Parshas Vayeira 5779
Candle Lighting Time: 5:47 pm
October 26, 2018
Volume 15 Issue 2
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Dvar Torah

Doers and Talkers 
By Rabbi Yakov Langer
The beginning of this week's parsha details the great hospitality that Avraham displays toward the three guests traveling by his home. He runs toward them, welcomes them in, offers them water to wash up, tells them to relax in the shade, and invites them to enjoy some bread to give them strength to continue on their way. In actuality, Avraham arranges for much more than bread; he adds a choice animal, butter and milk. The Gemara (Bava Metzia 87a) uses this episode to illustrate that "righteous people speak little yet do a lot." Avraham committed to a small meal, but went above and beyond that commitment and served a great feast. This is contrasted with "wicked people speak a lot yet don't even do a little." The Gemara evidences this second idea with the interaction between Efron and Avraham in next week's parsha. Avraham is looking to purchase a plot of land for Sarah's burial. At first, in public, Efron announces that he will give the field to Avraham free of charge, but later, in private, Efron demands an exorbitant price. The Midrash (Tanchuma, Balak) cites a different Biblical incident to prove this point. In recruiting Bilaam to curse the Jews, Balak assures, "I shall bestow great honor on you." When Bilaam finally concedes and travels to Balak, all he receives is some livestock.
At a basic level, this dichotomy hinges on the weight given to one's word. The righteous person fulfills his commitment and even exceeds it, while the wicked person doesn't value keeping his word. Similarly, the righteous person thinks twice before promising while the wicked person flippantly throws his word around.
R' Yerucham Levovitz, the famed Mirrer Mashgiach, points out a deeper disparity between these categories of people. The righteous person sees no importance in announcing his intentions. When there is a need for action, he does what he feels is warranted without calling any attention to himself. In our particular case, although Avraham needed to inform his guests of the impending meal so that they would agree to stay, spelling out the details was not necessary. The wicked person, on the other hand, attributes value to the mere announcement of his plans. After calling a press conference and making a grandiose proclamation, he feels he has taken a significant step in the right direction and is left less motivated to carry out his objective.
This is an important lesson for us to bear in mind. When something needs to be done, we should spring into action and not get caught up in voicing our opinions. When something needs to be changed, instead of just expressing our frustration and lecturing about great ideas, we should roll up our sleeves and get to work. There may be a time and place for venting or protesting, but this shouldn't replace concrete actions. We should follow in the ways of Avraham and be doers, not talkers.
Avos D'Rav Nosson (13) adds that G-d too practices this ideal. When G-d promises Avraham that the nation to enslave his children will be judged, He uses just one word: Dan - I will judge (Bireishis 15:14). Yet the verse that describes the great miracles that took place during the redemption from Egypt (Devarim 4:34) is composed of 27 words. G-d said little yet did a lot. R' Saadya Gaon, cited by Rebbeinu Yonah (Avos 1) notes that the Torah contains a trove of eschatological literature. The books of Yeshaya, Yirmiya, Yechezkel and Trei Asar are replete with prophesies about the wonderous miracles we will witness at the time of the redemption and in the Messianic era. Since G-d adheres to this principle, the eventual redemption will be infinitely greater than all those prophesies. Rabbeinu Yonah concludes this thought with the assurance that there will be a great reward for those who inculcate within themselves a belief in these future miracles. May we merit to see the redemption speedily in our days.

Dvar Halacha
SHEICHAR AKUM: Take That Beer Home
Part 2

Based on the Sunday morning Halacha Shiur 
given by Rabbi Y. Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel
Written by: Ovadia Gowar

Last week we were introduced to the gezeirah of sheichar akum, in which Chazal forbade us to drink non-Jewish-made beverages, because of the concern that this could eventually lead to intermarriage.
This gezeirah has a number of leniencies compared to the other gezeiros that we've looked at before, such as pas akum. In the case of pas akum and bishul akum, once the item of food received its forbidden status, there was no way to rectify it, it was forbidden to consume anywhere. In contrast, the first halacha about sheichar akum in Shulchan Aruch 114:1 says: "The beverage is forbidden in the place it is sold, but if the Jew brings it back to his house and drinks it there, then it is permitted, because the main reason for the gezeirah was to prevent the Jew from having a drinking session with him."
The basis for this leniency is from the Gemara in Avodah Zara 31b, where it mentions that Rav Papa would go to a beer store, exit, and then drink his beer at the entrance. (As an aside, it is interesting why Rav Papa was buying beer from the store at all. In Pesachim 113a we learn that Rav Papa was a wealthy beer merchant. Perhaps he was trying out his competitors' products to compare to his own. However, the Gemara implies that he would do this on a regular basis, so perhaps this store simply sold a different type of beverage that he himself did not make).
The Gemara relates that another Amora, Rav Achai, used to take it home and only then drink it. Why did Rav Achai go home, while Rav Papa merely exited the store and drank by the entrance? The Gemara answers that Rav Achai was being stringent on himself. Rav Papa though, was following the basic halacha.
Given these stories from the Gemara it is a bit strange why the Rambam rules like Rav Achai and says that the beverage is only permissible when the Jew brings it back to his house. Normally the Rishonim determine what the basic halacha is and pasken like that; not like a stringency. Nevertheless, the Shulchan Aruch paskens like the Rambam, quoting him almost verbatim in 114:1 above.
The Shulchan Aruch continues and introduces some more leniencies with regard to sheichar akum. We've learned that to drink in a non-Jew's house is forbidden, but this is only forbidden if one is sitting down for an event where the main purpose is to drink or if one does drink there on a regular basis. However, if it is just circumstantial and temporary, it is permissible. A practical scenario for us would be where one is in an airport terminal. Since this is just a temporary stop for him, it seems that it would be permissible for him to buy a drink in a bar while there. (One should ask one's Rav for any specific guidance.)
The Shulchan Aruch also says that if one is lodging in a non-Jew's residence (such as a hotel or Airbnb) then the lodging is also regarded as his own dwelling for this purpose and he can buy a drink from a local store and then drink in his lodging. Tosfos is even more lenient and says that if one is lodging in a non-Jew's house and his host offers him a drink, then (assuming it is kosher, of course) it is permissible to drink it in order not to offend him.

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