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Always Be Nice
Rav Eliyahu Dessler zt"l writes that Avraham Avinu's biggest test came after Sara passed away. He returned from Akeidas Yitzchak to a terrible tragedy. His beloved wife of his youth whom he cherished and respected so much was gone. We can only imagine his grief. Now he must purchase a burial plot for her. He knew that he was going to inherit the entire land of Canaan, including the Maaras HaMachpela in Hevron. Nevertheless, he must buy Machpela from its owner, Efron. Efron was a very difficult person to deal with. He promised a lot, and did very little. He told Avraham that he would give him the Maaras HaMachpela for free. When Avraham insisted on paying, he asked for an exorbitant price. Avraham treated him with the utmost respect and derech eretz, (proper behavior) bowing down to Efron (Bereshis 23: 7 & 12). Despite his state of extreme sadness and distress, he still treated this difficult person with tremendous respect. Rav Dessler learns a powerful lesson from this episode. "Just because I am in pain, does not mean that the other person has to suffer." We see the same thing in last week's parsha. Although Avraham Avinu was in extreme distress after the bris mila, he still treated his guests royally.
Kinderlach . . .
We all have times when we do not feel well, or we are tired, cold, or hungry. How should we behave during those times? Should we be cranky or not so nice to other people? Avraham Avinu felt very badly after he lost his beloved wife. Still, he behaved with derech eretz. Let us all try to be like Avraham Avinu and behave with derech eretz no matter how we feel.
Help the Scholar
"Efraim, do you want to come today with the Rosh Yeshiva?"
"Where is he going, Yehuda?"
"Today is his mother's yahrtzeit and we are going to the kever (grave) with him to say Tehillim. After that we will learn Mishnayos." "May her soul benefit from all of this. I don't know if I can go. I am very busy with tests that I am taking on the weekly parsha." "That sounds like a wonderful thing. You must know the parsha really well." "I am trying. This question has me stumped." "Perhaps I can help you." "How many times does the Torah mention the "sons of Ches" in the parsha?" "Let's count. One, two three . . . I counted ten times altogether." "That is truly amazing. Are the sons of Ches important enough to have their names mentioned ten times in the Torah?" "That is a truly difficult question. Let's see. They helped Avraham buy Maaras HaMachpela from Efron, who was a tricky person. He promised a lot, but did very little. Without their help, Avraham may not have succeeded. He might have given the money to someone who did not own the field. Or Efron may have sold him a different field." "Yehuda, the Baal HaTurim speaks about this question. He writes that the sons of Ches enabled Avraham to carry out his plans to purchase the Maaras HaMachpela. Therefore, their names are mentioned ten times in the Torah. This teaches us the importance of helping a Talmid Chochom (Torah Scholar) carry out his plans, which is compared to fulfilling the Ten Commandments, where the letter ches is written ten times." "Wow." "That is the answer to the question on my test." "And that is also the answer to your doubt about whether to help the Rosh Yeshiva say Tehillim for his mother." "I'm on my way."
Kinderlach . . .
It is important to help every Jew. The Torah is full of acts of chessed (kindness) that we can perform. It is especially important to help a Talmid Chochom. He is keeping Torah knowledge alive in the world. Helping him is like fulfilling the Ten Commandments, which contain all 613 mitzvos.
United in Friendship
"Abba, which tefillah (prayer) are we saying now?"
"This is the blessing for the new month. We say in on the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the new month). Listen carefully Akiva." "He who performed miracles for our forefathers and redeemed them from slavery to freedom; may He redeem us soon, and gather in dispersed Jews from the four corners of the earth. All of the nation of Israel is united in friendship, and let us say Amen." "What a beautiful prayer, Abba. Is it referring to the coming of Moshiach?" "Yes, Akiva." "After Moshiach comes, all Jews will be united in friendship. What a beautiful world it will be!" "We hope to see it soon in our days, Akiva. That is the simple explanation of the prayer. Perhaps we can read the words beginning from the end, and have a little deeper understanding of the coming of Moshiach." "In what way, Abba." "When will Hashem gather in the dispersed Jews from the four corners of the earth and bring Moshiach? When all of the nation of Israel is united in friendship." "What a wonderful thought, Abba." "Our sages refer to the coming of Moshiach being dependent upon friendship and unity among the Jewish people." "Abba, do you remember how we all danced together on Simchas Torah? We felt such closeness and warmth in our hearts?" "It was unforgettable, Akiva. That is the feeling that we should take with us into the rest of the year. That togetherness will bring Moshiach. Moshiach wants to come. Let us not hold him back. We just need to make the effort, and Hashem will do the rest."
Kinderlach . . .
It is now a month since Simchas Torah. We all achieved something very beautiful then. We danced together in unity, celebrating our closeness to Hashem and His Torah. What a great feeling of happiness and love we all had. Hang on to that kinderlach. Guard that feeling in your hearts. Love your fellow Jews and stay close to them. May we all see Moshiach very soon.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2001 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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