep responded “Not a good one, Your Majesty.” The king got infuriated and said “Is this the way one insults the king? You are punished to death!” and the lion devoured the lamb. Still hungry he met a donkey. He asked the donkey the same question. The donkey saw what happened to the lamb and did not want to receive the same fate so he answered “I smell the scent of Gan Eden, my king”. The lion roared and said “You lied to the king. Therefore your punishment is death!” and he devoured the donkey. Still not satisfied he saw the fox and presented him with the same question, what smell is coming from my mouth? The fox bowed before the king and said “I am so sorry my king. I have been sick and I have lost the sense of smell momentarily”.
Most times it is better to mind your own business and don’t even make a comment for you are only asking for trouble with whatever you say. Even fanning the flames of a machlokes indirectly is very costly. The Shevet Mussar brings that throughout the time period that the machlokes of Korach was transpiring, the manna from heaven did not fall. The Steipler Gaon ztl writes that there were 6 -7 million Yidden in the desert and this includes babies who were less than a month old. All these people did not have food and were starving during this period. The reason why they suffered was as the Shlah writes מחלוקת אחת דוחה מאה פרנסות one machlokes alone pushes away a hundred parnasos. Tehillim 147 14 השם גבולך שלום חלב חטים ישביעך If there is peace in your boundaries then the fat of the wheat will satisfy you. No matter how much parnassah one possesses, if there is machlokes it can disappear ch”v overnight.
The present crisis of Covid 19 has crippled the parnassah of tens of millions of people worldwide. Businesses are in lockdown and will shut their doors forever because of bankruptcies. One of the more noticeable characteristics of this virus is that many people lose their sense of smell. When we get nosey about minding other people’s matters and personal affairs we begin with the line of gossip with something smells foul or fishy over there. We are flaming a fire that’s not our business and whatever we will say will be wrong and damaging to ourselves and to others. Loss of paranassah and sense of smell in our present epidemic are reminding us to mind our own business. Lashan Harah and gossip destroy shalom. Hashem’s breathing of neshama into Adam’s nostrils restored shalom between heaven and earth. When one gets “nosey” of others’ lives, it always somehow leads to smelling something to you that seems fishy. After the initial smell, one becomes stirred to investigate and analyze further for he might find even juicier details to the unfolding story. After all, the nose knows, or at least this is what one thinks. By doing so, he is replacing שלום with the gematriah of עשו who is its antithesis. The angel of Esav is called סמאל the English equivalent of smell. By fanning the flames from a mere “smell” one is breaking the harmony and shalom between heaven and earth which was brought about by the neshama entering Man’s nostrils.
Don’t be the dog in the Chad Gadya which caused so many problems and tragedies for others by starting a domino effect that ran out of control just because it did not mind its own business. If you can’t help to solve the problem then leave it up to those who could and to the Abba in heaven דזבין אבא)) who is in charge of the universe to take care of it. The only input that one should do on account of his smell is to daven hard for peace and that Hashem should intervene to bring שלום על ישראל.