"He seemed like a jester in the eyes of his sons-in-law." (Bresheet 19:14)
The angels warned Lot that Sedom would be destroyed and that Lot should escape to the hills with his family. When Lot told his sons-in-law the news and begged them to flee with him, they did not take him seriously. Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky zt"l wonders why they didn't believe Lot. In addition, the Rabbi asks, why does the Torah single out this detail about Lot's sons-in-law? After all, the sins that were committed were between man and his fellow man and were very severe. What is the Torah teaching us? He concludes that our holy Torah is teaching us that the reason people don't believe is not due to deep philosophical disagreements. But it is simply due to the person's desires and the strong desire to be free. The proof of this concept lies in the fact that Lot, who was not so influenced by the lustful lifestyle of Sedom, was able to believe the warning, but his sons-in-law, who were very much into the ways of Sedom, could not.
Rabbi A.H. Lebowitz quotes an interesting Midrash that sums up the mindset of those people. They replied to Lot, if the city is filled with laughter, song and happiness, how can you say that it will be overturned? The most interesting part of this statement is that they didn't say that they didn't believe an all-powerful G-d could destroy their city in an instant; they couldn't believe that such a merry city filled with sounds of laughter and music could ever be silenced. The Midrash is exposing a weakness in all humans. We find it hard to believe that our status quo will ever change. They rejected Lot's life-saving advice because they couldn't believe that their wonderful situation could ever change. Let us not allow the seemingly permanent situation we are in, be it good or bad, to interfere with our reception of any messages broadcast to us from Above. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And Yitzhak said to Abraham, 'Where is the sheep for the sacrifice?'" (Beresheet 22:7)
The Midrash tells us that Abraham and Yitzhak both went out to do the Akedah (Binding on the Altar) with the same zeal, love and dedication. The Satan, attempting to prevent them from doing this great misvah, came up with many arguments, all in vain. Then the Satan turned to Yitzhak and said to him that all of his prized possessions would go to Yishma'el, his half brother, if he let himself be sacrificed. It says in the Midrash that at that point, Yitzhak hesitated, and that's when he asked his father, "Where is the sheep for the sacrifice?"
We see from here a powerful lesson. All other arguments were not able to penetrate Yitzhak and prevent him from his self-sacrifice, but when he realized he would lose his possessions to his brother, that was enough to make him stop for a moment. The power of jealousy, of someone else taking from me is such that even a perfectly righteous person, such as Yitzhak Abinu could be affected, even momentarily. We see many incidents where friends, partners, brothers and families are torn apart because of this kind of jealousy. We become blinded by our interpretation of the facts, and we don't hear the other side or acknowledge that we could be wrong! The only way to view the situation objectively is through a third party who is neutral and has no personal considerations. The fact that our forefather, Yitzhak, was able to overcome his hesitation and do the Akedah shows that we have it within us to rise above jealousy and pettiness. If we look for the truth, Hashem will help us find it. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Abraham pleaded with the three men who passed near his tent to accept his hospitality, and said: "Because you have passed by your servant." (Beresheet 18:5)
Rashi comments: "This [to be my guest] I request of you because you have passed by, for my honor."
Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz cites the Talmudic principle that when someone gives something to a distinguished person, the fact that the person accepts your gift is considered as if you received something from him. Giving to an important person is actually taking. But who is a person that would be considered distinguished? In the eyes of an arrogant person everyone is considered as nothing. He belittles everyone. But a person with humility considers everyone to be important. He honors and respects every human being. Therefore he considers giving to any person as a personal favor to him.
If someone of the stature of the Hafess Hayim were to come to our home as a guest, we too would be full of joy to serve him. It would be very easy for us to do any amount of work to honor him and assist him. We would feel great pleasure and consider it a great merit that he accepted what we gave him. We would feel that he was giving to us when he allowed us to serve him. For our forefather Abraham, this was his attitude towards every person. Every individual was considered distinguished and important. Whenever Abraham gave anything to another person, he considered it as taking from that person. Abraham saw three people walking. They seemed like ordinary nomads passing by. What was Abraham's reaction? He ran to greet them and bowed down before them. He personally felt more honor in their coming to be his guests than we would feel if the greatest people of our generation were to visit us.
This, said Rav Yerucham, is what Rashi means by the words, "for my honor". From every action and every movement of Abraham it was noticeable that they were doing him an act of kindness. This is a new way of looking at the acts of kindness you do for others. I am not doing a kindness for another person. Rather, the other person is doing an act of kindness for me. (Growth through Torah)
Why did Lot's wife turn into a pillar of salt when she looked back?
Lot's wife was so miserly and stingy that she wouldn't even give the guests salt for their food. Furthermore, she tried to have her angelic guests killed by loudly informing the inhabitants of Sedom that she need salt for her guests.
In the blurb for his book called Patience, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin proposes that "patience is the key to a magnificent life. It is the foundation for reaching goals. With it, one can learn, accomplish, develop one's character, and interact harmoniously with other people. The more we increase our patience, the more we benefit." That was enough to get me to plunk down a few dollars to buy myself the guide to all that happiness and harmony.
Even vacations, that are meant to relax us - test our patience. Traveling on the highways yields "road rage." Air travel creates "airport rage." Taking our kids to an enjoyable museum or other fun spot means dealing with lines of people who don't seem to recognize our importance.
Keep this in mind: All situations that seem to test our patience are laden with potential for growth. We can always learn if our eyes are open to the possibilities.
One of the easiest ploys to avoid aggravation is to watch others lose their cool. Impatience can really look ridiculous. Why is that person so upset just because something is taking a little bit longer than expected? Why is that adult getting so heated up because a little child doesn't see things in exactly the same manner as he does?
When you see someone else being impatient, you can easily understand why that person should be more patient. So, when you are about to "lose it," picture the last person whom you saw being impatient. Think for a moment how you do not want to be seen in that same embarrassing position. A clear picture of a silly human can make you behave in a wiser, more mature manner. (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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