Illuminations #180, Cheshvan, 5779, Parshat Chaya Sarah

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Illuminations #180, Cheshvan, 5779, Parshat Chaya Soro

Torah Gems

In Rav Pam’s will, he requested for his beloved children and precious students who would want to do something for his good and bring him pleasure in the world to come, that they should study and teach the Sefer Chofetz Chaim and Sefer Ahavas Chesed, both privately and in public study groups. This is because all the Chofetz Chaim’s works are divrei Elokim Chaim (the words of the living God), and one who separates himself from them is like one who forsakes life itself. And for one who will study them regularly, it will be pleasant for him and for me.

Parsha Pearls

And Hashem blessed Avraham with everything (24:1).

The Midrash comments that Hashem blessed Avraham Aveinu with everything, in the merit of Avraham’s generosity when he gave Hashem a tenth of everything. This took place after Avraham’s miraculous victory in the battle against the mighty four kings who had earlier defeated the five kings. In gratitude to Hashem, he tithed all the spoils of war and gave them to Malkitzedek, the king of Shalem, who was the Priest of Hashem. Rav Pam asks, wasn’t Avraham the first to publicize Hashem as the creator of the world? Didn’t he have thousands of students whom he made believe in Hashem? Then why was tithing the spoils of war the only act that made him worthy of this magnificent blessing? He offers that Avraham understood that wealth was the means for giving maaser and thereby supporting righteous people like Malchitzedek. Therefore Hashem blessed him with more wealth, which he used to feed wayfarers, do spiritual acts, and build a Jewish nation. This is the ultimate purpose of the blessings of wealth.

Glimpses of Greatness

Yitzchak went out to meditate in the field towards evening (24:63).

One of the disciples of the yeshiva in Radin related that late one night, he noticed the Chofetz Chaim furtively leaving his home. The young man decided to follow his Rebbi to see what he was doing at such a late hour. The Chofetz Chaim walked briskly out of the sleeping town and entered the nearby forest. A few minutes later he stopped, took a branch from a tree, and drew a circle in the dirt. Then he stood in the middle of the circle and said aloud: “I am not stepping out of this circle until you give me an answer!”  
After a few minutes of waiting, The Chofetz Chaim turned around and returned home. Apparently, he had received the answer from whomever he had asked it.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is one permitted to Interrupt Torah Study for the sake of the mitzvah of Visiting the sick? [I-YD-18-387]

A. Sefer Chassidim (1004, R. Yehudah Ben Shmuel of Regensberg Z”L) writes that when Torah Sages visit one who is ill it can be hard for them to leave Torah study for his sake. Mavar Yabok(Siftei Tzaddik 3-25b, R. Ahaon Berachia of Modina, Z”L) writes that  there is no doubt one should interrupt Torah and mitzvot in order to visit the sick. Sefer Zerah Chaim (80, R. Chaim Broda, Z”L) writes that certainly if one intends  this (not to interrupt Torah study), it is preferable that, if it is possible, to do this [ensure he is visited] through the hand of others.  As the story is related in Nedarim (39b), a certain talmid of Rabbi Akiva fell ill and [after a time] the chachamim were not coming to visit him, so R. Akiva [himself] went to visit him and because he came he arose from his sick bed and escaped death. He then said to R. Akiva, “Rebbi,  you have caused me to live.”

Or Zaruah (Hil Shabbat 51, R. Yitzchak Ben Moshe of Vienna, Z”L) mentions that there are places where it is the custom to set fixed times for visiting the sick: “Our  custom is that after going to the synagogue on Shabbat, we go to visit the sick.” Meiri (Nedarim 41b) writes that some of the pious were accustomed if there was a sick person in the city that was not being visited to publicize the matter.

Rambam Z”L (Hil. Talmud Torah 3-4) writes that if one has before him the mitzvah of Talmud Torah and another mitzvah comes to him to perform [like visiting the sick], and  it is not possible to do the mitzvah through the hand of others, one should interrupt his Torah study to do it. Igros Moshe (YD 1-223R. Moshe Feinstein Z”L) rules that only under very specific circumstances should one not interrupt one’s studies to visit the sick:  [only] if there are [other] people who can do the mitzvah and go visit the sick person in one’s stead, and also this applies only for those who study Torah all day long [without interruption ] so they do not have time to go and visit the sick; [it is only such a person who] should not interrupt their Torah studies for the sake of the mitzvah of visiting the sick.