Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
(=-=-=-=Thursday November 10 ,2022, Cheshvan 16, 5783=-=-=-=)
The Chesed and Kindness of H/ The Chesed and Kindness of Avraham Avinu
The importance of conveying one’s love for H
Instilling that love of H in our children and to follow in His ways.
The importance of honesty, being erlich.
Kiddush H. To be Mekadeish Sheim Shamayim,
We are inspired by HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
We are inspired by Avraham Avinu.
We should inspire each other.
We are living in perilous times, when antisemitism is at a high. When many leaders convey accusations and ill feelings about others. We read and hear in our news media of children and teenagers committing all kinds of crimes. This is not an article condemning nor discussing political views, but about what has happened to the essence of humanity. I have heard from clergy of other religions that there is a lack of faith in G. That religion has been attacked, and not what life used to be with reverence to the Holy One.
Our work is cut out for us. We have our Torah sharing with Klal Yisrael the love of H., the kindness, the goodness of H and our Avos and Imahos starting with Avraham Avinu. True life relationships between Avraham and H. Avraham was remarkable. The feelings he had for his fellow human beings, his relationship with Sarah, his desire to save any righteous people from Sedom, his care for his nephew Lot and to what extremes he went through for him and his family. I am not describing nor discussing all the many aspects of midos tovos and all the many challenges of Avraham and H’s bikur cholim visit with Avraham and dialogue with the Malachim, Avraham and Sarah. There is much to learn and to ponder our own actions, our own thoughts, and our desires to be sincere. We should be erlich, honest, caring not with personal agendas which Heaven Forbid can lead to jealousy, loshon harah, sinas chinam and ill feelings about others. Instead our hearts should be filled with kindness. I have a saying, “no strings attached, except my tzitzis.” Whatever we do for others. for our loved ones, for ones spouses, for our chaveirim, for anyone, should be truthful and with sincerity. It really is difficult to make a Kiddush H, to be Mekadeish Sheim Shamayim, to be a true ambassador of H and of Klal Yisrael if not with sincerity. Everything we learn from our Avos and our Imahos, the love they had for H was immensely sincere. That is the message we should convey from our hearts to others no matter what their background might be. The children and adolescents who attend our Yeshivos, Beis Yaakovs, Day Schools, are imbued and inculcated with all those wonderful midos and way of life. The magnificent nationwide organization, Torah Umesorah, recently had their annual conference with a goal of tremendous achdus and pride in their member educators throughout the United States of America.
This is not a pep talk, and I do not expound any political views. Just plain from the heart feelings we should have for each other with sincerity following in the ways of H. What we say about each other is so important. I have heard married men and women speaking about their spouses, sharing personal and sometimes negative things about them in their onversations with others. It might seem insignificant, but why share anything of a negative nature in public? To me, my wife A”H was one of the most precious person on this planet aside from my family. Maybe it was because our marriage was so important to each other even to the end. Our goal was to be helpful to one another. That is how we should all be with each other.
From Shabbos with Rav Pam Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd Parshas Lech Lecha. pages 38, 39 “The Gemara (Avodah Zarah 25a) describes Chumash Bereishis as the Sefer HaYashar, the Book of the Upright, because it describes, in great detail, the lives and character traits of Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov, who were called Upright. Only three of the 613 mitzvos of the Torah are found in the 1534 pesukim of Chumash Bereishis. Yet, a careful analysis of the lives of the forefathers and the Shevatim gives many insights into the behavior required of a Jew in all situations of life: the good times as well as the bad ones, in success and in failure, in periods of joy and in periods of tragedy, dealing with wealth as well as poverty, and in blessings of youth as well as the decline of old age. Each of the Forefathers personifies a particular aspect of Avodas H. Avraham, the father of the Jewish people, made chesed his life’s work. It is generally assumed that the Torah’s description of this trait of Avraham’s begins in Parshas Vayeira, which depicts in great detail how Avraham performed hachnasas orchim for the three wayfarers who came to his tent. But this assumption is incorrect. A major, often overlooked, aspect of Avraham’s trait of chesed is his reaction to the dispute between his shepherds and those of Lot. The shepherds of Avraham criticized those of Lot for grazing their flocks on other people’s property. Lot’s shepherds rationalized their behavior by claiming they were entitled to do so. Had not H promised Avraham the Land? Wasn’t Lot the childless Avraham’s heir apparent? Rashi explains that this claim was false since Avraham had not yet received title to the land: the Canaanim and Perizzim were then dwelling in the land. Avraham requested for the two sides to separate. Avraham graciously gave Lot the first choice of which way to go. He bent over backwards to part with Lot on peaceful terms. He was afraid that the Riv, quarrel between their respective shepherds would escalate into a Meriva, strife between themselves. (cont.) Avraham’s conduct is and expression of his attribute of chesed .Chesed comes from Ahavas Habrios, a love of his attribute of chesed. Chesed comes from Ahavas Habrios, a love for fellow human beings, and a baal chesed is a person who constantly looks at others with a kindly, considerate “eye”. A baal chesed is a “pursuer of peace” and goes out of his way to avoid becoming involve in disputes with other people.”
From Onkelos Artscroll Mesorah Publications Ltd Parshas Vayeira
“And H said “ Shall I conceal from Avraham what I do? But Avraham is surely to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him! For I have known him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of H, doing charity and justice, in order that H might bring upon Avraham that which He had spoke of him.” The simple meaning of the Hebrew yedativ is I have known him. Rashi points out that the flow of the verse is difficult according to Onkelos, since it continues, because , etc. Seemingly, the verse should have said, For it is revealed before Me that he will command his children, rather than, For it is revealed before Me because he will command his children. Rashi therefore explains that Hebrew yedativ to mean, I have loved him, as the root yeda is sometimes a term for love. The verse thus reads smoothly; I have loved him because he commands his children. Rashi also notes that the word yetzaveh should be understood in the present tense; he commands, rather than he will command.
Pas’shegen resolves Onkelos’ interpretation by explaining that the verse means, For he (Avraham) is revealed before Me, because he commands his children, etc. That is, H keeps Providential watch (hashgacha) over Avraham, constantly looking out for Avraham’s well-being, in the merit of Avraham commanding his children to follow in H’s ways. Onkelos clarifies that to keep the way of H means to act towards others as H deems proper for Himself, i.e., as He Himself acts toward man. Avraham commands his children that they behave in ways that H considers proper in order that they merit the blessing that H promised Avraham( Rashi).”
From A Vort from Rav Pam Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd(Pages 41-42) “ Magen Avraham (5749/1988) And I will make you a great nation; I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing.(12:2)Rashi quotes the Gemara (Pesachim 117b) that says that this is a reference to the first blessing in the Shemoneh Esrei, called Avos, Patriarchs. It recalls the greatness of Avraham, Yitzchakk and Yaakov, the forefathers of Klal Yisrael, in whose merit the Jewish people survive the millennia-long exile. The Gemara says” One might think that the berachah should conclude with all three names. Therefore, the pasuk says, ‘And you shall be a blessing’ with you , Avraham, they will conclude the berachah, and not with them (the other Patriarchs, Yitzchak and Yaakov).”
This well-known Gemara is the source of countless commentaries an explanations, but there is an insight with particular relevance for our time: The reason we cannot conclude with the mention of all three Patriarchs is in order to dispel the mistaken notion that there are three distinct branches of Judaism. Avraham embodied the essence of chesed, Yitzchok, the enormous power of avodah (Divine service), as represented by tefillah; and Yaakov, the pillar of truth, as represented by Torah study Therefore, one might mistakenly thing that each of these traits is independent of the others. A person could devote his life to one and disregard the other two, thinking he is nonetheless a G fearing Jew.
Therefore , the Gemara stresses that Yitzchak did not have his own independent manner of Divine service, nor did Yaakov. Both of them were a continuation the trailblazing spirit of Avraham. They might have emphasized different aspects of avodas H, but it was all an outgrowth of the Divine service of the first Jew, Avraham Avinu. This is the meaning of the berachah Magein Avraham, the Shield of Avraham.
The Chofetz Chaim has a different insight into the words” with you, Avraham, they will conclude the berachah , and not with them.” The End of Days and the Arrival of Mashiach will come in the merit of the Jewish people upholding the trait of chesed as embodied in Avraham Avinu. Even though the two other great pillars of Judaism, tefillah, as personified by Yitzchak, and Torah study , as embodied in Yaakov, will be lost and forgotten by the vast majority of the nation, the trait of chesed will live on in the hearts of the Jewish people.’
We clearly see this today; charity, generosity, and the desire to help the unfortunate and underprivileged is an inborn trait, an integral part of the spiritual DNA that is the makeup of a Jew.
We pray for the day when we will see the fulfillment of the prophecy of the navi Yeshaya (31:7, the concluding words of the haftarah of Shabbos Chazon), Zion will be redeemed through justice and those who return through tzedakah.”
From A Handbook of Jewish Thought by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan.
“ G arranged creation so that even while in the physical world, man would be able to open a door to the spiritual and experience the Divine. This would constitute the highest perfection that a mortal human can attain.”
“G also used this spiritual experience as a means of revealing His will. “
“One of the foundations of our faith is the belief that G grants such inspiration and thus reveals His will to mankind.”
“The only way that man can approach G is by striving to achieve His purpose as revealed by Him.”
“The more a person understands G’s true greatness, the more he loves Him for what He is, and for no other reason. In order to achieve this love, one should therefore strive to understand G’s greatness from His works. Since such love depends upon nothing other than G Himself, it will prevail even if and when one I beset with troubles. Regarding this it is written, “Many waters cannot quench the love [for G], nor can the floods drown it” (Song of Songs 8:7).
“The study of G’s teachings and commandments also brings one to love Him.. Our sages thus teach us, “It is written, ‘Love G you Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all you might’ (Deuteronomy 6:5). But how is such love to attained ? The following verse tells you: These words which I am commanding you today must remain on your heart’ (ibid. 6.6). By immersing yourself in the study of the Torah, you will come to recognize G and cling to His ways.”
“True love of G is the desire to understand Him and His teachings and do everything possible to bring oneself close to Him. It is a powerful as the love between man and woman, as the prophet said, “With my soul I have desired You in the night; with my spirit within me I have ardently sought you” (Isaiah 26:9). It is a constant and longing thirst for G, as the Psalmist exclaimed, “ My soul thirsts for G, for the living G. When will I cone and appear before G?” (Psalms 42:3).
From The Gentle Weapon Prayers
Prayers for Everyday
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Jewish Lights Publishing
Perception: Body and Soul
Grant me the wisdom
to bring harmony
to the alliance
of my body and soul.
Let them rise together
in my devotion to You.
My soul perceives Your light
Let my body discern it too.
My soul sounds Your praise
Let my body sing it too.
Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank