Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayeira

Parshat Vayeira

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Vayeira 5781                                                             Print Version
20th of Cheshvan, 5781 | November 7, 2020

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi
Come Back to Life

Many times in your life, you may have wondered how it is possible that you can come back alive after feeling lifeless and hopeless, desperate and despaired? Allow me to share with you some words from the heart, my dear reader.

In Parshat Va’yeira, we find four instances in which Techiyat Ha’meitim, resurrection back to life, takes place.

The first is that of Sarah Imeinu, who is barren. A barren woman feels as if she is dying. She tells Avraham Avinu, “Give me children; otherwise, I am dead” (Bereishis 30:1). Yet the angels appear to Sarah and tell her, “Ka’eit chaya [u’l’Sarah bein] …” which can literally be read as “Now, Sarah, you will live.” Now Sarah will come back to life when she has a child.

The second instance is that of Yishmael who is about to die, and suddenly his mother notices a wellspring of water which miraculously appears, which he drinks from and he comes back to life.

The third time is that of Yitzchak who is about to be sacrificed. It is only a second before Avraham places the knife upon his throat, he is told, “Do not send your hand upon the boy” (ibid. 22:12). The Zohar (Bereishis 252b) states that the name Yitzchak is a contraction of two words – “Keitz Chai.” It is already the end (Keitz), and yet he comes back to life (chai).

And the last is in the Haftorah, where we read about a mother, a woman from the town of Shunam. She is hosting Elisha in her home, and while the woman expresses that she needs nothing from Elisha, Elisha’s attendant, Geichazi, says, “Of course, she needs a baby! She is barren.” The woman eventually does give birth to a boy and she keeps hugging her newborn baby.

One day, the boy says that his head is hurting him and he eventually dies. His mother runs to Elisha and asks, “Why did you do this to me! You promised me a son, and now he is dead!” Elisha placed his eyes on the eyes of the boy, and his hands upon the hands of the boy and he revived him. Suddenly the boy came back to life. The boy, says the Zohar (Parshas Beshalach), should have been called Chavuk, but he instead was called Chavakuk (in the plural), for he was hugged twice. Once by his mother when he was born, and once when he died, and came back to life again.

“Yemima,” I have been asked many times, “can this daughter or son of mine, or my relationship with my husband or sister, or with Hashem come back to life?” Chavakuk grows up and says, “Listen, this is going to be the question of the days of the Moshiach.” And Chavakuk established one Pasuk which we should hold onto. The Gemara (Makkos 24a) tells us that Chavakuk distilled all of the Torah’s precepts and injunctions into one Pasuk, “The righteous person lives with his faith” (Chavakuk 2:4).

If you do not believe in Techiyat Ha’Meitim, you will have no strength in this generation of Moshiach. Is Techiyat Ha’Meitim true? Can it really happen? I will tell you what the prophecy of Techiyat Ha’Meitim is…

“Then the elderly men and women will sit in the streets of Jerusalem and the elderly will hold a cane in his hand” (Zecharia 8:4). What kind of redemption is this? Why should the elderly need a cane to support themselves? If the Moshiach arrives, Hashem should make them healthy again? Why should he be with his cane?

“No,” says the Zohar. You don’t understand what “cane” this is. It is from the Haftorah just cited above. When Elisha wants to revive the dead boy, he gives his cane to Geichazi and tells him, “Put this cane on the face of the boy, and he will come back to life.” “What are you talking about?” says Geichazi. “Putting a cane on a dead boy’s face is not going to make him come back to life?!”

But what Elisha was actually saying was that anyone who is able to hold onto this mishe’net, cane, called emunah in believing in Techiyat Ha’meitim, that there can be life after death, will truly come back to life. “Mishe’enet” means to support or lean upon. It is the belief in coming back to life that we lean upon and are supported by during times of challenge.

As the Torah tells us, Sarah was ninety years old when Yitzchak was born. (I was once giving a class and one elderly, 90-year-old woman, came up to me and said, “You said that Sarah gave birth at ninety?” “Yes,” I replied. “Can it happen to me as well?” she asked worriedly. I said, “Of course.” I have not seen her since then; I think she is giving birth…”)

When the baby was born, why was he named Yitzchak? It is because it comes from the words “Yatzah Chok,” a new law was established. A woman can always become young again. That is the new law. That is what the angel says to Sarah, “La’moed ashuv ei’lecha,” “At the appointed time I will return to you.” The angel of Hashem was conveying to Sarah, “I can repeat this miracle to each and every woman.” Hashem can give her back her emunah, give her back her young years, her strength, her children, and her spouse. It is a law that has already been established. That is why the prayer of a woman who feels a little death within her is, as the Midrash states, “G-d, repeat…” She is telling Hashem, “Can you please repeat the miracle done with Sarah Imeinu?”

Now, you may ask, Yemima, do you really believe in it?
There are many things which occur in our world which you never expect. Just consider political elections, where the statistics and polls indicate that one person will become the president, and yet you wake up and it is exactly the other person!

How could anyone say to Avraham, at one hundred years old, “You are going to have a baby”? Avraham is going to go to the Chumash Mesiba, when Yitzchak finished learning a section of the Chumash, and be shaking and unable to stand up himself? It cannot be. But what did Hashem do?

“Go outside!” Hashem said to Avraham.” Go out of what your astrology and statistics tell you. Look up and gaze at the stars. “Do you see the stars?” “Yes.” “Can you count the stars?” “No.” “That is because,” says Hashem, “no statistics or mathematics will be able to tell you who will be the next star.”

It was a new law in the world. Everything can start from the very beginning.

“Yemima,” you will say, “I want to believe in it, but I cannot see how after all this pain, I can wake up again with my heart full of emunah?”

How do we do this?

Let’s look at the Haftorah from Parshat Va’yeira, with the beautiful explanation of Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi.

There was one woman, daughter of prophets, who yells to Elisha and says, “Your servant, my husband, has died, and the one to whom we owe money has come to take my two sons as slaves.”
Who was this woman? The wife of Ovadiah the prophet (Rashi, Melachim II 4:1). Ovadiah performed a tremendous chesed (kindness). Achav wanted to kill all of the prophets, and so Ovadiah went on to hide 250 prophets in a cave, and every day planned on bringing them food and water. “But we don’t have any money?” said his wife. “Okay,” said Ovadiah, “we will take a loan.” “But from whom?” asked his wife. “From Yoram.” “Yoram?! He is the awful son of Achav.” “Don’t worry, my dear wife. I will never, ever leave you…”

But he leaves her… as he dies…

Yoram comes to his wife and says, “Can you give me my money back?” “My husband is not here,” she says. “Okay,” Yoram continues, “give me your two sons to be my slaves.” “What am I going to do?” she asks him. “Do you have anything in your home?” “You know,” she says, “when my husband told me to bring the prophets food and water, one day, he said, ‘They are sitting in the dark; can you bring them olive oil so they can have a little bit of light in the cave?’” “But we have no money!” I said. “Do you know how expensive oil is?” “Don’t worry,” he assured me.

She went ahead to bring them oil, and as well went to the prophet Elisha. “I have many jars here,” she said. I brought them food, water and oil, and all I have left at home is a little bit of oil in one jar. “Perfect,” he says. “Go and collect many empty jars from your neighbors… Don’t stop, take more and more and more. And then start pouring from this almost empty jar of oil into all the others.”

She stands with all the empty jars lined up, and she starts pouring… and the oil starts flowing… and flowing… and flowing… until all the jars are filled. “Go,” says Elisha, “and you and children will live with what is left,” which is interpreted to mean that “you and your children will live from what is left from this act of kindness.” Chazal add that this “you will live from this act of kindness until Mashiach arrives.”

Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi explains this above storyline as follows.

“There was one woman…” You are to view yourself as the one and only daughter of Hashem, for that is how Hashem looks at you. “From the daughter of prophets;” you are the daughter of Sarah and the Imahot. You have greatness within you. “She cried out;” you have to cry out to Hashem for it. Cry out for what?

For Elisha. Elisha is a contraction of Eli-Sha, “My G-d, listen to me.” And you tell Hashem, “av’decha, ishi meit.” The word ishi, while meaning my husband, can also mean, “My fire,” as in eish sheli. “I used to serve You, Hashem, with fire, with love, with passion. But that fire has died. That burning enthusiasm for Torah and mitzvot has waned. I don’t have it in me anymore…
“And the lender has come to take my two sons.” My “two sons” – love and fear of G-d – are no longer within. I cannot daven anymore. How much can I daven for this daughter, for my health, for my parnassah, for my shalom bayit, for my happiness? It’s enough…

“Okay,” says Elisha. “Do you have anything at home?” “Yes, a small, tiny amount of oil in a jar,” she tells him. Interprets Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi, “I float like oil. Every morning I wake up in the morning and I tell myself, ‘Don’t drown.’ That’s all. So I function. I do the laundry, I put the house together, I cook and bake.”

“Wow!” says Elisha to her. “Put all of your empty jars together. You feel all of your jars are empty, but do not diminish their value.” When a woman gets up in the morning and puts her house together, and does the laundry, and makes Challah for Shabbat…with a dead heart… you have no idea how precious it is in the eyes of Hashem. You have no desire, no emunah and you feel so weak, and you still wake up in the morning and do what a Jewish woman should do. You greet your children and you smile to your husband. Don’t diminish that. Mashiach is going to come from those women who wake up in the morning and float; from these very small, everyday deeds from these women.

Every time you make challah, put all your heart into it. Challah comes from the word hatchalah, a new beginning. As you knead and braid the Challah, tell yourself, “I believe in a new beginning… anything can happen.” Because indeed, it can.

Rabbi Gavriel Friedman
Hashem is Here

The Gemara (Shabbos 12b) states that when an individual is sick, the Shechina (Divine Presence) is found above the head of the sick person. It is for this reason that we are meant to act with extra care and respect when standing near someone who is sick.

Unfortunately, we all at least know someone or know someone who knows someone that is sick. We are surrounded by this virus, yet by that very virtue, we are surrounded by Hashem Himself, as per the words of the above Gemara. He is even closer to us now.

During these days, it is not time to slack off because we are home-bound. We have even greater opportunity and ease of access to connect to Hashem. Especially during Shabbos, we can gather our children and family together and bask in the beauty of Shabbos, with zemiros (songs) and words of Torah.

Rabbi Maimon Elbaz
The Book of Remedies

The Gemara (Berachos 10b) states that King Chizkiyahu hid a Book of Remedies, which outlined the cures and treatments which could be used to heal any illness. Yet why did Chizkiyahu do so? It could have saved so many future lives.

The reason, explains Rashi (ibid.), is that Chizkiyahu wished for people to beseech Hashem for mercy. Although Chizkiyahu was aware of the potential life-saving effects such a book could bring, he wished for people to believe that their cure and recovery came from Hashem and Hashem alone, and was not the result of them going through the motions of applying the medical treatment. He understood that people would now be put in position to do teshuva and turn to Hashem, which ultimately would bring their recovery. Chizkiyahu was brave enough to take these measures, and the Sages agreed to his decision.

Rebbetzin Chaya Sora Gertzulin
Mr. Anonymous is Waiting

This week’s Parshah opens with Avraham Avinu recuperating from his bris milah. “Hashem appeared to him… he was sitting at the entrance of the tent”. Avraham Avinu, patriarch of the Jewish people, isn’t mentioned by name, but by the terms “him” and “he”. My mother, the Rebbetzin a”h, shared an insightful dvar Torah, as to why this is so.

Perhaps, if Avraham’s name was recorded, we might erroneously conclude that only the “Avrahams” of the world, the tzadikim, the righteous, leaders, VIPs, and the influential personalities amongst us, are deemed worthy of a bikur cholim visit. But the Torah tells us that Hashem appeared to him, for each and every one of us is created betzelem elokim, in the image of G-d, and deserving of a get-well visit, if needed.
It was a Tuesday morning, I was teaching parshas Vayeira to a most wonderful group of women. Women who became true chavrusos, Torah study partners and friends.

I shared the dvar Torah as to why Avraham’s name was missing from the opening passage of the parshah. “There are many ‘Mr. Anonymous’ in the world, lonely people in need of a get-well visit,” I told them. Karen, one of the women quietly called out “My husband is a ‘Mr. Anonymous’. He could use a visit. We moved here not long ago, relocating for medical treatment. He doesn’t know anyone in New York.”

There was a heavy silence in the room. Everyone’s heart went out to our fellow Torah partner.

I had an idea…

“Karen, if you’d like, next week’s Torah class will take place in your home. We will all study there together, and your husband can join us.” “Oh, but you don’t know my husband”, Karen interjected, “while he is Jewish, he lives the life of an Ethical Culturist. He wouldn’t open up a Chumash.”

“He’s a Jew, nonetheless”, I told Karen. “If it’s okay with you, we are all happy to have class in your home, and visit with your husband.” Karen was excited, and a week later, armed with Chumashim, we studied the weekly Torah portion in Karen’s apartment.

Karen’s husband joined us, and participated in the discussion. We all stayed on, and offered him our heartfelt wishes and prayers. That week, shortly after Shabbos came to a close, Karen called. Her husband left this world on Shabbos day. We cried together, and she had consolation knowing that he was able to stand before his Creator and say, “I studied Torah, I held on to the Chumash.”

Parshas Vayeira gives us much insight into how to go about the mitzvah of bikur cholim, visiting the sick. While the Chumash tells us that Hashem appeared to Avraham, nowhere does it tell us what Hashem said. The Torah is conveying an important message. We don’t always have to make conversation. At times, when we visit someone who is ill, sitting quietly works better than making conversation. To give a smile, to put your hand on their shoulder, and say a silent prayer. To just “be there” for them. To just stay a few minutes, and show that you care. “Hashem appeared….” – just being there for Avraham was sufficient.

The word “bikur” means more than to visit. It means to assess – to check out. To find out what are the needs of the person being visited. What can you do for them, and what assistance can you offer to their family.

“Bikur” also has the same root as the word “boker – morning,” for visiting the sick is like bringing a ray of sunshine into their day. We all know people who are ill, who are homebound. Let us remember the importance of bikur cholim. Let us visit or call and offer them hope and prayers, and convey a true sense of caring that brings them rays of sunshine.

Picture of newsletter
100% free

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

Timely Torah insights, stories, and anecdotes from your favorite TorahAnytime speakers, delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Your email is safe with us. We don't spam.