Parshas Vayera 5776
Candle Lighting Time: 5:43 pm
October 30, 2015
Volume 12 Issue 2
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Dvar Torah

Above and Beyond
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas

We are taught that when relating of the stories of our forefathers, it is essential to analyze in great depth the purposes of their actions. However in this week's Parsha one might be stymied in understanding the acts of Avraham. They range from radical kindness (even in the face of possibly upsetting G-d), to an extreme lack of it. A clue for how to approach Avraham's contradictory behavior is from a Ramban on the words, "Hamichaseh Ani m'Avraham asher Ani oseh?" "Shall I conceal from Avraham what I do (regarding Sodom)?" The Ramban explains that Hashem is saying that "Avraham knows and recognizes that I am Hashem who loves righteousness and justness. And that Hashem performs justice only with righteousness (mercy) ...Thus if according to the way of righteousness and Justness they will be exonerated, Avraham will pray and this situation will be good. And if they are completely guilty he will also wish for their judgment to be carried out. Therefore it is fitting that he enter the counsel of Hashem."

The Ramban's words are puzzling. Why is this a reason to involve Avraham in the decision making? Shouldn't Avraham just trust that G-d knows what He is doing? The answer to this question involves the fundamentals of why this world was created, and in turn resolves our questions.
The Maharal, when explaining the difference between Noach and Avraham, quotes the following Medrash: "Noach walked with G-d (Noach 6:9): Avraham whose strength was refined, went before G-d. Noach whose strength was unrefined, needed to walk with G-d." Rashi explains that Noach needed support, whereas Avraham would strengthen himself with his righteousness and walk on his own. The Maharal elucidates that Noach was completely attached to Hashem, thus saving himself from the possibility of sin. Avraham on the other hand, took himself beyond the extreme attachment - by virtue of the tests sent his way. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explains that the Maharal is alluding to Avraham's understanding of the raison d'etre of creation. Avraham had correctly deduced, by observing the world around him, the extreme chessed/kindness that brought the world into being by a Creator. He understood that his role in life was to emulate that kindness by going out of his way to give to others. While Noach did what he was supposed to do, Avraham looked for ways to do more. The generation of the Flood deserved to die, but Avraham risked praying for the people of Sodom because of his concern that with death all hope of return was lost.

Based on the above, we can posit that involving Avraham in the fate of Sodom was the exact reason for Avraham's apparent chutzpah in leaving the presence of G-d to welcome his guests. Emulating the chessed/kindness of G-d meant exactly that - walking before G-d and going to the extreme to assist another. G-d was giving him another opportunity to do exactly that and pray for the people of Sodom.

Avraham's attribute of chessed/kindness is further clarified by instances of inaction on his part. He prayed for the people Sodom, but did not pray for his nephew, Lot. He threw out Hagar and his son Yishmael, and was willing to sacrifice Yitzchak despite being told that he would be perpetuated through him - yet was prepared to run out while ill and greet a few strangers. This was because he was in his own words "afar v'eifer" "dust and ash." He acted only for G-d's sake, and not for any possibility of personal gain. He intuited that in those cases trying to intervene was not expected of him, and all he could and should do was trust G-d's final outcome.

Avraham is our forefather because he paved our way by making it easier for his descendants to confront similar situations with the same attitude. May we have the strength to emulate Avraham's ways, and continue to exhibit the symbol of Jewish identity inherited from Avraham, gomlei chassdim, seeking chessed/kindness - above and beyond.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of  Shenayim Mikra    
Part 2  
  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenaz i
As mentioned last week, there is a Rabbinic obligation to read the weekly parshah.  There are numerous ways that one may fulfill this mitzvah in a preferablefashion.  The earliest time one may start learning the parshah, is at Mincha time of the preceding Shabbos (Mishneh Berurah 285:7). For example, starting at Mincha time of this Shabbos [Parshas Vayeira], one may start learning next week's portion [Parshas Chayai Sara].  The reason is, since the congregation starts reading the following week's parshah by Shabbos Mincha, it is considered as reading the parshah together with the congregation (Mishneh Berurah 285:7).  Regarding shenayim mikra, "Mincha" is referring to Mincha Gedolah [which is the earliest time one can daven Mincha (usually around 1 PM)], since this is the earliest time one can begin the following week's leining (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 42:ftnt. 218).
There are numerous opinions when is the ideal time to finish the parshah.  Some Poskim are of the opinion that it is preferable for one to finish on Friday, while others hold before going to shul on Shabbos morning. Still others hold before leining in shul or by the time one starts his Shabbos morningmeal. Some say it should be done by Shabbos Mincha (See Shulchan Aruch 285:4 & Mishneh Berurah 285:7-9).  If one did not finish on Shabbos, it is preferable to finish by the following Tuesday (Mishneh Berurah 285:11).  The reason is the Gemara [Gittin 77a] teaches that Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are still connected to the previous week.
Ideally, one should make sure not to read targum first, before any mikra (Mishneh Berurah 285:6).  If he did, he does not need to repeat what he learned (Shaar Hatziyon 285:10 & Aruch Hashulchan 285:3).
Most opinions hold that one has to actually read himself shenaiyim mikra v'echad targum, and it does not suffice to hear it from someone else (Mishneh Berurah 285:2 & Aruch Hashulchan 285:3).  Additionally, if you know how to lein with the trup, it is proper to learn shenaiyim mikra with the trup (Sefer Bekeurei Chaim 3:4 quoting Rabbeinu Yonah Sefer Ha'yirah 303).  One may quietly read the leining along with the baal koreh to count as one time mikra (Mishneh Berurah 285:14 & Aruch Hashulchan 285:3).  It is important to note, that one is also required to hear the leining, so one should be careful to hear the baal koreh while reading (Mishneh Berurah 285:14).  Someone who is practicing leining, counts towards the obligation (Sefer Bekurei Chaim 7:25).
One should be careful to read the parshah in order, and not skip around (Mishneh Berurah 285:6).  If one did accidentally skip, he may read the posuk that he missed [and is not required to go back to that point and continue straight] (Sefer Bekurei Chaim 3:2).
There is a machlokes whether one may interrupt [with talking] while he is in the middle of learning shenaiyim mikra [and not at a "stopping point," e.g. in between parshiyos].  The Chofetz Chaim [Shaar Hatziyon 285:11] holds it is prohibited, however the Aruch Hashulchan [285:7] holds there is no problem .
If one is in question whether he already learned shenaiyim mikra [e.g., he does not remember where he got up to], it is proper to go back to the place he for sure read (Chut Shani, Shabbos 4: pg. 113 s.v. me & Koveitz Halachos, Shabbos 1:19:37).

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