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WISDOM FROM LECH LECHA RAV BERLAND SHELITA



Excerpts from a lesson given by HaRav Eliezer Berland, shlit"a, Parshas Lech Lecha.


The story by Rabbi Nachman "The King and the Emperor," starts: Once there was a King and an Emperor, from different lands, who were each childless. They both decided to travel to look for a remedy to have children. They chance to meet in an inn, and each recognizing a certain royal bearing in the other, they confide in one other. They make a pact that if they will each have a child, one having a boy and they other a girl, then the children will marry one another. In the course of time, both the King and the Emperor have a child, one a boy and the other a girl, but the pact between them is forgotten. They both send their children away to study, and they both are sent to the same tutor. They meet one another and pledge to marry one another. The farther away a couple comes from one other, the more true the shidduch is. The couple in the story came from completely different countries, with no apparent hope of meeting one another, and yet they could not be kept apart because they were meant for each other. 

In the story of Eliezer being sent to find a bride for Yitzchak, the whole quest had created a tremendous turmoil in Eliezer's mind. Eliezer knew that Hashem had said to Avraham, "Go out from your land, leave your people, and your father's house," and here he was, being sent back, by Avraham, to the very place Hashem had ordered him to leave to find a bride for his son. Had his master gone crazy? Surely he was going completely against the word of Hashem. It is almost automatic that the servant should have questions on his master, just as a student will have on his Rebbe or the Tzaddik or even on Hashem himself. Eliezer had a daughter who he thought was perfect for Yitzchak, who was brought up in Avraham's house, but it wasn't until he arrived in Charan and saw Rivka with the tremendous light coming from her, that he started to understand the difference between Rivka and his own daughter. 

Yet Eliezer had still another question on Avraham. He saw that Rivka was due to give birth to Esav. In Bereishis 24:15, it says she was "with her pitcher upon her shoulder." This phrase has the roshe taivos, initial letters, of the name Esav. Did his master really want to marry his son to someone that was going to give birth to such a wicked person? But then Hashem opened his eyes to the fact that she was also due to give birth to Yaakov, as it says (Bereishis 24:21), "and the man, wondering at her was silent." The word silent has the gematria of Esav and Yaakov, together. 

Still, his original question raised itself again when Lavan said to him (Bereishis 24:31), "Come in, you blessed of Hashem." Surely, Avraham had explained to him the reason that it would be impossible to take Eliezer's daughter for his son, was because Eliezer was cursed (Rashi, Bereishis 24:39), since he was descended from Canaan (Bereishis 9:25.) Now, if he was being described as, "blessed of Hashem," did this mean that he had lost his "accursed" status? 

So how did Eliezer overcome these questions? Simply by being silent. He acted according to his master's instructions, doing what he knew was the correct thing to do, and paying no heed whatsoever to his own questions, and the questions simply fell away from him. Likewise, when one is beset by questions, he should simply have patience and not act according to the questions. He should wait and rely on Hashem to have mercy on him and to show him the answers in good time. 

It is interesting to note that the whole story of Eliezer's going to find a wife for Yitzchak is recorded twice in the Torah, first by Eliezer himself, and then by Eliezer to Lavan. Yet by Avraham--his whole childhood, the breaking of the idols, the running away from Nimrod, the flight into the desert, being thrown into the furnace--all these details are all only hinted at and not even written explicitly. As pointed out by the Rabbis, the story of the life of the slaves of the fathers is more beloved to the Torah than anything that came later. Surely the story of the life of Avraham could have taken many chapters! 

Similarly we see by the 39 melachos, the creative acts, forbidden to perform on Shabbos, that they are nowhere specified in the Torah. Apart from two- Shvu Ish Tachtav--that one shouldn't go out from his home--and "Lo Tivaru Esh"--not to light a fire--none of the other melachos are listed. They are all learned out by remez, clues, from the building of the Mishkan. (And even these two themselves are remezim, "Shvu Ish" teaches that one should try to be humble, to see himself as being under his true level, less than he is, and "Esh"--not to light a fire--one should be very careful never to get angry on Shabbat.) 

The fact is that the Torah doesn't record stories for their own sake or mention what doesn't need to be mentioned. From what is recorded, many lessons and teachings can be derived. The story of Eliezer being repeated twice teaches the crucial importance of not being deceived by questions and doubts. One should rather overcome this evil inclination and to do whatever is in his power to do, acting only according to the truth, according to the instructions of the Tzaddik.

Avraham's whole life was dedicated to doing acts of chessed, loving kindness. He was unable to sit down and eat a meal, unless he had guests at the table. Even on the third day after his bris mila, when the pain is at it's greatest, he had to have guests to eat with him. Hashem had thought to have mercy on him, so He opened up a special hole in Gehinnom specifically so that the day would be so hot that no one would be able to walk out in it. Then Avraham would not have any guests to run after and serve. 

But for Avraham this was unacceptable. First he sent out Eliezer to find someone, but he was unable to find anyone out in such a heat. So Avraham realized he would have to go and search for himself. He was the only person able to go out in such a heat. In the end, Hashem was forced, so to speak, to send him guests from heaven, three angels. 

When a person dedicates himself to performing the mitzvahs, even just one particular mitzvah, with all his strength, he can actually bring the Moshiach. The Midrash teaches about three people mentioned in the Torah- Reuven, Boaz, and Aharon. If Reuven had known that his saving of Yosef from the brothers would be written in the Torah, he would have picked up Yosef, and carried him on his shoulders all the way home to his father. If Boaz had known that the chessed he did for Ruth would be written in the Megilla, he would have brought fattened calves for her. The Sfas Emes writes, if Boaz had done so, he would have brought Moshiach ben David immediately. 

It is written that the Moshiach ben David will be descended from converts, just as David himself was descended from the convert, Ruth. For only by converts do we find the ultimate mesirut nefesh, a dedication to serving Hashem that stretches back to Avraham. They leave their land, their home, their people: it is not possible for one to imagine the suffering they go through. Rav Yehonason Eybeshitz writes that if one really knew the true worth of the converts, how precious they are to Hashem, he would kiss their every footstep. If Aharon had known that his going out into the desert to meet Moshe would be written in the Torah, he would have taken a full orchestra with him. Such a tremendous privilege to have the merit to be able to go out and greet the Tzaddik. Had he done so, Israel would have been redeemed immediately, without any need for Hashem to have sent the ten plagues. Were a person to perform a mitzvah with all his strength and concentration, he could immediately bring the redemption.

Continuing from the subject of shidduchim, the Rav spoke about shalom biat, (peace in the home,) and how careful one must be to always speak nicely to his wife, and never to shout or be angry with her. ( The Rav has mentioned in previous lessons how all the abundance and riches that are due to come to a man are canceled when he shouts at his wife, because all the blessings and success that come to him, come only because of her, due to her mesirut nefesh, the suffering she goes through, in taking care of his house. When he makes her cry, he loses everything.) The Zohar teaches that if one is unable to appease and conciliate his wife, he shouldn't continue to live with her. The wife is the general in the home, and he is just a regular soldier. Whatever she tells him to do, he must do it immediately, and happily, whether it is taking out the garbage or anything else. The man has the status of a guest in his home, and it is not his business to get involved in the cooking, decorating, furniture, etc. A man has to be filled with love and admiration for his wife, to tell her at least a hundred times a day how much he loves her, that all other women are nothing next to her.

This year the whole world is shaking. Even before Rosh Hashanah there was an earthquake in Turkey, and since then, things have been getting worse and worse. Earthquakes, storms, hurricanes, floods, killer mosquitoes, hundreds of thousands of people going through suffering, and being killed, all over the world. It says in the Midrash, how, for twenty five years before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Hashem also sent them earthquakes, storms etc. in order to hint to them that they should desist from their unacceptable behaviour, and return to Him in repentance.




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