Thursday, November 12, 2009

PARSHA - Chayei Sara (We'll be redeemed immediately)

This week's Torah portion, Chayei Sara, recounts the very first marriage match in the Torah.

Avraham sent Eliezer, his faithful servant, to his relatives in Mesopotamia, where Eliezer was destined to meet Rikva, Yitzchak's intended.

Rashi explains that Eliezer's actual journey was miraculous.

"I have come today," Eliezer declared to Rikva's father and brother, Betuel and Lavan. "Today I set out, and today I arrived," comments Rashi. Eliezer reached his destination -- a journey of 17 days -- on the very day he embarked.

Why was it necessary for G-d to make a special miracle for Eliezer?

Rivka, the Matriarch of the Jewish people, is described in the Midrash as "a rose among the thorns." Righteous and pure, Rivka lived the first few years of her life surrounded by "thorns" namely, Betuel and Lavan.

On the day she turned three, Abraham sensed that the proper time had arrived to free the rose from its prickly environment.

Eliezer was then dispatched without delay, and a miracle was wrought so that Rikva would not have to spend even one extra moment in an improper atmosphere.

"I have come today!" he declared. "Destiny cannot wait! Today I have come, for I must bring her back with me at once!"

From Eliezer's journey we learn that when the moment for Redemption arrives, it cannot be delayed for even one second. And if need be, miracles will be wrought to ensure that the Redemption occurs at exactly the proper time.

We must therefore not be disheartened by the length of our present Exile, for the Final Redemption with Moshiach will take place immediately, without delay, at the proper time, speedily in our days! Amen.

Candle lighting time for L.A. is 4:33 pm

Shabbat Shalom!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chof Cheshvon - B-day Rebbe Rashab

This Shabbat is the birthday of Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, (known as the Rashab), the fifth Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe.

Once, when Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok, the Rebbe Rashab's son and future successor, set out on a journey, his father asked him to try to do a certain favor for one of the chasidim, a businessman, who was in need of help.

When Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok returned he told his father: "I did everything you told me to do, and the favor to that man I did meticulously."

"You err," said the Rebbe Rashab. "You did a favor to yourself, not to him. G-d did a favor to him, by arranging for an emissary, such as yourself, to help him."

The Rebbe taught us an important lesson. When we do a mitzva, especially one which ostensibly allows us to help another person, we are G-d's emissaries. And, more than helping the other person we are, in essence, helping ourselves.

As our Sages teach, "More than charity does for the poor person, it does for the rich person."

PARSHA - Vayeira. Avrohom/kindness

This week's Torah portion, Vayeira, speaks about the greatness of our forefather Abraham, the very first Jew. Through Abraham's service, G-d's Name was made known throughout the world, and many people were brought to believe in Him.

Abraham planted an eishel [a grove] in Be'er Sheva. The Midrash explains eishel was an inn, a place of lodging. Our Patriarch Abraham established his eishel in Be'er Sheva, in the heart of the desert, to cater to travelers in that inhospitable climate.

Abraham did not know these travelers personally. All he knew was that strangers would be hungry, thirsty and tired and he was to make their journey more pleasant. Abraham provided more than just bread and water; his visitors were offered meat, fine wines, fruit and a wide array of delicacies, as well as a place to rest. And next to the inn Abraham established a Sanhedrin, a court of law, so that wise men could answer the travelers' questions and find solutions to their problems.

This same attribute of kindness and justice is the birthright of every Jew, an inheritance from our forefather Abraham. And the Torah portion of Vayeira teaches us how we are supposed to fulfill the commandment of charity:

It isn't enough to provide a poor person with the basic requirements necessary to sustain life. We must offer him more than just the bare minimum, bringing him pleasure and enjoyment. And not only must his physical needs be met, but we must also try to help him resolve his spiritual struggles. This applies to every single Jew, even those we do not know personally, and constitutes the true meaning of the commandment of tzedaka.