Monday, November 21, 2016

Parshas Vayera

This Week’s Parsha – Vayera:

Now, with Hashem’s Help, we will get on to the holy parsha:  The first passuk/verse is ‘Vayera eilav Hashem bi’Eilonei Mamrei, vi’hu yosheiv pesach ha’ohel, ki’chom hayom/And Hashem appeared to him in the Plains of Mamrei, and he was sitting at the entrance of his tent at the heat of the day.’ There are some beautiful Mefarshim/commentaries that I would like to share with you, B’Ezras Hashem/with the Help of Hashem: 

1) Rashi HaKadosh quotes from Gemara Bava Metzia 86b, which teaches us that Avraham Avinu was sitting at the entrance of his tent to look for passersby in order to take them into his house and be very hospitable to them.  Furthermore, the Gemara says that Hashem had made it hot (‘the heat of the day’), so that people would not be up and about.  That way, Avraham Avinu, who was still in pain from his Bris Milah/Circumcision, (which had been only three days before) would not have to trouble himself (and possibly make his pain worse) by caring for guests.  But when He saw that Avraham Avinu was very pained not to be able to have guests, He sent the Angels.  They were in the “guise” of men, and Avraham Avinu was then able to do what he did, and care for them. 

2) Asks HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt”l; what was Avraham Avinu so upset about?  If there are no people there, there is no Mitzvah of caring for them to perform!  So, in effect, there was no Mitzvah he was “not doing”!  And he answers beautifully:  Avraham Avinu was not one of those people.  He did not just accept that “there is no Mitzvah to perform”.  He loved Hashem so, so much, that all he wanted to do was to do Mitzvos and serve Hashem.  So it pained him so much to not be able to have the opportunity of fulfilling a Mitzvah.  And Reb Moshe zt”l even adds further that we must try to learn from Avraham Avinu this passion for serving Hashem.[1]  And may Hashem help every single person to serve Him with the proper passion and fire forever, Amein vi’Amein. 
3) Rashi HaKadosh also quotes from Gemara Bava Metzia 86b on a different note:  The Gemara explains that when Hashem appeared to Avraham Avinu, He was doing bikur cholim/visiting the sick.  Avraham was in pain after his Bris Milah/Circumcision, and Hashem “visited” him, so to speak.  We must learn this perfect lesson from Hashem, and try to visit sick people, if there are any, Chas V’Shalom.  (Also, may Hashem heal all currently ill people very speedily, Amein vi’Amein). 
4) The Or HaChaim HaKadosh explains another reason for Hashem appearing to Avraham Avinu at that very moment:  He explains that when a person does a Mitzvah, (such as Avraham Avinu had just done, when he had circumcised himself), He reveals Himself to them (in a way).  For example, say we do a Mitzvah (may Hashem help us to!), Hashem will then reveal Himself a little more to us, and let us feel Him a little more than we usually would. 
5) The Nikolsburger Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yechiel Michel Lebovits shlita) quotes the “Rashi” which we quoted above, which says that Avraham Avinu was sitting at the entrance of his tent ‘Li’r’os im yeish over vi’shav; vi’yi’kaneisam bi’veiso/To see if there was a passerby and return him and enter him into his house.’ The word ‘over/passerby’ can also mean ‘transgressor’.  And ‘vi’shav/and return him’ can be talking also about returning people to Hashem.  So he explains that, aside from trying to find people to take them into his house, and care for them, he also watched for people who had sinned, so he could return them to Hashem, and bring them ‘into his house’ implying the House of Hashem.  And Reb Lebovits shlita just adds also that this goes to show us that nobody is beyond repair.  We can all be returned to Hashem.[2]  And may Hashem help everyone to return to Him fully and in truth, Amein vi’Amein. 
6) The Nikolsburger Rebbe shlita says another thing we can learn from this verse:  The Torah says that Avraham Avinu ‘was sitting at the entrance of his tent.’ And he explains that this teaches us that we must always guard our entrances (meaning the entrances in our bodies, such as the eyes, mouth, etc.), and “sit” there, so to speak, watching them.  Making sure that nothing bad comes into them (such as eating non-Kosher food, Chas V’Shalom, or looking at something we are not allowed to look at, etc.) and nothing bad comes out of them (such as saying something bad, etc.). [3] This is very important. 
Back to the parsha: Hashem sent Melachim/Angels to Avraham Avinu, who looked like men. They were: Refoel, Gavriel, and Michael.  They told Avraham that at that time the next year, Sara would have a son. What time of year was that?  According to the Gemara, it was Pesach.  A bit on in the parsha it talks about how Hashem was going to destroy Sodom, Amorah, Admah, Tzevoiim, and Tzoar, (but Tzoar didn’t end up being destroyed). 
Avraham didn’t want the places to be destroyed, and so he Davened to Hashem, and asked that if there was 50 Tzaddikim/righteous people there, Hashem should save it, and he asked about 45, 40, 30, 20, and 10.  Hashem said that He would save it in every case that Avraham asked about.  Rashi HaKadosh quotes from Targum Yonasan, who explains that there had to be 10 righteous people in each city for it to be saved, so when Avraham asked about 50, he was asking that all five cities be saved. 
When he asked about 45 (according to Midrash Bereishis Rabbah), he was asking that Hashem count Himself as one of the righteous ones in each city in order to save all of them.  When he asked about 40, he was asking that four of the cities be saved, when he asked about 30, he was asking that three of them get saved, when he asked about 20, he was asking that two of them get saved, and when he asked for 10, he was asking that one of the cities be saved.  But the cities didn’t have enough righteous people to be saved.  And the Melachim/Angels came to Lot, and they had to make sure that he left Sodom.  After some time, he left with his wife, and his two daughters.  When Hashem overturned Sodom, Amorah, Admah, and Tzevoiim, Lot’s wife looked back, so she was turned into a pillar of salt.  
Okay, so, later in the parsha, the Torah says that Hashem “remembered”, so to speak, (because He never forgets anything) Sarah, ‘Vi’Hashem pawkad es Sara/And Hashem accounted for (or ‘remembered’) Sara’. Hashem gave her a son, and he was named Yitzchok. Hashem was so merciful with Avraham and Sara, as He is with the Jews, their descendants.  We just don’t realize how grateful we should be to Hashem for all His kindnesses. Every second is a great gift from HaKadosh Baruch Hu that we should try to use well.  A precious gift!  Another moment of life in which we can accomplish so much.  This concept is beautifully illustrated in a just absolutely beautiful story about the Chofetz Chaim zt”l and his grandson, told by HaRav Aryeh Leiv Kagan zt”l, his son.
It is in the book written by HaRav Shimon Yosef Meller shlita, The Torah of Brisk and other Gedolim, the one for the Yomim Noraim/High Holidays.  Once, the Chofetz Chaim (HaRav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan zt”l)’s grandson asked him how old he was. 
Reb Yisroel Meir looked at him, but didn’t say anything.  His grandson figured that he didn’t want to answer the question, so he didn’t ask again.  Some time later, Reb Yisroel Meir gave his grandson an envelope with some money in it.  But his grandson did not even look to see how much money was in the envelope! “Why did you not open the envelope to see how much money I gave you?” Reb Yisroel Meir asked.  And his grandson replied: “A gift from my Zeide/grandfather is very precious to me; it doesn’t matter how much money is in the envelope.  And besides, it’s not proper to count out the money one received in front of the one who gave him the gift.”
The Chofetz Chaim zt”l explained: “It’s exactly the same regarding your question about my age!  Life is so precious, such a wonderful gift from the Creator.  Can we possibly appreciate the value of the smallest moment of life?  And besides,” he continued “what does it matter how many years of this gift we have received from Hashem?  As you said ‘One doesn’t count out the gift in the presence of the Giver’.”[4] What an incredible story! 
Okay, but back to the parsha:  Yitzchok was given a Bris Milah/Circumcision at 8 days old, as Hashem commanded. When Yitzchok was weaned, Avraham made a great feast. 
Late in this parsha is Akeidas Yitzchok/The Binding of Yitzchok.  Avraham was 137 years old when it happened, and Yitzchok was 37. 
Targum Yonasan says that Sarah died during the Akeidah because the Satan told her that Avraham had actually shechted/slaughtered Yitzchok, and she died.  HaRav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt”l says that her time had come to die, but when the Satan told her the lie about Avraham shechting/slaughtering Yitzchok, that is just how she died.  Back to the parsha: Hashem told Avraham to bring Yitzchok up as an offering.
And the passuk/verse says ‘Vayashkeim Avraham baboker/And Avraham got up early in the morning’ which gives us a great example of his zerizus/alacrity (which means that he got up quickly to go and do something).  Even when Hashem had told him to offer up Yitzchok, the son who had been borne to him in his old age, and was so precious to him, he still got up early to do Hashem’s Will.  He demonstrated such bounding love for Hashem! 
So, on the third day, Avraham brought Yitzchok up on the Mizbeach/Altar that was on Har Hamoriah, the place where the Beis HaMikdash was destined to be, we are told. However, when Avraham was about to shecht/slaughter Yitzchok, an Angel of Hashem called to him, and told him not to slaughter Yitzchok, and not to do anything to him.  Hashem just was testing Avraham – He didn’t really want him to slaughter Yitzchok. 
So, Avraham lifted his eyes and saw a ram entangled in the brush, and he brought it up as a korban/offering to Hashem, instead of Yitzchok.  Rashi HaKadosh quotes from Midrash Tanchuma, which tells us that this ram was prepared from the Six Days of Creation! 
Actually, there are so many great explanations and insights given by Gedolim on the Akeidah, and if you would like to hear some of them, please just comment and ask me. 
Have a wonderful, wonderful week, full of holiness!

Refoel Berel

[1] From  Shiur given by HaRav Shalom Rosner shlita. 
[2] From
[3] From 
[4] From The Torah of Brisk and other Gedolim:  Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.  By HaRav Shimon Yosef Meller shlita. 

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