OCTOBER 31 – NOVEMBER 1, 2014 8 HESHVAN 5775
“And you shall go to your father’s house in peace.” (Beresheet 15:15)
Rashi asks: Abraham Abinu’s father, Terah, was an idolator. If so, why did Hashem promise Abraham that he would join his father after he dies? The answer is that Terah repented before his death, and was considered so righteous that Abraham would join him after his death.
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin zt”l observed: How wonderful are the ways in which people influence others. Abraham, the great influencer of so many people, was able to draw countless souls under the wings of the Shechinah and to persuade them to abandon their pagan beliefs. However he was unsuccessful in all his days in exerting any positive influence over his own father, who clung so closely to his idolatrous ways that he was willing to cast his son, Abraham, into a fiery furnace for the sake of his beliefs. It was only after Abraham distanced himself from his father that Terah, due to his paternal longing, realized the validity of his son’s teachings and repented sincerely.
The Torah LaDa’at says that the lesson here is obvious. Even if one seems unsuccessful in positively influencing someone else, he should not despair. One can never be certain that his efforts will not bear fruit in a future time and in a different place. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
“And Abraham went on his sojourns” (Beresheet 13:3)
After Abraham went down to Egypt because of the famine, he came back to the land of Canaan. Rashi says that he stopped off at all the old lodging places in order to pay up his debts. While the simple meaning may be that Abraham had to borrow during the famine and now he could clear up those loans, there is a deeper meaning.
When people saw Abraham leaving Canaan because of the famine, they questioned him, “What happened to Hashem’s promise to take care of you during your journey?” The faith in Hashem was weakened due to Abraham’s struggling during these years. After Abraham was made wealthy in Pharaoh’s palace, Abraham went back to the same people to show them, “Here is the fulfillment of Hashem’s promise!” It sometimes takes time to see the Hand of G-d, and Abraham showed people that Hashem will not neglect anyone. That is the “repayment of the debts” that is meant in this chapter. We should all take note of when things are not going the way they should, so that when they are straightened out, we should realize how Hashem works it out for us. Don’t forget to “pay up those debts!” Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
When we come to this world we begin a lifelong learning process. Even the accomplished Rabbi is referred to as a “talmid hacham – a student” who is wise. Yes, we are given a package of talents and shortcomings to work with, but nothing is written in stone. Everyone has the opportunity to develop good traits or to squander Hashem-given talents.
The bottom line is that everyone can learn to be better. Generosity, for example, is not something that you are born with; it can be learned. Rambam says that if you have fifty dollars to give as charity, you should give one dollar fifty times rather than fifty dollars in one donation. Why? In order to “train” your hands to give. Every time you reach into your pocket, every time you write another check, you are building up your stamina (as a marathoner does every time he runs). Each act of giving makes the next one easier.
When the next situation presents itself, don’t blow a golden opportunity. Give. Give money or give of yourself. Your generous act will be another step in your training program, which will buy victory in your race to the Next World – Olam Haba. (One Minute With Yourself – Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
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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