Friday, November 3, 2017

Parsha Vayeira, story

This issue is dedicated to the engagement of my oldest grandson
Noam Elimelech to Chana

Refuah Prayers for Michael Chaim ben Feige Dina

Golde Chaya bas Esther returned her soul to HASHEM at the age of 102. Chana Tzipporah bas Elka Breindel passed away in her youth.

Parsha Vayeira

It is fortunate that due to celebrations I am giving a summary commentary.

Our Parsha opens up with Avraham Avinu three days after he has done his Bris. It was painful and three angels were sent to visit him as each angel only has a specific mission. One to heal Avraham, one to over-throw Sodom etc. and finally one angel to save Lot.

At this point we see Avraham asking them to stay for a morsel of bread. “Run mix up the finest farina” which at that time was considered the best bread. He serves that with butter as he has slaughtered 3 male cows for their tongues for the guests. A lot of food to feed a guest.

The Angels pretend to eat and then Rafael heals Avraham and promises him a son “by this time next year”. They move on, but before they go, they tell him of the mission of destroying Sodom and saving Lot.

Avraham pleads aka prayers with the Angels for the people of Sodom that perhaps there are 50 - 45 … 10 righteous men. This shows how wicked the people were.

18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him by the terebinths of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; … 33 And the LORD went His way, as soon as He had left off speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned unto his place.

This chapter has the angels entering Sodom. Lot has learned from Avraham to be a good host. But he is a bit foolish in his willingness to sacrifice the morals of his daughters to protect his guests.

19:1 1 And the two angels came to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom; and Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them; and he fell down on his face to the earth; 2 and he said: 'Behold now, my lords, turn aside, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your way.' And they said: 'Nay; but we will abide in the broad place all night.' 3 And he urged them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

He gave them like a good host from his bread but not special cake like farina.

4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter. 5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him: 'Where are the men that came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.'

See how wicked this people are they want to take strangers and gang up upon them in their abuse.

Lot tells the people that the two men are under his roof. He tried to calm down an unruly mob which is not the greatest idea. Logic does not work with a mob.

10 But the men put forth their hand, and brought Lot into the house to them, and the door they shut. 11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great; so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

All this on the merit of Avraham and that Haran died on a Kiddush HASHEM.

12 And the men said unto Lot: 'Hast thou here any besides? son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whomsoever thou hast in the city; bring them out of the place; 13 for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxed great before the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.' 14 And Lot went out, and spoke unto his sons-in-law, who married his daughters, and said: 'Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy the city.' But he seemed unto his sons-in-law as one that jested.

No different from today. If I said that these men are angels how many or who would believe me. We see that his son-in-laws were of the place and did not want to budge. This is perhaps the first recorded event but in Iraq, Syria and Iran there were people who did not want to flee. My grandfather had $300,000 in Switzerland at the time of the Anschluss and in his great wisdom brought it back to Austria to retire. He fled and my father supported him and my grandmother after he reached the US.

Among other things, one should check out who his son or daughter is about to marry for Midos (personality qualities).

15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying: 'Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters that are here; lest thou be swept away in the iniquity of the city.' 16 But he lingered; and the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him. And they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

Lingered because he was part of the culture of the city and partially at his age did not want to start a new career.

17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said: 'Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the Plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be swept away.' 18 And Lot said unto them: 'Oh, not so, my lord; 19 behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shown unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest the evil overtake me, and I die. 20 Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one; oh, let me escape thither--is it not a little one?--and my soul shall live.'

The word Na (Nun-Aleph) is 51 in Gematria. The city was built 51 years after the division of the nations and languages. (Avraham now 99 was 48 at the time of Migdal Bavel – tower) and Sodom was not in the 52nd year and had accumulated critical mass of sins. Zohar being in the 51st year did not reach the critical mass of sins. So Lot says Na (please) let me go to his small village. [Humor – if I wanted to say in Hebrew pretty please stand here comes G-D I would say Na-Na Kum Ba KAH where K = Y]

21 And he said unto him: 'See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow the city of which thou hast spoken. 22 Hasten thou, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou come thither.'

This shows that he could have fled to the mountains instead of Zohar.

… 26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

What I think happened is that he fled with his daughters into a cave and his wife stepped out and was covered with dust and salt from the overthrow of the cities similar to the dust when the world trade center collapsed.

27 And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 And he looked out toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the Plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace.

He knew that Lot would be safe but was there 10 Tzaddikim in the city?

29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt. 30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar; and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. 31 And the first-born said unto the younger: 'Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.'

Incest was forbidden to the Bnei Noach but why not go search for your uncle who would be permissible to you? In addition, it was still permissible until Har Sinai for two sisters to marry one man.

33 And they made their father drink wine that night. And the first-born went in, and lay with her father; and he knew not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the first-born said unto the younger: 'Behold, I lay yesternight with my father. Let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.' 35 And they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose, and lay with him; and he knew not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

This is a problem with a good secular education like in the Sodom school system. Their peers influenced the girls. Orthodox education in being G-D fearing and loving and modesty is drilled into young women.

… 20:1 1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the land of the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife: 'She is my sister.' And Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him: 'Behold, thou shalt die, because of the woman whom thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife.'

Even as recently as the time of Saddam Hussein if he saw the wife of a general and looked at her too much, if the general did not divorce her, he was mysteriously murdered.

… 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him: 'What hast thou done unto us? and wherein have I sinned against thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.' 10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham: 'What did you see, that thou has done this thing?' 11 And Abraham said: 'Because I thought: Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.

How was it possible that Avraham could physically see that there was no fear of G-D in that place? Once when my daughter was traveling with us near the Los Angeles Airport I took a motel before her flight on the morrow. We needed some food for our trip so I asked where the nearest supermarket is. I was told that it was a block inwards from the motel. It was in a section of LA called Inglewood. We parked got out and went into the super which at two armed guards with shotguns. Normally for security purposes, I do not speak Hebrew on the street. However, when I noticed that one or two Vietnamese Refugees and we were the only people who stood out racially I realized that we were in one of the slums of LA that had rioted only a short time before. We spoke Hebrew for our own security so that they would think we were non-Americans and living in the ghetto. If you are aware of your environment, you have to take some action.

17 And Abraham prayed unto God; and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maid-servants; and they bore children. 18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.
21:1 1 And the LORD remembered Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as He had spoken. 2 And Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

When he prayed for Avimelech, the prayer was also good for Sara.

3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.

Avraham did what HASHEM commanded. He then dug wells, the Plishtim came and claimed his wells for the Plishtim Homeland, and this continued until he made a covenant with them by the well of swearing aka Beer Sheva.

22:1 1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him: 'Abraham'; and he said: 'Here am I.' 2 And He said: 'Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou love, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.' … 16 and said: 'By Myself have I sworn, says the LORD, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, 17 that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast hearkened to My voice.' 19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.

After waiting 100 years for an heir, Avraham was put to the ultimate test, passed and got the blessing.

20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying: 'Behold, Milcah, she also hath borne children unto thy brother Nahor: …23 And Bethuel begot Rebekah; these eight did Milcah bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.

All these last Pasukim were for the birth of Rivka.

The Baal Shem Tov’s closest follower

In his earlier years, Rabbi Zev-Wolf Kitzis served as the town Rabbi of Toltzin, and later held the position of Chief Rabbinical Judge in the town of Medzibuzh.

When he first arrived in Medzibuzh, the town had not yet become the famous founding center of the Baal Shem Tov's movement. With the arrival of the Baal Shem Tov in subsequent years, Rabbi Wolf set out to investigate him and his unusual ways.

His initial reaction was one of great opposition, but after a short while he became one of his greatest followers. Chassidic lore has it that this turnabout was the result of a remarkable incident:
On Erev Shabbos the Baal Shem Tov had the custom to begin his Mincha (Afternoon Prayer) early hours before sunset, and linger over the Amidah (Standing Prayer) for several hours. Rabbi Wolf, who was constantly dogging his steps, became angry at this behavior and claimed that it is not possible to prayer for such a long time with the correct level of Kavanah (focused intention).

One day, Rabbi Wolf approached the Baal Shem Tov as he was immersed in prayer, and lifted the Rebbe's tallit (prayer shawl) so as to see what he was doing. After one brief glance at the face of the Baal Shem Tov, he fainted.
After he regained consciousness, he became seriously ill and was bedridden for three months. He explained to those around him the reason why he had fainted - instead of the radiant, healthy countenance of the Baal Shem Tov that all knew and recognized, the face that met his gaze when he lifted up the tallit was pale as death, eyes protruding from their sockets from intense mystical meditations and streaming with tears. From that moment on Rabbi Wolf humbled himself before the Baal Shem Tov, and became his devoted student.
After he became a veteran chasid of the Baal Shem Tov, he protected his Rebbe and the path of Chasidut in many debates that he held with scholars who opposed the fledgling movement. It is told that the Baal Shem Tov himself once said to Rabbi Zev-Wolf - 'What stands between me and you is a mere hairsbreadth; but this hairsbreadth you will never be able to cross.'

Biographical notes:
Rabbi Ze'ev-Wolf Kitzis [of blessed memory: circa. 5460 - 12 Cheshvan 5548 (1700 - 1787)] is considered to be the closest follower of the Baal Shem Tov. In his earlier years, he served as the town Rabbi of Toltzin, and later held the position of Chief Rabbinical Judge in the town of Medzibuzh, years before the Baal Shem Tov's arrival. He was an outstanding Torah scholar and equally adept in the mystical teachings, as well as extremely meticulous in all areas of mitzvah observance. It is told that he would not eat meat that was not koshered in front of his eyes, even if the Baal Shem Tov would partake of that meat. He is buried in Medzibuzh next to the Baal Shem Tov.

Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer [of blessed memory: 18 Elul 5458 - 6 Sivan 5520 (Aug. 1698 - May 1760 C.E.)], the Baal Shem Tov ["Master of the Good Name"-often referred to as "the Besht" for short], a unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed his identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday (1734 C.E.), and made the until-then underground Chasidic movement public. He wrote no books, although many works claim to contain his teachings. One available in English is the excellent annotated translation of Tzava'at Harivash, published by Kehos.

Connection: Seasonal - this Wednesday is the 230th yahrzeit of Rabbi Ze'ev-Wolf Kitzis.

Prays needed for one of the Gadolei HaDor. Rav Aharon Liab Steinerman Shlita.

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Hamas have terrorists bodies that they can’t reach.

Good Shabbos all,

Rachamim Pauli