12 Oct PARSHAS LECH LECHA
Even When the Table is Set…
The Ramban (12:10) tells us that Avraham erred when he left Eretz Yisrael to go to Mitzrayim. He should have remained in Eretz Yisrael, and trusted that Hashem could support him there, despite the hunger. The Ramban writes, “When Avraham left the land that Hashem told him to go to because of the hunger it was a sin. Hashem could save him from death in midst of the hunger….” We don’t dare to claim that we are able to judge Avraham Avinu or to even slightly understand his ways. His righteousness is far beyond our imagination. Nevertheless, we have permission to study what the Torah tells us, so we can learn from his life. The Ramban tells us that Avraham erred when he left Eretz Yisrael for Mitzrayim. He should have remained in Eretz Yisrael and trusted that Hashem would support him there.3 We can explain, however, that Avraham believed in Hashem without question and he knew, without doubt, that if he would remain in Eretz Yisrael, Hashem could (and would) support him there. Only, Avraham wanted to serve Hashem on an even higher level. He wanted to go to Mitzrayim, to a country where there was abundance, and to believe that even then, his parnassah came from Hashem. This is an even higher level, because when one can explain how he is earning parnassah, it’s harder to believe then that even it’s is coming from Hashem. Someone who doesn’t have any source of income and Hashem miraculously helps him, week after week, day after day, is aware that Hashem is supporting him. But for someone that has a steady job and income, it’s harder to recognize that even this comes from Hashem. Avraham knew that Hashem would support him in Eretz Canaan (Eretz Yisrael) but he wanted to show that he believes that his parnassah comes from Hashem, even when there were several explanations, which made it appear that his parnassah was a simple law of nature. The Mishnah Berurah (166:3) teaches, “The [holy] sefarim write in the name of the Zohar HaKadosh that a person has a mitzvah to pray for his food daily, before he eats. If he forgot to pray [before the meal] and he already washed his hands for hamotzi, some say that he can still say this prayer after washing his hands. It isn’t considered a hefsek, interruption, because the prayer is…needed for the meal. Others advise saying the chapter “Mizmor L’David Hashem Roi” (Tehillim 23) after washing his hands before hamotzi [as this is a prayer for one’s sustenance]. It is best to say this chapter after hamotzi. And so writes the Eliyahu Rabba in the name of the Shlah.” We learn from these words that a person can have a table set with food before him, but he should still pray for food. Because a set table doesn’t necessarily mean that he can eat from it. Something may prevent him from eating. Tzaddikim said, “With Hashem’s help, one can cross the sea. Without Hashem’s help, one can’t even cross the threshold.” Therefore, the Zohar teaches that even when one has bread before him, he should pray for food and parnassah, and this arouses the bounty, to come down from heaven. We say daily in Shacharis, “Hashem desires those who fear Him; those who aspire and yearn for His kindness.” The Zohar teaches: Who are the people who are waiting for Hashem’s kindness? Those are the people who pray for parnassah. Rebbe Mendel of Riminov zt’l studied Torah and chassidus by the Noam Elimelech (Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk zt’l) for about a year. During that time, he was supported by the Rebbe. He didn’t have to worry about money. One day, Rebbe Mendel of Riminov thought, “Why should I daven for parnassah? The Rebbe is anyway supporting me.” That day, he didn’t daven for parnassah. Later that day, when lunch was served to the scholars of Rebbe Elimelech’s beis medresh, Rebbe Mendel couldn’t eat anything because he didn’t have a fork. Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk said, “You see, even if you are being supported, you must daven for your livelihood, or you won’t have.” A similar story happened by one of the students of the Apter Rav. The Apter Rav (Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heshcel of Apt, zt’l, the Ohev Yisrael) also supported the scholars of his beis medresh. Every month, the students would line up, and he would give them their monthly stipend. One of the students thought that he doesn’t have to daven for parnassah since anyway the Rebbe was supporting him. That month, he was in the back of the line when the Rebbe was handing out the stipends. When his turn came, the Rebbe apologized, there wasn’t any money left for him. The Rebbe told him, “I always receive enough money for all the students. What happened this time that you didn’t receive? Perhaps you didn’t daven for parnassah?” The student admitted that he hadn’t daven. The Ben Ish Chai taught that the miluy of Adam is Mitpalel. Because Aleph is spelled “Aleph- Lamed- Pei”. The “Miloy” (final two letters) are “Lamed” and “Pei”. “Daled” is spelled “Daled- Lamed- Taf”. The final two letters are “Lamed” “Taf”. The “Mem” Is spelled “Mem- Mem”. So the miluy is the second letter “Mem”. The miluy of “Adam”, man, therefore is Mitpallel, prayer. This indicates that the essence of man is prayer, and one should pray for all his needs. The reason tefillah is hinted in the miluy (the supplementary letters) the Ben Ish Chai explains, is because one should pray with his insides, with his heart, and with all his soul.
Emunah’s Natural Factors
The Toldos Yaakov Yosef (Mishpatim) writes in the name of the Baal Shem Tov zt’l that when heaven wants to punish someone, they first take away his emunah. Because when one has emunah, he is protected, and nothing bad can happen to him. The Toldos writes that one should therefore daven to always have emunah, because then nothing bad can happen to him. Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev zt’l was very ill, lying in bed. His students were in the next room, saying Tehillim. Suddenly, the students heard the sound of something falling to the floor. They rushed to the Berditchever Rav’s room, and found him lying on the floor. He had fallen out of bed. They picked him up, and returned him to his bed, and then they returned to saying Tehillim again. Soon afterwards, the Berditchever Rav called for them, and asked for water. Shortly afterwards, he was out of bed, totally well. He told his students, “When I was in bed, I heard the doctors say that they lost hope in my survival. At this time, I reminded myself of a lesson that I learned from my rebbe, the Maggid of Mezritch zt’l. He explained the passuk, ‘When one trusts in Hashem, kindness surrounds him.’ The Maggid of Mezritch taught that when one has bitachon, it is natural that Hashem will help him. Hashem put into the laws of nature that when one trusts in Him, Hashem will help him. So I placed my trust in Hashem, and I believed that He can make be better. Due to my bitachon, I thought I was already cured, and I tried to get out of bed; that’s when I fell. But I never suspected that the passuk, or my rebbe’s explanation wasn’t true, challilah. I thought to myself, the passuk’s lesson is certainly true. If I fell and wasn’t cured, it must be that I didn’t have enough bitachon. If I will have sincere bitachon, it is natural that I will become better. So I focused on bitachon again, this time with greater intensity, and that’s how I became better.” The Minchas Elozor zt’l of Munkatch would repeat this story every time he did bikur cholim, whenever he visited the sick. There are many rules of nature: Gravity pulls down, water extinguishes fire, fire can consume wood, etc. One of the rules of nature is that when one places his trust in Hashem, Hashem will help him. Reb Shlomke of Zvhil zt’l would say, “I only know the alef beis. Aleph Beis stands for Emuna Bitachon”. The Baal Shem Tov taught us that emunah brings protection; the Maggid teaches us that bitachon aids according to the rules of nature. Let us therefore strengthen ourselves with emunah and bitachon, and earn all these (and many other) benefits.