Parshat Chayei Sarah - Peripheral Biblical Figures
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A man walks into the rabbi's office to talk. After exchanging pleasantries, he finally gets down to business.
"Rabbi," he says, "I want you to make me a Kohen."
"Make you a Kohen?! We don't do that!"the rabbi responded.
"I thought you might respond in this manner," the man said, reaching into his pocket and removing his checkbook. "So I'm prepared to make a ten-thousand dollar donation to the synagogue in exchanging for your helping me."
Ten thousand dollars was a lot of money, and the shul certainly needed it, but the rabbi held firm.
"Sorry, but I can't help you."
A week later, the man was back.
"Rabbi, I really want you to make me a Kohen. And I've thought about it, and I'm willing to up my donation to a fifty thousand dollars, straight to the synagogue's general fund. Will you do it?"
This time, the rabbi took a moment. He thought about it, but decided that he couldn't go through with it.
"Sorry," he told the man, "But I just can't help you."
A week later, the man returned once again.
"Rabbi," he said. "I truly need to be a Kohen. I'm willing to up my offer to a hundred thousand, straight to your discretionary fund, no questions asked. Please, I'm begging you."
A hundred thousand dollars. The rabbi lost himself in thought for a few moments, and then said softly, "I think I can help you."
"Terrific!" the man said excitedly, as he begun scribbling out the check. "Wonderful!"
"But there's one thing I need to ask you." the rabbi interrupted. "I don't understand. Why is it so important for you to be a Kohen?"
"Simple," the man explained. "My grandfather was a Kohen. My father was a Kohen..."
Netziv notes the unusual order of the verses. We first read that Avram went – and Lot went with him, and note his age upon departing Haran. Then, in the very next verse, we learn that Avram took Sarai, Lot, and all of their possessions. Is this not at least a partial repetition of the first verse?וַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָם, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֵלָיו ה', וַיֵּלֶךְ אִתּוֹ, לוֹט; וְאַבְרָם, בֶּן-חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וְשִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה, בְּצֵאתוֹ, מֵחָרָן. וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָם אֶת-שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת-לוֹט בֶּן-אָחִיו, וְאֶת-כָּל-רְכוּשָׁם אֲשֶׁר רָכָשׁוּ, וְאֶת-הַנֶּפֶשׁ, אֲשֶׁר-עָשׂוּ בְחָרָן; וַיֵּצְאוּ, לָלֶכֶת אַרְצָה כְּנַעַן, וַיָּבֹאוּ, אַרְצָה כְּנָעַן. (בראשית יב, ד-ה)So Abram went, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him; and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. (Bereishit 12, 4-5)
According to Netziv, Avram followed God's commandment immediately, refusing to wait for the sale of his property. Only after he had already left his home did he then slow down enough to wait for his entourage to attend to his affairs, sell his property, and join him on the road.אלא משמעות כאשר דבר תכף ומיד כשדבר ולא המתין על הכנה הדרושה לזה וכדי שלא יהיו לו עכובים ממכירת הנחלאות וכדומה יצא תכף ומיד ולוט הלך עמו והניח אשתו ושארי בני ביתו בעיר עד שמכרו הכל והוה נתעכב מעט בדרך ומאחר שכבר יצא מעירו והחזיק בדרך ראו אנשיו להכין הכל ובאו כולם אצלו ואז כתיב ה ויקח אברם אז הי' אברם בראש וכל הטפלים כמש"כRather, the meaning of the words כאשר דבר is "immediately and without delay" – that [Avram] did not wait to complete the necessary preparations. So that there would not be unnecessary delays from the sale of his property and similar matters he left immediately, and Lot went with him. He left his wife and the other members of his household in the city until they sold everything, and he tarried a bit on the road. Yet, since he had already left the city and begun the journey, his people saw fit to make the necessary preparations, and then they all joined him. Then it is written, ויקח אברם "And Avram took".
Is money an issue when we approach the fulfillment of mitzvot, and especially the challenging mitzvah of Aliyah? It depends. Money worries are indeed real, genuine concerns, and should be considered – even if they delay the fulfillment of the mitzvah. But they cannot be so overriding that they prevent us from fulfilling the mitzvah at all....אחר שהחזיק בדרך וידע שלא יהיה לו מניעה מגוף הליכה שוב ראה לחוש לאבידת הממון וכל היקום - אע"ג שהוא נגד הזריזות לגמר המצוה, מכל מקום גם שמירת נכסים הוא ענין ראוי לחוש...משא"כ בתחלה שהיה משער שאם היה מחעכב בשביל שמירת הנכסים היה יכול להיות מניעה לעיקר הליכה, על כן הוחלט אצלו לצאת תיכף ומיד ויעבור עליו מה. וזה כלל גדול מה שיש ללמוד בדרך המצות.…Once he established himself on the road, and knew that [monetary matters] would not prevent him from leaving at all, then he saw fit to concern himself with the loss of his money and all of living things – even though this contradicted the value of alacrity in completing a mitzvah, nonetheless maintaining one's property is also a matter of genuine concern…this is not true with regard to the beginning of the journey. He estimated that were he to tarry due to concern for preserving his wealth, this could possibly represent an obstacle to traveling at all. Therefore, he decided to leave immediately, and whatever would happen, would happen. And this is a great rule that we should apply to the fulfillment of the commandments.
|Rav Avraham Tzukerman, zt"l|
Why are we called "Yehudim" (Jews)? he asked me. The answer is because we come from the tribe of Yehudah. And Yehudah's mother gave him that name because she wanted to express her thanks to God for having a fourth son. Realizing that she was one of Ya'akov's four wives and that there would be twelve tribes, when she had her fourth son, she felt a great sense of thanks that she merited to have her "allotment" of sons. So she said, הפעם אודה את ה - "for this [child] I will thank God". We are called Yehudim (Jews) because we carry on this trait of giving thanks, and appreciate the goodness of others."And that", he told me, "is why I'm thanking you for what you did tonight."
Having noticed that the offices experiencing budgetary challenges, I have come to recognize that I don't need to work over the next several days. I reviewed my job position and responsibilities, and have concluded that my tasks are not really essential to the proper functioning of the office. So, I will be taking unpaid leave for an unspecified amount of time. See you when I get back!
Having reviewed our budget, we now recognize that we must temporarily suspend all employees that we consider non-essential. After studying your job position, we have determined that your job does not fit the "essential" description. We will let you know when economic conditions improve, and ask you to return to the office at that time.
I am, at the same time, thunderstruck by the stark contrast between the Pew Study, and the most recent Guttman/IDI Study of Israeli Jewry. The findings are almost symmetrical opposites. Israeli Jews believe in God (over 80%). There is a Jewish Renaissance (in Study, Culture, and Observance) in Israel that literally boggles the imagination (even as it confounds the usual definitions of Religious and Secular). And, while individualism and individual expression are certainly not absent, the sense of national cohesion, what we call bayachad, is movingly strong. Anyone, who lived here through the Second Intifada, or the various wars and campaigns since then will readily attest to this fact. All that my American brothers and sisters have so readily jettisoned, is held sacred by the Jews of Israel. No wonder that we speak so often at cross purposes. The two communities organize themselves around different value systems.What he calls "beyachad" I call "anti-Semitism" and Jew-hating. I think that they go hand in hand.
|Hapoel Akko Soccer Player Guy Dayan Celebrates a Goal with Shema and a Kippah|