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Parshas Vayera - Clarity, It's All in the Perspective           16 Cheshvan 5779

10/25/18 15:13:25


Every Saturday night following the conclusion of Shabbos, we call out Ah Gut Vach or Shavua Tov, meaning ‘have a good week’. Sometimes a person senses a certain omen that indicates whether or not the week will be good or bad with the tone being set by how the week begins. We should all keep in mind that the words we utter can be very powerful - whether for good or for bad. It is important, therefore, to remember that wishing someone ’a good week’ really means something. Rabbis in general have a superficial relationship with their congregants unless the congregant chooses to share personal and sometimes private or confidential information. Some Rabbis have close contact with some of their constituents and are more directly involved in their daily lives, thereby knowing more of the challenges the family faces. When that is the case, the Rabbi checks in on the individual or family to see how things are going, giving encouragement, advice and even a Bracha/Blessing.

A few weeks ago I wished someone a shavua tov and a ‘Mazaldikah Vach’. As we have grown closer over the years, this individual confided some major things going on in his life to me which may seriously affect him, his family, our community, and ultimately Klal Yisroel. That coming week would possibly signal the arrival of the big challenge. As I wished him the magical words, I squeezed his hand with more intensity and greater ‘kavana’ than the usual and casual blessing we say. I paused and thought about the words I was wishing him and then looked him in the eye and reviewed the intent of what just transpired. Hopefully, my typical after-Shabbos greeting, along with those of everyone else who wished him the same greeting will be fulfilled. This is the way we should begin our week following the power and influence of Shabbos.

Last Motzai Shabbos, as I walked out of Shul, I received an omen that led me to believe that a good week lay ahead of me. A short time earlier I had spoken about the holiness and beauty that a Beis HaKnesses - a Shul - requires. A shul is a Mikdash M’Ot, a small sanctuary that tries to stand in for the Beis HaMikdash in its absence. During Shalosh Seudos I spoke about how great it is that every inch of our Shul is used over Shabbos. In deed, this use is reflected by the collateral damage of trash that is left behind. Following a beautiful Shmuess by a visiting Rosh Yeshiva who spoke of the battle of raising children in this generation, I gave a suggestion regarding how to start. The beginning strategy we need in order to effectively fight the battle of educating our children is to become better role models for our children. Our children observe everything we do, and we must therefore do the right things in front of them. I encouraged everybody, including the adults, to pick up three or four pieces of trash with their children as they leave the Shul, the social hall, the Shul lobby, and the outside area. I had a large garbage can placed in the center walkway to make it easier to dispose of and collect garbage and trash. I was one of the last people to leave Shul. As I emerged from Shul I was shocked to see the grounds from the entire patio throughout the park spotless, as if no one had been here on Shabbos! I was so pleased to see the grounds so beautifully cleaned up and to know that my words had been met with acceptance. How would it be possible for HaKadosh Boruch Hu not grant us a great week after we were in Shul all Shabbos with Hashem and then make sure we left our Shul in the same beautiful appearance in which He had welcomed us.

Keeping the Shul clean and the outlying grounds free of debris falls under the rubric of Kavod HaTorah. A place where the main function is to daven and learn Torah requires overt, open respect. A Talmid Chacham, a Torah sage or scholar, is supposed to make sure his appearance is impeccable because he represents the Torah. Therefore, the place of learning needs to have a clean, neat appearance as well. We find the need for this kind of positive outlook in the Torah.

In this week’s parshas Vayera the Torah relates the story of three angels visiting Avraham, each with a different mission. 1) to heal Avraham from his Milah; 2) to bring the news that Avraham and Sarah will have a baby ;3) to destroy Sedom and Gemora. As they were ready to leave to destroy the cities the Torah states in Bereishis 18:16: “VaYakumu Misham HaAnashim VaYashkifu Al Pnei S’dom, V’Avraham Holeich Eemam L’Shalcham”. “The strangers (angels) got up from their places and gazed at Sodom, Avraham went with them to send them on their way”. *Rav Meir Meir Dan Plotsky, in his sefer Kli Chemda, puts a different spin on the word ‘Misham’. The word ‘Misham’ is actually superfluous, therefore, instead of the simple understanding ‘from their place’, meaning their seats, it means from there, this place, meaning Avraham’s home. The point made is that the angels saw the righteousness and great character traits of Avraham, particularly in the area of Hachnasos Orchim, the welcoming of guests. The angels then compared this to the wickedness of the people of Sedom, and ordered Sedom’s destruction. The level was raised against Sedom was even greater when compared to Avraham’s righteousness and warm welcoming of the strangers to his tent. This is why the verse specifically says they got up from there, a place of holiness, sanctity, righteousness, and good deeds, understanding a greater reason, a greater need to destroy Sedom. The angels attained a deeper ‘Hashkafa’ (vision of philosophical understanding) as the verse stated, “They gazed upon S’dom.”

  1. we (Hashem and Am Yisroel) leave Shul every Motzai Shabbos, each Saturday night, we should have a new, refreshed perspective on life. Hopefully, we take the holiness and sanctity of the Shul (like Avraham’s home) with us and look toward the week that may resemble a S’Dom and help guide and navigate through it with a clearer vision between right and wrong and the holy and the mundane. Hashem leaves with a renewed sense of satisfaction that His people have grown, satiating themselves with spirituality which will give them blessings for the new week. God witnessed a cleaned campus giving Him honor which therefore showered potential blessings upon us. May we continue to do this week in and week out both outside and inside the holy walls of Beth Jacob.


*Meir Dan Plotsky (or Plotski) (1866 - March 27, 1928) was the President of Kollel Polen, a Talmudic scholar who authored the Kli Chemdah, a commentary on the Torah. He also authored the Chemdas Yisrael on Sefer ha-Mitzvot. Plotsky was the son of Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak Ber Plotzker of Kutno, who was first a follower of Rav Chanoch Henich of Alexander, but who then became a follower of the Sfas Emes of Ger. At the age of nine, Plotsky was sent to learn in the yeshiva of Rabbi Chaim Eliezer Wax, the Nefesh Chayah, in Kalisz, president of Kupat Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes Kollel Polen. Shortly before his bar mitzvah, he became a disciple of Rabbi Avrohom Bornsztain (the Avnei Nezer), first Sochatchover Rebbe, whom he considered his lifelong rebbe muvhak (primary Torah teacher).

Plotsky married at the age of 15 and spent the next 10 years in Dvohrt with his in-laws. In 1891, he became Rav in Dvohrt. Later he helped expose the forged Yerushalmi on Kodshim, claimed to be discovered by Shlomzo Yehuda Friedlander, who also claimed he was a Sefardi named Shlomo Yehuda Algazi. At the age of 36 he published his work on the Sefer Hamitzvos of Maimonides, called Chemdas Yisrael. In 1918, he became Rav of Ostrov-Mozbaisk in eastern Poland. He was voted chairman of Agudas Harabbanim of Poland, a prelude to Agudat Israel. At the age of 60, he left the rabbinate to head a large yeshiva in Warsaw, known simply as the Mesivta

Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780