Parshas VaYera 5759

Parsha Insights
is dedicated to Rabbi and Mrs. Y. Shmuel Glick of London, England,
and to the Glick and Wagschall familiesof Jerusalem and London in honor of the birth of their Ben Bechor
May they have only Yiddische Nachas.


The Beginning and the end of Divine service are one and the same.

“And Hashem appeared to him in Alonei Mamre, and he was sitting at the entrance of the tent during the heat of the day.” (Bereishis 18:1)

A Jew should never give up on the possibility for mercy from Hashem, no matter what condition he is in. Even when one is in a sickly and weakened state, he can merit a revelation of Hashem. There is however one condition. He must be sitting at the opening (of the tent). One must know that no matter what he has accomplished up until now and no matter what level he is on now, when it comes to his Divine service, a part of him must proceed as if he is only at the opening, just a beginner; for who can fathom he depths of Hashem's greatness.


Avraham bequeathed to every Jew the ability to radiate Hashem’s light.

“And Hashem appeared to him in Alonei Mamre, and he was sitting at the entrance of the tent during the heat of the day.” (Bereishis 18:1)

The Zohar (VaYera 98a) voices a famous question. The Torah says that Hashem appeared to him, but it doesn't say to whom he appeared. Although it seems obvious that Hashem appeared to Avram, it doesn’t say so. Why not?

Many commentators answer, that in truth, Hashem appeared not only to Avraham but to every member of his household and really, due to the brilliance of the light of Avraham and his great merit, all the people of the world benefited from the newly revealed light of Hashem in the world. “And Hashem appeared to him. . .”, means that He appeared to each and every individual, all in the merit of Avraham. “And Hashem said, Let there be light.” (Bereishis 1:3) The Midrash (?) says this refers to Avraham Avinu.

“The face of the King is hidden behind the valley of darkness as it is written, “ And he makes darkness His hiding place. . . “. (Psalms 18:12) And all those who know how to unite His name in holiness can break down the barriers of darkness and cause the face of the King to be revealed; radiating light unto all.” (Holy Zohar Beshalach 57a)
This is Avraham.

Avraham founded the concept of Tikkun Olam, (healing or repair of the world). For the first two millenia from the creation, the world suffered from serious transgression. When Avraham began to make his influence felt in the world, near the beginning of the 3rd millennium, the Tikkun commenced. The earlier years were plagued with sin as it is stated in Pirkei Avos (4:28), “R’ Elazar HaKappar says, jealousy, lust desire and honor remove a person from this world”.

The source of the argument which led Cain to kill Hevel was jealousy, as it is written, “. . .and jealousy rots the bones”. (Proverbs 14) Cain was jealous of the sacrifice that his brother made to Hashem. (Bereishis 4:5)

The generation of the Flood was guilty of lust, as is written, “And Hashem saw the earth and it was perverted; all creation perverted its way on the earth.” (Bereishis 6:12) It started when, “And the noblemen saw that the daughters of man were pleasing and took them for wives; whichever ones they chose.” (Bereishis 6:2) This led to a total breakdown of morality. Hashem was left with no choice but to destroy almost the entire creation and to start over again.

Finally the generation of the Tower said, “Come let us make us a city and a tower which reaches to the heavens, and we will earn a name for ourselves lest we be scattered over the face of the world.” (Bereishis 11:4) The search for honor angered Hashem and removed them from the world. Their worst fears were realized and they were dispersed in the end; their names all but forgotten.

Avraham created Tikkun Olam. The world was destroyed because of three corrupt traits. To heal the world, he brought down the souls of the three Avos - Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaacov, to correct the damage and set the world straight.

When Avraham finally came and brought light to the darkness of the world, he engendered the revelation of Hashem’s presence to almost the entire world. Even Pharoah in Egypt witnessed a clear demonstration of Hashem's presence and recognized it immediately. (Bereishis 12:17,18)

At what point did Avraham begin to draw the revealed light of Hashem into the world? It was only after his bris milah (circumcision) when he shed his husk, becoming a fully opened conduit for the reception and transmission of Hashem’s holiness.

The Ba’al Shem Tov taught that every lesson in the Torah is relevant in every generation and for every person. In the heart of every Jew there lies a concealed spark of Godliness, that while it may be hidden, nevertheless continues to glow incessantly. This has already been written, “Make a tabernacle for Me and I will dwell within them”. The Torah writes, “them” and not “it”. Hashem will dwell in the heart of anyone who will make his heart into a sanctuary for Him.

When a Jew peels back the thick husks enveloping his heart and endeavors to become a feeling living person, then the light which is hidden there spreads, enlivening his body, his soul and in turn - the whole world.
(based on Divrei Yisroel of Modjitz, p.45, and the Nesivos Shalom of Slonim, vol. Bereishis)


The Recipe for Scholarship and Sustenance

“He (Avraham) said, Sir, if you please, don’t go on without stopping by me. Let water be brought and wash your feet. Rest under the tree and I will bring some bread that you may refresh yourselves. Then continue on your way. After all you are passing by this way.” (Bereishis 18:3-5)

Rashi on the words, “. . . will bring some bread that you may refresh yourselves”, states, “In the Torah, the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Writings (Kesuvim), we find that bread satisfies and refreshes.”

Doesn’t everybody know that bread satisfies and refreshes the weary and hungry? Why does Rashi need such comprehensive proof?

The Divrei Yisroel of Modjitz says that Rashi is trying to relate an important message.

“R’ Elazar ben Azaryah says, . . .if there is no flour there is no Torah; if there is no Torah there is no flour.” (Pirkei Avos 3:21). Parnosah, a livelihood, goes hand in hand with Torah study. One without the other prevents both of them from being realized.

When one engages in Torah study, each one must strive according to his ability, whether Tanach, Mishnas or Talmud. Torah study satisfies the soul and that is the source of one’s Parnosah.

This is the meaning of “. . .and I will take bread that you may refresh yourselves”. From where will the bread come? Says Rashi, from the Torah, the Nevi’im and Kesuvim. When one engages in Torah utilizing the utmost of his abilities, he assures himself ready access to Parnosah.

Rabban Gamliel, the son of R’ Yehudah HaNassi says, Torah study is good together with an occupation, for the effort expended in both of them drives away sin.” (Pirkei Avos 2:2) When Torah study is the central part of one’s day and the effort to earn a living are secondary to it, then one can have a Parnosah which will be useful and reliable.

This is already stated in the Talmud (Brochos 35) “The early generations made their Torah study fixed and arranged their occupations around firmly fixed Torah study sessions. In this way they were able to succeed at both endeavors.”

“. . .and I will take bread that you may refresh yourselves”, in Torah, Nevi'im and Kesuvim. Fused with the occupation of Torah study is Hashem’s bounty which comes to us as our Parnosah.

At the beginning of each new day one must satisfy his soul with a healthy diet of Torah, commensurate with one’s ability. Only then can one go out to earn a living. Make the Torah fixed and the Parnosah provisional. “. . .then continue on your way”, continue on to the world of work.
(Divrei Yisrael, p.48)


The Art of Hachnoses Orchim (Bereishis 21:33)

The Tamarisk is called in Hebrew A*SH*L. (Aleph, Shin, Lamed) Rav and Shmuel (Tractate Sotah 10a) disagreed on what over exactly what this ASHEL was. Rav held that it was a real tree that provided fruits for Avraham's guests.

Shmuel held that Avraham established an inn for guests and travelers. We also saw that Avraham had the angels sit under a tree (his inn?) when they first arrived. It could be the same tree and both explanations are fitting.

ASHEL is also an acrostic.

A = ochel (food)

SH = shtiah (drink)

L = levya / lina (escort / sleeping accommodations)

These are the basic components of proper Hachnoses Orchim, taking care of Guests.

Once a Jew came to R' Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev to pour out his heart. He was a well to do business man and had dedicated a substantial amount of money and personal time to the mitzvah of Hachnoses Orchim. He had a special wing in his house built for the various guests who came his way, including a staff of cooks, maids and attendants to see to their needs. His homemade beer and wine, and freshly baked bread was served to his guests just like to his own family. The wealthy were treated like royalty, and the poor were treated like the wealthy. What went wrong?

“Rebbe", lamented the gentlemen, "I can't believe my eyes, I can't believe that it is true. Early this morning my entire estate burned to the ground. Everything was consumed, nothing is left."

"If it was only my house I wouldn't be so distraught", he continued in a pained voice, "but the entire Hachnoses Orchim project is lost. I don't know why this happened! What did I do to warrant such ruin?!"

The Berditchever sunk deep into thought for a few minutes then looked up compassionately at the man standing in

anguish before him.

"Tell me", he began quietly, "when the guests came, did you give them food (Ochel) to eat?"

"Yes", answered the distraught man, "I gave them the my best. Fresh bread and vegetables from my garden were always on the tables. The chickens were from my own coops. I could go on, but believe me Rebbe, nothing was spared."

The Berditchever continued. "And when they came they also received drinks?" (Shtiah) "Yes of course. I supplied homemade wine and beer, and the water was from a well newly dug especially for the guests."

"And when they left", queried the Berditchever, "did you give them an escort (Levaya) out of town like Avraham Avinu did with his guests?" (Bereishis 18:16)?

"Well, that is one thing that was very difficult to do", conceded the man. "Since I am either at my business or busy with guests still on the premises, I would have a hard time accompanying each guest on his way."

"Now", concluded the Berditchever, "you have your answer." "You see, a Jew is required to provide his guest with A*SH*L (food, drink and escort). You however, only provided them with AiSH (food and drink, but aish also means fire). AiSH is what you got in return."

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