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Parshas Vayera 5775
Candle Lighting Time: 4:27 pm
November 14, 2014
Volume 11 Issue 3
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Dvar Torah


By Rabbi Yosef Prupas


There is a well known Medrash that describes the events that led up to the sudden death of Sara. It tells us that after Avraham's departure with Yitzchak to Har Hamoriah, the Satan appeared to Sara as an ordinary traveler. The Satan recounts how he "observed" Avraham heartlessly slaughtering her son Yitzchak upon an altar. Sara reacted with sorrow and joy, sorrow for the demise of her son, and joy, that her husband and son obeyed the will of G-d. Sara then continued on to Chevron to try to find out more of what had happened to her beloved son, when the Satan appeared to her again. He informed Sara that he had lied and Yitzchak was alive. Sara, so overwhelmed with happiness that her body could not handle it, passed away.


When one hears the above Medrash, one is struck by the fact that what the Satan did was against rules of the game. He was supposed to test Sara, not kill her!? And further, how could Avraham's passing a test of such spiritual magnitude result in the death of his dear wife. Do our sages not tell us that one who insures the fulfillment of the mitzvos will know no harm?


The answer lies in the reduced size of the letter chaf in the word "v'livkosa," "and to mourn for her." The Ba'alHaturim explains that this was to convey to us that she was mourned minutely, befitting someone her age. It seems strange that the Torah felt it necessary to clue us into this fact? But when all the facts come together, the picture is well understood. The NesivosShalom explains:


We pray every day, "[G-d please] remove the Satan from before us and after us." The meaning of this prayer is that the Satan tries to bring us down twice, both preceding a mitzvah and following it. His objective before the Mitzvah is to prevent its fulfillment, and after the mitzvah, to take away any gain that came as a result of doing it. We pray for assistance from G-d that this should not occur. We know that while the Satan was trying to cause Sara to stumble, he was playing the same game with Avraham. He had appeared to Avraham on his way to the Akeida and mocked him by telling him that he was being a fool. How could Avraham go ahead with the Akeida when he was told by G-d that there would be generations coming from his son Yitzchak? Avraham passed that test and the Akeida and now the Satan tried to destroy the results of the Akeida by testing him with Sara's death. How was this possible? How could he kill Sara to test Avraham?


The answer is that the Satan attempted to harness the predestined time of Sara's passing and utilize that moment to make it appear as though it was the Akeida that brought it about. The juxtaposition of the Akeida with the birth of Rivka, and in turn the death of Sara makes this clear. That was the moment that the "changing of the guards" from Sara to Rivka was to occur and therefore the perfect time to bring down Avraham.


But Avraham didn't fall. He saw through the blinding trauma of the event, as hinted in the small chaf, and cried as anyone would cry when one's elderly wife passed away. True and strong, he was able to maintain himself throughout the upheaval, and maintain his serene belief in G-d.


We all have moments in our lives that seem to challenge our areas of success. Let us remind ourselves of Avraham and the lesson seemingly hidden in the small letter chaf, and ride on his shoulders to victory, while praying to G-d to remove that Satan forever.




Dvar Halacha
Halachos of Chanuka part 1


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


It is important to learn the halachos of Chanukah in proximity to the Yom Tov, in order to familiarize oneself with the relevant laws (Koveitz Halachos [Piskei Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a] 18:1).


There is a difference between the miracle of Chanukah and the miracle of Purim. With Purim,Haman decreed that the Jewish people should all be killed. He would not have allowed them to live even if they converted. If he would have succeeded there would no longer be mishteh v'simcha (feasting and being joyous). Therefore, Chazal instituted that Purim is a day of praising Hashem through feasting and joy. However with the miracle of Chanukah, Antiochus Harashah did not plan to kill them. Rather he wanted them to cease practicing their religion. Therefore, Chazal instituted that days of Chanukah should be days that we praise Hashem and be thankful we have the merit to serve Him, but not days of feasting (Shulchan Aruch 670:1 & Mishneh Berurah 670:6).


In view of the fact the days of Chanukah are days of hallel v'simcha (praise and joy), generally one may not say a hespid (eulogy) or fast [even if one has yahrtzeit for a parent] (Shulchan Aruch 670:1 & 3 & Rama 670:3). If one did fast, he is required to fast another day after Chanukah for fasting on Chanukah (Mishneh Berurah 670:11). Similarly, Tachanun is not recited beginning at Mincha of Erev Chanukah (Rama 683:1), nor do we say Lamnatzei'ach (Shulchan Aruch 683:1) or Kel Erech Apayim before taking out the Torah (Mishneh Berurah 683:1).


On Chanukah there is no mitzvah of having a seudah (festive meal) (Shulchan Aruch 670:2). The Rama [670:2] comments that if one makes a seudah and sings zemiros v'tishbachos (songs and praises) to Hashem, this would have the status of a seudas mitzvah. The Chafetz Chaim adds that one should be careful to say divrei Torah (Be'ur Halachah 670:2 s.v. v'nohagin).


We recite the complete Hallel all 8 days of Chanukah (Shulchan Aruch 683:1). There is a machlokes whether women are also obligated to recite Hallel throughout Chanukah (see Sefer Ishei Yisroel 48:11). If one accidentally said chatzi-Hallel on Chanukah, one would be required to repeat the complete Hallel (Koveitz Halachos 17:12).


Chazal established that we say Al Ha'neesim during bentching [in the brachah of nodeh lecha] and in Shemoneh Esrei [in the brachah of Modim] (Shulchan Aruch 682:1) since these 2 brachos are birchos ho'daah (blessings of praise)(Mishneh Berurah 682:2). We do not mention Al Ha'neesim in the brachah mei'ain shalosh [Al Ha'michya] (Mishneh Berurah 682:2). If one forgot to mention Al Ha'neesim one does not go repeat Shemoneh Esrei (Shulchan Aruch 682:1). However, if one did not yet say Hashem's Name, he should go back and say it (Shulchan Aruch 682:1). It is important to note, even in cases where one skipped Al Ha'neesim, one may add it later as a ba'kasha (request); in bentching during the Harachamuns and in Shemoneh Esrei during Elokei Netzor (Mishneh Berurah 682:4). If one accidentally mentioned Be'may Mordechaiv'Esther [which is recited on Purim] instead of Be'mayMattisyahu [and finished the brachah] he does not need to repeat (Koveitz Halachos 17:8).




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