Kinder Torah - Parshat Vayera
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
"You shall follow after Hashem your God" (Devarim 13:5). The Gemora (Sota 14a) explains that we must emulate Hashem’s middos (character traits). Hashem visits the sick, so too we must visit the sick. The very first verse in this week’s parsha tells about Hashem’s visit to Avraham Avinu. "Hashem appeared to him in the plains of Mamre . . ." (Bereshis 18:1). Avraham Avinu was ill, recuperating from his bris milah. Rashi explains that Hashem was mevaker choleh (visiting the sick). Let us listen to what our sages have to say about the mitzvah of bikur cholim. The first Mishnah in Mesecta Peah states that bikur cholim is one of the mitzvos for which a person receives reward both in this world and the next. What is that reward? Hashem will guard him from the yetzer hara (evil inclination), protect him from suffering, bestow honor upon him, and give him beloved friends. Visiting a sick person removes 1/60 of his suffering. The visitor prolongs the person’s life. There is no limit to the number of times that one can visit a sick person - even 100 times a day! (Nedarim 39b-40a). The Scheinah (Divine Presence) rests above the head of a sick person (Rashi - Bereshis 47:31).
"Oy vey, I feel so sick. I am weak, achy, and tired. I cannot eat regular food. I must lie in bed all day. It’s no fun being sick." "Knock, knock." "Who’s at the door? Oh hello Shloimie! It’s great to see you! How thoughtful of you to visit me! You’ve brightened up my whole day!" Kinderlach, that is what a visit does for a sick person. Our sages have shown us the great rewards that we receive for this wonderful mitzvah. The next time a friend or family member is sick, go to visit him. Bring him a gift. Sit with him, talk to him, and help care for him. You will make him so happy. That will make you happy. And it will make Hashem very happy.
Bring Out the Best in You
One day, at a top-level meeting of a successful corporation.
"Please bring me the test results of the new personnel. I want to see what job each new person is suited for."
"Yes sir, Mr. President, here they are."
"Hmmm. Let’s see. Mr. Cohen scored very well in the intelligence test. Let’s give him a thinking job. Mr. Schwartz is very good with his hands. He should be working with tools. Mr. Goldberg is very personable. He should have a job dealing with people. Mr. Levy is creative. Give him a job in the Planning Department."
"Sir, why do we take so much time and trouble with these tests?"
"This is the secret of the success of our company. Everyone gets the job for which he is suited. In that way he can use his potential and develop it. The trick is to discover a person’s latent talents and put him in a situation where he is tested. He will excel, which is good for him and good for the company."
"Brilliant, sir, just brilliant."
The President was not the first person to realize the value of testing a person. Hashem Himself tested Avraham Avinu many times. The Ramban in his commentary on Akeidas Yitzchak (Bereshis 22:1) explains one of the purposes of Hashem’s tests. Hashem knows the innermost thoughts, strengths, and weaknesses of a person. Therefore, He knows whether a person will pass the test or not. Why does He test him? Hashem wants the person to use his potential to do good deeds. The test turns the potential into a deed. Hashem gives reward for good deeds. Hashem tests us so that we will perform the good deeds and get the reward.
We are working for the World’s Best Boss. He knows us inside and out. He has given us a job perfectly suited for our talents. Sometimes the job is easy, sometimes it is hard. When it gets difficult, we have to remember one thing. Our abilities are greater than we can imagine. Hashem wants us to develop to our fullest potential. Therefore, He tests us. Pass the test. Move up to the next job level. Great things await you.
When Sara was informed that she would bear a child she laughed to herself. "And my husband is old" (Bereshis 18:12). When Hashem informed Avraham Avinu of this, He changed Sara’s words to, "I am old" (Bereshis 18:13). Rashi points out the reason for this change, based on the Gemora (Bava Metzia 87:a). How great is peace. Even Hashem changed words for the sake of peace (in order to avoid possible conflict between Avraham and Sara). That is the value of peace.
One way to have peace is to avoid confrontation. If you sister is playing with your favorite doll, find another one to play with. If your brother insists on showering first, find something else to do until the shower is free. When Imma says that it is time to do homework, do it. You can continue playing after you are finished. Be agreeable whenever possible. In this way we can all avoid unnecessary conflicts and increase the peace in our home.
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