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OCTOBER 18-19, 2002 13 HESHVAN 5763

Pop Quiz: Who was Hagar's father?


"Only what the young men have eaten and the share of the men who accompanied me" (Beresheet 14:24)

In our perashah, Abraham Abinu went to war. His nephew, Lot, was captured and so Abraham went to free him. Abraham had to defeat many kings in battle in order to save Lot. After the victory, he was offered all of the spoils of the war. Abraham refused the offer, saying that he will not take anything for himself, since Hashem had promised him that Hashem Himself would make Abraham wealthy. Abraham's army consisted of two groups, his servants who did battle, and his allies, Aner, Eshkol and Mamre, who stayed behind the lines. The allies helped by guarding the belongings of Abraham's men. Abraham requested that his men be given only what they ate during battle. However, his allies should be given their fair share of the spoils, since they lent him support. Rashi comments that King David learned from this a lesson, and always divided the spoils between the front line soldiers and the rear guard that lent support by guarding their equipment.

From this we can learn an important lesson, that those who help others do a good thing have a share in that good deed. If one helps others do misvot to the best of their abilities, they have an equal share. This is also illustrated by two of Ya'akob Abinu's sons, Yisachar and Zebulun, where Zebulun earned a livelihood and shared his money with Yisachar, to enable Yisachar to study Torah. The Torah is described as "morashah kehilat Ya’ akob - An inheritance to the entire congregation of Ya'akob." This means that we all share in this great gift of the Torah. If we want to be part of the great merit of Torah study, all we have to do is give encouragement "behind the front lines."

Our community, Baruch Hashem, has a portion of its members actively studying Torah. We must help by being their guardsmen. In the very least, we have to encourage them to continue their studies. We must take pride in them and be happy when a family member takes up the banner of Torah study. It's the least we can do. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And there was quarreling between the herdsman of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock...Abram said to Lot, 'Please let there be no strife..." (Beresheet 13:7-8)

When Abraham and Lot accumulated a lot of sheep, the land wasn't able to provide enough pasture and their shepherds began to argue. The word for argument is "reeb", but when Abraham tells his nephew that they should part ways, he says, "Let there not be a "meribah", a fight between us." There are a few lessons to learn from this passage.

First of all, an argument between two people could start out small (like a “reeb") and end up in a fight (like "meribah"), unless steps are taken to stop it in its tracks. How often do we see a small issue between people turn into a major affair!

Secondly, Abraham says at the end of the verse, "For we are like brothers (we are family)." At first glance, it seems Abraham is saying, "Let's not fight since we are family." But maybe we can say Abraham was saying, "Since we are family it will be easier for the fight to develop, therefore, let us stop it now." That is - precisely when people are closer is the risk greater that something small becomes a big thing. Let us try to remember to keep relationships healthy and peaceful. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And Hashem said to Abram, 'Go from your land, and from your birthplace, and from the house of your father, to the land which I will show you'" (Beresheet 12:1)

Rabbi Nachum of Tzernoble devoted much time and effort to redeeming Jews who were imprisoned by anti-Semitic regimes. He traveled from place to place gathering funds to make the payments necessary to free those imprisoned. Once, when he was in Zhitomer, some people fabricated a libel against him and he was put into prison.

A righteous person came to him and prison and said to him, "Our forefather Abraham was outstanding in his kindness to wayfarers. He took in people who were traveling and expended great efforts to make his guests comfortable. He always wanted to know what more he could possibly do to help his guests. Hashem told him to travel away from his father's home, his birthplace and his land. Only now when he personally experiences being a stranger in a foreign place will he know firsthand what it is like. This will give him a greater appreciation of what he can do to help his guests."

"Similarly with you," the righteous visitor told him. "You are completely devoted to freeing prisoners. From Heaven they are giving you a chance to experience what it is like to be held captive by enemies of our people. This will give you a deep appreciation of the necessity of doing all you can to free others in the future with all possible speed."

Whenever you personally suffer any kind of pain or sorrow, remember carefully every aspect of your experience. When other people are in similar situations, you will know with greater depth what they are experiencing. This will help you to help them with greater sensitivity and kindness. Moreover, it will make your own suffering easier to cope with. You will view it as a meaningful learning experience that will assist you in becoming more effective in helping others. (Growth through Torah)


In the beginning of this perashah, Abraham and Sarah leave Ur Kasdim and travel to Canaan. As we know, they ultimately reached their destination. At the end of last week's perashah, we are told that Terah, Abraham's father also left Ur Kasdim with the intention of reaching Canaan.

However, Terah ended up stopping in Haran and settling there. Seforno explains that the difference between them was in the way they began their journey. Terah fully expected to reach Canaan, but the perils of the trip proved too great. Abraham, on the other hand, was fully committed to his goal, and was therefore able to overcome any obstacles. When a person takes on a project with zeal and dedication, he is far more likely to succeed in reaching his goal.

Question: Have you ever started a worthwhile project, but later lost your enthusiasm for it, and failed to complete it? How much more successful do you think you would have been if you approached it with more enthusiasm? What could you do to make sure that you will be more successful in the future?


An American tourist in Israel, let's call her Rachel, went to Sbarro's for a pizza. The place was rather crowded so the waitress, let's call her Leah, advised her to do some shopping or whatever and come back in an hour or so.

Sbarro was bombed by a terrorist; Leah was badly injured. Rachel was very grateful she wasn't there.

She visited Leah in the hospital, gave her her name, address and phone number and said that if Leah ever needed help in the U.S., Rachel would be there for her. Leah was reluctant to take it; she had no plans to use it, but finally gave in to please Rachel.

Rachel returned to the U.S. Leah's injuries were very bad and her doctors advised further treatment in the U.S.

Leah contacted Rachel and of course, Rachel was happy to help. She missed work several days helping Leah. One of those days was September 11 last year.

Can you guess where Rachel worked?

Yes, the World Trade Center.


This Week's Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40:27 - 41:16.

In the perashah, G-d explains the path of life that Abraham must take. G-d tells Abraham to leave everything behind and to follow G-d. Abraham has great confidence in G-d; that confidence enables him to defeat the neighboring kings in battle.

In the Haftarah, the prophet Yeshayahu consoles the people, who think that G-d has deserted them. The prophet explains that what makes the Jewish people successful is their confidence in G-d. As long as the people are confident of their relationship with G-d, they will overcome all obstacles. (Tell it from the Torah)

Answer to pop quiz: Pharaoh.

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