Illuminations #179, Cheshvan, 5779, Parshat Vayeirah

KollelNerHamizrach__illumination logo

Illuminations #179, Cheshvan, 5779, Parshat Vayeira

Torah Gems

In the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Avrohom Avinu was visited by three angels. Avraham ran with alacrity to do the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim, Inviting Guests. The Alshich Hakadosh explains that we can learn two things from Avraham Avinu about mitzvah observance. One, a person should act with zerizut, alacrity; and two, it is best if the mitzvah is performed by the person himself.

In his Introduction to his sefer Mesilas Yesharim, the Ramchal shares the Gemara about Rebbe Pinchas ben Yair who brings zerizut as one of the steps to holiness. When a person acts with zerizut he can live a more productive life. He won’t let opportunities slip by to be done later. It can change a person from being lax to eager. Even if a person does it superficially, over time it will affect a change internally and will enhance the service of his Creator.

The opposite of zerizut is atzlut, laziness. The Mishna in Avos says in regards to people, “the workers are lazy”. The basic understanding is that we are lazy in our actions. Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits offers a different explanation. He explains that our biggest laziness is in our mindset – that we are not willing to change. This is the way I do something and I am not changing. He tells a story of three students who would study late at night. The last one in would shut the lights. One night all three came back at the same time. After finishing their studies in bed no one wanted to get up to turn off the light. One tried a hanger, another tried extending the hanger. After doing this for a while, one decided to throw something. He ended up breaking the light bulb and the light was out!

Parsha Pearls

King Solomon said, “You must train each child according to his way.” Where do we find such a concept in this week’s Parsha? After Avraham Avinu sent Yishmael away, there was no one to raise him. The only one that he could call out to was Hashem. Can you imagine being raised by Hashem Himself? Such a person should learn Torah all day. However, in the case of Yishmael, we find that he became an archer. Rav Yitzchak Berkovits quotes Rav Chaim Shmulevitz that from here we learn to educate every child to his potential . It appears that Yishamael’s potential lay in being an archer. Many times we put hope in our children to turn out a certain type of way. However, the most important thing is to have their best interest in mind.  We must develop each child according to his strengths to best serve Hashem.

Glimpses of Greatness

Rav Yisrael Salanter once participated in a seudat mitzvah. Before he ate, he washed his hands but only with a minimal amount of water. People wondered, “Why didn’t the great Rabbi use a lot of water for the mitzvah of washing his hands?” When they questioned him as to why he did this he explained as follows: It is true that it is good to use a generous amount of water when washing for a mitzvah but not at the expense of someone else. Rav Yisrael Salanter felt that if he used a lot of water, it would be at the expense of the water carrier who had to lug the water. Rav Yisrael did not want the water carrier to have to carry a drop more.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is it permitted to visit a sick person if it may cause embarrassment to him or the family? [I-YD-18-387]

A. Kav Venaki (1-687, R. Yitzchak Zilberstein) writes about whether it is permitted to visit a (mentally) sick person where the family is embarrassed by his condition because he loses his senses. He answers in the name of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Z”L, that as it says in Nedarim (41a), one does not visit a person suffering from sicknesses of the bowels because of the embarrassment (that may be caused to them).  This is because sometimes he may need to relieve himself and be embarrassed because of the presence of visitors. From this we learn that one is to refrain from visiting a sick person [for whom our visit]is likely to cause embarrassment. 

He continues, however, saying that even so there is a reason to differ in our case [because] the sick person does not feel his disgrace, and only members of his family will feel the embarrassment. If this is so, it is permitted [to visit him] and perhaps one is even obligated to visit him.  He concludes that if the sick person is not disrespected [in general because of his condition and] that he only appears to be disgraceful [when he loses his senses] in the eyes of his family alone, then it is permitted to visit him if by visiting him this will [benefit him] by stimulating him to bring him to his senses.