Haftarah: Melachim I 1:1-31
OCTOBER 25-26, 2013 22 HESHVAN 5774
“Then the servant took ten camels of his master’s camels.” (Beresheet 24:10)
When Eliezer, the devoted servant of Abraham Abinu, set out on his mission to seek a wife for Yitzhak Abinu, he took “ten camels of his master’s camels.” Rashi reveals to us what the Torah is teaching with the words “his master’s camels.” They were distinguishable from other camels by the fact that they would go out muzzled to prevent robbery so that they should not graze in strangers’ fields.
The Midrash wonders about this description of Abraham’s camels, because of a story involving Rabbi Pinhas ben Yair’s donkey. One night, robbers stole this donkey and took it to their hideout. After three days they finally released the donkey, and the donkey came home on its own. The donkey had not been fed for three days and was obviously starving. However, all efforts to feed the donkey failed, until the Rabbi was informed that the barley that the donkey was being fed was possibly demai. Demai is grain that there is a possibility that the ma’aser was not taken from it. Demai is permitted to give to an animal, but this animal was strict and didn’t want to be lenient.
How is it possible that Rabbi Pinhas ben Yair’s donkey is on a greater spiritual level than the camels of Abraham Abinu? If his starving donkey after three days of eating anything was so strict on himself that she refused to eat demai, why was it necessary for Abraham Abinu’s camels to wear a muzzle to make sure they wouldn’t steal from strangers’ fields?
The Nahalat Ya’akob answers that there was no reason to be concerned that camels belonging to Abraham would graze in others’ fields. The reason they were muzzled was so that others would see and learn from this righteous appearance, and muzzle their own animals as well.
The lesson is obvious. The Torah teaches that our animals must not steal. How much more careful do human beings have to be not to steal. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
Abraham asked Eliezer to get a wife for his son, Isaac, and made him swear on the holiest object (Berit Milah) that he would adhere to Abraham’s command about what kind of girl to take for Yitzhak. And yet the Torah describes Eliezer as the one in charge of Abraham’s household who runs all his finances. The impression is that Abraham trusted Eliezer with his whole fortune but when it came to getting a wife for Yitzhak, an oath was necessary.
We see from here what Abraham’s priorities were. As far as money matters, Eliezer is trustworthy, but when it comes to misvot which can impact the future of the Jewish people, more guarantees are needed. We tend to trust people for some things but not for others. Do we have the same priorities as Abraham? The story is told that a newcomer came into town and began telling people about kosher products and everyone ate on his say so. When he asked someone for a small loan, the fellow replied, “I don’t even know you and you want me to lend you money?” The newcomer then said, “You know me enough to eat based on my words but for this small loan I am not trustworthy?” This was not Abraham’s priority; is it ours?
Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
“And Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to bewail her.” (Beresheet 23:2)
Rav Elazar M. Shach, z”l, wonders why the Torah repeats Sarah's name. "And Sarah died; and Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to bewail her." Clearly, he was eulogizing Sarah. After all, she was the one who had died! Rav Shach explains that, given Abraham's world position, understandably the most distinguished members of that generation came to eulogize her out of respect to Abraham - the gadol hador, preeminent leader of the generation. Their words reflected Sarah's distinction because of - and in relation to - her esteemed husband. They lauded the support she gave him, her constant encouragement, her readiness always to be present for him. The eulogies were impressive, but, regrettably, they all addressed Sarah as Abraham's wife. She was secondary to him. Her own personal distinction, her myriad acts of hesed, her supremacy in nebuah, prophecy, were not addressed. This is why Abraham made a point to eulogize "Sarah," the woman, the individual, the mother, the matriarch. This is why the Torah emphasizes the name, "Sarah."
This might be why Abraham first eulogized Sarah before expressing his personal grief. He needed to set the record straight, notifying everyone that Sarah was a giant in her own right, that his spiritual level was overshadowed by hers. Then he allowed his personal grief to set in. He now could weep over his personal loss. (Peninim on the Torah)
All beginnings are difficult. Take starting a business, for example. Although it is usual for many difficulties to beset a fledgling enterprise, and problems will continue to arise daily, the initial hardships will gradually become things of the past. Startup costs are incurred only at the beginning, and organizational snafus that stymie management in the business’s infancy become less frequent and less critical as systems are streamlined and personnel become more efficient. Many entrepreneurs fail because they cannot survive the first year’s aggravation.
Others don’t succeed because they never begin to fight. Instead, they evaluate themselves too realistically and reach the conclusion that although they may have a good idea, they lack certain key components needed for success. “I just don’t have the money,” or, “Finding good help is so hard today,” or, “How can one compete with the big guys?” deter the initiation of a new project. Even if these people are correct in their judgment, they are incorrect in their attitude.
Imagine for a moment that you have a rich uncle. He is so wise in the ways of business, and generous to all his nieces and nephews. You know that whatever problems might pop up, whatever obstacles must be overcome, will be resolved through the wisdom and financial support of your uncle. Your dreams and ideas suddenly become real. They can be accomplished! Eager to start, you imagine your advancement from level to increasingly higher level of success. You don’t have to just dream. You really do have a rich uncle – Hashem.
If you do not try, you cannot fail – but you will not succeed, either. Before you let the fear of failure sink your ship, call on your rich uncle. Even if you don’t have one, imagine that you do. You will be surprised at how a positive attitude – the feeling that nothing will stand in the way of your idea – can turn into a reality of profit and joy. (One Minute With Yourself – Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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