Illuminations #135, Cheshvan 5778, Parshat Vayeira

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Illuminations #135, Cheshvan 5778, Parshat Vayeira

Torah Gems

“Hashem had caused sulfur and fire to rain on Sedom and Amora- by Hashem from Heaven.”

The name Hashem signifies divine mercy and the name Elokim exemplifies the attribute of judgment. Since the Pasuk is talking about destroying cities, shouldn’t it use the attribute of judgment instead of divine mercy?

Rav Gifter explains that although destroying the wicked may seem harsh, it indeed stems from Hashem’s mercy on the rest of the world. A similar idea is expressed by the Sforno, “Hashem is a man of war; Hashem is his name (Shemos 15:3);” “Even though He is a man of war, destroying the wicked with justice, his name is indeed Hashem. Through destroying the evil people,He is granting existence and being to His world. He removes the thorns from the vineyard, for the wicked destroy the world.”

We can see another divine mercy displayed during the destruction of Sedom and Amora. “After the forces of destruction are given permission to destroy, they do NOT differentiate between the wicked and not wicked” (Bava kama60a). Lot, who was living in Sedom at the time of destruction, should have been killed. Hashem, however, with great mercy saved him and his family.

Parsha Pearls

The Gaon says that the 613 mitzvos are just general commandments, while the specific details of each and every mitzvah are infinite. He proves this point from the fact that many parshiyos in the Torah contain not even one mitzvah. Why were these parshiyos written, if there is no mitzvah to be learned from them? Therefore, it must be that there are aspects of mitzvos that can be learned even from these parshiyos. Parshas Vayeira is one of these parshiyos: it is a source for teaching us acts of chesed. The Torah tells us that the angels asked Avraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?” He answered that she could be found inside the tent. Rashi points out that although the  angels knew Sarah’s location, nevertheless they raised this question to Avraham to bring her modesty to his attention and let him appreciate it. A wife should always be endeared to her husband regardless of the husband’s age, as Avraham was nearly hundred years old and married for over seventy years at the time. This is one example of a chesed displayed in this parsha. Rav Wolbe writes that there is no situation in which it’s too difficult to do kindness; it is not beneath a person’s dignity to perform chesed. This is the lesson we learn from a parsha without even one of the 613 mitzvos!

Glimpses of Greatness

As the Chazon Ish was walking toward his house on SimchasTorah, he met a convert to Judaism. The proselyte complained to him that people weren’t befriending him, although the Torah obligates them to love a convert. The Chazon Ish told him that he would honor him with a song. Immediately, he burst into song and danced before him in the street, not stopping until he saw that the convert was appeased.

Halacha Weekly

Q. When Is it permitted to Pray that evil-doers repent? [2-11-280]

A. Clearly,  one should pray for the sake of those who are engaged in sin or are far from the path of Torah in order that they repent. In the Zohar Harakiah ( Parshat Vayera105b) Rabbi says there is a mitzvah for a person to pray for the sake of evil-doers in order that they return to the side of good and not go to Gehinom.  The Sefer Chareidim (Perek 68, R. Elazar Azikri, Z”L) writes likewise.

However, there are times when it is not permitted to pray for evil-doers to repent. The reason is that praying for them represents praying to G-d for something which is impossible and is a prayer in vain. Sefer Chasidim (688 ) writes that one that causes the multitude to sin, and some of them die [in sin], one should not pray that he repent because it will not be effective. Meil Tzedakah (67, R. Yonah Landsofer, Z”L)  writes that it is permitted for a person to pray to G-d that a evil person return in teshuva in order that he not cause one to suffer, but in general one should not pray for the sake of evil-doers [that they do teshuva].