Lech lecha 5775
October 30, 2014
Bereishis 15:1. After the war with the four kings, Hashem told Avrohom “al tiroh, anochi magen lecha, s’charcha harbei me’od.” Do not fear, I am your Shield, your reward is VERY GREAT.
Rashi— have no fear, because the miracle that happened in beating the four kings did not diminish your merits.
The Netziv raises a question here and in the footnote: why did Yaakov later have the same concern when he was miraculously saved, if he knew that Hashem had told Avrahom not to worry about diminished reward after a saving. More fundamentally, he asks why was Yaakov’s reward indeed diminished, while Avraham’s reward was not diminished?
(On the topic of diminishing ones merits see Taanis 20b and 26b and Menachos 69)
The Netziv answers that Avraham was not faced with imminent danger, and the miracle was that Hashem kept him from ever coming to that point. But Yaakov did face Lavan, and he was in danger, and a miracle in that situation diminishes one’s merits.
Another possible answer is that Yaakov was trying to save himself, and his protection through a miracle would reduce his merits. Avraham, on the other hand, put himself into danger to save his nephew. This was an act of chessed, and therefore was no diminution of his merits.
Perhaps this is why it says ‘secharcha harbei me’od’. Not only was there no diminution , but he also received reward for being willing to endanger himself to save another person.
Similarly, the Pardes Yosef (p19) explains the Gemara in Taanis, that if the miracle and its aftermath occur in pursuit of mitzvah then there is no din of menakin, because you are not personally benefitting from the miracle, and menakin occurs only when you benefit from the miracle. This coincides with my explanation : Avraham was saved b’derech neis while he was involved in a mitzvoh of saving of his nephew. . But in the case of Yaakov, the miracle occurred to protect Yaakov from a personal danger, and there was no mitzvoh element involved, so there would be a diminution.