NOVEMBER 6-7, 2009 20 HESHVAN 5770
"He perceived, so he ran toward them" (Beresheet 18:2)
Rabbi Frand tells a story, which might be a legend or a true story, of a great Rabbi who once came to town disguised as a poor person. The shamash of the city asked one of the wealthy members of the community if the "pauper" could eat at his home, but he refused, explaining that the man was too simple to dine at his table. The Rabbi had his meal at the home of one of the less distinguished members of the community, who was happy to share his meager rations with the impoverished guest.
Several weeks later the Rabbi returned to town, but this time he was escorted by his full entourage. In a show of respect to their distinguished guest, all the townspeople came out to greet the stately carriage drawn by several strong horses. The wealthy man came out too and asked the Rabbi to allow him the privilege of being his host. The Rabbi accepted the offer and thanked the man graciously. As soon as the man rushed home to prepare for his guest, the Rabbi turned to his wagon driver and said, "Take the horses and deliver them to the rich man's house. We are going to eat with the family that hosted me several weeks ago."
The next morning in shul, the wealthy man came over to the Rabbi, obviously perturbed and insulted. "You accepted my offer to stay at my home," he protested, "but then you went off with someone else and sent me your horses?"
"When I was here a few weeks ago," the Rabbi explained, "you were offered an opportunity to host me, and you declined. When I came to town this time, you rushed to invite me to your home. The only difference between this visit and the last visit is that the last time I came alone, and this time I came with my horses. Apparently, then. you had no interest in hosting me, you were interested in hosting my horses. So I sent you my horses."
This week's perashah tells us of Abraham Abinu's great dedication to hachnasat orhim, inviting guests to your home. It is somewhat of a lost art today. We might feel comfortable with only a certain type of guest. The better way is to make your home very open to anyone who really needs your help. As the Rabbi said, you can't be choosy with your beggars. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Abraham arose early in the morning" (Beresheet 21:14)
From this verse, that Abraham arose early in the morning to stand before Hashem, we learn that Abraham prayed Shaharit. Indeed, we learn from here that we are supposed to pray in the morning just like Abraham. What is amazing is that the pasuk tells us that Abraham went back to pray at the same place where he prayed for Sedom. We know that although he prayed very hard that Hashem should not destroy Sedom and Amorah, his prayers were not answered, and the cities were destroyed. So Abraham went back to the same place to pray to Hashem although he was not answered affirmatively, and this is the main source where we learn prayer!
We see from here that although we ask Hashem for things and don't get a positive response right away, we should not be deterred. Often, we get down if we don't see the answer to our prayers immediately. We see that Abraham just went back to praying to Hashem because he knew that Hashem is just, and will do the best for him. We have to keep praying to Hashem and realize that He wants only the best for us. Hopefully, we will realize that our prayers are always being answered for our own good! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"Do not stretch your hand against the lad…The angel of Hashem called to Abraham a second time." (Beresheet 22:12, 15)
The angel of Hashem appeared to Abraham Abinu and ordered him to desist and not sacrifice Yitzhak. It appears that the angel then disappeared, only to appear after Abraham had slaughtered the ram. He then blessed him. Why did he not bless Abraham immediately after he held back and refrained from slaughtering Yitzhak? What did he prove by slaughtering the ram? Rav Yehudah Sadkah, z"l, used the following story to explain the uniqueness of Abraham's actions concerning the Akedah. Rav Aryeh Levine, z"l, was known as the Rav of the asirim, Jewish prisoners. He would visit the incarcerated, giving them hope and nurturing their spiritual development even in the pits of despair that was their home. One Shabbat morning he arrived to find a locked gate. The British commandant refused to let the Sage pass through the gates. The fact that he had a pass was of no concern to him. During the current period of unrest, all previous permissions had been revoked. When one of the Jewish guards asked the British commandant why he would not permit an elderly Jew from giving solace to his poor co-religionists, he replied, "Let him find another way to earn a living."
This did not deter the saddik who lived for his fellow Jew. He circled the entire prison compound until he discovered a breach in the wall, through which he entered. It did not take long before Rav Aryeh was discovered and brought before the commandant. Surprisingly, the commandant said, "Now I know that this man is sincere and does this out of a sense of compassion and benevolence. Had it been just another job, he would have gone home. After all, he tried to enter and he failed. He now could be absolved of his responsibility. Not so, one who really cares. If the gate is sealed, one either finds a breach or breaks the lock. The prisoners should not suffer because of bureaucratic rules. This Rav has my permission to enter the prison whenever he pleases. He is for real."
Rav Sadkah explained that a similar idea applies to Abraham Abinu. The fact that he refrained from slaughtering Yitzchak when the angel first appeared indicated only that Abraham followed instructions. Perhaps his original acquiescence to sacrifice Yitzhak was out of fear of the Almighty - not faith and commitment. The first chance to get out of the responsibility, the first loophole he could discover in the law, he would quickly make use of it. The angel disappeared to see how the patriarch would now react to the "stop" order. If Abraham would heave a sigh of relief and go home, it would indicate that his heart was never really into fulfilling Hashem's command. He had acted out of fear - not reverence and love.
Our Patriarch did not rest on his laurels. When he was told to desist, he was chagrined. What had he done wrong? Had he failed? How could he rectify the situation? When he saw the ram, he saw an opportunity to offer a sacrifice. He wanted so much to do Hashem's bidding - anything- any opportunity to serve Him. This was Abraham's way- and so should it be ours. Everything we do should demonstrate our love, enthusiasm, and passion to serve Hashem. It is not what we do - but how we do it that makes the difference in the fulfillment of the mitzvah. (Peninim on the Torah)
Whenever people make a mistake, their reaction is usually a mental slap, as if to say, "How could I be so stupid?" It doesn't really matter if the error was a minor faux pas or an expensive business miscalculation; critical self-assessment usually follows. This natural tendency to self-castigate - painful as it may be - can be beneficial to those skilled in the art of constructive self-criticism.
Personal growth results from a trial-and-error lifestyle. You make an attempt to do something you have never tried before. Sometimes the attempt is successful and sometimes not - but every try provides an opportunity to learn. Once you have mastered the art of analyzing errors, you can learn much less painfully and more cheaply from the mistakes of others.
When you do the inevitable, and err, first look beyond the event to its cause. Then gaze beyond the cause to the lesson of the event. It only takes a minute to convert a mistake into a lesson, one you can use time and again for success.
Remember, the mother of success is…failure! (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.
Call to 646-279-8712 or email email@example.com (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.
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