Kinder Torah - Parshat Chayei Sarah
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
Parshat Chayei Sarah
Always Be Nice
Rav Eliyahu Dessler zt"l says that Avraham Avinuís biggest test came after Sara passed away. He returned from Akeidas Yitzchak to a terrible tragedy. His beloved wife of his youth whom he cherished and respected so much was gone. We can only imagine his grief. Now he had to purchase a burial plot for her. He knew that he was going to inherit the entire land of Canaan, including the Maaras HaMachpela in Hevron. Nevertheless, he had to buy Machpela from its owner, Efron. Efron was a very difficult person to deal with. He promised a lot, and did very little. He told Avraham that he would give him the Maaras HaMachpela for free. When Avraham insisted on paying, he asked for an exorbitant price. Avraham treated him with the utmost respect and derech eretz, bowing down to Efron (Bereshis 23: 7 & 12). Despite his state of extreme sadness and distress, he still treated this difficult person with tremendous respect. Rav Dessler learns from this, "just because I am in pain, does not mean that the other person has to suffer." We see the same thing in last weekís parsha. Although Avraham Avinu was in extreme distress after the bris mila, he still treated his guests royally.
We all have times when we donít feel well, or we are tired, cold or hungry. How should we behave during those times? Should we be cranky or not so nice to other people? Avraham Avinu felt very badly after he lost his beloved wife. Still, he behaved with derech eretz. Let us all try to be like Avraham Avinu and behave with derech eretz no matter how we feel.
Be in Touch With Him
The time came for Yitzchak Avinu to find a wife. Avraham Avinu sent his trusted servant, Eliezer, along with an entourage of servants, camels, and gifts to Haran. There, amongst Avrahamís family, Eliezer would find a fitting wife, one who was raised with the same moral values as Yitzchak. Eliezer journeyed to Haran, and Hashem miraculously shortened the distance for him. Just before he arrived in Haran, Eliezer asked Hashem for Heavenly assistance to guide him along the way in finding the proper wife. As soon as he finished his prayer, Rivkah appeared. Rashi (Bereshis 24:42) tells us that we can learn important lessons from Eliezer's actions. Lesson number one is how to be close to Hashem. Before Eliezer came to Haran, he prayed to Hashem for guidance and a sign, showing him who was the right girl for Yitzchak (Bereshis 24:12-14). After he found Rivkah and realized that she would be a proper wife, he immediately bowed down to Hashem and thanked Him. Eliezer was always in touch with Hashem. He realized that Hashem was guiding his life, every step of the way. He constantly asked Him for direction and thanked Him for every good thing he received.
We can be like Eliezer. We pray to Hashem every morning. When we get older, we will pray three times a day. When we need help or guidance, let us ask Him. We should always be in touch with Him, and in doing so, get close to Him. That is what He wants. And we must never forget to thank Him for any and all success that we have in our lives.
Rav Ahron Kotler zt"l teaches us that we can learn an important lesson in humility by observing the actions of Avraham's trusted servant, Eliezer. He had many accomplishments to be proud of. He was in charge of the household of Avraham Avinu, a very wealthy and influential man. He had a staff of hundreds of people under him. He could even be considered a prince, because Avraham was like a king. Eliezer was a learned man; he learned Torah from Avraham Avinu. He was deserving of having miracles done for him. We know that Hashem miraculously transported him to Haran. Eliezer was self-sacrificing. He subdued his personal interests to have his own daughter marry Yitzchak, in order to carry out the wishes of his master, Avraham. These are all noteworthy accomplishments. Despite all of this, Eliezer was still very humble. How did he refer to himself? (Bereshis 24:34) "I am a servant of Avraham."
It is very important to be humble. How do we acquire humility? One way is not to brag about our accomplishments. Everything is, after all, a gift from Hashem. If Hashem has blessed us with many gifts and accomplishments, we should humbly thank Him. We should follow Eliezerís example and never boast about the kindness that Hashem has done for us.
A Good Wife
Rivkah teaches us the qualities of a good wife. She did many acts of chessed (loving-kindness). Eliezer asked her for a little water. She saw that Eliezer and his servants could have gotten the water themselves. Did she tell them, "Go get it yourselves?" No, she ran to get the water not only for Eliezer, but also for his ten camels. That is a lot of water to draw by hand from well. Each camel can drink up to 150 liters. A person runs to do things that he loves to do. If he does not love it, he does not run. Rivkah did much more than she was asked to do, and she did it all with a good heart, without asking for anything in return. That is the true quality of loving-kindness. It is also another example of what we spoke about last week, tsaddikim say little and do much.
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