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Bereishis

We are commanded, several times throughout the Torah, to emulate Hashem's exemplary qualities. One of these is described by Rabbi Simlai in the Talmud (Sotah 14a). "The Torah begins with lovingkindness and ends with lovingkindness. It begins with lovingkindness as it is written (Bereishis 3:21), 'And Hashem, G-d, made for Adam and his wife garments of skin, and He clothed them.' It ends with lovingkindness as it is written (Devarim 34:6), 'And He buried him (Moshe) in Gei.'"

As always, the Torah giants are models who show us, by example, how to excel in meeting the Torah's strict demands. The following story (recounted in the book Ish Lirei'eihu) is one example of many.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger once traveled all night, in a stormy wintry evening, to bring a baby into the Covenant of Abraham. The rain came down in a downpour, the road was flooded and the wagon was in danger of slipping off of the path. The driver was forced to walk beside the wagon, up to his knees in water and mud, to support the wagon and prevent it from overturning. With great difficulty he succeeded in steering the wagon onto the highway where it was safe to continue traveling.

When the wagon driver returned to his seat, he was soaking wet. Rabbi Eiger suggested to him that he give him his wet socks and he would replace them with dry ones. The driver was overjoyed and told the Rabbi that he had saved his life because he surely would have gotten deathly ill had he sat in his cold socks the rest of the way. On the other hand, though, the driver wondered where in the world the Rabbi had gotten the socks from since his suitcase was under the driver's seat and locked with a key which was in the driver's pocket.

Towards morning they arrived at their destination, safely and soundly. As the venerable Rabbi descended from the wagon, the driver noticed, in shock, that his feet were bare. Bewildered, the driver asked the Sage why he had given him, a lowly peasant, his own dry clothes. "Had I realizedů," he began.

The modest Rabbi Eiger interrupted him and responded simply. "My feet were not wet. Would it have been proper for me to sit in warm, dry clothing while you would be driving while suffering from wet feet? That would not be right."


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