More than the Calf Wants to Suck the Cow Wants to Suckle: The Pleasure from Him Accepting a Gift

by tillerofthesoil

“Our Rabbis have taught: Always let the left hand push away and the right hand draw near” (BT Sotah 47a).

And he raised his eyes and saw, and, look, three men were standing before him. He saw, and he ran toward them from the tent flap and bowed to the ground. And he said, “אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)My lords, if I have found favor in your eyes, please do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be fetched and bathe your feet and stretch out under the tree, and let me fetch a morsel of bread, and refresh yourselves. Then you may go on, for have you not come by your servant?” (Genesis 18:2–5).

“Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: Hospitality to wayfarers is greater than welcoming the Shekhinah, for it is written, And he said, אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), My Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes, please do not go on past‘ [Abraham thus left the Divine Presence, as it were, to attend to the wants of the three wayfarers, cf. BT Shevu’ot 35a]” (BT Shabbat 127a).

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What is: And so, when Moses would raise his hand, Israel prevailed, and when he would put down his hand, Amalek prevailed (Exodus 17:11)? This is to teach that the world exists because of lifting of the hands in prayer, in the priest’s benediction. Why? Because of that power which was given to our father Jacob, whose name is Israel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were given powers, one to each of them, according to his character. Abraham renders kindness בָּעוֹלָם (ba-olam), forever, for he used to invite everyone in the עוֹלָם (olam), world, and all the wayfarers, provide them with food and run to welcome them, as is written, and he ran toward them (Genesis 18:2), and it is written: and bowed to the ground (ibid.). This was a perfect act of kindness [cf. BT Shevu’ot 35a; Shabbat 127a], and the blessed Holy One bestowed upon him according to his measure and gave him the quality of חֶסֶד (ḥesed), kindness, as is written, You give truth to Jacob, and kindness to Abraham, which you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old (Micah 7:20).

What is from the days of old? This is to teach that if Abraham had not performed acts of kindness and been worthy of the quality of חֶסֶד (ḥesed), Kindness, Jacob would not have been worthy of the quality of אֱמֶת (emet), Truth, for it is because Abraham was worthy of the quality of Kindness that Isaac was worthy of the quality of פַּחַד (paḥad), Terror, as is written, And Jacob swore בְּפַחַד (be-faḥad), by the Terror, of his father Isaac (Genesis 31:53) [cf. BT Shabbat 89b]. Is there a man who would swear in this way, by trust in the Terror of his father? But Jacob had not yet received his own power, so he swore by the power which was given to his father, as is said: And Jacob swore by the Terror of his father Isaac.

And what is it? תֹּהוּ (Tohu), chaos, from which the evil emanates that מְתָּהָה (metahah), confounds, sons of man. And what is it? It is that of which is written: And YHVH’s fire came down and consumed the offering and the wood and the dirt, and the water that was in the trench it licked up (I Kings 18:38). It is also written: For YHVH your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24). And what is Ḥesed? It is Torah, as is written, Woe, everyone that thirsts, come to the waters, and he that has no silver (Isaiah 55:1). And to him who does not have silver, it is silver, as is written, come, buy, and eat; come, buy wine and milk without silver and without price (ibid.). He will feed you and teach you Torah for you already have become worthy of it because of the merit of Abraham who used to perform acts of kindness. Without silver—he would feed others; without price—he would give them wine and milk.

What are wine and milk? And what is the connection between them? To teach that wine is paḥad, Terror; milk is Ḥesed, kindness. Why did he mention wine first? Because it is nearer to us. Do you actually think they are wine and milk? But it is the image, likeness, idea, of wine and milk(Bahir §135–§136).

“More than the calf wants to suck the cow wants to suckle” (BT Pesaḥim 112a).

“[What is the ruling in the case of a woman who says to a man] ‘Here are one hundred dinars and I will become betrothed to you?’ Mar Zutra ruled in Rav Papa’s name: She is betrothed…. Here the reference is [only] to an important man: in return for the pleasure from him accepting a gift from her she completely cedes herself [though normally the man must give the money, see BT Qiddushin 5b, yet if he is eminent his acceptance confers pleasure, which in turn is considered of financial value]” (BT Qiddushin 7a).

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