Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40:27-41:16
OCTOBER 11-12, 2013 8 HESHVAN 5774
"I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing." (Beresheet 12:2)
In this week's perashah, Hashem says to Abraham Abinu, "I will make your name great," and then adds "v'heye berachah." Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch zt"l writes that these words are a directive to all of us to "become a blessing, bring happiness and inspiration to mankind."
Rabbi Pesach Krohn says, you might ask "But how can I be a berachah?" Well, many surely remember the ill-fated flight of US Air 1549, which left Laguardia Airport on a freezing afternoon in January 2009. Within a minute of takeoff, Captain Chesely Sullenberger realized that he had no power because a flock of birds had been sucked into the engines. He would have to crash land his plane someplace. He could land on the streets of New York, where those on board, in addition to people on the ground, would no doubt be killed - or he could try to set his plane down in the Hudson River.
Incredibly, and with great skill (and of course, with help from Hashem), he landed the plane perfectly on the Hudson and everyone on board survived. A year later, he visited the site, where he was asked, "Where did you get the inner strength to accomplish that remarkable feat?"
What he replied is illuminating. He said that his father had died when he was in his early teens, and that the anguish, fear and loneliness he had experienced were excruciating. "As I was flying over the Hudson, all I could think of was that if I don't land the plane perfectly, relatives of those who perish will feel the terrible pain that I felt, and I wanted to avoid that."
That's how he became a berachah to others, and that's what you can do to emulate the directive given to Abraham Abinu - "become a blessing." Look into your life. Have you gone through a financial crisis, a difficult marriage, a divorce, a severe problem with a child, a health issue? If you have made it through any of these crises, reach out to someone who is going through the same thing. Reassure the person, tell him or her that there is hope. Discuss, listen and advise. Become a berachah! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And there was quarreling between the herdsman of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock…Abram said to Lot, 'Please let there be no strife…" (Beresheet 13:7-8)
When Abraham and Lot accumulated a lot of sheep, the land wasn't able to provide enough pasture and their shepherds began to argue. The word for argument is ch¦r, but when Abraham tells his nephew that they should part ways, he says, "Let there not be a v?ch¦r§n, a fight between us." There are a few lessons to learn from this passage.
First of all, an argument between two people could start out small (like a ch¦r) and end up in a fight (like v?ch¦r§n), unless steps are taken to stop it in its tracks. How often do we see a small issue between people turn into a major affair!
Secondly, Abraham says at the end of the verse, "Ub§j?²b£t oh¦j©t oh¦J²b£t›h?ˆF, For we are like brothers (we are family)." At first glance, it seems Abraham is saying, "Let's not fight since we are family." But maybe we can say Abraham was saying, "Since we are family it will be easier for the fight to develop, therefore, let us stop it now." That is - precisely when people are closer is the risk greater that something small becomes a big thing. Let us try to remember to keep relationships healthy and peaceful. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"Fear not Abram, I am a shield for you; your reward is very great." (Beresheet 15:1)
Hashem promises those who fulfill His misvot that they will be rewarded commensurate with their good deeds. We understand, of course, the rule of schar b'hai alma leka, "reward does not apply to This World." The ultimate reward that one will receive will materialize in the World of Truth, Olam Haba. The Ben Ish Hai questions this rule. We are all aware of the Torah's injunction that a Jewish worker be paid on the day that he completes his work. B'yomo titen secharo, if one is hired for day work, he must be reimbursed for his work at the end of the day - not the next day - but that day. One's wages may not be delayed - not even overnight. Why then does Hashem not reimburse us immediately for our misvah observance?
The Ben Ish Hai explains that the answer is concealed within a halachah in Hoshen Mishpat. One who hires workers through an agent does not have to pay them at the end of the day. The misvah of b'yomo titen s'charo is in effect only if the worker is hired by the owner. A shaliach, agent, does not carry such weight. Therefore, since Klal Yisrael accepted the Torah through the agency of Moshe Rabenu, the prohibition against delaying a Jewish worker's payment does not apply. An added caveat involves the first two misvot of the Aseret HaDibrot, Ten Commandments, which Klal Yisrael heard directly from Hashem. Concerning these two misvot, the sachar, reward, is immediate. These misvot are: Anochi - referring to emunah, belief/faith in the Almighty; and Lo yiheyeh lecha, idolatry. Thus, one who believes in Hashem and shuns any form of foreign belief is worthy of receiving his reward in Olam Hazeh, This World. This, claims the Ben Ish Hai, is alluded to by the pasuk, Al tirah Abram, "Do not fear, Abram." Hashem assured Abraham that he need not worry concerning his descendants' reward, because Anochi magen lach, "The Anochi" will serve as a shield to protect you. This refers to the Anochi of Anochi Hashem, the misvah of emunah. A Jew who is faithful, who believes in Hashem with all his heart, will merit great reward - in This World. (Peninim on the Torah)
Which yardstick should be used to measure happiness is an age-old question that has puzzled Sages and philosophers for millennia. Ben Zoma says, "Who is wealthy? The one who is satisfied with his lot" (Pirkei Abot 4:1). He was certainly referring to the fact that if people are happy with what they have, then they are far richer than others who might have a much higher net worth, yet always seek more of what they see others possess.
In the realm of the spiritual, however, the dictum of Ben Zoma - being satisfied with your status - works against the person. When you are satisfied even with a bad situation, then you do nothing to change for the better.
It was probably someone who was terribly unhappy with waiting on line at the bank who invented the automatic teller machine. And I can't prove it, but I can guess that someone who got pushed and shoved once too often trying to get into a building, and was consequently delayed, invented the revolving door to facilitate traffic flow in busy entranceways.
In the world of business and in the realm of self-improvement, dissatisfaction can make a person wealthy. The trick is in resolving to face the problem and find a better way to deal with the annoying situation - a way that will yield improvement.
When you are in a rut - when something that frequently bothers you strikes again - don't accept it! Find a way to do what has to be done in a more efficient or more satisfying manner. It doesn't take much time to become dissatisfied, but the dissatisfaction - when combined with creativity - will lead to innovation and success. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
Mrs. Sarah Cohen and her husband were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new baby. Since Sarah had complications with the birth of her first two children, her doctor implied that she would likely not be able to deliver naturally. The Cohens decided to consult with Dr. Mark Faber, who had a reputation for delivering babies naturally whenever possible. Dr. Faber impressed the Cohen with his knowledge and expertise, and Sarah thus became his patient, despite the fact that the hospital in which he practiced was much further from their Brooklyn home.
On the first night of Shabuot, Sarah informed her husband that she was going to have the baby. The Cohens and Dr. Faber, who was also an observant Jew, arrived at the hospital at the same time. The Cohens were overjoyed when their baby girl was delivered naturally by Dr. Faber.
On Thursday evening, right after Shabuot ended, Dr. Faber decided to go to the hospital to check on his patients even though other doctors were covering his rounds. He especially wanted to see Mrs. Cohen, assess her condition, and tell her whether she would be discharged before Shabbat. He knew Mrs. Cohen would be more relaxed and comfortable if he personally evaluated her situation. Indeed, Mrs. Cohen was delighted when she saw Dr. Faber and heard that she would be discharged the next morning.
Right after Dr. Faber walked out of her room, he suddenly realized he was not feeling well. He found a chair at the nurses' station and sat down to catch his breath, but he still did not feel better. As a doctor, he sensed his life was in danger, yet he was suddenly too weak to even call for help. Even if he could have, to his utter disbelief, there was neither a doctor nor a nurse in sight at that moment. With his last ounce of strength, Dr. Faber walked to the elevator, got in, and pushed the button for the lowest floor where the emergency room was located. As the elevator door opened, he took one step into the emergency room and collapsed on the floor. Dr. Faber suffered a massive heart attack.
Fortunately, a team of excellent night-shift doctors and the state of the art equipment in the ER saved his life. Because of the quick response and expert care that he received, Dr. Faber made a full recovery with minimal heart damage. It was obvious to him that he was still alive only because hashgacha peratit brought him to extend himself for Mrs. Cohen. Had he decided to stay home and not check on her, he would not have survived. (The Weekly Vort)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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