October 31, 1998 11 Heshvan 5758
HIS AND HERS by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And [Abraham] pitched his tent near Bet-El" (Beresheet 12:8)
It is a fundamental belief that all of the deeds of the forefathers are recorded in the Torah as lessons for us. The word "aholo - his tent" - has an unusual spelling. Since the word can be read "aholah- her tent" - the Midrash derives that Abraham always honored his wife by pitching her tent before his own. From here we see the great honor Abraham showed his wife. All Jewish husbands should take this behavior of Abraham Abinu and practice it daily.
There is another lesson here: Why two tents? The reason is that Abraham would teach and inspire the men in his tent and Sarah would teach the women in her tent. Each one had a separate tent for their work in order not to mix together. However, Abraham always pitched her tent first, the place where the women were brought closer to Hashem, because the inspiration of the women was more important than that of the men. The woman is the mainstay of the home and her job is to educate the next generation.
This is an all-important lesson for us, to place a high priority on the education of the women. They are the cornerstones of the future. The root of this idea goes back to the founding of our nation, by Abraham and Sarah, our founding parents. Shabbat Shalom.
YOU COULD BE A STAR by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"[Hashem told Abraham] 'So shall your offspring be'...And He trusted in Hashem" (Beresheet 15:5,6)
When Abraham questioned G-d whether he would have children, Hashem told Abraham to go outside and see the stars. Hashem said to him, so shall your children be, and Abraham believed in Hashem and was rewarded for it.
The simple meaning is that Abraham's children will be as numerous as the stars. However, if we connect the next verse, that Abraham had faith, with the previous one, we can understand it in a new light. Hashem told Abraham that his children will be like him and they will also have faith! Even though all the laws of nature may point otherwise, Abraham had faith that he would not be childless. This faith he gave to his children. The Jewish people have always survived against unbelievable odds and always had faith in Hashem that He could do anything for us, even against the laws of nature. As we look back in our own lives, we will remember all that Hashem did for us which defied all odds and this will strengthen our trust in Hashem even more! Shabbat Shalom.
DUST OF THE EARTH
"And I will make your children as the dust of the earth" (Beresheet 13:16)
How are the Jewish people like the dust of the earth?
Everyone walks upon the dust of the earth, and similarly, many nations "step upon" the Jewish people. The dust, however, outlasts the people who trod on it and the Jewish people too will prevail over their oppressors.
Alternatively, Hashem refers to the Jewish people as his "eress hefess" - desirable land. The Ba'al Shem Tob explains the analogy in the following way: When one digs in the earth he can find the most valuable treasures, such as silver, gold, diamonds, etc. Similarly, in every Jew, even the estranged, there are concealed riches. It is necessary to delve and search within them and help to bring their "treasures" to the surface.
A Rabbi, who intensely fought the missionaries in his town, was visited by the bishop and asked, "Rabbi, why do you oppose us so strongly?" The Rabbi replied, "When you convert someone to your religion you sprinkle him with your 'ritual water.' Jews are compared to the dust of the earth. When one mixes water with earth, mud results. I cannot sit by and see someone try to make mud of my people." (Vedibarta Bam)
[After Abraham's victory over the four kings, the king of Sedom was so grateful to Abraham that he offered him much wealth. Abraham refused to take anything for himself but said:] "Except that which the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshkol and Mamre, let them take their share" (Beresheet 14:24)
The Hafess Hayim noted that Abraham was meticulously careful not to take anything for himself. He did not want to derive any benefit from the king of Sedom, not even a string or shoelace. But he allowed the men who went with him to take their share. This teaches us that each person has a right to be stringent when it comes to himself. But it is not proper to force others to be more stringent than is actually obligatory.
It is easy to tell others not to do things. But it is important to differentiate between an obligation and that which is beyond the dictates of the law. The more elevated one acts, the more praiseworthy. But do not place excessively heavy burdens on others. The Hafess Hayim was a completely spiritual person who symbolized the essence of a sadik. Yet he was the one who taught the above message. (Growth through Torah)
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