Parshat Va'yeira - So deep, So deep
Friends , we have so much to learn in this weeks Parsha - from Chesed - Hospitality , visiting the Sick, how to deal with Evil (Sedom), Prayer (Avraham praying for Sodom) , having faith when Life is not rational (Akeidah)
So, much in life today does not make sense. Are we putting our faith in Doctors and Biotech to find a cure for Corona , or are we really praying to God to bring a cure, change in the world ? As Reb Shlomo asks
"What kind of Torah are you learning if you don't believe that the Torah is stronger than the world?"
In these Dvar Torahs, Reb Shlomo says that to be a Jew is ito not indulge in selfish persuits , but to share the love and goodness to others. This is example we learn from Avraham Avinu. we have just celebrated the Yartzeit and lIfe of Reb Shlomo. Yes - his music is very much alive today after 26 years, but there is something much deeper than just his music. There is not a Jewish Wedding around the world that does not sing his melodies. If that is not enough, there is whole another side to his personality and impact. Both of his daughters spoke of his ability to feel the pain of others, and give of himself and his possesions to others and told stories of helping the homeless giving him the shirt of his back, his coat and food and most importantly hugs and real compassion for their troubles. We are so far from this - when did anyone of us give a hug to a beggar ? We think that if we give a few shekels, we have met our responsbilities for chesed. We (I talk for myself) may look for excuses, money is tight, I am busy and a have other priorities. It is not only about money, but there are other ways to do Chesed. You can call a lost family friend or relative, post nice comments on Facebook, or write a blog. Hmm. As Jews, we do not live in Ivory Towers. As Israelis and Jews, we believe in Tikkun Olam and the our ability to help others. There are so many NGO's to volunteer for, so any causes that need help. Not all these involve money , but using our time , life lessons and unique skills that we are blessed with.
Reb Shlomo legacy is not only through his music - his contribution to making every Shabbat , Yom Tov , Wedding uplifting and joyful , but also through stories, Story telling - making us believe in ourselves , in this world and others. Giving us the belief that we, the Torah can make a change for the better. This I believe is his deeper legacy.
This legacy is alive in some many of the Teachers and Musicians who are following in his path as this 26th Concert highlights. Am Yisrael Chai. Shlomo Lives on and his influence is deeper and deeper.
Link to Concert : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsi_9aiZXl8Vj53x0uaQX1dkuyApu93aX
Shlomo did every in excess. He broke down barriers to engage with people and bring them back to Life. He lived in a broken world, We still live in a broken. He sang and told stories of this world, like the Holy Hunchbank , who qouting the Aish Hakodesh said "The greatest Thing in the world is do somebody a favour"
While, we need to be concerned by others and helping others, we need to find the balance. As Neshama Carlebach described in a story about her Father giving awhile tray of chickens to a homeless man. Clearly, this was an excess.
All of us are not perfect, and as Neshama said finding the correct balance is the challenge. Sometimes , we overstep these boundaries, make mistakes, have regret. and as my wife says , once the toothpaste is out, you can not put it back. So, for me and all us is to learn not only from the good , but also the mistakes. Lets embrace Reb Shlomo for all the gifts that he given us. and what a gift is it.
This is the Link to 26th Yahrzeit event histed by Rabbi Pinni Dunner which features Neshama Carlebach. https://rabbidunner.com/shlomo-carlebach-tribute-2020/
Let a bit of water be brought. (Bereishis 18:4)
You know my darling friends, G-d made a covenant with Avraham and not with Noach. There are so many holy teachings on this which have so much to say, but I would like to share one more Torah'le with you.
When Avraham received those three holy guests, who he thought were pagans but turned out to be angels, Avraham Avinu was not stingy. He slaughtered three oxen just for the three guests in order to give each of them a tongue. The deepest question is when it comes to water he says, "Yukach na me'at mayim" (Bereishis 18:4), take a little water to wash your feet. Suddenly Avraham is stingy and he says, "Save the energy, just take a little bit of water."
All the holy rabbis are talking about it, let me tell you my most humble Torah. The deepest question in the world is what do you think is stronger? Do you think the world and its temptations are stronger, or do you think the Torah and Yikkishkeit are stronger? What do you think is stronger, the six days of the week or Shabbos? Do you think the whole world is stronger or do you think that little Israel is stronger?
When you think of it on a simple scientific level, on a Greek level, then you say, "You must be joking.Yidden? A little country? Avraham Avinu, one Yiddle and his wife Sarah are stronger than the world? The Torah? I appreciate it, I think it is sweet and it has lot of nice teachings. I was reading Reader's Digest last week and well-known professor told a chassidishe story which comes to prove that the Torah is good, but that's about it."
I want you to know something. Do you know why Noach didn't try to turn on the people of his generation? Noach really felt that the temptations of the world are stronger than the Yiddishkeit. Noach did not believe in doing teshuvah because he says that yous simply can't. The only way you keep yourself about water is if you never started anything wrong. From the moment you are born until you die, you have to be holy. If G-d forbid you get involved in the world there is no more going back because the temptation is too strong, the magnetism is too strong.
Why did G-d give a son like Yitzchak to Avraham but not to Noach?
When the angels come to Avraham, they let him know about Sdom and about having Yitzchak. So everybody is asking what does the destruction of Sdom have to do with having a son like Yitzchak? The answer is very, very simple. What are you teaching your children? Are you telling your children, "Try to be a Jew but I want you to know that the world is much stronger than Yiddishkeit, so try to keep away from the world." Or are you teaching you children, "The world is so beautiful, the trees and fields are beautiful. The Torah, Shabbos, Yerushalayim is infinitely a zillion times stronger than anything in the world."
You know what Avraham says to G-d? "Sdom is so heavy and strong, the lowest most perverted city in the world. Give me fifty Rebbes, I will go in there and make Baam Shem Tovs out of them. You think I am afraid of Sdom, you think the Torah is not stronger than Sdom?" Noach mamesh believed that the world was stronger even though he was a holy man, but if someone is perverted and into the world there is no more going back.
So I said a gevalt Torah. "Ein mayim ela Torah," water is Torah (Bava Kama82). Avraham Avinu says to the pagans, "Do you know how much you need in order to become a mentsch in this world? 'Yukuch na me'at mayim, a little bit of water. 'Me'at,' one word of the Torah can turn your insides over a thousand times. Not only is the whole Torah stronger than the world, even one letter of the Torah is stronger. Yukach na me'at, all you need is one drop of water."
Some of us think we know so little, but do you know one letter? Do you know an aleph or a beis? That is enough, you are stronger than the world. Some Yidden walk around worried about Israel, but they are only a little worries because G-d wants them to pray. Inside they are not afraid because, gevalt, Eretz Yisrael is mamesh stronger. The little sheep is mamesh stronger than the seventy worlves. Gevalt, are we strong, gevalt are we strong. GEVALT, ARE WE STRONG!
When the spies came back they said, "We can't conquer the land, they are stronger than us." (Bamidbar 14:31) Do you see what cam from that?Our sages teach us that this happened on Tish B'Av. Gevalt, talking like that is the end of all of Yiddishkeit.
What kind of Torah are you learning if you don't believe that the Torah is stronger than the world?
I want to bless you, friends. Please, I'm begging you and me. Let it be clear to us what the Ribbono Shel Olam gave us is the strongest dynamite in the world, the strongest atomic power. One letter of the Torah is the strongest nuclear power, one Shabbos... one Shabbos.
Headquarters of Prayer
Avraham Avinu is the one who initiated Shacharis, the morning prayer. He would have been the one to initiate Maariv, in the middle of the night. Avraham Avinu loves everyone, so why not start at twelve o'clock at night? Why does Avraham Avinu begin in the morning?
Now open your hearts, friends.
When you love somebody, you cannot wait to see if they love you or not. You have to be the one to begin, like the first morning ray of light. Before the sun comes out it doesn't say, "Is it day already? No, not yet? Then let's wait." A half hour later, it doesn't say, "Hey, is the moon still around? Yes? Ag, then let's wait." It doesn't go this way. The sun is coming out and brings the day. It's the same way with us Yidden. The beginning is Avraham Avinu. We come out into the world and we say, "Hey, from now on it's day, from now on we love each other, from now on it has to be something else. From now on..."
Friends, I could swear to you that if all of us Yidden will be living like Avraham Avinu, what a world it would be. Sometimes I have the feeling that the world is angry at us because we don't love them enough, they are waiting for us to hug them. Who should hug whom? Which nation should hug the other nation? They won't, it's us. They know it's us... they know it's us.
It’s all about our holy Women
Under the Chupah the man says something, and the woman doesn’t say anything. So I want to say the deepest Torah in the world. The man says to the woman I want you to be holy. You know what she wants? She wants more than that, she wants the highest, the holy of holies.
You know why the woman brings down children into the world? Because she is connected to the holy of holies.
You know friends, for us it’s the mother who makes the children deeper.
Here I want to share with you a gevalt Torah.
VaYera Elav Hashem, G-d gave over to Avraham the secret of the holy of holies. So,the angels come to Avraham and ask him 'Ayeh Sarah Ishtecha. Now that G-d revealed to you the secret of the holy of holiest, what level is your wife Sarah? He answers 'Hinei Ba Ohel', she’s always in the tent. She is always in the holy of holies. She was there long before me.
I bless you and me, we should see the holiness of Mother Sarah and all the holy mothers in the world
You know my beautiful friends. Imagine if Avraham and Sarah got married and right away, and they would have had a son, Yitzchak. What would it sound like to you? Beautiful, but something is missing because Jewish children are not just born, man and woman get together and they have children.
I want you to know. The Heilige Beis Ya’akov says that Avraham and Sarah prayed for all the Jewish children. To have a Jewish child you have to pray eighty-nine years and you have to pray ninety-nine years. But Sarah and Avraham already prayed for all generations to come.
I wish it would be again like it’s supposed to be. There’s something so special about holy Jewish families. Gevalt, Gevalt, gevalt do they love their children. Gevalt do they love their children. I want you to know, parents, real holy parents would go into fire before ever saying anything bad about their children. And you know friends, for me an assimilated Jew is not someone who eats a hamburger on Yom Kippur. I don’t say that’s the right thing to do, but I wouldn’t say that it shows his neshama is gone too far. When I see parents who don’t care for their children, oy vey are they far from Yiddishkeit.
Gevalt, are they far from Avraham Yitzchak and Ya’akov
Reb Shlomo Brodt Torahs
We learn in Rashi that Avraham Avinu was `sitting at the entrance of the tent’ because he was looking for passers-by’s whom he could invite into his tent to give them rest, food and drink, both physical and spiritual. However much to his pain it was a particularly hot day and there was no one to invite.
“And He appeared to him, Hashem.” Hashem came to visit the ‘choleh’- the sick one. Rabbi Chama bar Chanina teaches that it was the third and most painful - day after his circumcision, and Hashem came to inquire how he was doing.
As best as you can, imagine and visualize, Avraham Avinu in the midst of experiencing his deepest Divine revelation ever. We need to understand, why was Avraham Avinu so pained, was experiencing Hashem revealing His presence to him not enough? What more could he want?
In this revelation Avraham Avinu learned that the highest deepest way of being with Hashem, is in doing ‘gemilllut chassadim’ – acts of loving kindness. Not having anyone to welcome into his tent, pained Avraham Avinu more than the pain of his circumcision. Why so?
Being a Jew is not about having selfish spiritual delights. Imagine seeing and experiencing some of the most awesome beautiful things in the world, in nature or in the arts…. and you are taking great joy in the experience of all this beauty. But consider, is anyone else gaining any benefit from your delightful meditation? Are you sharing the joy?
It is wonderful to meditate on Hashem’s greatness [as much as one can] and to contemplate and be sincerely grateful for all His kindness – but if it doesn’t inspire you – put you on fire within, to “do” as Hashem “does”, - you are missing something deeply crucial in bonding with Hashem.
Of course it is very important to recognize all the good that Hashem does. AND it is crucial to recognize that Hashem does all this because He cares about you and me, because He loves us. We bond most deeply with Hashem in emulating Hashem - in loving and caring for others. To love is to care, to do and to want to do. To love Hashem is to care and love Him with all your heart - and more so with your very life - and even more so in doing kindness with your wealth – with all your gifts and talents.
Avraham Avinu realized this truth in Hashem’s presence and revelation. It pained him that he was only experiencing this Divine revelation- because he wasn’t getting the opportunity to “do it”! He wanted to bond with Hashem in thought, speech and ‘action’!
Seeing how deeply and completely Avraham was wanting to bond with Him, Hashem sent him three angels disguised in human bodies, thus allowing Avraham to bond on all three levels: “Torah, Avodah and Gemillut Chassadim”. Torah - Avraham Avinu received and learned the deepest personal ‘Oral Torah.’ Avodah - He was inspired and prayed to put it into practice, and Gemillut Chassadim - he got to “do it” with all his heart, soul and wealth.
The Talmud teaches that we are to say, “when will my actions ‘reach’ those of my forefathers?” The commentators ask, does anyone really imagine that they are anywhere near the levels of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov; that their deeds might actually ‘reach’ the deeds of our Avot? It is explained that to ‘reach’ their deeds means that your deeds should be connected to theirs, rooted at their source in our Avot. To be a true descendant of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, is to live what they taught us and transmitted to us as an inheritance.
Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov reached the level of being ‘chariots’ to Hashem’s will and presence in this world. To achieve this one has to be totally free of any and all worldly attachments. Though one may be very far from that, nevertheless, being their children, we have inherited from them the inspiration, strength and commitment to walk in their ways and continue ‘doing’ [even if only mimicking] their good deeds. I was told by a serious student of martial arts that one learns by ‘doing’ what the master does even though he is not nearly as perfect as the master. With each proper repetition more perfection is achieved.
We must always remember Rebbe Nachman’s teaching that every story in the Torah is about us. Like Avraham Avinu we can strive to achieve Divine revelation. Like Avraham Avinu we must be diligent and creative in learning Torah and ‘doing’ mitzvot.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l taught: “This is the instruction we learn from “And He appeared to him, Hashem”- ‘and the living shall take this to heart’- that it is in the power and capability of every Jewish man and woman – son and daughter of Avraham Avinu - to merit the revelation of “and He appeared to him, Hashem,” through his/her involvement in “hachnassat orchim”, starting with the preparations for doing this mitzvah. (This is also true for all aspects of ‘gemillut chassadim’ in general)."
The Rebbe continues, “From this we understand how much effort we have to make in ‘doing’ hachnassat orchim and gemillut chassadim; similar to Avraham Avinu’s efforts, who ‘looked’ for guests, and when he saw them he ‘ran’ towards them, he stood by them to serve them with the best food and drink…. So too in this manner are we to involve ourselves in hachnassat orchim, with alacrity and a friendly countenance. Furthermore, just as this is true concerning ‘physical’ hachnassat orchim - providing food and rest for the body - so it is true (and all the more so) in providing spiritual nourishment for the soul, through the spreading of Torah learning, Yiddishkeit and Chassidut."
Reb Shlomo zt"l always used to say "bless me and I bless you back" or "I bless you and bless me back" - either way let us all be blessed to be deeply connected to all that is 'kadosh'- holy, for the honor of Hashem and all of Israel. May all our mitzvot and good deeds be connected our holy Fathers and Mothers.
Avraham Avinu's Ahavah and Chessed - Love and Kindness
In honor of Avraham Avinu and Sara Imeinu
The 'gimatreeya'- the numerical value of the Hebrew word 'ahavah'-love, equals 13. The 'gimatreeya'- the numerical value of the Hebrew word 'echad'-one, equals 13. That both these word have the same numerical value is significant.
To love is to be one with, to 'be one'. The root of 'ahavah' is 'hav' which means 'give'. It is by giving that we love and the more we give the more we are capable of loving.
The Aramaic translation of 'ahavah' is 'rechimu' which comes from 'rechem'- a womb. From this we learn that to love, is to be close to one another like a mother is close with her fetus- generously and joyously providing it with physical and spiritual life nourishment. Just as all the parts of a whole healthy body support each other and work in unison, to be 'as one' - to be in love is to help one another to be the beautiful luminous loving souls that Hashem envisioned us to be. With true love we are one in the Oneness of Hashem.
As is well known, when the convert said to Hillel, "convert me on the condition that you teach me the entire Torah on one foot," Hillel replied, "that which is hateful to you, do not do to others- that is the entire Torah, 'go and study'!"
The question has been raised why did Hillel choose this mitzvah of loving one another over other equally important mitzvot that are considered equal to the entire Torah, e.g., Shma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad'-
We might understand this in the following way. "Yisrael v'orayto v'Kudsha brich He, chad hu." - The People of Israel, the Torah and the Holy One baruch Hu, are all one. Only a Torah scroll, that fully represents 'all of Israel' is kosher for public reading. Hashem is One and by giving us His Torah, He 'gave Himself' to us . His Torah is One with Him, and to be one with Hashem and His Torah we have to be One with each other.
To really learn Torah is to enter into the mystery of the One, which can only be entered with 'ahavat Yisrael'- love of your fellow Jew. Each letter in the Torah represents a root soul of the Jewish people. Unless you love the soul-owner of each letter you cannot really know the Torah of that letter. Hillel taught us that we may know the letters or words on an intellectual level, but intellectual understanding alone will not get us into the Mystery of the One. To enter into the Unity, we need to be 'one within One'.
(It has been asked if the mitzvah of 'ahavat Yisrael' is exclusive to the Jewish people. In truth we do care about and want to love all people- we want all people to love one another. We pray for this Ultimate Time and Redemption three times a day. When we, the Jewish people, will love one another as we should, the entire world will be inspired and elevated to love one another.)
We learn in Pirkei Avot - Ethics of the Fathers, that Hashem 'tested' Avraham Avinu with ten tests. The Ramban explains that Hashem did not need to test Avraham to find out what he would do- that, He already knew. Rather He tested Avraham Avinu, so that he should actualize his potential and thereby come closer to Hashem. When Hashem said to Avraham, "lech lecha", He was asking him to go beyond himself, beyond his natural, psychological and spiritual limits and habits, in order to be truly united with Hashem b"H. And this Avraham Avinu did with joy. In doing this joyously, Avraham Avinu prepared the pathways for us, to attain unity and true love. Now we too can achieve getting closer and closer to Hashem as we actualize our holy potentials, each time we are tested.
There is no test that can keep us away from Hashem or from loving one another. Each time we reach deeper into our selves, to connect more truly with our innermost essence-soul, we enter deeper into
BIKKUR CHOLIM – HASHEM VISITS THE SICK
The Torah tells us that Hashem appeared to Avraham, but we do not find that actually said anything to him. This is highly unusual, for Hashem's appearance is almost always followed with words of instruction, or at least by some action.
This verse follows immediately after the Torah's recounting of Avraham's circumcision that he did at the young age of 99 years old; Rashi explains that this revelation of the Shechinah to Avraham was for the purpose of Bikkurood Cholim – visiting the sick. Three days earlier Avraham had been circumcised; the third day after circumcision is the most painful, and so Hashem was visiting him on this day.
Ad-noy appeared to him in the groves of Mamrei and he was sitting at the uch door of the tent in the heat of the day. Chapter 18 Verse 1
RASHI --- [He] appeared to him. To visit the sick person; R. Chama bar Chanina said: It was the third day since his circumcision and G-d came to inquire about his welfare.
From here we learn the great importance of Bikkur Cholim, seeing that Hashem Himself performs this mitzvah too. The Rebbe says that though we cannot compare ourselves to Hashem and we cannot compare our visiting the sick to Hashem's visiting of the sick, we learn from Rashi's words " G-d came to inquire about his welfare." that the main aspect of visiting the sick is to "be there" with them. That is something that all of us can do.
GEDOLAH HACNASSAS ORCHIM MI'KABBALAT P'NAI HA'SHECHINAH:
SITTING IN THE HOT SUN, WAITING