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Dear  Naaleh Friend,

We are excited to share with you another brand new Mrs. Shira Smiles class on this week's Parsha- Parshat Lech Lecha.  The class is titled  The Mysterious March Lech-Lech-5778.    In this class,  Mrs. Shira Smiles discusses Parshat Lech Lecha(of this year 5778.)  

 To watch this class now and to learn more please click on the image below: 

This week's edition of our Torat Imecha Newsletter on Parshat Lech Lecha is available on our  Newsletter pageClick here for the printer friendly version, to share at your Shabbat table! Be sure to visit the homepage as well, for many more inspiring Torah classes! 
Shabbat Shalom!

-Ashley Klapper and the Naaleh Crew
When Avraham is victorious in the war with the four and five kings, the King of Sodom tells Avraham to give him back "all the people (literally, the souls) and take all the wealth for yourself." Avraham responds that he will take nothing. To emphasize his point, he raises his hand to heaven taking an oath, to take "not even a thread or a shoe strap or anything of yours, so you shall not say, 'It is I who made Avram rich.' ''

Rav D. Hofstedter asks, Avraham had previously taken gifts from Pharaoh and would later take gifts from Avimelech. Why was he resolved not to take gifts from the King of Sodom? Rabbi M. Druck notes that taking anything from the King of Sodom would cause a desecration of God's name. In Egypt, the society was so corrupt that nothing Avraham did or didn't do would have changed the situation, notes the Ner Uziel. Avimelech understood that Hashem was controlling events. However with Sodom, if Avraham would take the spoils of the war, people would say that he entered the war for his own profit, rather than to save his nephew. This war was not so much a political war as it was a religious war against monotheism. The capture of Lot was the bait that would lure Avraham into the battle. His enemies hoped for his death, and with him would die the idea of monotheism. By not taking any of the spoils for himself, Avraham testified that it was not he who had won the war, but Hashem. He thus created a sanctification of God's name and increased his influence over the beliefs of others.

Rashi notes that Hashem rewarded Avraham's descendants for his selflessness. For refusing to take even a thread, Bnei Yisroel were rewarded with the mitzvah of tzitzit, and for refusing to take even a boot strap, they received the mitzvah of tefillin. Rabbi Bick explains that these two mitzvot are the seals of Hashem attesting to His presence, just as Avraham attested to Hashem's presence in his victory in the battle.

Rabbi Goldwicht suggests that since the mindset of Sodom was so materialistic and avaricious everything they touched would be tainted. Avraham was afraid that these Sodomite possessions would have absorbed some of the negative energy and it would exert an influence on him. Letitcha Elyon cites Rav Shach who heard from the Saba of Slabodka that one should always be wary and suspect of his yetzer hara. The psyche of man is that once one has benefited even from something as negligible as a shoelace, he is aroused to want more. Therefore Avraham strengthened his determination to take nothing by making a vow. Rabbi Wolbe suggests a lesson for all of us. If Avraham felt a need to erect a barrier to sin when he might be tempted, we must also take precautions not to stumble into sin.

The Shaarei Derech notes that both the mitzvah of tzizit and tefilin represent fear of God and help us act appropriately when we see them. Avraham Avinu created a verbal checkpoint of a similar nature by his vow. Rabbi Fryman cites a Gemarah that discusses who inherits Olam HabaWe can easily understand that someone who lives in Eretz Yisroel and raises children who learn Torah. Why though would someone who makes havdalah over wine merit Olam Haba? Rabbi Fryman explains that it refers to a man who wants to drink this wine over the course of Shabbat but refrains from doing so to save it for the mitzvah of havdalah.

Rabbi Fryman then moves on to a situation where a High priest and a nazarite are walking together when they encounter a corpse with no one to tend to its burial. Rabbi Eliezer rules that the High Priest should defile himself rather than the nazarite who has been practicing self-restraint for so long. That's how strongly Hashem values self-discipline. This provides the link between Avraham's oath and the reward of tzitzit and tefillin. When someone is faced with an inner struggle, as Avraham Avinu was in regard to taking the spoils, one should run interference before one succumbs. That was the purpose of Avraham's oath, notes the Ohr Chodosh, to help him retain control over his desire for the wealth.

Even Avraham Avinu was human and was tempted to accept inappropriate gifts. He created a means of supporting his resolve to stay true to Hashem. How much more so must we be vigilant in our behavior and create guidelines for ourselves that will help us remain true to ourselves as servants of Hashem.
Money Matters: The Firstborn
The Torah tells us that the firstborn son is entitled to a double portion of his father's inheritance. The laws of the firstborn are different for  pidyon haben  (redeeming the firstborn )  and yerusha  ( inheritance). The firstborn entitled to a double  yerusha  is the firstborn of a father, while to perform  pidyon haben  it must be the firstborn of the mother. For example, if a bachelor married a divorcee with 10 children, the first son born to the father is considered a firstborn for  yerusha  even though he is the 11
th  child of the mother. The firstborn must be born during the lifetime of his father. If he died before the son was born, the child gets an equal portion with his siblings. Some say even if the father is still alive but on his deathbed unable to recognize his son, the son does not get a double portion. However, if the son was born during his father's lifetime, although his father never saw him, he still gets a double portion.
A firstborn born after a miscarriage is still a firstborn for yerusha but not for pidyon haben. A child born through a C-section is not considered a firstborn for yerusha. The child born after him via a natural birth is not considered a firstborn either. A child conceived before his father converted to Judaism is not a firstborn while the child born afterwards is not a firstborn either. If a Jew married a non-Jewess and had a son and then divorced and married a Jewess, the firstborn son is considered a firstborn in regard to yerusha. A mamzer(illegitimate child) is considered a firstborn of his father and gets a double portion. The Gemara tells us that there are three who are believed when they testify that a child is a firstborn. After birth, the midwife is believed. From the birth to circumcision, the mother, and after that the father is believed.
From which property does the firstborn get his double portion? The Torah says everything that is in the possession of the father at the time that he died. If the father gave someone a large loan before he died and it was returned after his death, the son doesn't get a double portion of that money. Money in the bank is not considered a deposit, but a loan to the bank. This means a firstborn isn't entitled to a double portion of that money. However if it's a Jewish bank where a heter iska was made, at least half the money is considered a deposit not a loan. But seeing as no one knows where the money was invested, it's not considered money that the father left when he died and he can't get a double portion. Capital that's been invested in a partnership is considered in possession of the father and the firstborn receives a double portion. Ordinary shares in a company are considered money invested in the company, not a loan. Treasury and government stock are considered loans for which the firstborn won't receive a double portion.

Any assets of the deceased in the possession of others, whether loaned or rented to them, are considered possessions of the father. Rentals owed are considered a loan. Almost always there will be a time difference between the death and when an estate is divided. During that time profit can be made. Where external cash was invested to generate profit, the profit is divided equally. Where profits of the estate was invested, the firstborn gets a double portion. If there was a major change in the property, it's considered a new entity after the father's death and the firstborn would only get one portion.

Laws of Lending Part 2

The Chofetz Chaim writes that every Jew is obligated in the mitzvah of lending money, even a poor person. If he can lend something to someone who is even poorer than him, he fulfills the mitzvah. The Chofetz Chaim refers to a Gemara in Gittin which says that even a poor person who receives charity is obligated in  tzedakah . The same applies to a loan. The Chofetz Chaim quotes a  halacha  that a person must stop learning Torah to perform a mitzvah if no one else can do it. It follows that if a Jew is studying Torah and someone needs a loan urgently that only this person can provide, he must cease learning and arrange the loan.

The Torah says, "Im kesef talveh et ami." Whoever is included in the category of ami (my nation), one must do chesed with him. The Chofetz Chaim writes, even if a Jew is a sinner but still believes in the 13 Principles of Faith, there's still a mitzvah to loan him money. However if you know the person will use the money to sin then one should not give him the loan. If a Jew throws off the yoke of heaven and knowingly desecrates Shabbat in public, the sages say such a person is not considered part of Klal Yisrael and the mitzvah of gemilat chasadim wouldn't apply to him. Both the Chofetz Chaim and the Chazon Ish were of the opinion that in recent times where so many Jews never received a proper Torah education, they are considered tinokot shinishbu. Although such a person might be seen violating Shabbat and other mitzvot, one would still be obligated to do kindness with him.

The Chofetz Chaim points out that when the Torah mentions various mitzvot of chesed, it mentions people one doesn't like. Clearly the mitzvah applies to them as well. For example when the Torah mentions the mitzvah of hashavat aveida in Shemot, it mentions that if one's enemy's ox is wandering around one has a mitzvah to return it. The Torah teaches us, if one is presented with a choice between helping one's friend or enemy, one is supposed to help one's enemy first. The Chofetz Chaim explains that this is meant to help us subdue our evil inclination.

The Gemara in Bava Metzia brings an example. If you have two people in front of you that need help, one with unloading and one with loading, one should first help with unloading so as to avoid tzaar baal hachayim (causing pain to animals)However if your friend needs unloading and your enemy needs help loading, your enemy comes first. One wages war against one's natural impulse to hate by doing a chesed for one's enemy. Helping one's enemy overrides tzaar balei chaim. Rav Dessler bases his Kuntress Hachesed on this key principle. When you give to others it generates more positive feelings within the person for the receiver. Greater love develops after marriage because there is more opportunity for giving. The root of the word ahava is hav, to give. The more you give, the more love you generate within yourself towards others.

Bchasdei Hashem Torah Tapestry Devarim is available for sale.
The sefer contains a lengthy essay on a topic from each Parsha, with a focus on spiritual growth.  There is a special chapter devoted to our personal development in the month of Elul.
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Featured Classes
Parshat Lech Lecha
Mrs. Shira Smiles
Prayers of Our Forefathers
Rabbi Hershel Reichman
Lech Lecha
Following the Call 
Mrs. Shoshie Nissenbaum
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