November 7, 1998 18 Heshvan 5758
STAND BY ME by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"For [Hagar] said, 'Let me not see the death of the child'" (Beresheet 21:16)
Hagar moved away from her son, Yishmael, when he was dying of thirst because, as she said, "I can't bear to see him in this state." One of the commentators points out that although this may be acceptable for Hagar, it is not an attribute for a Jewish mother. Even when things are as difficult to cope with as someone in extreme thirst, a mother stays by her child to see what can be done.
We must apply this to most of life's situations, not only the dangerous ones. It may be more pleasant for a parent not to know when a child is doing something wrong, rather than confront the child and face the problem. This is not the way of life for a Jewish parent. One must be involved in his child's upbringing, and if anything needs correcting, one must face the situation directly. It may be unpleasant but it is the only way that will yield positive results in our children. Shabbat Shalom.
NO LAUGHING MATTER by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And Sarah laughed to herself...and Hashem said to Abraham, 'Why is it that Sarah laughed?'" (Beresheet 18:12-13)
In our perashah Sarah hears the amazing news from the mouth of the angels that visited Abraham that she would finally have a son. It was so far fetched that she chuckled to herself as if saying, "Could it really be?" This showed to a minute degree a lack of faith. Hashem goes and complains to Abraham about Sarah's laughter. Why did Hashem question Abraham? Why did Hashem not speak directly to Sarah?
Rav Yisrael Salanter z"l, as quoted by Peninim, explains with an analogy. If one would enter the kitchen in someone's home and find that the maid or cook would be lax regarding the laws of kashrut, he would conclude that the master of the house is not overly careful about kashrut. If the man was not so careful, the wife would probably be even more lenient. Therefore, it would be no surprise if the maid were lax. If the master would be very meticulous, there wouldn't be the negative effect on the maid. When Sarah laughed, Hashem placed the onus of guilt upon Abraham. Apparently at one time Abraham must have been slightly permissive regarding prophecy, which led to Sarah being a little skeptical when hearing the prophecy about her bearing a child.
We have a responsibility to be aware of every action we do. It has a ripple effect upon others. People tend to render personal halachic decisions based on the behavior of their leaders, their peers and those more learned than they are. We must be careful in all of our deeds. Not only must they be correct, but they also must have the proper effect on others. Shabbat Shalom.
BE MY GUEST
"And behold; three men were standing over him" (Beresheet 18:2)
The three men mentioned in this pasuk were actually angels sent by Hashem. After their meeting with Abraham, two of them went to Lot. The pasuk there says, "The two angels came to Sedom in the evening...Lot saw them and got up to greet them" (19:1).
Why in reference to Abraham does the Torah refer to them as "anashim - ordinary men," while in reference to Lot it refers to them as "angels"?
Abraham was a sadik and very great in the misvah of hachnasat orhim - hospitality. To him it made absolutely no difference who a guest was. Even if the guest was just an ordinary person, Abraham would take him into his home, treat him with the greatest respect and give him the best of everything.
Lot was different. When a prominent person would come to town, Lot would take him into his home because it was an honor for him to have them visiting. If a simple person would come to town and Lot would stand nothing to gain by taking him in, Lot would not bother with him at all. Therefore, when Lot saw that the visitors were angels and that it would add to his prestige to have such guests, he invited them to his house.
A story is told that once a great sadik who did not want to reveal his identity came to a city dressed unimpressively. When he asked for the opportunity to stay at the home of the head of the community, the person refused because he only catered to prominent guests and not ordinary folk.
Years later, when the sadik revealed his identity, again he came to the city and this time he rode in a chariot which was led by six horses. The entire town went out to meet the sadik and the head of the community told the Rabbi's secretary that he would be delighted if the Rabbi would be his guest. The Rabbi instructed his secretary, "Please take the six horses and bring them to the home of the head of the community, and I will eat at the home where I ate a few years ago when I visited this city."
The head of the community was very surprised and ran to the Rabbi to ask for an explanation. The Rabbi told him, "I am the same person who was here a few years ago and asked to stay in your home. I have not changed since then. The only difference is that last time I came alone and you were not impressed with me. Today when I came with six horses, you were impressed. Therefore, I sent what impresses you to be your guests for the weekend." (Vedibarta Bam)
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