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Parshas Vayeira 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 5:58 pm
October 18, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 2
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Dvar Torah

A New, Fresh Look at Tefilla


By Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel



                 There are two comments that Rashi makes in the story of the akeidah that seems very puzzling. As Avrohom, Yitzchok, and the lads are approaching the mountain, Avrohom says to the lads, "You remain here with the donkey, and I and the lad will proceed until here." The words "until here" in Hebrew are "Ad koh" and Rashi explains what Avrohom was really saying. Hashem had promised Avrohom (in last week's parsha) that his children would be as numerous as the stars, "Koh yihye zarecha," so shall be your children." As if using a play on the word koh, Avrohom is saying, "I will see what happened to the promise of "Koh yihye zarecha." It is not fathomable that Avrohom is being cynical, or worse, saying a snide remark against Hashem. How then can we understand this statement? Furthermore, when Avrohom Avinu is walking with Yitzchok toward the mountain, Yitzchok asks, "I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?" Avrohom answers, "Hashem will show us the lamb for the olah offering, my son." Rashi explains that Avrohom was saying to Yitzchok, "Hashem will choose for Himself the lamb, however, if there is no lamb, my son will be the offering."


Was Avrohom Avinu complaining about having to sacrifice his son? Certainly the test was not just to "go through the motions" of bringing his son as a korban, but to do so with a full heart and acceptance that this was Hashem's will!


To answer this question we'll ask another question. In selichos we say: "The One who answered Avrohom Avinu on Har Hamoriyah, He will answer us. The One who answered his son Yitzchok when he was bound on the altar, He will answer us." Where do find that Avrohom and Yitzchok davened at the akeida? And how exactly were they answered?


To address all of these questions, my rebbe, Horav Mattisyahu Salamon, shlit"a (in his sefer Matnas Chaim, Ma'amarim) quotes from the great Sheloh ha-Kodosh (Rav Yeshaya halevi Horowitz, z"l, author of "Shnei Luchos Habris" d. 1630) that explains that Avrohom was davening to Hashem throughout the entire journey that he should be given a lamb to offer instead of his beloved son. When Yitzchok realized he was the korban, he too began to beseech Hashem for mercy that a lamb be chosen in place of him. These are the tefilos that Avrohom davened on Har Hamoriyah and Yitzchok on the altar. The Medrash (Yalkut Shimoni on the posuk "Vayosem oso al hamizbeach") says that they continued these prayers with torrents of tears all the while when Avrohom was binding Yitzchok and preparing for the mitzvah. Why was Avrohom allowed to daven that Hashem change the mitzvah from sacrificing his son to sacrificing a lamb? Because he had a promise from Hashem that "Koh yihye zarecha," you will become a great nation. Knowing that, Avrohom felt he had a chance to alter the command of sacrificing his son and bring a korban of lamb a instead. There was still a chance with proper tefillah.


 However, explains the Shelah, the way Avrohom was davening was as follows: Hashem, you have commanded me to sacrifice my son on the altar. I am begging that you accept a lamb offering instead. If, however, You only want my son, then I am ready to fulfill this mitzvah and test with my full heart and soul.


Let us give a practical example. A person is being wheeled into the operating room. On the way he is beseeching the Almighty that He grant him a successful recovery and he live. He may do so because Hashem told us that we should daven to Him for life. At the same time, the person says, "If, though, Hashem, you decide to take my life at this time, I am ready to accept your Will."


Another example: A person is entering an important meeting, with a client, a judge, a prospective partner. On his way he is praying that he be successful in his endeavors. At the same time, he acknowledges to Hashem that if this is not His will, he is ready to accept that as well. This is the proper and healthy attitude toward tefillah. This is how Avrohom Avinu davened.










Dvar Halacha


 Halachos of Honoring Elders


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


Both men and women are obligated (Sefer Hachinuch 257). Seemingly, one should educate their children as well. Even if one who is in the middle of davening Krias Shema (Shu"T Shevet Halevi 6:146) or is in the middle of learning Torah (Shu"T Teshuvos V'hanhagos 3:279) is obligated to stand.

However, not everyone is required to stand. A worker who by standing up will miss work, and cause a loss to his employer is prohibited to stand up. Also someone working for himself, if by standing will incur a financial loss, is not obligated to stand (Shulchan Aruch YD 244:5). One who is sick, an avel (mourner), chasson (groom) (Gemara Moad Katan 27b), or is holding a Sefer Torah is not obligated to stand (see Shu"T Salmas Chaim 335 & Halichos Bein Adom L'chaveiro 4:11). A blind person is not obligated to stand for an elder (Pischei Teshuva YD 240:6). Additionally, a zakain does not need to stand for another zakein, however they should show some respect (Shulchan Aruch YD 244:8).

According to the Shulchan Aruch, one must stand up fully (Taz YD 244:4). The Aruch Hashulchan [YD 244:10] notes that even though the halachah seems to be equivalent for standing up for a Talmud Chacham and an elder, the minhag became to stand fully for a Talmud Chacham and not stand up completely for an elder.

One may only stand when the elder walks within your daled amos (4 cubits) [approximately 6'] (Shulchan Aruch YD 244:2). The reason is if one stands before the elder enters within the daled amos, it is not recognizable that he is standing specifically for the elder (Shach YD 244:6). One should remain standing until the elder passes from in front of him (Shulchan Aruch YD 244:2). This includes an elder being pushed [e.g. in a wheelchair] or riding past on a bike, one must stand when he enters into his daled amos (Shulchan Aruch YD 244:2).

If one sees an elder approaching, one may not look away or close his eyes, in order not to see him coming into his daled amos (Shulchan Aruch YD 244:3).

It is important to note, one is only obligated to stand, if his is a respectable place. If he is not [e.g. in a bathroom or mikva] he should not stand (Shulchan Aruch YD 244:4)

There are other halachos included in honoring elders. One should speak to an elder person in a respectable manner (Sefer Mishpatei Hashalom 22:18 quoting Sefer Charaidim 18:3-4). If one is sitting on a bus, and an elder walks on and does not have a seat, you must give up your seat (Shu"T Shevet Halevi 4:114). It is proper for a person to seek brachos (blessings) from older tzaddikim and tzadeikos and to tend to their needs (Halichos Bein Adom L'chaveiro 4:3 based on Yalkut Shemoni Rus 3).









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