Illuminations #49, Cheshvan 5776, Parshat Vayeira

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Illuminations #49, Cheshvan 5776, Parshat Vayeira

Torah Gems

When AviMelekh took Sara Imenu from Avraham Avinu, Hashem commanded him to return her because her husband is a prophet. The Torah commentators ask what difference does it make that her husband was a prophet, it is forbidden to be with a married woman regardless of who her husband is? The Hanukat Hatorah has a novel approach to answer this question. The Talmud says if someone marries an איילונית (a lady who has certain physical traits that show she cannot conceive), the marriage isn’t valid since the marriage was based on erroneous assumptions. Tosafot say, however, if the husband noticed and nevertheless accepted the marriage then the marriage is valid. The Talmud also tells us that Sara Imenu didn’t have a womb, rendering her an איילונית. The question then arises, what did AviMelekh do wrong? Since she was an איילונית her marriage was null and she wasn’t a married woman. Therefore Hashem tells AviMelekh that her husband is a prophet and knew that she was an איילונית and nevertheless married her, which means the marriage was valid and AviMelekh was forbidden to be with her.


Parsha Pearls

When the angels came to greet Avraham Avinu he was at the age of ninety-nine. He was an elderly man who had just undergone a circumcision. He was weak and in great pain. Nevertheless the passage tells us that Avraham Avinu himself served and fed his guests. The apparent question is that a person of that age and that stature who our sages tell us had 318 servant surely should have gotten one of them to serve the guests. We learn a great lesson from Avraham Avinu, that a person should always try his best to fulfill mitzvot himself and not through a messenger. The Talmud tells us about a number of sages who would prepare for Shabbat themselves even though they had people to take care of all their needs. When a person is a respectable person and does a mitzvah by himself he is showing an extra importance to that mitzvah. We should learn from all these great people that when we have a chance to do a mitzvah, we should jump on the opportunity and not try to pass it on to someone else.


Glimpses of Greatness

One year the city of Yerushalayim had only one kosher Etrog. It turned out that the status of the kashrut of the Etrog was questionable. The Rabbis of the city sent a letter to Baghdad to HaRav Eliyahu Hayim posing their question before him. When the letter arrived, Harav Eliyahu’s son, fourteen year old Yosef Hayim (later known as the Ben Ish Hai), saw the letter. He was intrigued by the question and spent the entire night delving in his books to arrive at the correct answer. He sent his response to the Rabbis of Jerusalem. The Rabbis were impressed with the depth and beauty of the answer. A little while later they received another response from Baghdad with the same answer. The Rabbis of Jerusalem realized what had occurred and told Harav Eliyahu that his brilliant son already beat him to it.


From the Donner Family in appreciation of Rabbi Kapenstein