Category Archives: Parshas Vayeira

Parshas Vayera: The Best Protective Armor That You Can Get

Parshas Vayera

The Best Protective Armor That You Can Get

“Behold! I have two daughters who have never known a man, I will bring them out to you, and do with them as you please; only do nothing to these men, since after all, they came under the shelter of my roof.” (Bereishis 19:8)

Rav Yisroel Brog quoted a true, fascinating story in the name of the Chofetz Chaim zt”l. Rabbi Eliyahu from Lita used to travel to different towns in Europe to strengthen their Torah and mitzvah observance. Once he stayed in an inn in a small village that belonged to a Jew. Rabbi Eliyahu spoke to the Jew about having bitachon, having trust in Hashem and realizing that Hashem is the source of all blessing, including one’s livelihood. The owner of the inn responded that thank G-D, he could take care of himself and did not need Hashem’s help. He felt that he was a smart and successful businessman and did not require heavenly assistance.  He owned fields, a forest, a mill that the whole village used, and an inn with a bar that all the villagers frequented. He was very wealthy. He felt that he had everything planned perfectly and that his wealth was guaranteed. Speaking strongly, Rav Eliyahu told the innkeeper that he should take back his words before it was too late since Hashem was the only one who made one wealthy or poor. The innkeeper ignored the rebuke. After his travels, Rabbi Eliyahu returned to his hometown. He visited the poor house where the poor of the city were able to get a bed to sleep on and a meal to eat. He went to see if there was anything that they needed. To his surprise, he met the innkeeper from the other village. He asked him what he was doing there. The innkeeper said that a platoon of Russian soldiers crossed the bridge near his mill. One of the slats on the bridge broke and the Russian officer fell through the hole, almost losing his life. The officer believed that the innkeeper had been negligent and had purposely wanted to prevent the Russian soldiers from crossing the bridge. The officer was planning to imprison the innkeeper and bring him to a military court, with a bad outcome likely. When the innkeeper found out about this, he ran away for his life. He was unable to return home and was now penniless. He started crying. Rabbi Eliyahu gently asked him if he still believed that a person can be rich or poor on his own, without Hashem. The innkeeper agreed that he had been wrong. One’s income is totally from Hashem. Clearly, Hashem wanted him to understand that and that is why these events had occurred to the innkeeper. Rav Eliyahu told the innkeeper to strengthen his belief in Hashem. Rav Eliyahu then invited the innkeeper to stay in his house while Rav Eliyahu contacted the Russian authorities. He was able to convince them that the bridge mishap had been a total accident. The innkeeper was, then, able to return home, back to his wealth.

Two angels came to Sodom. One came to destroy the city because of the cruelty of the people. The other angel came to save Lot. Lot had shown hospitality and had invited the angels into his home. Almost immediately, the people of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house. They demanded that Lot send the travelers out of his house so that the people of Sodom could molest them. Lot requested that they spare his guests since “after all, they came under the shelter of my [Lot’s] roof.” (Bereishis 19:8) The Chofetz Chaim zt”l (Chofetz Chaim Al HaTorah) explains that focal point of Lot’s defense on behalf of his guests was that they relied on him to ensure that nothing would happen to them. Since Lot had invited them and they had put their trust in him, Lot felt responsible to do all that he could to save them.

The Chofetz Chaim zt”l continues with comforting words. Lot felt responsible for his guests because they had put their trust in him. Therefore, he tried to save them.

“ומעתה קל וחמר בן בנו של קל וחמר, אם אנו נסמוך ונבטח בד’ מעוזנו, בטח יגן עלינו לחלצינו מכל רע ולהטיב לנו.”

Certainly, how much more so, if we rely on and put our trust and faith in Hashem, Hashem will DEFINITELY protect us from all harm and will shower goodness on us.

 

Parshas Vayeira: It Is an Honor to Serve You!

Parshas Vayeira

It Is an Honor to Serve You!

 

“I will get a piece that you may sustain yourselves … since you have passed your servant’s way….” (Bereishis 18:5)

Yitzchak was certain that his car had made it across the intersection before the light had turned red. He was so sure that he was determined the fight the ticket that he had received. Since he did not want to miss work, he made an early appointment to have a hearing. He was the first to arrive in the hearing room. He expected to be called on first, so he took a front row seat right near the judge. As the room filled-up it seemed that many people had come to appeal tickets that they had received from the same policeman who ticketed Yitzchak. The judge, an elderly black gentleman, started the proceedings. To Yitzchak’s surprise and annoyance, the judge did not call him first. The judge skipped over him and listened to the cases of all the others. Everyone was found guilty. After waiting for an hour, an exasperated Yitzchak was finally called. As soon as he stated his case, the judge motioned for the police officer to leave the room. Then the judge shut the tape recorder. The only ones left in the room were Yitzchak and the judge. Yitzchak was confused and very nervous. Something very strange was going on. Then the judge leaned forward and said, “I will take your word for it.” Yitzchak was confused. Then the judge asked Yitzchak, “Don’t you recognize me?” Yitzchak took a close look at the judge and then remembered what had taken place about 4 years earlier. It had been close to 11 PM and Yitzchak was driving home. It was a snowy night and driving was very difficult. As he was driving, Yitzchak noticed an elderly black gentleman struggling to push his car off the road. Yitzchak stopped his car and got out to help the man. Together, they pushed the car into a parking spot. Afterwards, Yitzchak drove the man to a bus stop. The man was not expecting to take a bus home and did not have the exact change needed for the fare. Yitzchak reached into his pocket and gave the man the change. The man was amazed at the kindness that Yitzchak had shown him. The judge continued. “I was waiting for the day when I would meet my Jewish friend. I will never forget the kindness that you had shown me.” Anyone who is so good and kind is surely trustworthy. Your ticket is dismissed!

(More Shabbos Stories by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman)

Our forefather, Avraham, just had his bris mila. However, he was sad that travelers were not passing and he was unable to welcome guests. To make Avraham feel happier, Hashem sent him 3 guests; angels who looked like Arabs. Avraham ran to greet them and offered them hospitality. He said that they should remain to eat and rest before leaving, “since you have passed your servant’s way….”  (Bereishis 18:5) Rashi explains that Avraham asked them to please stay, “because you have passed by me, out of respect for me”. Avraham truly felt that these travelers showed him honor by coming to his home.

How was their passing by Avraham’s house showing him honor? The masses considered Avraham to be a prince of Hashem, an extra special personage. The travelers appeared to be Arabs who worshiped the dust of their feet. Was it truly an honor for someone as great as Avraham to have such lowly people to pass by his home?

Apparently, the answer is, yes! Avraham felt that it was an honor for him to invite them in and serve them himself! Avraham understood that every human is created in the image of Hashem. Therefore, every person is considered distinguished.

The Talmud (Yevamos 76b) says that a man from the nations of Amon or Moav may never marry a Jew. The Torah says (Devarim 23:4-5) that they did not have the common decency to offer the Jews food and water when they were in a state of exhaustion upon leaving Egypt. This prohibition did not apply to the females. Females from these nations may marry a Jew. They were not held accountable. Since women are supposed to be modest, they were not expected to go out in public, offering food and water to the men. Obviously, these women had these feelings of modesty somewhere deep inside them, otherwise they too would have been held accountable for not coming to offer the Jews sustenance.

If there is greatness within non-Jewish people from less noble backgrounds, how much more greatness is there within every Jew.

Every human has inherent greatness because they were created in the image of Hashem. Therefore, every person deserves our respect. The greatness of a Jew is even greater.

We certainly should show great respect to every Jew.

 

(Based on a dvar Torah by Rabbi Henach Leibowitz zt”l,

as recorded in Chidushei Halev by Rabbi Binyamin Luban)