Illuminations #178, Cheshvan, 5779, Parshat Lech Lecha

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Illuminations #178, Cheshvan, 5779, Parshat Lech Lecha

Torah Gems

Towards the end of the Sidra Hashem promises Avraham that Sarah his wife will give birth to a son. When Avraham hears this the Torah says – “He laughed” (17,17). The Onkelos translates this word as “Rejoiced.” He was happy to hear that at his age he was still able to have a son who would carry on with his traditions.

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch explains as follows: People laugh at things that seem absurd. Avraham laughed because he was promised a son in his old age who would develop into a great nation, and the hopes of the whole future of mankind would be placed on this child. To Avraham this sounded absurd, that he and Sarah at their age could have such a son.

Avraham and Sarah laughed about the birth of their son and the entire world is laughing at the descendants of this son. They laugh at our beliefs. They laugh at our dreams. They laugh at our existence. They laugh at our aspirations of having a nation among the nations of the world.

Yet despite the world’s attitude towards the Jews, we have been fulfilling the hopes of Avraham, and his progeny are leaders in contributing innovations and creations that are used today by people all over the world. The Jews in proportion to their numbers have offered the world more than any other people have.

Parsha Pearls

The Torah offers no background of Avraham before we read the command given him: “Go for yourself from your land” (12,1). What, indeed, was his greatness that Hashem selected him to give him the Land of Israel? We learn later that he is known as – העברי (14,13.

The word העברי may have many meanings. One meaning that Chazal give us is, “One who stands on the other side.” This implies that Avraham was not afraid to maintain his beliefs or his identity even among strangers who may not understand or accept his beliefs. He did not join in the practices or the culture of his environment but stood “on the other side of them.”

This traits of our forefather have been part of the Jewish people who live the life of the Torah. Withstanding the persecutions the Jews have endured through many centuries and many countries, the practicing Jew did not give up his beliefs and stood “on the other side” of his surrounding cultures.

This accounts for the hatred the world had and still has against the Jews. The nations of the world cannot understand how the Jew can stand alone against the currents and the streams that the entire world accepts.

Glimpses of Greatness

with excitement and then learn Torah.
In Heaven they saw his Avodat Hashem and decided to send Eliyahu Hanavi to tell him, “You must know that in heaven they appreciate your effort, so in Heaven they are giving you an opportunity to ask one wish.” The poor man did not know what to ask with the three problems he had. He went to have advise from his wife, and she said: “Tell him that you want to see your sons around a table made out of gold, this is how you will get your wish to answer all the problems.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is it permitted for a kohen to visit the sick in a hospital? [I Yd 18-381]

A. Igros Moshe (YD 2-161 , R. Moshe Feinstein, Z”L) writes about whether it is permitted for a kohen to visit a person who is sick and in the hospital. To the extent that it is possible, the kohen should ascertain beforehand that there are no deceased persons there. If it is not possible for him to check this, he can rely on the assumption that the majority of people in the hospital are non-Jews and this uproots the essential ruling that one not become impure through an overshadowing of a tent (ohel). Likewise, there is also a reason to be lenient if the majority of sick people who are living are Jews because  in that case the dead in the hospital are still from the non-Jews since they are the vast majority of the sick (present).

Mishneh Halachot  (4-146 R. Menashe Klein Z”l) and Shevet Halevi (YD 205, R. Shmuel Wosner Z”L) write that it is forbidden for kohanim, if at all possible, to enter the hospital, because it is known that in all hospitals there are many complete limbs of dead people there at all times in storage to study from. Also there are bones of dead people which are also complete and cause impurity by overshadowing. The presence of these sources of impurity is a matter well known and public knowledge.  See also Chelkat Yaakov (1-27, R MordechaiYaakov Breicsch, Z”L) who writes further on this.