To his disappointment, he found the bridge heavily guarded, scotching any plan to dig under the pylons. Unable to think of any better plan Reb Aizik decided to rest up and wait for a meaningful opportunity. After some days, an officer of the guards, suspicious of his constant inactive presence, ordered him to explain himself.
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In fear of the considerable imminent danger, the hapless traveler decided to tell the truth, and repeated his dreams to his grim interrogator. The soldier burst into raucous laughter. How could anyone be so stupid! How could anyone travel so far on a dream! Why, he himself had a recurring dream of some Jew in Crackow with a fortune buried under his stove.
Did he, for a moment, consider going to Crackow? Whatever else, Reb Aizik was not dense. He left immediately for Crackow. Ignoring his wife's fury, he rushed straight for the stove, tearing it from its place. Deaf to his wife's remonstrations, Reb Aizik began to dig in frenzy. A deep thud confirmed the presence of a large chest. Upon inspection to the incredulous surprise of all the family, there lay revealed hundreds of shining gold coins.
In the last hundred years or so, Jews have looked abroad for cultural wealth and sustenance. We have tried business, the professions, art, science and politics. We have assumed that our wealth would be discovered under any one of these new and apparently exciting bridges. The truth is that our treasure is under our own stove. It lies in the immeasurable wealth of our learning and traditions, which offer totally disproportionate nourishment for the Jewish soul.
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The third day after his Bris Milah which Rashi explains is the most painful , and at 99 years of age, Avraham eagerly waited for visitors to tend to their needs. It is then at that moment, that HaShem appeared to him. Clearly therefore, attending to the needs of guests is a crucial mitzvah.
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Apart from the practical help given to disorientated and vulnerable people there is a more general and fundamental aspect of this mitzvah for a Jew. The story is told of the circumstances surrounding the birth of two tzaddikim, Reb Zusha and his brother, Reb Elimelech.
An innkeeper couple one night took in a group of poor and dirty traveling Jews. The couple, then childless, welcomed them, giving them food, drink and beds for the night. Because the little band were dirty, the couple drew water for them in the bath house then a considerable undertaking. After the grateful, now-clean visitors made their way to their beds, one of the beggars remained. He, covered in the most terrible sores, could not share the water with others.
He washed last, finding washing difficult, both because of his repulsive appearance and because of the pain from contact with the water. Ignoring the weeping sores, the innkeeper's wife washed and tended to him. When she had finished, the disfigured guest smiled grotesquely at her and blessed her with immediate pregnancy. She nearly fainted with shock however, to then hear the creature add that she should be blessed with children like him! She ran in fear to her husband and, turning to point to the disfigured source of her blessing, she saw to her amazement that he and the whole crowd had totally disappeared.
In due course, Reb Zusha and Reb Elimelech were born to her. The woman and her husband understood that they had been subjected to a test and that in their triumph they were rewarded with an aspect of HaShem's Presence - tzaddikim as children. We learn further that no matter how important it is to have visitors, to look after them, to feed them properly and to tend to whatever is necessary for them, at a wider level it is even more important to reach out to them first.
HaShem appeared to Avraham and from here we learn the mitzvah of visiting the sick. Additionally, HaShem was visiting a sick person at a time when the sick person was immersed in the mitzvah of welcoming guests. In other words, HaShem appears to Avraham at such time as these two mitzvahs are both present and both critically focused. The secret of Torah mentioned before that we live with the weekly Sedra , contains in it the fact that the deeds of the Avos Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov are a beacon radiating signs to Am Yisrael throughout history.
This light is available to all Jews as they travel.
The two mitzvos of seeking guests and visiting the sick are so central to a Jew's very purpose in life they become together the trigger which makes HaShem appear. HaShem's appearance to Avraham is celebrated in each generation and specifically in each week of Vayeira when there is highlighted the glow of opportunity for every Jew to have the moment repeated. Providing his dedication to welcoming guests is absolutely total and his commitment to tending to the sick is complete, a Jew can host HaShem's Presence! When a Jew performs acts of kindness to other human beings, he merits to have HaShem appear to him and can even demand it.
With the benefit of Chassidus we can identify not only why HaShem appeared to Avraham at that time but also how to structure an appearance at a personal level - most easily during this week. Does this mean that everyone performing a kind deed or two can merit HaShem appearing to him?
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Regrettably, as we all know, the answer is no. It is therefore critical to understand the conditions under which the appearance took place and does still. The issue is not one of tolerating guests - even graciously. The concept involves actively going out to, and actively pursuing, potential guests.
R. L. Kremnizer
Avraham's habit was to entice wayfarers for a sumptuous meal of tongue and mustard together with accouterments. When they finished, he would require his guests to thank HaShem for the food. If they refused, he would charge for the meal. Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now.
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