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Parshas Vayera - מי כעמך ישראל / Who is Like the Jewish People?      17 Cheshvan 5783

11/11/2022 11:31:03 AM

Nov11

I have often wondered if the supply and demand equation applies to every scenario in the world. Whether it is food, housing, education, virtually anything, there is a vitally important measure of supply and demand required to see success or failure. In general, when it comes to food necessary to stave off starvation, there is an ample supply to meet the needs of the hungry. While this statement is based upon a global viewpoint, we must also calculate how to get that food supply delivered to the locations where starving people can be fed. When it comes to housing, the major indicators that factor into the supply and demand are price and interest rates. Finally, my third example focuses on the growing demand for dedicated, highly qualified teachers.  This is a demand where the supply is just not there. Across this country, in both the Jewish and secular world of education, there is a strong need for more and better qualified teachers in order to meet the growing needs of our children.

Recently, another example of the supply/demand issue came to mind. I think this example is more central to the Jewish family and perhaps more specific to the Orthodox Jewish community worldwide. Anytime we discuss a supply/demand issue when it comes to necessities, the issue of discussion and need carries much more weight than, for example, the supply and demand for cars. If there is a shortage of new cars, we can hold on to our old cars for a while, take taxis, Ubers, or or public transportation. This might not be so terrible; it could force us to talk to our spouse and children a little more instead of focusing on driving. But when it comes to educating our children or giving tzedakah/charity, there is no leeway. Those needs must be met. I found it fascinating and disheartening to see how much need exists within the Orthodox Jewish world. Perhaps it is through the creation of social media and instant communication that our eyes have been opened to the countless numbers of organizations, educational institutions, and individual needs there are. We see this daily through the number of requests that come to us via our phones, computers, and the good old mail system.

Online campaigns are popping up daily.  Numerous chessed platforms have been created. A small sampling of such platforms for giving include Charidy campaigns, TheChessedFund, Go Fund Me, GiveCampus, Fundly, GiveButter, Donorbox, Kickstarter, Crowdfunder, Indiegogo, Facebook Fundraising, PayPal, EdCo, 360MatchPro, Bonfire, Kiva, the list continues to grow. On the flip side, I am encouraged by the outpouring of support to which Jews across the globe willingly contribute, even if it is only a few dollars. It is truly amazing to take note of how these things are born  and quickly snowball into something so beneficial to those in need. Rabbi Wein often remarked that there is enough Jewish money available worldwide to keep every Jewish organization from operating in the red. I will take that statement and run with it and openly state there is enough Jewish money that if everyone gave their respected portion, we could wipe out all of the needs from every Jewish organization and household. This reality hit me when I read a posting in my Yeshiva Shaarei Torah Alumni WhatsApp group regarding an individual in need. Keep in mind, the Yeshiva has been in existence for almost fifty years. A posting of financial assistance was sent by a friend of an alumnus (who was at the time of the posting in the first years of the high school and is not on this chat).  He shared a letter written by a a quadriplegic who was trying to raise needed funds so he could  have a better quality of life. While the numbers are not important, within a few hours of the posting, the monies were raised from guys who never saw or spoke to this man, let alone previously knew of his existence and situation. I was so uplifted to realize the supply quickly came in to fill the demand. This is a concept that comes from the Chessed of our forefather Avraham Avinu whose kindness is detailed throughout the parshiot we read during these weeks.

In this week’s Parshas Vayera the Torah relates several instances of Avraham’s Chessed/kindness. Dovid Hamelech, in Tehilim 89:3 עולם חסד יבנה , stated that the world is created through kindness.  Bereishis Rabbah 8:5 states that the creation of Adam HaRishon was in the merit of God’s Chessed. Rav Yoel Schwartz, in his work Davar B’Ito, writes from this source that we see the root and very foundation of the existence of mankind is predicated on acts of Chessed. The acts of kindness that Avraham performed with complete self-sacrifice became the foundational platform of merits for the Jewish people in the future. The Midrash describes in the merit that Avraham ran three times: 18:2 "וישא עיניו וירא והנה שלשה אנשים עליו, וירא וירץ לקראתם מפתח האהל וישתחו ארצה"   “Avraham lifted his eyes and saw three strangers standing a short distance from him. When he saw them from the entrance of his tent, he ran out to greet them, bowing down to the ground.” 18:7 the Torah states "ואל הבקר רץ אברהם, ויקח בן בקר רך וטוב ויתן אל הנער וימהר לעשות אתו"  “Avraham ran to the cattle, and chose a tender, choice calf. He gave it to a young man who rushed to prepare it. For this Hashem said, “I [God] will run in front of his children to give them the Torah.

The Gemara in Bava Metzia 86b describes that so too, in the merit that Avraham gave milk and butter to the guests, his [Avraham’s] children merited to have the manna from heaven for forty years in the desert. In the merit that Avraham “stood over them [the angels/guests], the Jewish people merited to have the clouds of glory stand for the Jews traveling in the desert. In the merit that Avraham said to his guests, “Let some water be brought and wash your feet,” Avraham’s children merited the well in the desert to have water to drink. We see from Avraham’s actions how important it is for a person to be concerned with the welfare and well-being of others. The Gemara Taanis 13 teaches that anyone who separates him/herself from the community during its time of need will bear a great punishment. Therefore, we see the opposite is true when someone comes forward to extend help, the reward will be great.

Yes, it is true that many tragedies have befallen large numbers of people and many difficulties are occurring and deepening in our Jewish communities. There is great need, but I am confident that great blessing will come to Klal Yisrael for the resounding, ongoing efforts of collectively helping out Acheinu Kal Beis Yisrael. Let us all take active part in addressing and managing the needs and the essentials of every Jew we come across.

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Raising a Community, a Family and Ourselves along with Developing a Torah Personality can be purchased from me directly or by clicking here via my author page at Mosaica Press.

Sat, November 26 2022 2 Kislev 5783