When we left our heroes last week, we learned of the Akeidah and how Avraham Avinu passed that great test of being willing to sacrifice his son Yitzchak. Avraham, who was the greatest thinker of his time, put logic aside and followed the command of Hashem which seemed illogical. While this was taking place, the Satan convinced Sarah that Avraham actually killed Yitzchak, this news caused her death.
"And it was, the days of Sarah’s life, 100 years, 20 years and 7 years." Q- Why not say 127 years?FASCINATING SIDE POINT:
A- When Sarah was 100 years old, she was as beautiful as a 20 year old, and when she was 20, she was as pure and free of sin as a 7 year old.
The gimatria - (numerical value) of the word vayih’u (And it was...) =37 thus, the 37 years that she enjoyed with her son were years of really living it up. All the days of her life were equally good.LESSON:
It’s not what happens around you that makes your life a good one, but rather how you view those happenings. Sarah viewed her whole life as good.STORY:
Rav Aryeh Levine (Tzaddik of Yerushalayim) learned as a youngster in the Yeshiva of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer. Many years later, they met up in Yerushalayim, their new home. Rav I.Z. Meltzer asked Rav Levine how his years in the Yeshiva were. “And where did you sleep?” Rav Levine smiled and responded, “I had a comfortable spot in the Shul on a bench.” Rav Meltzer, obviously upset at hearing Rav Levine's response, continued his questioning. “Where did you eat?” Once again, Rav Levine happily recalled; “I had a good set-up; On Sundays I ate at the -- family. Tuesday I ate at the -- family and Thursday at the -- family.” Rav Meltzer asked, "But what about the other days, where did you eat?” "Oh, I managed just fine.”FASCINATING SIDE POINT:
Rav I.Z. Meltzer realized that the other days he went hungry. He apologized for not knowing that Rav Aryeh was treated poorly. Rav Aryeh Levine assured the Rosh Yeshiva that he didn’t feel at all neglected or bad in any way. That night, Rav I.Z. Meltzer’s Rebbetzin knocked on Rav Levine’s door saying that her husband needed to see him immediately, upon entering, Rav Levine found his old Rosh Yeshiva sitting up with tears rolling down his eyes. “What will I say on the day of judgment when they ask me in heaven how Rav Aryeh didn’t have a bed to sleep on or a daily meal at my Yeshiva.” Rav Aryeh assured his Rosh Yeshiva that his stay in Yeshiva was good and didn’t have any bad memories or feelings.
When Sarah was alive, her candles burned from one Erev Shabbos to the next. The dough she kneaded was blessed and the cloud of Hashem rested over her tent. At her death, all these miracles ceased. Avraham returns from Be’er Sheva to eulogize Sarah and to cry for her.FASCINATING SIDE POINT:
When the Torah writes that Avraham cried over Sarah, the word v’livkosah is written with a small ‘kof’. Why is this letter small?STORY:
ANSWER A: Although Avraham was obviously very saddened by the death of his wife, he didn’t express it too much. The reason was that when a person goes to do a Mitzvah, the Yeitzer HaRah can try and prevent him from doing it. In this case, by the Akeidah, the Satan (Yeitzer HaRah couldn’t prevent Avraham. But the Yeitzer HaRah can make a person regret the Mitzvah he’s done. So Sarah died when she heard of her son’s “death.” The Yeitzer HaRah wanted Avraham to regret the Mitzvah he did. In order not to fall prey to this trap, he withheld some mourning.
ANSWER B: Avraham knew that Sarah accomplished so much in her life and now she will be rewarded in Olam HaBoh- the next world, this is the happiest thought.
Rav Meir Shapiro, the founder of Daf Yomi (the universal daily learning of a page of Talmud) was on his deathbed. He asked that his bed be brought to the Yeshiva, 'Chachmei Lublin’, which he started. It was with his Talmidim, his beloved students, with whom he’d spend his last days with. By the last day, he was unable to speak. He wrote to his students who were at his bedside, to drink a Le’chaim - the shot glasses were passed around and after the Bracha, everyone drank. He shook each student’s hand for a long time, with love in his eyes. He once again wrote to them that they should be happy. He requested of them to sing, the song ‘In You Hashem, our forefathers trusted, they trusted and were saved'. The Talmidim sang the song for their Rebbi and danced around his bed, and with tears streaming from their eyes, his soul left this world to the next.
Avraham purchases to whole field which (Meorat HaMachpeila) is in, from ‘Efron HaChiti.' At first, Efron speaks to Avraham as if he'll give it over to him for free. He sounds like a real sporty dude, but when it came down to the bucks, he wanted 400 shekel (a fortune at that time) and the buck stopped there.FASCINATING SIDE POINT:
The 400 Shkalim that Avraham paid for Me'orat HaMachpeila was each worth 2,500 ordinary Shkalim. Therefore, Avraham really paid one million Shkalim.LESSON:
We see how Efron, in contrast to Avraham, speaks a lot but doesn’t even do a little. He speaks of giving it away for free but really charges 400 shekel.LESSON:
We see how much Avraham loved Sarah, by how much he paid for her burial plot.
Sarah was a role model for all, and her death was a great loss. People abandoned work to pay respect to this great pillar taken from the world. Amongst those at the funeral, were the 2 sons of Noach, Mamrei, Eshkol, Anair, Avimelech and Eiver, along with many other great people of the generation. Sarah was laid to rest with Adam and Chava. Sarah was a shining example of how beautiful it is to serve Hashem.LESSON:
Make yourself into a role model for others, show how special it is to live a life of Torah.
Avraham is nearing the end of his life, time for Yitzchak to find a wife! Avraham was old, yet he made every day count. He saw the opportunity in each day to be better than the day before. Hashem blesses Avraham with all good things, wealth, cattle and a family. Avraham wanted the security of knowing that all Hashem did for him would be passed down to future generations. Avraham wanted to see Yitzchak(who is 40 years old) build a family. He spent the last 3 years learning Torah at the famous Yeshiva of Shem v’Ever (Shem was Noach's son and Eiver was Shem's great-grandson). Avraham sends his loyal servant and student, Eliezer to find a wife for Yitzchak. She had to be from Charan (Avraham’s hometown), not from Cana’an.FASCINATING SIDE POINT:
Why was Charan better than C’na’an? After all, the people of Charan still served Avodah Zoroh (idols) whereas the C’na’anim didn’t. They were immoral in their behavior?LESSON:
It’s easier to change beliefs than behavior. Also, being from the family of Avraham meant that there are inborn traits that are waiting to come out.Eliezer muzzles the camels for the journey.
We must be careful not to “graze” from other people’s “fields.” This includes “borrowing” the pen left on his table; using her towel after the pool. It’s not yours until the owners says it is.LESSON:
Hashem illuminates the path for Eliezer with lightning and makes a 16 day trip in 24 hours (a Porsche can’t even do that).Eliezer Davens that the girl destined for Yitzchak should have the attribute of chessed. See how well Eliezer learned from his master Avraham.
The greatest Middah is that of Chessed. The creation and existence of the world is due to the greatest Chessed of Hashem.LESSON:
Eliezer strikes up a deal saying: "The girl that I ask for a drink and she says 'drink and I'll give your camels to drink too,' will be the wife for Yitzchak."
The attribute that will be the determining factor is Chessed.STORY:
The Tzaddik and Rav of Yerushalayim, Rav Zundel from Salant was standing by the well, dressed plainly. A woman, not knowing who this “poor Jew” was, asked him to draw water from the well and she offered him some money. He refused the money, but gladly drew her water. She later found out that this was a truly great Tzaddik and apologized to him. He laughed and said “I owe you thanks for enabling me to do the Mitzvah of Chessed."
Well, would you believe it? Eliezer doesn’t even finish his sentence and guess who shows up? You guessed it, Rivkah. Eliezer sees her go to the well, when all of a sudden, the water rises from deep within it to meet her. Well, that ought to draw some attention. Eliezer runs to give her the acid test the water test.LESSON:
We see again how important Chessed really is, although a great miracle was performed for Rivkah, this is not enough. The real test is to see if she performs acts of Chessed.STORY:
When the Brisker Rav was old and sick, he only had strength to learn while lying down. It was during the 1948 war in Israel. Bombs were exploding all over Yerushalayim. Everyone trembling in the bomb shelters - everyone, except for the Brisker Rav. He wouldn’t stop learning for a moment to go down to the bomb shelter. As the bombs fell, his son ran through the streets to the house of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer. He told the Rav of his father’s refusal to leave his couch. The Rav gave a P'sak (Halachic ruling) that the Brisker Rav must go down. Upon hearing the P'sak from the Rav of the city, he closed his Gemorah and left the couch admitting that he has to follow the ruling of Rav Isser Zalman. Seconds later, before reaching the door of the room, a bomb crashed through the ceiling smashing the couch where the Brisker Rav’s head was, two seconds earlier (It didn’t explode!) “I am a miracle worker” said the Brisker Rav’s son (had it not been for him getting a P'sak from Rav Isser Zalman, his father’s head would still be on the couch). The Brisker Rav turns to his son and humorously said “You owe me a couch. Don’t think I’ll forget about it.” There are many morals to this amusing story, but for our purposes, it shows that miracles are wondrous, but one can’t loose sight of the priority of Ben Adam L'Chaveiro the obligations we have towards others, in this case, the Brisker Rav felt that his son’s sincere concern, in this case caused the bomb to explode on his couch. He understood that the reason a bomb hadn’t landed there earlier was due to the merit of the Torah which he learned on the couch.Eliezer asks to drink. Rivkah gives him to drink and then says she’ll also give his camels to drink.
Rivkah first waits for Eliezer to drink before she says the next thing she’ll do. Don’t say what you plan on doing, unless you’ll do it.Eliezer goes back to Rivkah’s home to arrange for her meeting with Yitzchak.
FASCINATING SIDE POINT:
Eliezer gave her a nose-ring weighing a half of a shekel, symbolizing the half shekel her descendants will contribute for the Mishkan. He gave her 2 bracelets hinting to the 2 Luchot, weighing 10 Shkalim hinting to the 10 commandments.FASCINATING SIDE POINT:
Rivkah returns with Eliezer to Yitzchak. Yitzchak was in the fields, Davening to Hashem. This occurred in the afternoon, thus the afternoon prayer- Mincha was established by Yitzchak.
Why was Yitzchak in the fields Davening? He was waiting to find travelers who possibly need help. We see the influence his father had on him. He made himself accessible to those who might need him. To ,Yitzchak this was an opportunity to teach people about Hashem. Staying home in his tent, would be an opportunity lost.
Rivkah sees Yitzchak and foresaw, with Ruach Hakodesh divine inspiration that Eisov will be born to her. She falls off her camel as a result of her fear.
Rivkah enters the old tent of Sarah and the cloud of Hashem returned as in the days of Sarah. The candles of Sarah burnt once again. Yitzchak knew that Rivkah was a Tzadeikis like his mother and she turned his mourning to joy.
Avraham marries Keturah. Mazel Tov! But who’s Keturah? Hagar! I thought she was out of the picture? She was, but she did t’shuvah so she’s back in the picture.LESSON:
We are never “out of the picture.” T’shuva brings us back into the picture.STORY:
Meir was a Rosho - a sinner who slandered his fellow Jews to the powerful Duke. He got the Jews of the town in lots of trouble due to his “snitching.” One day he told his non-Jewish wagon driver of a secret he must tell the Duke. On their journey, he stops to Daven Mincha and as he recites the Bracha of S’lkach lonu avinu he starts crying. He regretted all the times he “squealed” on his fellow Jews to get them in trouble, and Davened to Hashem for forgiveness. “No longer will I do such terrible acts. I won’t tell the Duke this time of my secret regarding the Jews. No, under no condition even if I’m beaten to death, I won’t forsake my people ever again.” The wagon driver realized from his sobbing, that something was wrong. Meir returns to the wagon saying “We’ll have to turn back, I’m not feeling well.” "No, no, said the wagon driver, I see what’s going on here, so we’ll be going to the Duke regardless." The messenger tells the Duke of Meir’s sudden change of mind after his prayers. The Duke, realizing Meir’s change of heart, forces him to reveal the secret of the Jews, but Meir refused. The Duke beat him up, but Meir remained firm in his refusal to divulge the secret. Meir died soon afterwards as a Ba'al T'shuva. Although he did the worst sins during most of his life, he did T'shuva and got his share of Olam Haboh.
Avraham has many more children from Keturah, but these were not the children who would carry out his legacy. Hashem chose Yitzchak as the next forefather of the soon to be 'Jewish people.'
Avraham passes away at age 175, and is buried by his sons, Yitzchak and Yishmael. We learn from Yishmael's involvement in his father's burial, that he did t’shuavh. After this, Hashem blesses Yitzchak with the blessings given to his father, years ago. This serves as a comfort to Yitzchak after his father's death.LESSON:
We are obligated to comfort someone who is in mourning.STORY:
The ‘Chazon Ish’ found out about a Jew, who so son recently died from Polio and was not being visited. People were afraid of catching the disease, so avoided the man's home. Needless to say, the Father was depressed. The Chazon Ish ordered a cab and traveled to visit the lonely Father sitting Shiv'ah.GOOD SHABBOS!
Hashem should shower us with all good blessings.
© 1998 by R' Matis Friedman, H.A.F.T.R.
R' Matis Friedman's email address is email@example.com
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