Friday, November 13, 2009

Parsha Lech Lecha Part2, Chaya Sarah, Halacha, Eye-Witness from Ft. Hood

A 14 year old Yulia bas Naomi Sarah has had a condition from birthday that is a miracle that she is alive today but needs treatment for the next 3 weeks in the hospital, I am asking you all to pray for her.

My Rosh Yeshiva has an added name: Rabbi Yehuda Yechiel Lieb ben Shpritza.

Aaron Ovadia sent me this before Shabbos and it was too late to include in last week’s Parsha Drasha: QUESTION: 3 angels came down to the world: Raphael Michael and Gavriel. But there were 4 tasks to accomplish.
1. To Heal Avraham
2.To Save Lot
3.Tell Sarah the news about her having a son
4.To Destroy Sodom.

Why didn’t Hashem send 4 angels to do this?

There could be many answers to this question; here is one of them...

ANSWER: I have to begin with an interesting story told of Rav Shlomo Kluger – There was once a family who wanted to postpone the circumcision of their son in order to name the child after a relative who was deathly ill, and who was about to pass away at any given moment. Rav Kluger told the family to go ahead with the Bris, and not to wait any longer. The family followed the Rav’s advice and they went ahead with the Bris. The deathly ill relative ended up not dieing. He actually went on to continue living a happy and healthy life. The Rav explained how he learned this from Parshat Vayera and the Angel of Avraham and Lot.

Which will also answer our question:
Lot did not have enough merits (zechuyot) to bring an Angel down to this world to save him. But since Hashem was already sending down an Angel to heal Avraham after the Bris Mila, Lot was able to be saved once that Angel was already here.

It is known from our tradition, that Eliyahu HaNovi comes down and attends the Bris of every Jewish boy. The deathly ill relative did not have enough merits to bring down an Angel to heal him. Although as soon as the family made a Bris Mila for their son – and Eliyahu HaNovi was already sent down in this world, the deathly ill relative was then able to be healed by him.


Why should I be a Mensch with the Airlines?

This question arose last night by my very self. A couple months ago, I reserved a flight on El Al because of their disgusting attitude towards customers, I decided to cancel the flight. However, by the time I learned of their attitude I had already booked an internal flight. So finally last night I went to cancel my flight. I remember that cancellation used to cost $50 so out of a $104 ticket on Delta, I would save $54 for my next ticket. Somebody in Delta must have been rolling on the floor laughing at me as the cancellation cost is $150 and I essentially lose the ticket. On Jet Blue the on-line cancellation supposedly is only $100 but add another $15 to do it over the phone. I went into the Jet Blue site and low and behold it said change seat or cancel. Now I could change seat but how do I cancel. The ticket cost not much more that $115. So the question arises why cancel it and what is in it for me? The answer is “In the place where there is no man be a man” – Perkei Avos so we must step up. Not to make the airline rich but for that person on Dec. 28th who needs to return home or to work after the Nativity Day Festival.

Then there is the free ticket for the frequent flyer. My “free” El Al ticket will only cost me $445 ‘add on fuel charge’ and then since I won’t buy an upgradeable ticket that would cost as much as business class, I will have to pay another $120 to make it a ‘free’ regular ticket as I in my ignorance took upgrading points. I noticed that PM Benyamin Netanyahu and the other ministers who flew to Washington, DC flew Arkia instead of El Al for a similar reason that they became too greedy. I assume that the private plane of the PM was used by President Peres on his flight to Brazil. It is part of a massive counter-propaganda campaign. People can be fooled once or twice before they go to other airlines or use alternative transportation methods within the USA such as bus or rail. When one takes into consideration the distance between the NY Airports and places like Washington or Boston, a bus trip is slightly longer when the security wait is taken into account and quite a bit cheaper and tickets don’t have to be purchased weeks or months before and one is not charged on luggage.

When it gets to the point that there is a matter of an hour or two time and saving what one earns in an hour or two then the winner is not the airline laughing at the stupid customer but the customer laughing at the stupid airline. That is why I am flying the cheaper British Airways which puts me in BWI or IAD without having to drive down from JFK or Newark and I will return directly from Miami without having to schlep suitcases around JFK for El Al. As for El Al if they want to be a Mensch with me, I will fly them and if not they will not get my business. I will remain a Mensch and cancel my tickets instead of letting them expire – not for the airlines to make money off of me but for the person needing a plane flight. I refuse to give up my reservation in the Next World to avenge my purse in this world. I suggest that you do accordingly.

Lech Lecha Part 2

Where did Avraham’s war against the 4 kings take place? There are a number of possibilities and I will discuss first the least probably place first and yet there is enough room to easily hold millions of people in the area it appears to me the least probable due to the only real water source there comes from the fort of Megido.

The war of Gog and Magog known as Armageddon after the fort of Megido in Emek Yezrael not far today from the city of Afula. The Emek is a valley and one prophet writes “On the mountains of Yisrael you shall fall” does not give me a clue how Megido gets into the picture unless one envisions an invasion from Syria heading in two columns through this valley and Emek HaYarden. Both Yechezkiel and Zachariah speak of an attack by hoards on Yerushalayim. However, maybe there was a tradition that Avraham caught up with the victorious forces of the 4 kinds camped here and he attacked with 318 Shofar blowers from the sides of the mountains and hills of the valley making the whole camp panic and flee past Afula and the bottom of Har Tabor, Kfar Tabor, Tzomet Golani towards the Banias and up to Damascus. Logic tells me that he attacked perhaps around Schem towards the Yarden River Valley or the Beit Shean area in any event they fled via the Banias and split up there. Finally there is a possibility what the night encampment was around Yericho and the force came out of Yerushalayim and spread over the hills with lanterns and shofarot. By hearing this noise and seeing the hills lit up it terrorized the army as the ones on the high ground held the advantage.

However, the essence of the war is the forces against HASHEM vs. G-D. Nimrod was happy to have Lot alive. He was the son of an enemy who he burnt in the furnace years before and the nephew of his anti-pantheism and having Nimrod as a G-D – Avraham. (On the day that Avraham died, Esav killed Nimrod by accident and took the cloak of Kayn from him.) Nimrod by capturing Lot claimed victory over the forces of G-D.

There is a story how the Chofetz Chaim wanted to go unarmed to confront the communists in Russia and was discouraged by other Rabbis in his day. For a G-D fearing man like Avram or the Chofetz Chaim.

14:1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim,

Amraphel: This is Nimrod, who said (אָמַר) to Abram, Fall (פּוֹל) into the fiery furnace. (Gen. Rabbah) [from Mid. Tan., Lech Lecha 6; Er. 53a, Targum Jonathan]

the king of Goyim: There is a place named Goyim because [people] from many nations (גוֹיִם) and places assembled there, and they crowned over them a man named Tidal (Gen. Rabbah 42:4).

28 years after building the Tower of Bavel to make war on the heavens, Amraphel, identified as Nimrod, begins his desires to reconquer the population of the world that was once under his control. He took tribute from the conquered kings. The kings managed to rebel and he came again this time with a very large army to win back his tax and take slaves and spoils. Note he did not attack Shem in Yerushalayim as that was the holiest man and a holy city. Just like under the kings of France and Pharaoh, the clergy were exempt from taxes to the king.

The fact that many Goyim were gathered against Sodom in Eretz Yisrael is a symbol of Gog and Magog where all the Arab Nations, perhaps Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and others are coming to fight and plunder the land. Note that one of the main objectives besides stifling the freedom of these people and the murder of their kings was to take plunder and slaves from the area. In every pogrom besides the murders there have been rapes. In places like Tunisia, I heard of people rolling up their wives and daughters in rugs until the danger had passed.

2 that they made war with Bear king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela–the same is Zoar.

Bear: He was evil (רַע) to Heaven and evil to people. [from Tan. Lech Lecha 8]Birsha: He was elevated in wickedness (רֶשַׁע). [cf. Tan. Lech Lecha 8]Shineab: He hated (שׂוֹנֵא) his Father (אָב) in Heaven. [from Tan. Ad loc.]Shemeber: He made (שָׂם) wings (אֵבֶר) to fly and to spring and to rebel against the Holy One, blessed be He. [from Tan. Ad loc.]Bela: the name of the city.

The Artscroll commentary suggests that Bela became the king of Zohar and was a person who originally named a city after himself but after the over-throw of the Sodom and Amorah the city became known as Zohar or reverted to the original name. The other kings according to the Medrash were wicked and their names indicated their wickedness. Bear was as Rashi indicated evil to heaven and the people. Birsha was a wicked person who rose to power through wickedness (I wonder if one could identify a few politicians around the world with this trait?)

3 All these came as allies unto the vale of Siddim–the same is the Salt Sea.

The valley of Siddim: This was its name because there were many fields (שָׂדוֹת) in it, and there are many Aggadic Midrashim. [from Targum Onkelos]

which is the Dead Sea: Afterwards, the sea flowed into it, and it became the Dead Sea. The Midrash Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 42:6), however, states that the rocks around it split, and rivers flowed into it.

The Artscroll identifies this as a valley filled with lime and limestone that eventually would become the great salt sea. (As for me, I believe that the salt sea existed there below sea level from the time of Noach’s Flood and when the waters evaporated, the concentration of salt rose higher. Still there was abundant rain water at the time like some places on the other side of the Yarden have a few dozen kilometers going in the direction of Eilat and as in places like Ein Freshka and Ein Gedi.

This was after the initial war to work out a peace agreement and pay tribute as designated in the accord.

4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

For twelve years they served: These five kings [served] Chedorloemer.

According to the Sod (secret) of the Torah for the first 12 years a child only has a foolish Yetzer upon Bar Mitzvah he becomes an adult with the power to rebel against the Yetzer. 12 years are mentioned also here for the Bas Mitzvah which occurs at 12.

5 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,

And in the fourteenth year: of their rebellion, Chedorloemer came. Since the matter concerned him, he bore “the heavier side of the beam” [i.e., he bore a major part of the responsibility]. [From Gen. Rabbah 42:6] And the kings: These are the three kings. And the Zuzim: These are the Zamzumim. See Deut. 2:20.

Ashteroth-karnaim appears to be the ‘horns’ between the mountains of other side of Yarden and Eretz Yisrael where the 5 cities were located perhaps in the a line from one to the other like the horns of the bull.

6 and the Horites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness.

In their mountain: Heb. בְהַרְרָם, in their mountain. [from Targum Onkelos]

the plain of Paran: Heb. אֵיל According to its Aramaic translation, it means a plain. I say, however, that אֵיל does not mean a plain, but rather, that the plain of Paran was named Eil, and that [the plain] of Mamre was named Elonei, and that [the plain] of the Jordan was named Kikkar, and that [the plain] of Shittim was named Abel, אָבֵל הַשִׁטִים (Num. 33.49). And similarly, Baal-gad [was a plain] named Baal. [Though] they are all translated מִישׁוֹר, a plain, each one has its name accompanying it.

Alongside the desert: Heb. עַל alongside the desert, like (Num. 2:20):“and alongside them (וְעָלָיו) was the tribe of Manasseh.” – [from Targum Onkelos]

These were the original inhabitants of Mt. Seir before Esav replaced them to the plains below the Paran Desert. What Rashi and Onkelos is explaining the plain opposite Menashe would be more between Beit Shean and Yericho.

7 And they turned back, and came to En-mishpat–the same is Kadesh–and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazazon-tamar. 8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela–the same is Zoar; and they set the battle in array against them in the vale of Siddim;

Ein Mishpat, which is Kadesh: lit. the fountain of judgment. [It was thus called] because of the future, for Moses and Aaron were destined to be judged there concerning matters [that would occur at] that fountain, viz. the waters of Meribah (Tan. Lech Lecha 8). Onkelos, however, rendered it according to its simple meaning, the place where the people of the province would assemble for all litigation.

Field of the Amalekites: Amalek had not yet been born, but it was given this appellation because of the [name it would bear] in the future. [from Tan. Ad loc.]

in Hazezon Tamar: This is Ein-Gedi. This is an explicit verse in (II) Chronicles (20:2) concerning Yehoshaphat.

The Artscroll implies that Ein HaMishpat is Meribah that Moshe encountered again we need future places and events to get our geographical bearings.

9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against the five.

Four kings: Nevertheless, the few were victorious. This is to inform you that they were mighty men. Despite this, Abram did not hesitate to pursue them. [from Gen. Rabbah 42:7]

Actually this is not necessarily so as the war between Athens and Sparta or if there were to be a war between Russia, China, USA all the Arabs against Israel and a four Pacific Island Counties this would not be the case of four against five. I assume that Rashi has his traditional sources for the above as the logic used a bit flawed.

10 Now the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell there, and they that remained fled to the mountain.

Many clay pits: There were many pits there from which they took earth for the clay for building (Targum Onkelos). The Midrashic explanation (Gen. Rabbah ad loc.), is that the clay was kneaded in them [i.e., in the pits], and a miracle was wrought for the king of Sodom that he escaped from there, because some of the nations did not believe that Abraham had been saved from Ur of the Chaldees, from the fiery furnace, but since this one escaped from the clay, they believed in Abraham retroactively.

Art Scroll translates this as Bitumen Pits and to me these appear to be sink holes common in the Sodom area of the Dead Sea some appear suddenly and can swallow even a bus and others in the future might swallow even a hotel in the Ein Bokek area.

The king of Sodom did not believe Avram being saved from the fiery furnace story. Now even though the king of Amorah died, he was miraculously saved by Avram pulling him out of the Bitumen or the deep Pit after nobody was left in the area for all were dead or captured as slaves or ransom. On the other hand the king of Amorah perished at this time so the miracle was obvious.

Fled to a mountain: [Meaning]: They fled to a mountain. The word הֶרָה is the same as לְהַר. Any word that requires a lamed at the beginning, may have a hey added to it at the end [instead]. But there is a difference between הֶרָה and הָהָרָה for the hey at the end of the word takes the place of the lamed at the beginning [of the word], but it does not take the place of a lamed vowelized with a pattach under it. Now הֶרָה is like לְהַר or like אֶל הַר, [to a mountain] but it does not specify to which mountain, for each one fled to whichever mountain he found first. But when the letter hey is placed at the beginning, by writing הָהָרה, or הַמִדְבָּרה, it is to be interpreted as אֶל הָהָר, or like לְהָהָר, [to the mountain], and it refers to that mountain that is known and specified in the chapter.

This could be Mitzada or towards Arad.

11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

And he was living in Sodom: What brought this about to him [that he was taken captive]? His living in Sodom. [from Gen. Rabbah ad loc.]

Nimrod knew that he would be ransomed by Avram for a nice tidy sum of money which would also pay for his war effort. What he did not know that Avram was willing to go to war to save him with the power of HASHEM. Taken Lot in a cage and bragging before his troops and others how he defeat the G-D of Avram who was powerless to save Lot.

13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew–now he dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were confederate with Abram.

And the fugitive came: According to its simple meaning, this was Og, who escaped from the battle, and that is what is referred to in (Deut. 3:11): “Only Og survived from the rest of the Rephaim.” And that is the meaning of “survived,” that Amraphel and his allies did not kill him when they smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim [Midrash Tanchuma (Chukkas 25)]. The Midrash Gen. Rabbah [explains]: This is Og, who escaped from the Generation of the Flood, and this is the meaning of “from the rest of the Rephaim,” as it is said: (above 6: 4):“The Nephilim were on the earth, etc.” And he [Og] intended that Abram should be killed and he would marry Sarah (Gen. Rabbah 42:8).

The Hebrew: Heb. הָעִבְרִי [So called] because he came from the other side (מֵעֵבֶר) of the [Euphrates] river (Gen. Rabbah 42:8).

Abram’s confederates: lit. the masters of Abram’s covenant. Because they made a covenant with him. (Other editions add: Another explanation of [בַּעִלֵי בְּרִית]: They gave him advice concerning circumcision (Aggadah Beresheis 19:3), as is explained elsewhere) (below 18:1). [According to Aggadah Beresheis, the covenant mentioned is that of circumcision.]

Circumcision could only have come time wise later as we saw above with Amalek being mentioned. For the war with Sodom would naturally have been before its destruction which was a year before Yitzchak Avinu was to be born.

14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan.

And he armed: Heb. וַיָרֶק, like its Aramaic translation: וְזָרֵיז, [and he armed], and similarly (Lev. 26:33): וַהִרִיקֹתִי אַחִרֵיכֶם חָרֶב [which Onkelos renders]: “and I will arm Myself with My sword against you,” and similarly (Exod. 15:9):“I will arm myself (אָרִיק) with my sword, and similarly (Ps. 35:3):”And arm Yourself (וְהָרֵק) with a spear and ax.” – [from Gen. Rabbah 43:2]

his trained men: Heb. חִנִיכָיו It is written חִנִיכוֹ [in the singular], his trained man, (other editions: It is read). This is Eliezer, whom he had trained to [perform the] commandments, and it [חִנִיכָיו] is an expression of the initiation (lit. the beginning of the entrance) of a person or a utensil to the craft with which he [or it] is destined to remain, and similarly (Prov. 22: 6):“Train (חִנ‏ֹ) a child ;” (Num. 7:10):“the dedication of (חֲנֻכַּת) the altar ;” (Ps. 30:1):“the dedication of (חֲנֻכַּת) the Temple,” and in Old French it is called enseigner [to instruct, train].

Three hundred and eighteen: Our Sages said (Gen. Rabbah 43:2, Ned. 32a): It was Eliezer alone, and it [the number 318] is the numerical value of his name.

until Dan: There he became weak, for he saw that his children were destined to erect a calf there (Sanh. 96a). The reference is to I Kings 12:29: “And he (Jeroboam) placed one in Beth-el, and the other he placed in Dan.”

Later on the place would have the Arab name Banias after the statue of the idol Pan that the Romans placed there. It is a lovely spring that juts out of the mountains on the borders between Lebanon, Israel and Syria.

15 And he divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

And he divided himself against them: According to its simple meaning, transpose the verse :“And he divided himself, he and his servants, upon them at night,” as is customary for pursuers, who divide themselves after the pursued when they flee, one here and one there.

At night: i.e., after nightfall he did not refrain from pursuing them. The Midrash Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 43:3) states, however, that the night was divided, and in its first half, a miracle was wrought for him, and its second half was preserved for the [miracle of] midnight in Egypt.

Until Hobah: There is no place named Hobah, but Dan is called Hobah [culpable] because of the idolatry which would be practiced there [in the future]. [from Tan. Lech Lecha 13]

Avram and Eliezer or more likely half the force went with Eliezer and the other with Avram to pursue and attack from the rear the feeling army and drive them out so as not to have a Waterloo situation. Nimrod seeing that his army had left him alone like the Persian King vs. Alexander the Great fled with his top generals on the fastest horses and chariots while the poor infantry fled by foot perhaps against a force with Camels or horses.

16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. 17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, at the vale of Shaveh–the same is the King’s Vale.

To the valley of Shaveh: That is its name, and the Targum renders: to the clear plain. It was clear of trees and of every obstacle.

The valley of the king: [Onkelos renders:] the king’s race course; one race course was thirty rods long, which was designated for the king to play there. The Midrash Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 42:5, 43:5), however, [explains that it was] a valley where all the nations concurred (הֻשְׁווּ) and crowned Abram over them as a prince of God and as an officer.

A short conclusion of this war and what we can expect in the war of Gog and Magog. I imagine a scenario being played out with millions rising up the hills of Eretz Yisrael yelling Allah Akbar and coming after the tanks a force that continues to come towards Yerushalayim with an out gunned out manned Israeli force. Eventually the munitions fail and the force enters parts of Yerushalayim and begins to plunder houses and breaks off from the fighting. This gives time for the Tzaddikim to regroup a broken army waiting a finally attack before everybody has to flee into the plains above the sea. Suddenly an earthquake of unheard of magnitude occurs and the buildings collapse on the heads of the spoilers and the tanks fall into crevasses or overturned and catch on fire. For on that day: Zachariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say: 'It is My people', and they shall say: 'The LORD is my God.' 14:4 And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, so that there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. 9 And the LORD shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the LORD be One, and His name one.

Then like in the days of Avram and Moshe bring charity to reinstate the Beis HaMikdash.

18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High.

And Malchizedek: The Midrash Aggadah (Targum Jonathan, Ned. 32b, Mid. Ps. 76:3) states that he was Shem, the son of Noah.

Bread and wine: This is done for those weary from battle, and he [Malchizedek] demonstrated that he bore no grudge against him [Abram] for slaying his sons (Tan. Lech Lecha 15). And according to the Midrash Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 43:6), he hinted to him about the meal offerings and the libations, which his [Abraham’s] children would offer up there.

This is similar to the story of the Cohain Gadol Shimon HaTzaddik who greeted Alexander of Macedonia with bread and wine. Alexander bowed down before him as the image of Shimon in this Kahuna garments appeared before Alexander before each victory. (A bit different from Antiochus)

19 And he blessed him, and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth;

Who possesses heaven and earth: Heb. קֹנֶה, like (Ps. 115:15): the Maker of heaven and earth. By making them, He acquired them to be His.

This is a big Kiddush HASHEM and the Nations of the World will no longer be in doubt as to WHO rules the world alone!

20 and blessed be God the Most High, who hath delivered your enemies into thy hand.’ And he gave him a tenth of all.

Who has delivered: Heb. מִגֵן, Who has delivered, and likewise, (Hosea 11:8): I shall deliver you (אֲמַגֶנ‏ְ), O Israel.

And he gave him: [i.e.,] Abram [gave Malchizedek] a tithe from all that was his because he was a priest. [from Gen. Rabbah 44:7]

The righteous among the Nations that survive the war will come with thrust for Torah and they may be allowed to under take more than the 7 mitzvos of the Children of Noach and the derivatives of these Mitzvos and peace and prosperity will last for a thousand years as they learn to be more forgiving to one another and afraid of the brutal wars, pestilence and famine that have just filled the land.

21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram: ‘Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.’ 22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom: ‘I have lifted up my hand unto the LORD, God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is yours, lest thou should say: I have made Abram rich;

I raise my hand: Heb. הִרִמֹתִי, lit. I raised. This is an expression of an oath. “I raise my hand to the Most High God.” And similarly (Gen. 22:16): בִּי נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי \'82 [means]“I swear by Myself,” and similarly (Gen. 23:13): נָתַתִּי כֶּסֶף הַשָׂדֶה קַח מִמֶנִי [means] “I am giving you the price of the field, take it from me.” – [from Gen. Rabbah 43:9]

24 save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, let them take their portion.

A true Tzaddik like Moshe and Avram are not influenced by temporary things like money. Once a businessman came to the Chofetz Chaim for advice and saw that he lived in such poverty. The businessman wanted to give him money to look the Chassidic King type leaders. The Chofetz Chaim said, “You are rich and yet you only have two suitcases with you.” The businessman replied, “I am on a short journey and soon I will be back to my lavish home.” The Chofetz Chaim replied, “So am I.” The true Tzaddik does not worry about materialistic things. I have a good computer to write Torah and a silver Kiddush Cup to honor Shabbos but you will not find me with rings and jewelry. The only jewelry that I wore in the last I don’t know how many years was my army “dog tag” with my name and serial number on it and in my grammar school days a tag with my name and address on it.

Chaya Sarah

Rabbi Yossi covers part of the Parsha not covered this year by myself. To hear interesting things on this Parsha from PATH to Torah by Rabbi Yossi Jankovits Shlita:

24:60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her: ‘Our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and let thy seed possess the gate of those that hate them.’ 61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man. And the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. 62 And Isaac came from the way of Beer-lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the land of the South.

Coming from Beer Lachai Ro’i: where he had gone to bring Hagar to Abraham his father, that he should marry her (Gen. Rabbah 60:14). And he dwelt in the land of the south: Near that well, as it is said (above 20:1): “And Abraham traveled from there to the south land, and he dwelt between Kadesh and Shur,” and there the well was located, as it is said (above 16:14):“Behold it is between Kadesh and Bered.”

I personally dispute this idea. Hagar had to be at least 12 years old when she became pregnant with Yishmael who was born when Avraham was 86. Avraham was 140 when Yitzchak married Rivka. Which places her at the age of 66 minimum and if she was 20 or 30 when she became pregnant with Yishmael that would add on another 8 to 18 years. Now you might argue that Sarah was 90 when she gave birth. But there is a difference here as a special miracle with Rafael HaMalach occurred. For another miracle to happen again after Avraham has his heirs sounds a bit off to me.

63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide; and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming.

To pray: לָשׂוּחַ is an expression of prayer, as in (Ps. 102:1):“He pours out his prayer (שִׂיחוֹ).” - [Gen. Rabbah 60: 14, Ber. 26b] \b 64\b0

Yitzchak was davening Mincha. We have an oral tradition on this. For according to Jewish tradition, Avraham arose and established the morning prayers. Yishmael and Yitzchak followed this custom and one can hear from every Mosque the call to prayer before sun rise and many Jews get up to pray the Amidah precisely at sunrise called “Neitz” in Hebrew. Yitzchak prayed Mincha as seen here and Yacov established the evening prayer and the prayer before going to sleep.

64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she alighted from the camel.

And she let herself down: She slipped off toward the earth, as the Targum כִינַת, “and she leaned.” She leaned towards the earth but did not reach the ground, as (above verse 14):“Please lower (הַטִּי) your pitcher,” [which the Targum renders:] אַרְכִינִי [tilt]. Similar to this, (II Sam. 22:10):“And He bent (וַיֵּט) the heavens,” [which the Targum renders:] וְאַרכִין, an expression of leaning towards the earth, and similarly (Ps. 37: 24):“Though he falls (יִפֹּל), he will not be cast down,” meaning that if he falls toward the earth, he will not reach the ground.

For more details listen to the Shuir of Rabbi Yossi mentioned above.

65 And she said unto the servant: ‘What man is this that walks in the field to meet us?’ And the servant said: ‘It is my master.’ And she took her veil, and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.

It was a gesture of modesty. For in front of a slave one can be more casual but in front of the public, she had to be more modest. She signaled to Yitzchak that she was going to cover her hair, face, arms and legs in public as was the custom in the middle-east for centuries. The Bnei Yisrael after the incident with Rachel and Leah no longer held that way so as not to be deceived by scoundrels.

67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for his mother.

I already mentioned this last spring about what love is about. Here is a completely strange woman of good stock and completely a strange man whom she is betrothed to. She is going to replace his mother as Matriarch and mistress of the house/tent. She is a wife and makes the tent into a home and does her wifely duties and with time comes the love and respect for each other. THERE IS NO SUCH ANIMAL AS SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH PRINCE CHARMING, THEY MARRIED AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Once we know this, then we can see how a lasting relationship is formed.

Nowadays, the Orthodox Jews allow the young men and women to meet and discuss if they are compatible. My daughter loves to talk as she is an extrovert. She met a fellow who could not shut up long enough to let my daughter get a word in edgewise. Finally she met her husband who is an introvert and he let her talk and he added to the conversation. They liked each other, grew up and was educated in the same city were religious observant compatible and never touched each other into the wedding night. By acting thusly, they were more intellectually and background compatible before the romance happened. Of course there was the initial infatuation with him being tall and she being cute but that was not the main binding thing that has kept the relationship going.

25:1 And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah.

Contrary to Rashi, this woman appears to be somebody else and the Sages concur with him as a man is not whole without a wife and the word rooted in Yosef or add another wife. The Ramban that Ketura is a concubine as was Hagar but she is a local Canaanite woman – or possibly from the east based on the fact that the sons are sent off to the east.

2 And she bore him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 And Jokshan begot Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. 4 And the sons of Midian: Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. 6 But unto the sons of the concubines, that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts; and he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

Yishmael went to Arabia and the other sons were given gifts including the gift of astrological and astronomical matters and sent off into the east. My engineering mentor in ELTA was from Burma and he won the sport Toto with his method and donated every cent to build the Indian Jewish Synagogue in Ashdod either in Rova Aleph or Dalet. He told me that he believed that they became the Brahmans of India. A- Brahm would be the root of their name. All my Indian Jewish friends have told me that the Brahman people eat within a certain circle and prepare their own food and during the woman’s period say away from her. This would indicate to me some rudimentary kashrus and taharos HaMishpacha that they observe. There are other things in their pious rituals and there garments that I wish not to go into details now but this explains a lot about their possible roots.

7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, a hundred threescore and fifteen years. 8 And Abraham expired, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. 9 And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; 10 the field which Abraham purchased of the children of Heth; there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife. 11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son; and Isaac dwelt by Beer-lahai-roi.

I assume that when Avraham showed signs of deteriorating health and dying that Yitzchak sent messengers to Yishmael to come to see their dying father and participate in his last days. The Torah goes on to explain the generations of Yishmael only because this is need to describe one of the wives that Esav married as described in Parsha Toldos.

Halacha and Mitzvos thanks to Danny Shoemann

It’s a Mitzvah to put Tefillin on one’s head. The entire Tefillin must be placed above one’s [original] hairline, and below the frontal ridge which is soft in babies. Tefillin contain the 4 chapters in the Torah where Tefillin are written. Applies to males, everywhere, every weekday. Pasuk: “…it shall be as a sign between your eyes” (Devarim 6:8) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim’s Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Positive Mitzvah 9

It's a Mitzvah to put Tzitzit on all 4-cornered garments that are worn during the day. Both wool garments and linen garments require Tzitzit from the Torah. Other garments require Tzitzit by Rabbinic decree. Garments with more than 4 corners also require Tzitzit. Applies to males, everywhere, always.
Pasuk: "Make for yourselves Tzitzit on the corner of your garments". (Bamidbar 15:38). Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer haMitzvot HaKatzar; Positive Mitzvah 10

One may not pay attention to specific idols. Idols should not be the subject of our speech or thoughts, and one shouldn't gaze upon them. One should not read their book nor investigate how they are worshipped. Learning Halachos about idols is allowed. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always. Pasuk: "Don't pay attention to gods" (Vayikra 19:4) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 16

One may not have any benefit from an idol's ornaments, jewelry and coverings. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always. Pasuk: "Do not covet the gold and silver on them" (Devarim 7:25) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvot HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 17

One may not have any benefit from idols, their sacrifices, priests or anything else dedicated to them. Some items are worshiped but are not man-made, like mountains, trees planted for their fruit, animals not bread for idol-worship. If these items are subsequently worshipped, one may still benefit from them, but not from items found on them. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always. Pasuk: "Do not bring repugnant items into your home" (Devarim 7:26) and "Don't retain anything from the shunned material" (ibid 13:18) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvot HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 18

One may not place a Sefer such that it blocks the sunlight to enable one to be more comfortable. One may not place a Sefer such that ones friends cannot see what one is up to. If the sun is disturbing ones ability to learn Torah, then one can use another Sefer to block the sun. One may use a Sefer to prop up the Sefer one is learning, if that will help one learn better. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 28:9

One should not buy stolen Sefer Torah, Tefillin or Mezuzos for more than their worth, so as not to encourage them to be stolen. However, if one is offered them at market value, one must buy them, even if they are no longer Kosher. If the thief is asking above market value then one should bargain with him to try get the price down; if he insists on a higher price, then one does not buy them. One should not offer a ridiculously low price so as not to annoy the seller, lest he get angry and destroy the religious items. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 28:11

If – G-d forbid - one drops a Sefer Torah, one needs to fast. This is true even if the Sefer Torah was in its cover. The Minchag is that those who saw the Sefer Torah fall, also fast. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 28:12

We learned that one should buy certain religious items at their fair price, even of they were stolen. As a general rule, one may not buy goods from a thief; whether he is Jewish or not, since non-Jews are also forbidden to steal. Buying from a thief encourages him to steal, which is a sin in itself. One may buy stolen goods to return them to their rightful owner, if there's no other way to retrieve them. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 182:8

One may not braid hair on Shabbat. One may not undo braids on Shabbat. One may not use a brush that pulls out hair on Shabbat. One may fix up ones hairdo using ones hands or a brush with soft hair. Preferably one should have a Shabbat-brush; one that is soft and doesn't pull out hair, that one only uses on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:31

This week is Shabbat Mevorchim. Rosh Chodesh Kislev will be on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Shabbat Shalom uMevorach, - Danny

Biblical Proportion Thoughts

NUKES IN IRAN? MAJOR EARTHQUAKE FAULT LINES COVER 90% OF IRAN by Emanuel A. Winston, Middle East Analyst & Commentator

The nations who spilled the blood of Jews, now and over the centuries, are also cursed and their suffering will get worse. It took 10 Plagues to convince Pharaoh to recognize a Greater Power, leaving the land of Egypt devastated through today. I wonder how long the retribution will continue? And what will cause us to break off America’s alliances with the murderous nations of Ishmael? I have prayed that the cities and land of Iran be devastated by massive earthquakes where not one brick stands on another. Let the sweet oil wells be sheered off by the shifting of the earth.

Coincidentally, a 4.9 earthquake was reported today, November 5th at 2:56 AM on Iran’s border in the port city of Bandar Abbas. So far, at least 700 people have been injured. Iran is located on some of the world’s most active seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. The historic Iranian city of Bam was destroyed by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake which killed some 31,000 people in 2003. (1)

Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, being crossed by several major fault lines that cover at least 90% of the country.

As a result, earthquakes in Iran occur often and are destructive. The Iranian plateau is subjective to most types of tectonic activity, including active folding and faulting, and volcanic eruptions. It is also well known for its long history of disastrous earthquake activity. Not only have these earthquakes killed thousands but they have also lead to waste of valuable natural resources.

Since 1900, at least 126,000 fatalities have resulted from Iranian earthquakes. (2)Remember, all of Iran’s Nuclear Research and Development facilities are standing on or near tectonic fault lines. Imagine the level of disaster that the world would experience if an Iranian earthquake split or burst a Nuclear Facility.

1. "Hundreds Injured In Iran Earthquake" (Australia) & Tehran Agence France-Presse November 5, 2009 12:01 AM

2. "List of Earthquakes in Iran" Wikipedia


A story from Rabbi Nightingale of Aish Hollywood FL

A story as mailed by Gene Alberts

The brother of Rabbi Yechiel Yehuda Lieb Shlita mentioned above is the brother of the late Tzaddik Rabbi Yacov London a Gadol in Torah by any standard. The brothers had the first Yeshiva of this kind in the world dealing with Baalei Tshuvah and some frum boys who strayed from the learning path. He used to say,”You never can tell!”

You’ll never know when you’ll see the results

It was late at night and the phone of Rabbi Rafael, a famous mohel rang. Surprised he picked it up; it was a lady requesting him to come circumcise her son the following day.

The next day Rabbi Rafael comes to the house. It was in an expensive and high class neighborhood. He rang the doorbell, the lady comes down and tells him that the baby is on the second floor and on the table there is an envelope with his money. She told him that she needs to leave the house but in fifteen minutes the housekeeper will come and he can leave. Before Rabbi Rafael can say a word, she got into her car and left.

Rabbi Rafael went upstairs and saw the baby, he circumcised him and was about to leave. But the housekeeper didn’t show up. Meanwhile the baby started crying, the mohel looked at the baby and started crying with him. He started walking around the house looking for the kitchen where he found the baby’s bottle.

The mohel continued crying, crying about how on the day their son enters the covenant of Avraham Avinu the parents have more important things to do…

Only after two hours the housekeeper came, Rabbi Rafael left.

Thirteen years passed.

Rabbi Rafael gets a phone call. It was a lady asking him if he remembers her and how he circumcised her son thirteen years ago. She tells him:

“The boy whom you circumcised wants to keep mitzvot. Actually ever since he was small he wanted to pray, keep Shabbat, and to wear a kippa. We consulted with experts but they didn’t succeed in stopping his craziness. We decided to let him do what he wants. We only know you from the orthodox Jews and we are asking you to guide us….

Binyamin Jadidi

As the world shrinks: I just received a question about Judaism in Portuguese and via Google Translator managed to figure it out and give an answer in Portuguese. The world is shrinking. Up until the inquisition part of my ancestors spoke Portuguese. Later on I wrote something in Danish.


From Fort Hood Texas: Since I don't know when I'll sleep (It's 4 am now) I'll write what happened (the abbreviated version.....the long one is already part of the investigation with more to come). I'll not write about any part of the investigation that I've learned about since (as a witness I know more than I should since inevitably my JAG brothers and sisters are deeply involved in the investigation). Don't assume that most of the current media accounts are very accurate. They're not. They'll improve with time. Only those of us who were there really know what went down. But as they collate our statements they'll get it right.

I did my SRP last week (Soldier Readiness Processing) but you're supposed to come back a week later to have them look at the smallpox vaccination site (it's this big itchy growth on your shoulder). I am probably alive because I pulled a ---------- and entered the wrong building first (the main SRP building). The Medical SRP building is off to the side. Realizing my mistake I left the main building and walked down the sidewalk to the medical SRP building. As I'm walking up to it the gunshots start. Slow and methodical but continuous. Two ambulatory wounded came out. Then two soldiers dragging a third who was covered in blood. Hearing the shots but not seeing the shooter, along with a couple other soldiers I stood in the street and yelled at everyone who came running that it was clear but to "RUN!". I kept motioning people fast. about 6-10 minutes later (the shooting continuous), two cops ran up. one male, one female. we pointed in the direction of the shots. they headed that way (the medical SRP building was about 50 meters away). then a lot more gunfire. a couple minutes later a balding man in ACU's came around the building carrying a pistol and holding it tactically. He started shooting at us and we all dived back to the cars behind us. I don't think he hit the couple other guys who were there. I did see the bullet holes later in the cars. First I went behind a tire and then looked under the body of the car. I've been trained how to respond to gunfire...but with my own weapon. To have no weapon I don't know how to explain what that felt like. I hadn't run away and stayed because I had thought about the consequences or anything like that. I wasn't thinking anything through. Please understand, there was no intention. I was just staying there because I didn't think about running. It never occurred to me that he might shoot me. Until he started shooting in my direction and I realized I was unarmed. Then the female cop comes around the corner. He shoots her. (According to the news accounts she got a round into him. I believe it, I just didn't see it. he didn't go down.) She goes down. He starts reloading. He's fiddling with his magazines. Weirdly he hasn't dropped the one that was in his weapon. He's holding the fresh one and the old one (you do that on the range when time is not of the essence but in combat you would just let the old magazine go). I see the male cop around the left corner of the building. (I'm about 15-20 meters from the shooter.) I yell at the cop, "He's reloading, he's reloading. Shoot him! Shoot him!) You have to understand, everything was quiet at this point. The cop appears to hear me and comes around the corner and shoots the shooter. He goes down. The cop kicks his weapon further away. I sprint up to the downed female cop. Another captain (I think he was with me behind the cars) comes up as well. She's bleeding profusely out of her thigh. We take our belts off and tourniquet her just like we've been trained (I hope we did it right...we didn't have any CLS (combat lifesaver) bags with their awesome tourniquets on us, so we worked with what we had). Meanwhile, in the most bizarre moment of the day, a photographer was standing over us taking pictures. I suppose I'll be seeing those tomorrow. Then a soldier came up and identified himself as a medic. I then realized her weapon was lying there unsecured (and on "fire"). I stood over it and when I saw a cop yelled for him to come over and secure her weapon (I would have done so but I was worried someone would mistake me for a bad guy). I then went over to the shooter. He was unconscious. A Lt Colonel was there and had secured his primary weapon for the time being. He also had a revolver. I couldn't believe he was one of ours. I didn't want to believe it. Then I saw his name and rank and realized this wasn't just some specialist with mental issues. At this point there was a guy there from CID and I asked him if he knew he was the shooter and had him secured. He said he did. I then went over the slaughter house. the medical SRP building. No human should ever have to see what that looked like. and I won't tell you. Just believe me. Please. there was nothing to be done there. Someone then said there was someone critically wounded around the corner. I ran around (while seeing this floor to ceiling window that someone had jumped through movie style) and saw a large African-American soldier lying on his back with two or three soldiers attending. I ran up and identified two entrance wounds on the right side of his stomach, one exit wound on the left side and one head wound. He was not bleeding externally from the stomach wounds (though almost certainly internally) but was bleeding from the head wound. A soldier was using a shirt to try and stop the head bleeding. He was conscious so I began talking to him to keep him so. He was 42, from North Carolina, he was named something Jr., his son was named something III and he had a daughter as well. His children lived with him. He was divorced. I told him the blubber on his stomach saved his life. He smiled. a young soldier in civvies showed up and identified himself as a combat medic. We debated whether to put him on the back of a pickup truck. A doctor (well, an audiologist) showed up and said you can't move him, he has a head wound. we finally sat tight. I went back to the slaughterhouse. they weren't letting anyone in there. not even medics. Finally, after about 45 minutes had elapsed some cops showed up in tactical vests. Someone said the TBI building was unsecured. They headed into there. All of a sudden a couple more shots were fired. People shouted there was a second shooter. a half hour later the SWAT showed up. There was no second shooter. That had been an impetuous cop apparently. But that confused things for a while. meanwhile I went back to the shooter. the female cop had been taken away. a medic was pumping plasma into the shooter. I'm not proud of this but I went up to her and said "this is the shooter, is there anyone else who needs them first". she indicated everyone else living was attended to. I still hadn't seen any EMTs or ambulances. I had so much blood on me that people kept asking me if I was ok. but that was all other people's blood. Eventually (an hour and a half to two hours after the shootings) they started landing choppers. they took out the big African American guy and the shooter. I guess the ambulatory wounded were all at the SRP building. Everyone else in my area was dead.

I suppose the emergency responders were told there were multiple shooters. I heard that was the delay with the choppers (they were all civilian helicopters). they needed a secure LZ. but other than the initial cops who did everything right, I didn’t see a lot of them for a while. I did see many a soldier rush out to help their fellows/sisters. there was one female soldier, I dont' know her name or rank but I would recognize her anywhere who was everywhere helping people. a couple people, mainly civilians, were hysterical, but only a couple. one civilian freaked out when I tried to comfort her when she saw my uniform. I guess she had seen the shooter up close. a lot of soldiers were rushing out to help even when we thought there was another gunman out there. this Army is not broken no matter what the pundits say. not the Army I saw.

and then they kept me for a long time to come. oh, and perhaps the most surreal thing, at 1500 (the end of the workday on Thursdays) when the bugle sounded we all came to attention and saluted the flag. in the middle of it all. This is what I saw. it can't have been real. but this is my small corner of what happened.

The following is a big hit with my grandchildren:,7340,L-3803471,00.html

Also this nice story:,7340,L-3802914,00.html

The following from Fran applies to US Citizens living more than 183 days a year outside of the USA regarding health care: *From:* AACI [
*Sent:* Tuesday, November 10, 2009 4:29 PM

*Subject:* Fight New $750 US Tax - Stop it Now

If this is not displayed properly or you can not view the images,
click here

*Special Edition** November 2009 Cheshvan 5770* *Fight New $750 US Tax - Stop it Now*

* **
AACI has learned that the new Health Care Reform Bill as proposed by the US Senate contains a $750 per year Excise Tax per person for all US Citizens
living outside the US.*

The proposed law requires all US citizens regardless of country of residence to buy into one of the proposed US insurance plans or pay $750 per person
per year Health Insurance Excise Tax.

The proposed US insurance plans will not cover medical expenses outside the US. This will force us to pay for health insurance we cannot use.

A similar Health Care Bill has already been passed by the US House of Representatives. However, in that bill, all US citizens residing abroad are exempt from the Excise Tax. Unless we are exempted by *both* the House bill *and *the Senate bill, we could be taxed when the two bills are merged.

The Senate is currently debating its bill and is close to bringing to that bill to a vote. We need to urge our Senators to exempt us from the Excise Tax in their bill.

*AND we need to act NOW!*

Click here <> for a sample letter which you can personalize.

To register your opposition, you must FAX your objections whether using the attached letter or one of your own making. Emailing does not have the same
impact. When you FAX a letter, the letter is immediately seen and counted. e sure to sign it and give your Israeli Address. This validates the FAX.

To help you, AACI is providing you with a link to the names and fax numbers of every US Senator.

AACI urges every US citizen to contact their two US Senators and voice their opposition to this Excise Tax for US citizens residing abroad.

*We can make our voices heard!*

Click here<>for
address information on your representative.

From Miriam “If I don’t put Yerushalayim above my chief joy many my right hand lose it’s cunning and my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth:

And now for Matis Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos Story entiltled “My kind of person” and “Fill in the Blanks”.

Good Shabbos Everyone. In this week's parsha Vayeira, we read about Avrohom and Sorah's kindness in welcoming guests into their tent. In fact, Avrohom Avinu built his tent with openings on four sides so that it would be easy to welcome guests. Avrohom Avinu, the father of the Jewish people, was the paradigm of Chessed - kindness. The Talmud in fact tells us that a Jew is distinguished by three character traits: shyness, mercifulness, and dedication to doing of acts of kindness. (Yevamos 79b) The Talmud goes so far as to say that someone who lacks one of these qualities must be checked out to make sure that he is really Jewish! The following inspirational story, told in the first person, illustrates how one Jew went in footsteps of Avrohom and Sorah.
"I was a student at Stern College of Yeshiva University in Manhattan. For the two-and-a-half years that I was there, I encountered many homeless people who sat on street corners and asked for money.
Although I tried to help all of these people as much as I could, there was a man named Kenny who I went out my way to help. The unique thing about Kenny was that although he was probably paranoid and schizophrenic, he always had a smile; his face always radiated sunshine. Even if I did not have money for him when I saw him, I always tried to say just a quick hello to him every day to let him know that I cared.
As soon as I finished my studies at Stern College, I left for Israel. Shortly after I arrived in Israel, my parents told me that they wanted me to fly back to New York to go to the graduation ceremony. Although I wanted to see my parents, I did not think it was worth us all of us going to New York (my parents are from Georgia) just for my graduation.
But my parents said it would be a highlight of their life to see me at graduation, so I agreed to go with them.
After my graduation, when my dad, sister, and I were walking around Manhattan, I spotted Kenny. I had not seen him in about a year but we recognized each other. Kenny jumped up when he saw us and said to my dad, "Sir, your daughter was always so nice to me and would give me money or just say hello to me whenever she saw me. She made me realize that people care and she would make my day when I saw her."
After we walked away, my dad turned to me and said, "Wow, hearing what Kenny said was one of the happiest moments of my life. It meant much more to me than your graduation, because seeing Kenny and hearing what he said made me feel like a success. I then realized that I did something right in the way I raised your sister and you." (story from Rabbi Baruch Lederman)
Let us all endeavor to be like Avrohom and Sorah, the Patriarch and Matriarch, who always sought to do kindness with others. Good Shabbos Everyone.

Good Shabbos Everyone. In this week's parsha Chayei Sorah, we read about the deaths of Avrohom and Sorah, who were the father and mother of the Jewish people. The Rabbis tell us: "The deeds of fathers are an example for the children." Because we are all children of Avrohom and Sorah, we can learn from their actions.
One of the ways that Avrohom and Sorah distinguished themselves is in the decision they took to go against the cherished ideals of society and to build their own lives based on a belief in the One G-d. For this reason is Avrohom referred to in the Torah as "Ha'Ivri" - "The Hebrew". Rashi explains that the word "Ivri" is related to the root of the word meaning "on the other side."
It is as if Avrohom put himself on the other side of world opinion. The whole world at the time worshipped idols. Yet Avrohom believed in the One G-d. That is why we, the children of Avrohom, are called Hebrews, because we follow in the footsteps of a man who set himself apart from the entire world. Avrohom was not intimidated by the fact that he held a minority opinion. So too can we be inspired by the example of our forefathers and mothers who made the decision to worship Hashem against the popular view at the time. Let us not read an inspirational story, told in the first person by Reb Mishulem Laib Drapkin.
"I always felt a connection to Judaism because of my grandfather. We often spent the Jewish holidays with my grandparents and were always greeted by the warmth of my grandmother's cooking, and my grandfather's sure, but soft handshake with a hearty "Gut Yontiff!" I didn't really know what "Gut Yontiff" meant, but I knew that we always greeted each other with it at happy times.
Often when we came to visit on Sundays, my grandfather took us kids to a small amusement park. He bought us tickets for the rides, watching us scream with delight. He got such pleasure from his grandchildren. He even went on the Ferris wheel with us, his arm wrapped protectively behind us as the car soared up into the sky.
One Rosh Hashanah, I asked my mother where my grandfather was. She said he was at services all day. I asked why, and she replied, "He goes to an Orthodox synagogue. They pray all day." I imagined my grandfather in a synagogue full of other grandfathers, all wearing dark suits and yarmulkes. I thought to myself that if my grandfather went there, it must be serious Judaism!
When I was older, I attended Hebrew School at our local Conservative Synagogue. I didn't much care for it. It cut into my after-public school play time. Like many children of my time, I couldn't see the relevance of Hebrew School when none of what we studied was practiced in our "regular" lives.
Although my experiences seemed to be pushing me farther from Judaism, there was one notable exception: my Bar Mitzvah. I enjoyed learning how to read my Torah portion. My tutor, an elderly Orthodox rabbi teaching at our synagogue, really inspired me. I also immensely enjoyed the singing and chanting. My Bar Mitzvah was an unqualified success. I was proud of what I did, and was gratified when my mother said, "I wish that your grandfather was still alive to see your Bar Mitzvah. He would have been so proud of you."
By the time I went away to college, I had little or nothing to do with Judaism. The fact that I was living far away from family and friends and the heritage I grew up with didn't bother me most of the time, except during the December holidays. Then, I became intensely aware of being a minority in a country where someone else's religion is assumed to be part of everyone's heritage. My Jewish identity remained at an ebb for many years until a close family friend became a "Baal Teshuvah" and an orthodox Rabbi to boot.
When his mother passed away, some local Chassidim volunteered to help with the necessary arrangements. After the funeral, I chanced to talk to the baal teshuva - Orthodox rabbi, who to my great surprise was a really nice guy! He in turn, gave me the number of my local orthodox rabbi who also turned out to be really terrific. He was my age, with a background like mine, and was not only observant, but seemingly fulfilled and happy with his world and existence.
My preconceptions about Judaism were blown away. What an amazing world I had discovered, where people actually lived what they learned. I was overwhelmed by the vast storehouse of knowledge that I had not only discovered, but belonged to me by birthright!
I began to study more about Judaism, and one Sunday, my new found friend from the orthodox shul announced a class called "Lox, Bagels, Cream Cheese and Tefillin." I eagerly went down to shul with my grandfather's Tefillin which my father had recently given me, only to discover that I was the only one who showed up. We chatted for a while, which helped to calm my jitters about something that seemed so foreign. The rabbi explained the workings of Tefillin, and then told me to get them out. I was completely unprepared for what I found.
I took the Tefillin out, and laid them on top of the bag. I was struck by how carefully and lovingly they had been wrapped. Although they were last touched by my grandfather over 25 years ago, it was as though I was seeing his hands carefully wrapping them and holding them right in front of me. This conscious act of his had transcended the decades since he had last used them. The memories of my grandfather came back in a flood, and when I had his Tefillin wrapped around me, I felt myself surrounded by his love, strength, and kindness.
Later, I related the story to my wife and wept. On the High Holy Days this past year when I was praying, I remembered the image of my grandfather going off to daven in his synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. This was the first time that I was attending observant services in their entirety, from beginning to end! In a moment of reflection, I wished that I could be next to my grandfather, together, chanting the prayers that were such a natural part of his life. He would see them becoming a part of my own life, and I know that he would have beamed with pride.
Recently, I told one of my new, observant friends that my Tefillin were my grandfather's. I told him the story of how they hadn't been used for over twenty five years, and when my local orthodox rabbi had them checked that they were still "kosher." With a twinkle in his eye he said, "You know, your grandfather knows that you are wearing them." Shrugging his shoulders he concluded, "Don't ask me how, but he knows." Good Shabbos Everyone.

Mr. Wolfberg’s Shabbos sponsored by: Refuah Shleima to Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah

In memory of Shosha Malka bas R' Avrohom 21 Cheshvan Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi

Be well and have a great Shabbos.

Rachamim Pauli