PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
too can dedicate a Parsha or any other section of Torah Tots in honor
or in memory of someone close to you.
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NO MITZVOT IN THIS PARSHA
Although none of the Taryag (613) mitzvot are counted from Vayera, there are many mitzvah-lessons to be found in the Parsha.
Many of the details of the Mitzvah of Hachnasat
Orchim (hospitality), considered part of the mitzvah of G'milut Chasadim, are derived from the behavior of Avrohom Avinu. Similarly, Bikur Cholim, (visiting the sick), also a part of G'milut Chasadim as well as being part of the mitzvah to emulate Hashem.
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 147
NUMBER OF WORDS: 2085
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 7862
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Melachim ll / Kings II 4:1-37 (Ashkenazim);
Melachim ll / Kings II 4:1-23 (Sepharadim)
AVROM IS NOW AVROHOM
For a fact filled sheet
'ALL ABOUT AVROHOM'
| In our last
episode, Hashem commanded Avrom to leave his home in Charan.
So Avrom packed his bags and headed out on a blind date with destiny.
Hashem led him to the land of Canaan. But along with Avrom
came a drought. He was forced to abandon the promised land and head
out to Egypt, where a family fiasco ended with a plagued Pharoh
400 years before Yetziat Mitzrayim (Exodus from Egypt).
Avrom was kicked out of Egypt for saying Sarai was his sister, but
left a rich man. Back again in Canaan, Lot, Avrom's nephew, moved
to Sodom and was captured in a war. Avrom fought 5 kings and won
Lot's release. Hashem changed Avrom's name to Avrohom,
Sarai's name to Sarah, and promised that in the near future they
would have a son.
As our Parsha opens, Avrohom wastes no time after circumcising himself
and his entire household. He painfully returns to the lookout post at
the entrance of his tent, waiting for strangers to cross the road. It
has been three days and Avrohom is at the peak of pain, but Hachnasat
Orchim (hospitality) is Avrohom's forte, and he insists on performing this great
Hashem wants to spare Avrohom the strain of caring for guests, so He makes it so hot out that no one will dare venture out in the grilling
heat. Sadly, Avrohom realizes that no one will be showing up today.
Hashem decides to pay a visit to Avrohom. This teaches
us the importance of the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim,
(visiting the sick). He sees how Avrohom yearns for guests,
so He sends three Malachim (angels) in shepherd
clothing walking down the road. Avrohom is so excited to see guests
that he interrupts his conversation with Hashem and runs
out to greet them. Avrohom invites the three strangers to his tent
for a meal. He quickly sends one of his men to fetch water to wash
their feet. While they are resting under a tree, Avrohom makes dinner
arrangements. That's Sarah's department and you can be certain that
she is as enthusiastic as her husband. The guests are fed a hearty
meal. Of course, since they're Malachim, they make it all
Now, these three Malachim each have a mission. Malach Raphael the healer has been sent to take away Avrohom's pain. As soon as Avrohom approaches him on the road, the pain from circumcision was a mere memory. Malach Michoel gives Avrohom the news he has waited to hear most of his life; next year, at this time, Sarah will give birth to a son. Well, faith comes solemnly to Avrohom, but Sarah can't help but to give a little laugh when she overhears this
announcement. But this chuckle of emotion doesn't go over too well with
Hashem. Could it be that Sarah doubts the powers that created the
heavens and earth? Hey, once you've created a world, what's another
miracle under your belt - even if she is 90 years old!
When the visit is over, Malach Michoel's mission is complete. He heads
back to Shamayim. But there are still two more matters to take care of.
Hashem has had His eye on the wicked city of Sodom for a long time now. Malach Gavriel's mission is to destroy Sodom. Malach Raphael's task is to save Lot's family from certain death!
Hashem has great respect for Avrohom. Since Hashem has promised the land of Canaan to Avrohom, it's only fair to let him know that the cruel city
of Sodom and its neighbors are about to be pulverized. Why? Listen to
First of all, in Sodom you're not allowed to give food to poor people.
You're not allowed to invite strangers into your home. If a stranger
comes to town, they rob and beat him. If a rich guy comes into the
city, the people push a wall down on him, kill him and then steal
his money. Get this one: if two people get into a fight and one
ends up bleeding, the bleeder has to pay a doctor's fee for the
Hashem tells Avrohom that the souls of those murdered
in Sodom are crying out for revenge. But Avrohom, a person with
great compassion, still can't deal with a whole city being destroyed.
Where Noach failed, Avrohom succeeds. He begs Hashem
for mercy. Who knows, maybe they'll do Tshuva! (repent).
What about Hashem's reputation? It's bad enough having
a flood on His resume; does He have to add the
destruction of a city?
Now Avrohom starts dealing: What if there are fifty good people in
Sodom? Let the city survive on that merit! Hashem agrees. But according
to the last survey, there are no fifty Tzadikim to be found in Sodom.
"How about forty-five Tzadikim?" Hashem agrees to this figure too. Eventually, Avrohom "hondles" Hashem down to one righteous man.
Unfortunately, the city Tzadik census deals a big zero. Avrohom realizes
that there is no one worth saving in Sodom. No one except Lot...
TIME TO STONE SODOM
the two Malachim arrive in Sodom. Lot happens to be sitting
by the gate. Apparently he has picked up a few of Uncle Avrohom's
good habits. He waits for the arrival of a couple of strangers so
that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim.
(He did pick up "some" good habits hanging around Avrohom's house!)
When he sees the two Malachim disguised as strangers, he
heads right for them and, against the rules, insists they come home
with him. Lot leads them through the back alleys so that no one
will see the guests enter his house. Meanwhile, Lot's wife, Irit,
isn't crazy about having guests in her house. When Lot asks her
to go to a neighbor and borrow salt for his guests, she flips out.
She goes house to house declaring "I need salt to feed two strangers
that are eating in my house."
all the wicked people of Sodom need to hear! They come in droves
demanding that Lot hand over his two guests. When Lot refuses,
they attempt to bash down his door with a battering ram. Just
when it seems hopeless, the two Malachim take over. They
tell Lot's family to clear the area. Then the Malachim
strike the evil people blind! But these Sodomites are bent on
evil! Even in the sightless confusion, they band back together
and attempt once again to ram down the door! But these blinded
bums finally give up when they fail to find the door.
call a huddle. They warn Lot and his family that the city of Sodom
is about to be destroyed by Hashem. They must make a
run for it now if the wish to survive. But no matter what they
hear, they must never dare look back! Lot, his wife and two daughters
flee the city immediately. The
moment Lot gets past the city's gates, it begins to rain. The
rain turns to tar and fire, destroying the trapped inhabitants
of Sodom and four other wicked cities.
With all the tumult bellowing behind them, Lot's wife can't
curb her curiosity. She turns her head. Instantly, she becomes
a pillar of salt. The Torah tells us that this pillar
stands in its place to this very day. Why salt, you ask... That's
Midah Kneged Midah! ('Tit for Tat').
When Lot's wife went searching for salt she told everyone about
the strangers in her home. Now she would become that very salt
she searched for! Meanwhile, Lot and his two daughters head for
the hills and hide out in a cave.
WE'RE A MOVIN' ON OUT
| Since there ain't gonna be no
more strangers on the road to Sodom, Avrohom decides it's time to
move on. Next stop... Pelishtim in Gerar. Now these guys
aren't as bad as the Egyptians but Avrohom decides to revive the
sister and brother routine made famous in MItzrayim (Egypt).
Sure enough, word gets back to King Avimelech that the beautiful
Sarah has just entered his kingdom. Avimelech orders her to be brought
to the palace. Once again Sarah turns to Hashem for protection.
And once again Hashem hits a royal household with plagues.
Hashem speaks to Avimelech in a dream. He warns Avimelech
to let Sarah go because she is a married woman. But Avimelech has
an excuse: "What did I do wrong," he petitions. "She said Avrohom
was her brother. Blame them, not me."
The plagued Avimelech brings Sarah back to Avrohom. He gives Avrohom a
speech about acting like a "mentsch" in his "well-behaved civil
country." Since the time of the flood, the people of Gerar have been
very careful to guard their city against immorality. Avrohom shoots
right back at Avimelech that there is a kink in the system. Since the
citizens would never take a married woman, they would have killed him if
they had found out that he was married to Sarah. Avimelech sees
Avrohom's point. Avimelech sends Avrohom a slew of expensive presents.
He begs Avrohom to petition Hashem for the end of the plagues that are
terrorizing the palace. Hashem accepts Avrohom's prayers and heals the
| Avrohom knows where
he's not welcome. After facing off with Avimelech, he heads out
to a new town, Be'er Sheva, where he goes into the hotel business.
Of course, Avrohom's got bigger plans than managing a Beer Sheva
Best Western. He and his men plant an orchard of fruit trees and
raise a back-lit sign for strangers and travellers to see: "Free
fruit, food and furnishings".That's sure to draw in the crowds!
Whenever a stranger comes around, Avrohom takes the opportunity
to introduce Hashem into his life. It starts with a Bracha
of thanks after the meal. Eventually chit-chat turns into a lesson
that makes a believer out of a "Baal-liever"!! Avrohom's Hachnasat
Orchim hotel is a hit and the name of Hashem spreads
with the thousands of guests who leave his hotel rested and satisfied.
| Exactly one year
to the day that the three Malachim dropped in on Avrohom,
a very welcome stranger enters the tent. At the age of ninety, Sarah
gives birth to a son; the son that Avrohom and Sarah have waited
for all their lives! They name him Yitzchok, meaning 'laughter'.
Now Avrohom will have an heir to fulfill his destiny!
of this great miracle spreads and on the eighth day of Yitzchok's
life, Avraham circumcises his son and celebrates the Brit
with a party. |
Two years later, when Sarah stops nursing Yitzchok, Avrohom makes
another party. Everyone shows up: King Avimelech, Og the giant,
and 31 kings from Canaan. Everyone celebrates the miracle of Sarah's
rejuvenation. Hashem has kept his promise to Avrohom and
now the whole world knows it.
The celebration is turned into a great Kiddush Hashem
and, of course, leave it to Avrohom to roll out a full dinner
and Viennese table and, oy, what a smorgasbord!
Yitzchok and Yishmael grow up together, but while Yitzchok is a "nice Jewish boy," Yishmael is more like an Egyptian in shepherd's clothing. His idea of fun is using Yitzchok for target practice out in the fields. Well, Sarah won't have any of this. It gets even worse when Yishmael boasts that as the oldest son, he will receive a double portion of his father Avrohom's possessions! Yes, Yishmael is older than Yitzchok, but
Yitzchok is the true heir to Avrohom's destiny.|
Sarah insists that Avrohom sends Yishmael and Hagar packing! Avrohom doesn't know what to do. After all, if this is how Yishmael acts in Avrohom's house, imagine what he'll be like out in the wilderness with no one to set an example for him! He's got to think about this one. Hashem tells Avrohom not to worry so much about Yishmael. He must listen to Sarah and send them on their way.
Following Hashem's orders, Avrohom hands Hagar a divorce, a dozen bagels (okay, a loaf of bread!) and a jug of water, and sends her out of his house.
Sadly, she carries Yishmael on her shoulders. They head for the desert. They would be okay for a while under normal circumstances, but Yishmael develops a fever and gulps down the entire water supply. He's still burning up, though, and Hagar is afraid that her son will die in the sweltering heat. So she places him under a shady bush and prays to
Hashem for help. The sick Yishmael also prays.
Hashem responds to Yishmael's prayers. A Malach
tells Hagar not to be afraid. Hashem has big plans for
Yishmael. He will father a great nation! Suddenly, she sees a
well of water in the middle of the desert. Hagar feeds Yishmael
fresh water. When Yishmael has recovered, he and his mother settle
in the desert of Paran. Yishmael becomes a mighty hunter. He marries
an Egyptian woman and becomes a terrorist - oops, I mean a robber.
TRICK OR TREATY?
| At this point, Avrohom is surely
the most famous guy in Canaan. After he and Sarah leave Pelishtim,
the stories of Avrohom's fame finally reach Avimelech's palace.
There's the one about the war that Avrohom won against the four
kings and, of course, the baby that Sarah gave birth to in her old
Avimelech starts to wonder whether he may have been a little
hasty with Mr. "A." The Pelishtim could really use Avrohom
on their side. He's heard whispers about Hashem's promises
to give Avrohom's descendants the land of Canaan. That would mean
defeat and destruction to cities like his own. No, this just will
not do. Avimelech has got to make a treaty with the future conqueror
of Canaan. So he and his general, Phichol, travel out to Avrohom's
hotel. Avrohom probably greets them like any other guests. He
probably serves them a hearty meal and escorts them up to a room
so they can rest for a while. Then it comes time for treaty business.
Avrohom's not looking for a fight. "Fine," he says, "you want a treaty,
you got it. But first there's a little matter involving a few of your
boys that needs to be settled. You see, I dug a well, but your boys
moved in and took it over. What do you say, you speak to your boys and
tell them to lay off the well."
Sounds simple enough, but Avimelech isn't convinced one way or another.
Avrohom can't prove that the well was ever his to begin with...or can
he? Since there were no witnesses at the digging, Avrohom comes up with
a contest to determine who owns the well once and for all. Whoever can
make the well water rise wins the well!
First Avimelech's boys lead a herd of sheep to the well. The water
remains low down below the ground. Next, Avrohom's servants surround
the well with seven of Avrohom's sheep. Instantly, the water bubbles up
to the top. Well, that's proof enough for Avimelech to declare Avrohom
the true owner of the well.
Avrohom and Avimelech agree to a 'three generation' treaty. For the next
three generations, Avrohom's descendants will be forbidden to attack
Avimelech's kingdom. To make it all official and to celebrate the
miracle of the well, Avrohom gives Avimelech the seven sheep that
starred in the contest. They also rename the area Be'er Sheva, which
means "the well of Seven (Sheep, that is)."
It seems to Avrohom that the peace treaty is a good idea. But Hashem
has a beef with Avrohom's treaty. Who is Avrohom to second guess
Hashem's plans? Did it ever occur to him that somebody
has to conquer the Pelishtim if his descendants are ever
to inherit the land? Little does Avrohom realize that this treaty
will cause years of chaos for Bnei Yisroel in the future.
For this blunder, Hashem will make Avrohom's next test
a real tough one!
TEST OF FAITH:
And what a doozie that next test is!!|
Hashem waits 38 years to implement
the plan! One night, Hashem appears to Avrohom in a dream. He commands Avrohom to "sacrifice your only son, the son you love, Yitzchok," on Har
Hamoriah (Mt. Moriah).
Well, this is really ridiculous: First Hashem
promises to make Avrohom into a great nation; Then Avrohom has to wait
99 years for a child; Finally a son is born to him; And just when
Yitzchok is easing into the family business, Hashem tells Avrohom to
sacrifice him! This sounds too kookie! But fear not...Avrohom trusts in
Hashem and never questions the instructions.
As a matter of fact, Avrohom doesn't waste a moment. He wakes up early
the next morning and heads right for the stables where he saddles his
own donkey. Then Avrohom, along with Yitzchok, Yishmael and Eliezer trek
out to Har HaMoriah. For three days they hike until they reach the
chosen mountain. The upper peaks of Har HaMoriah are covered with the
Cloud Of Glory. Hashem's Shechina is present to witness this act of true
Avraham instructs Yishmael and Eliezer to wait with the donkey at the
base of the mountain until they return. Only Avrohom and Yitzchok will
go on from here. Avrohom loads a pile of wood on Yitzchok's back and
It is obvious to Yitzchok that a sacrifice is the order of the day:
Avrohom is carrying a knife and a torch, the bundle of wood on his own
back... standard sacrifice equipment. But where is the lamb? Avrohom
confesses to Yitzchok that he is the lamb about to be slaughtered on the
Mizbayach (Altar) as a sacrifice to Hashem. Yitzchok manages to take the news in stride. If this is what Hashem wants, then he's game! He's willing to give up his own life in the name of Hashem!
At the top of the mountain, Avrohom builds a Mizbayach. He
places the wood on top of a pile of stones, and then places Yitzchok on
top of the wood. At Yitzchok's request, Avrohom binds his hands and feet
together so that he will not squirm and ruin the sacrifice. Then Avrohom
lifts his knife with an outstretched arm, ready to sacrifice his only
son. Just as Avrohom is about to drop the knife, a Malach cries out,
"Avrohom, Avrohom, don't hurt him!" But Avrohom is so wound up that
there is virtually no stopping him now. The Malach is forced to use all
his physical strength to stop the knife in mid-air.
Okay...CUT!! That's a wrap! Avrohom has passed the final
test of his career with flying colors! It takes a lot of guts
to put your faith in Hashem in a case like this, but
Avrohom has proven that he is a man worthy of fathering a great
nation. And let's not forget Yitzchok; he's a brave fellow too,
putting his neck on the line for Hashem!
But what about the sacrifice? Avrohom has the Mizbayach all revved
up and ready to go with no korban (sacrifice).
in the near distance, Avrohom sees the "pay-off". A ram whose
horns are caught in a patch of thorny bushes looks just perfect
to take Yitzchok's place. As Avrohom slaughters the ram, he prays
that Hashem will accept the ram in the place of his son.
In the merit of Avrohom's willingness to sacrifice his son,
Hashem accepts the tefilot (prayers) and sacrifices
of Bnei Yisroel. Each day we remember the "sacrifice"during
Shacharit (Morning) prayers, when we recite the Parshat
Ha-Akeida. And on
Rosh Hashana when we blow the Shofar, it
symbolizes the horn of the ram sacrificed by Avrohom on that fateful
day 3000 years ago.
Tune in next week when Avrohom and Yitzchok return home to find they've
suffered a terrible loss in the next exciting episode of:
the Midrash Maven on Vayera
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