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Parashat Hayei Sarah


"Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to cry for her". Our sages said, "Where did he come from? - Har HaMoriah, indicating that Abraham came to Sarah's funeral straight from the binding of Isaac. They teach us here what Abraham said at Sarah's funeral, how he eulogized her and how he described her greatness, how he cried over the loss for which there was no replacement. "He came from Har HaMoriah". What was Sarah's greatness? That she raised a son like Isaac who was prepared to give his life for the sanctity of the Lord's name!

Abraham's coin had a picture of an elderly man and woman on one side, and on the other that of a young virgin man and woman. Rashi explains that the young couple were Isaac and Rivkah and the old people were Abraham and Sarah. That is the trademark of the Father of the nation - to educate a son that will be the "other side" of his way of life - the reflection of his worldview, his continuation for the future. Not that every generation coins its own values and negates those of its predecessors!

"These are the descendents of Abraham, Abraham gave birth to Isaac". "He was similar to his father, and all who saw him would testify that Abraham gave birth to him. Isaac's "business card" was: "I am the son of Abraham". I am the continuation of his tradition. I follow his ways.

We too should be proud of our fathers and act in such a way that they will be proud of us as well.

Article of the Week:

Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, searches for a woman worthy of marrying Isaac our father; she shall be one of the "mothers" that built the nation of Israel. He stands near the well and sees Rivkah with her pitcher on her shoulder, coming close to the well - and the water rises up towards her! The water rises towards her and fills her jug. This is a distinct sign, as it is not common in the daughters of Canaan, only in the holy and blessed seed like Abraham (Or Hahayim Hakadosh). Then he runs toward her and asks that she give him some water from her jug. If she says, "I will give you and also your camels" then she has succeeded in passing the test and will belong to the Jewish nation forever.

We pause, and wonder: After this amazing miracle that the water comes up to her why is there still need for a test of "Chesed"? Did Hashem not just testify about how righteous she is? The Torah is a book that teaches and guides us. We learn from this Parshah (Portion) that one should not be overawed by extraordinary events. They alone do not prove that the person who experienced them is perfect and a great Ssadik. It is possible that it was by chance that the water rose at that moment. It could be a result of sorcery, or possibly merit of forefathers.

In the Passover Haggadah it states: "Rabbi Elazar son of Azariah said: I am like a seventy year old (man)" etc. We know that Rabbi Eliezer was then only eighteen years old! He was a great learner and the Hachamim wished to appoint him president. His wife said to him, "How can you be President when your beard is completely black?" A miracle happened and his beard turned white, so he looked as if he were seventy. Therefore he said: I am "like" seventy years old. We need to understand why he mentioned this fact in the middle of a Halachic discussion about whether the story of the exodus from Egypt should be related at night. He wished to say this: see that Hashem agreed to my appointment as President so that I look the part. Therefore, you should accept my Halachic position. But the sages were not impressed. Miracles can be miracles but Halachah is Halachah. Rabbi Elazar won the argument only when Ben Zomah came and learned the Halachah from the Torah. That is when the Halachah was established like Rabbi Elazar son of Azariah. Miracles do not impress the Hachamim. When Rabbi Eliezer son of Horkanos tried to prove he was right by creating miracles - a carob tree was uprooted from its place, a water pipe flowed backward - Rabbi Joshua said: "A carob tree is not proof, and we don't bring proof from a water pipe", Halachah was decided against him!

We find a very frightening story in the Gemara. Shmuel, the great Amorah, stood on the bank of the river with his disciple Karna. Suddenly, without a wind or storm the water started rising and became waves. Shmuel lifted his eyes and saw a ship coming. He said to Karna: "On that ship there is a great man. He felt seasick and went up to the deck to vomit. The waves rose so as to safeguard his dignity, so that from the beach they won't see him vomit"! Shmuel, who was also a doctor, said to Karna: "When the ship docks, find that great man, see if he is knowledgeable in Torah, and bring him to me and I will cure him". Karna went and met Rav. He asked him a question in Halachah, and was impressed that he knew the answer. He then brought him to Shmuel who took care of him. It is not enough to establish whether a person is great if water looks after a person's dignity! We still have to see if he is great in Torah. Only then can we really consider him great!

We must remember this lesson and act accordingly. People are impressed by miracles whether true or false. They entrust their spiritual life to people based on this, without looking into the level of knowledge that they have in Torah and the quality of their personality. They think fancy garb, atmosphere and aura or even merits of fathers, are enough to conclude that here is a great man that the gates of the sky are open to him. Here is a Ssadik who decrees and Hashem fulfils.

It is not like that! In the Gemara it says "he who has a sick person in his house should go to a Hacham to ask mercy for him." It is the Hacham in Torah who has the key to blessings and miracle working. Hashem created the world according to the Torah and the Hacham in the Torah is the ruler of the world and the roots of creation. Even the greatest Kabbalists were well versed in the Holy Torah. There is no chapter in the Gemara where we do not find the name of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar. The holy Ari was one of the authors of the "Shitah Mekubesset". Our Rabbis, the Chida, the Ben Ish Chai, the Abir Yaacov - all of them. Hashem, the Jews and the Torah are all one. Only through toiling in Torah do we come close to the Creator, who is the source of everything good.

From the Wellsprings of the Parashah

"VeAvraham zaken ba bayamim vaHashem berach et Avraham bakol" - Abraham was old, advanced in days and Hashem blessed Abraham with everything.

1) In the Medrash: "Rabbi Meir said that he did not have a girl. This is difficult, what kind of blessing is it that a person does not have a girl? The first Mitzvah in the Torah of multiplying and filling the land requires having a girl and a boy! Ramban explains that when a girl marries, she is under her husband's influence. If Abraham had had a girl, he would have had to marry her to one of the local people, who were idol worshippers. The girl and her children would have left Abraham's ways and would have worshipped idols. So it is a blessing that he did not have a daughter. Children are a blessing to man only if they follow the way of the Torah.

2) Rashi explained that "bakol" is the same in Gematria as "ben". Abraham now had a son and he needed to marry him off. We need to understand: Why then does the Torah mention the fact that Abraham was old? Our Rabbi Yehudah Ssadka,zassal, said that the Ben Ish Chai, zassal, wrote (on the Haftarah of Parshat Masei), that our forefathers had to be able to have children only at an old age and through miracles, so that the memory of the house of Terah, Abraham's fathe,r would be forgotten before he had offspring. Only then did Abraham have a child. That way Yitzchak had a connection only with Abraham, as it says, "Abraham birthed Isaac". When Abraham thought about this, he understood how great the genetic pool impacts the nature of the descendants that he call in Eliezer and told him to go bring Isaac a wife from Haran and not to take a wife for his son from the daughters of Canaan, who had bad ways. This explains why Abraham had this thought specifically when he had a child in his old age.

3) Our Gaon the Hidah, zassal, brought the words of the Medrash that every place that it says "VaHashem" it means Hashem and his court. Hashem is the measure of mercy, and his court represents the measure of Justice. Further, the Medrash says that Abraham was blessed with "everything" because he gave a tenth of his income to Ssedaka, as it says: "and he gave him a tenth of everything" regarding Malchissedek, King of Shalem. This was a tenth of his income to Ssedaka. This is the reason that the measure of Justice also agreed that Abraham should be blessed with everything, as it says in the passage: "He who chases after charity and benevolence shall find life, justice, and honor".

The Golden Era:

The great and holy Gaon Rabbi Yosef Knafo - one of the great people in the city of Mogador in Morocco one hundred and ten years ago - devoted his life to the Jewish people, to writing books of direction and advice, Mussar and sermons, laws and Halachah. He published seven books in his lifetime and many scores of others are still manuscripts. These are now being published through the efforts of his distinguished family that is interested in preserving his heritage. His Hillulah is on the 28th of Heshvan.

In the year 5624 the renowned Moses Montefiore visited Morocco to try to help the local Jewish community. He met with Rabbi Knafo, who gave him one of his books as a present, written in his own handwriting. When Montefiore returned to France, he sent the Rabbi a thank you note together with two gold coins!

That day Rabbi Yosef was leaving the Bet Medrash. He met a Jew who asked for a contribution in order to marry off his daughter. Rabbi Yosef put his hand in his pocket and gave him two coins. He came home and told his wife that from now they are wealthy because he has in his possession two gold coins. Jovially, he put his hand in his pocket and gave her two coins. She looked at them and saw that they were merely regular copper coins! It turned out that by mistake he had given them to the Jew who had asked for his help! He was happy and said: "Let that Jew be blessed". His wife said, "That was a mistake - your life comes first! We do not have enough to sustain ourselves and you gave those gold coins to Ssdakah! You must go to that man and demand your money back!" He said to her, "You are right. Let us go together." She went with him, and they heard from a distance the sound of the singing and merriment of the wedding. He said to her: "Do you hear the great Mitzvah that Hashem gave us?"


According to the rulings of the Light of Israel the Rishon Letzion Harav Obadiah Yosef, shlita

Harav Hagaon Harav David Yosef

1] If someone hears holy things after finishing reciting the eighteen benedictions, but before saying "yihyu lerasson", he may not answer, since the "Yihyu lerasson" is part of the prayer. However, if he already finished saying "Yihyu lerasson", he should shorten "Elokai nessor", take three steps backward, and answer the holy utterings. If he did not do so he still may answer whatever he may answer when he is in the middle of the benedictions of "Kriat Shma" This means that before taking the three steps, he may answer the first five Amens in the Kaddish, until "Daamiran bealma veimru amen", but the rest of the Amens - the one after "titkabal", the one after "al Yisrael", and the one after "oseh shalom", he may not answer. Also, when he says "yehe shmei rabbah" until "yitbarach", he should not proceed to recite until "daamiran bealma" when he is in the middle of "Elokai nessor".

When he hears "Kedushah" in the middle of "Elokai nessor", he shall answer the passages: "Kadosh", and "Baruch" but not "Yimloch". This rule applies to the Kedushah of "Keter" as well. When he hears "Barchu" in the middle of "Elokai nessor", he should answer with the congregation. When he hears "Modim Derabanan" he should say the three words "Modim anachnu lach". He should not say the "Amen" that follows other blessings; accept the one that follows the blessing of the Cohanim (priests). He also answers the Amen of someone who is going up to the Torah.

According to the practice of the Ashkenazim, he may also answer "amen" that follows "Hakel Hakadosh" and "Shomeah tefillah" of the repetition of the "Shaliach Ssibur".

He may not answer "Baruch hu uvaruch shemo" in the middle of "Elokai nessor".

Similarly, he may not say "Brich Shmei" or "Vezot Hatorah" with the congregation.

If he heard the congregation saying the thirteen attributes that appear in the passage "Vayavor Hashem al panav Vayikra", he may not answer with them. He also may not answer to the "Kedushah" of "Yotzer" or of "Uva lession".

If he was called to the Torah in the middle of "Elokai nessor", the practice of the Sephardim is that he may not go up even if he was called by name, even if he is a Cohen and the only Cohen present. The Ashkenazim are lenient in this and allow him to go up if they called him by name and he even may read along silently with the reader.

2) If he remembered in the middle of "Elokai nessor" that he did not say "veten tal umatar livracha" that obligates him to return to "Birkat Hashanim", or he forgot "yaale veyavo" on Rosh Hodesh, in Shacharit or Minhah, or forgot on Chol Hamoed yaale veyavo", in all prayers, that he should go back to "Resseh", and in the meantime he heard from the Chazzan that he is saying "Kaddish" or "Kedusha", he should not stop in the middle of "Elokai nessor" to answer, as then he is declaring that he finished his prayer and he needs to go back to the beginning of the "Amidah"; therefore, he should be silent, and hear the "Kaddish" or "Kedushah" and then return to "Birkat Hashanim" or Resseh in order to say "Yaaleh veyavo".

Kashrut Kahalachah:
Separating Terumot and Maasrot when a non Jew owns the fruit:

It is well known that separating tithes in shops and factories which do not have good kashrut supervision is highly problematic. Here is another topic we need to know in order to stay away from pitfalls.

Sometimes the owner of the factory is a non-Jew who buys the produce of Jewish kibbutzim. Often, the produce arrives in the plant after the process was finished and it is already required to separate the tithes, for example, in factories which prepare and package roasted nuts and seeds for snacks. We know that legumes arrive at the preserving plant when they are packed in sacks but that the rocks and dirt have not been sifted from them. That is done in the plant. The Mishna (Tractate Maasrot) states that the "Kitnit" is obligated in tithes from the time that you do the cleaning of the dirt. In that case he does not have to separate the tithes from the produce, since a non-Jew processed it. However, some plants cannot sift the legumes, and they buy them pre-cleaned by the Jew. In that case, when the Jewish farmer cleans them and puts them in the sack to be sent to the factory, it becomes an obligation to separate tithes! As the Mishnah in Maasrot states: produce that is not bound in bundles is obligated for tithes from the time you "fill a vessel" with it - and a sack is a vessel. Now, most plants that process nuts and seeds are not set up for sifting and cleaning them and they buy the produce pre-cleaned. Therefore, even when packaged and marketed by a non-Jew, since the produce was previously cleaned and packaged in sacks by a Jew, it is required to separate tithes from it.

Nevertheless, if the Jew hired non-Jewish workers to pick the nuts or seeds and clean and pack them, the fruit has only a rabbinic requirement to separate tithes and not a Torah one. Indeed, sometimes the non-Jewish owner of the factory buys the produce in advance before it was grown. In that case there is no obligation at all to separate tithes. This is, though, a minority of cases.

When the Kashrut Supervisor comes to separate the tithes from this produce he runs into great difficulty, as will be explained next week. We will also explain the solution that has been found for the difficulty.

Gamliel Ben Nizha and Yosef Ben Hanom

Produced by Cong. Bnai Yosef and the Aram Soba Foundation - translated from Ma'ayan Hashavua in Israel

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