Sunday, December 07, 2008

Tarry Not

In Tanakh, when someone commands you to stay behind, you should not. It is invariably a test, and those who persist will be rewarded.

We see this in the case of Elisha. Elijah asks him to "tarry here" three times, and Elisha always replies in the same way, "As the lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee."

Here is one example:
    ו וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אֵלִיָּהוּ שֵׁב-נָא פֹה, כִּי יְהוָה שְׁלָחַנִי הַיַּרְדֵּנָה, וַיֹּאמֶר, חַי-יְהוָה וְחֵי-נַפְשְׁךָ אִם-אֶעֶזְבֶךָּ; וַיֵּלְכוּ, שְׁנֵיהֶם.

    6 And Elijah said unto him: 'Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to the Jordan.' And he said: 'As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.' And they two went on.

    ~Kings II 2: 6
Of course, Elisha is rewarded in that he receives the double portion of Elijah's gift (after watching his translation into heaven.)

Something similar occurs with Ruth and Naomi, where Naomi very eloquently attempts to tell Orpah and Ruth to remain at home, and while Orpah returns, Ruth states that:
    טז וַתֹּאמֶר רוּת אַל-תִּפְגְּעִי-בִי, לְעָזְבֵךְ לָשׁוּב מֵאַחֲרָיִךְ: כִּי אֶל-אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכִי אֵלֵךְ, וּבַאֲשֶׁר תָּלִינִי אָלִין--עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי, וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי.

    16 And Ruth said: 'Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God;

    יז בַּאֲשֶׁר תָּמוּתִי אָמוּת, וְשָׁם אֶקָּבֵר; כֹּה יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה לִי, וְכֹה יוֹסִיף--כִּי הַמָּוֶת, יַפְרִיד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ.

    17 where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the LORD do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.'

    ~Ruth 1: 16-17
In contrast, when man does tarry, he either finds himself in trouble or misses an opportunity to witness something spectacular.
    ה וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֶל-נְעָרָיו, שְׁבוּ-לָכֶם פֹּה עִם-הַחֲמוֹר, וַאֲנִי וְהַנַּעַר, נֵלְכָה עַד-כֹּה; וְנִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה, וְנָשׁוּבָה אֲלֵיכֶם.

    5 And Abraham said unto his young men: 'Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship, and come back to you.'

    ~Genesis 22:5
The clear implication is that the young men should have argued with Abraham and insisted on accompanying him, or alternatively on worshipping with him; if so, they would have seen the miracle of the ram appearing to replace Isaac.

Similarly, when it comes to the situation of the pilegesh b'Givah, staying behind is what gets the man and his concubine into the subsequent debacle. Although, of course, he does not tarry there that particular evening, it is the fact that he tarried there the nights before that prevents him from leaving when he should have, and making it all the way home in time.
    ח וַיַּשְׁכֵּם בַּבֹּקֶר בַּיּוֹם הַחֲמִישִׁי, לָלֶכֶת, וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִי הַנַּעֲרָה סְעָד-נָא לְבָבְךָ, וְהִתְמַהְמְהוּ עַד-נְטוֹת הַיּוֹם; וַיֹּאכְלוּ, שְׁנֵיהֶם.

    8 And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; and the damsel's father said: 'Stay thy heart, I pray thee, and tarry ye until the day declineth'; and they did eat, both of them.
    ט וַיָּקָם הָאִישׁ לָלֶכֶת, הוּא וּפִילַגְשׁוֹ וְנַעֲרוֹ; וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ חֹתְנוֹ אֲבִי הַנַּעֲרָה הִנֵּה נָא רָפָה הַיּוֹם לַעֲרוֹב, לִינוּ-נָא הִנֵּה חֲנוֹת הַיּוֹם לִין פֹּה וְיִיטַב לְבָבֶךָ, וְהִשְׁכַּמְתֶּם מָחָר לְדַרְכְּכֶם, וְהָלַכְתָּ לְאֹהָלֶךָ.

    9 And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father-in-law, the damsel's father, said unto him: 'Behold, now the day draweth toward evening; tarry, I pray you, all night; behold, the day groweth to an end; lodge here, that thy heart may be merry; and to-morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.'

    ~Judges 19: 8-9
And then there is one key example of a man who was asked to stay behind but refused to do so; this is the case of Eliezer, servant of Abraham.
    נה וַיֹּאמֶר אָחִיהָ וְאִמָּהּ, תֵּשֵׁב הַנַּעֲרָ אִתָּנוּ יָמִים אוֹ עָשׂוֹר; אַחַר, תֵּלֵךְ.

    55 And her brother and her mother said: 'Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.'

    נו וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם אַל-תְּאַחֲרוּ אֹתִי, וַיהוָה הִצְלִיחַ דַּרְכִּי; שַׁלְּחוּנִי, וְאֵלְכָה לַאדֹנִי.

    56 And he said unto them: 'Delay me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.'

    ~Genesis 24: 55-56
From here we see that almost every time one suggests that one tarry or stay behind, one ought to press onward as opposed to consenting. One should not stay in a place longer than is required or necessary, and one should not stay in a place unless they have already requested to follow the person who is commanding them to remain, and have truly failed. This seems to be a rule in the Torah: the one who tries will prevail; the one who is silent will lose out.

I'm sure this appears in the Motif Index somewhere, but I do not know the number of the classification.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Lot's wife as well?

Anonymous said...

How do you explain Moshe by nikrat hatzur?
Joel Rich

MYG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MYG said...

But see also Berachos 64a, Kol Hadochek Es Ha'sha'ah, etc.

SemGirl said...

Thats obvious from the Gammarra about Job. He was one of the three advisors. Yisro strongly defended Moshe and was greatly rewarded. Iyov was silent, and thus punished with tremendous yissurim..

G said...

The clear implication is that the young men should have argued with Abraham and insisted on accompanying him, or alternatively on worshipping with him; if so, they would have seen the miracle of the ram appearing to replace Isaac.

WHOA! "clear implication"?

Anonymous said...

three ( :-) ) thumbs up!

see also Sanhedrin 95a about sancheriv "Od Hayom Bigivon", had he not waited an extra day. . . Ch"V.