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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayeira

Parshat Vayeira

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Vayeira
18th of Cheshvan, 5777 | November 19, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Paysach Krohn
We Need You

ויאמר אליו אברהם ויאמר הנני

And He said, “Avraham,” and he replied, “Here I am” (Bereishit 22:1)

The Pasuk in Tehillim tells us, “ירושלים הבנויה כעיר שחוברה לה יחדיו – The built-up city of Yerushalayim is like a city that is united together” (Tehillim 122:3). Simply understood, this verse conveys that although a generic city may contain buildings constructed with contrasting styles, Yerushalayim will be built to perfection. All the architecture will be alike and mesh beautifully together (see Metzudos Dovid, ibid.).

Yet, the Talmud Yerushalmi (Chagigah 3:6) offers a different insight into the meaning of this Pasuk: “עיר שהיא עושה כל ישראל לחברים.” Although on a most basic level, this phrase means that when Klal Yisrael ascended to Jerusalem for the triannual pilgrimage, everyone attained a halachically recognized status of a “chaver,” defined as one who scrupulously observes the laws of ritual purity and impurity, perhaps this phrase lends itself to an alternative insight.

Chaver” can also mean friend, and thus this phrase would mean, “Yerushalayim is a city which brings everyone close together as friends.” In truth, that is ultimately what Yerushalayim is about, and in fact, what every shul and community is too. The essence of a community is unity. It is not coincidental that the word community contains the word “unity.”

How though can we achieve such unity and a sense of caring for each other? What can we do to ensure that ahavas yisrael extends to all segments of the Jewish people and that we fuse together as one cohesive nation?

There is one particular Pasuk which over the course of a lifetime we recite more than 10,000 times. And that is “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad – Listen, Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One.” The Maharal writes that aside from the word echad referring to the unity of Hashem, it refers to Yaakov Avinu and his twelve children.

The aleph represents Yaakov, as he was the bechir she’b’avos, the choice of the Patriarchs. With all of his children righteous, Yaakov succeeded in raising a family and nation completely devoted to the will of Hashem. The next letter, ches, refers to the eight children Yaakov had from Leah and Rachel. And lastly, the daled represents the four children Yaakov fathered from Bilhah and Zilpah.

What does this mean?

Every single Jew, no matter what tribe he or she comes from, is part of the unity of the Jewish people. We are all part of “echad,” one large family.

But the idea goes further. There are three very important lessons we can learn from a Sefer Torah about unity. Firstly, as the Zohar Hakadosh explains, the word Yisrael stands for, “Yeish shishim ribo osiyos la’Torah – There are 600,000 letters in the Torah.” Symbolizing the 600,000 men between the ages twenty and sixty that left Egypt, of which we all are descendants, each and every Jew has a letter in the Torah uniquely meant for them. And that is why if one letter is missing from a Sefer Torah, it is invalid and cannot be read from. If there is one Jew in the world who is not fulfilling his role, we all are lacking as a collective Sefer Torah. We are all vital to the totality of Klal Yisrael, and if one of us is deficient, we all are too.

Moreover, Jewish law dictates that no two letters overlap. If one letter is touching another, the Sefer Torah is invalid. The same is true of the Jewish nation. No two Jews overlap. Every single person is unique and special. There has never been anyone created like you or anyone else in this world. We all have our unique mission to fulfill as part of Klal Yisrael which no one else can carry out but us. We are all born with certain talents and abilities which must be recognized and appreciated.

Lastly, in contrast to the English language which includes words that have one letter (such as “a” or “i”), there is not one word in the whole Torah which has one letter. And that is because a Jew cannot live alone. It is only when we work together that we accomplish something extraordinary. No one lives in a vacuum.

A number of years ago, I went for a check-up with my doctor. After the nurse took my weight and handed the chart to the doctor, I knew I was in for it. My doctor would forcibly demand that I lose weight and look to improve my health. All I could wonder was what he would say to me that would make a difference. I sat there in earnest anticipation and curiosity as to what would come out of his mouth.

But then he said three simple words: “We need you.” As he said that, my mouth dropped. That was all he said, but that was all he needed to say. Each and every Jew is needed by Klal Yisrael and without being healthy, the welfare of an entire nation is at risk.

And to be sure, I lost seven pounds that week.

Thinking about it for some time after, I realized just exactly what my doctor had done. He had convinced me that I was important and special and had a role to play in Klal Yisrael. If we could only convince every Jew that they are vital to the unity and totality of the Jewish people, we would see many significant improvements. That is the ultimate truth: Klal Yisrael needs every one of us. And yes indeed, that means you.

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
Your Daughter

וגם אמנה אחתי

Moreover, she indeed is my sister (Bereishit 20:12)

In 2010, Ohr Naava, the Women’s Torah Center I founded for women to learn, grow and enjoy a healthy social environment, decided to run a summer program in the Catskills. In response to the previous years’ challenges for many of the girls to remain in a safe and enjoyable atmosphere, we decided to rent out a bowling alley in Kiamesha lanes from 11pm to 3am every Motzei Shabbos.

The cost for running this program was $36,000. It was the most expensive time to rent out the bowling alley, besides the refreshments we provided, but we knew we wanted to do it. And so, we turned to fundraisers for help.

Calling a meeting one day with twelve other young businessmen, I presented our program and explained our motivation behind doing so. Explaining the importance of stopping what had gone on in past years, I emphasized the importance and urgency of providing the girls with a healthy outlet. After briefly going through all the details of what we wished to do, one of the men said, “How much exactly is this going to cost us?”

“$36,000,” I said. The man stared back at me. “$36,000? Rabbi, how many girls can you tell me you will definitely save by running this program?” I looked back at him. “I really cannot tell you for sure.” “Well,” he continued, “I am a businessman and you want us to invest in your program. So you tell me, how many girls do you know you will certainly be saving?”

“One,” I said. He laughed. “Do you think we are going to raise $36,000 to save one girl?” “Let me tell you something,” I said. “If you would know the yichus (family background) of this girl, you would spend the $36,000.” “Can you tell us who she is?” he asked.

In that room, all the men leaned forward in eager anticipation of discovering who this special girl was. “What family was she from?” they wondered.

Looking back at the young man, I said, “It’s your daughter.”

The room turned silent. “Just kidding,” I said. And then, I got up and walked out of the room.

When it comes to raising money and working for Hashem’s children, the feeling must be that it is your daughter. It is not his daughter or her daughter or their daughter; it is your daughter. That is how we change lives and change the world. It is our own personal issue to deal with. He or she is my brother, sister, son, daughter. I love them dearly and am willing to do whatever it takes to help.

Rabbi Yissocher Frand
Your Wedding Day

וישא עיניו וירא

And he lifted up his eyes and saw (Bereishit 18:2)

Let me give you an example of someone who thought about somebody else when it is not common to do so.

Years ago, a woman working as a pediatric emergency room physician made aliyah to Israel. One day while working in the pediatric ward, in walked a woman. But she was not just any woman. She was a bride on the day of her wedding. How did the physician know this to be true? Because she walked in fully dressed in her gown.

If you can remember when you or your daughter were a kallah, there is one thought which stands out. The mascara must be perfect; it cannot be smudged in the slightest. Brides on the day of their wedding tend to be into themselves. The terminology “Bridezilla” was not created in a vacuum. It is because kallahs understandably so want one thing to be perfect: themselves.

But as this kallah walked into the emergency room, she had a different agenda on her mind. “What can I do for you?” asked the physician. “A kallah on the day of her wedding has the power to give blessings,” the woman said. “I would like to give each and every child in this room a beracha that they have a refuah sheleimah (complete recovery)!”

Just as Hashem uplifts the impoverished and comforts the brokenhearted, we are to do the same. On a day when it would be most expected to think about oneself, this kallah was different. It was not simply “her day;” it was the day of each and every sick child in that hospital. This is what it means to step out of your own world and care for your fellow Jew as yourself.

Rabbi Yisroel Reisman
Building for Eternity

ויאמר קח נא את בנך... ולך לך אל ארץ המריה

And Hashem said, “Please take your son… and go to the land of Moriah” [i.e. Jerusalem] (Bereishit 22:2)

The Gemara (Zevachim 24a) poses an interesting yet technical question regarding the Beis Hamikdash. When Dovid Hamelech sanctified the floors of the Beis Hamikdash, did he imbue only the top layer of tiles with sanctity or did he sanctify them all the way down to the lowest ground level?

While the Gemara provides a practical difference between the two possibilities, one obvious question stands out when reading this passage. Was it Dovid Hamelech who sanctified the floors of the Beis Hamikdash? He wasn’t alive when it was built. Shlomo Hamelech, his son, constructed the Beis Hamikdash (Melachim I 6:1-37). Why then does the Gemara attribute Dovid to having done so?

In truth, though, the Beis Hamikdash contains two facets. On the one hand, there is the external building of the Beis Hamikdash, full of beauty and magnificence. However, there is another aspect to the Beis Hamikdash. And that is its inner essence. The desire for closeness to Hashem and a relationship with Him is what defines the true purpose of this majestic structure. As Dovid Hamelech himself articulates, “My soul yearns, and pines, for the courtyards of Hashem” (Tehillim 84:3).

Shlomo Hamelech may have fashioned the outer building of the Beis Hamikdash, yet Dovid Hamelech with his desire to bask in Hashem’s presence and draw near to Him imbued it with eternal sanctity.

The Navi tells us that after the prophet Nassan informed Dovid that he would not be the one to construct the Beis Hamikdash, but rather his son would, he nevertheless set out to make the necessary preparations for its building (Divrei Hayamim I 22:1-16). He bought stones and wood, called in architects and drew up plans for the future House of Hashem. In this sense, while Dovid did not build the actual physical structure, he did every but. In fact, the Pasuk tells us, “Dovid then gave to his son Shlomo the plan for the Hall and its structures… and all the plans that were in his spirit” (ibid. 28:11-12). The spirit, will and heart of Dovid infused the Beis Hamikdash with its inner essence.

What is remembered for all eternity? What is the Beis Hamikdash referred to? “May the Merciful One raise up for us the fallen Sukkah of Dovid.” As we sit in our Sukkah and beseech Hashem to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash, it is Dovid Hamelech who is singled out. Shlomo Hamelech fashioned a beautiful building which lasted for hundreds of years and served as a Divine dwelling place for Hashem. Yet Dovid Hamelech created a building that is still alive to this very day. Shlomo’s building was unfortunately destroyed, but Dovid’s lives on for eternity. What remains with us today is the same desire for closeness with Hashem and the yearning to bask in a wonderful relationship with our Father in Heaven. That will never be destroyed.

That which Hashem looks for most is the desire, heart and yearning to draw close to Him. It is something which brings us and all those around us closer to Hashem not only for the moment, but for eternity. And without question, those thoughts and actions will continue to inspire and uplift Klal Yisrael for generations. There can be nothing more beautiful than that.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Eytan Feiner

Rav Yaakov Weinberg zt”l once fascinatingly observed that Noach’s Ark encompassed the entire future of the world within. With the whole world being destroyed, the future of mankind remained safely ensconced inside the Teivah of Noach. Not coincidentally, though, the word teivah not only means “Ark,” but “word” as well. Every word which escapes our mouth holds the potential of either building or destroying lives. The future of the world rests no less than at the tip of our tongue.

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