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The Power of Chessed

Torah Thoughts on Parshas Vayera by Rabbi Noam Rosen

"וַיֵרָא אֵלָיו ה' בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב פֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל כְּחֹם הַיוֹם" בְּרֵאשִׁית י''ח:א'

“And God appeared to him in the plains of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of the tent in the heat of the day.” Bereshis 18:1

In the beginning of our parashah, on the third day after Avraham Avinu performed Bris Milah, HaKadosh Baruch Hu appears to him, as Rashi explains, לְבַקֵר אֶת הַחוֹלֶה, to visit the sick. Rashi cites the Gemara (Bava Metzia 86b), which questions why the Torah bothers to mention that the weather at that time was exceedingly hot. He explains that HaKadosh Baruch Hu brought the sun out with great strength in order to discourage people from traveling that day. However, He then saw that it caused distress to Avraham Avinu that there were no guests coming. Despite the pain Avraham Avinu was feeling from the Bris Milah, not having guests caused him such distress that Hashem brought him guests.

The verse from Michah (7:20), which we say in davening every day, states: “Grant truth to Yaakov, kindness to Avraham as You swore to our forefathers from ancient times.” Metzudas David explains that Hashem presented the Land of Canaan to Avraham Avinu as a reward for Avraham’s trait of kindness, which he performed with all people. The middah of Avraham Avinu is chessed (See Zohar, Bo, Pg. 36). From where did this originate?

In last week’s parashah, Malki Tzedek, the King of Shalem, declared a blessing upon Avraham (Bereshis 14:19-20). He said, “Blessed is Avram of God, the Most High...Who has delivered your foes into your hand.” Avraham later said (ibid. v.20): “I lift my hand to God, the Supreme Power, Maker of heaven and Earth.” Rabbi Ovadiah of Bertinoro explains that the term “maker of heaven and Earth” refers to Avraham, in whose merit the world exists.

Where did Avraham Avinu get this passionate desire to help others? How did he achieve such a level that the verse refers to him as having the merit of making the heavens and the Earth? This question is answered in a Midrash quoted in the sefer Orchos Tzaddikim (see there, end of The Gate of Jealousy). The Midrash says that had Avraham Avinu not been envious, he would not have [reached the level of] קוֹנֶה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ. When was he envious? When he said to Malki Tzedek (according to the Midrash he was Shem, the son of Noach): “In what merit did you get out of the ark after the Great Flood? (Through which merit were you granted to exit the ark?)”, Malki Tzedek responded that the merit they had was due to charity that they did there. Avraham rhetorically challenged him: “Were there poor people on the ark? Weren’t the only ones there Noach and his children?” Malki Tzedek answered that the animals, the beasts and the birds were dependent upon them. “We didn’t sleep. Instead, we were constantly feeding them food and drink.”

At that moment, Avraham Avinu realized that had they not provided for the animals, the beasts and the birds, they would not have merited to come out of the ark, and since they did, they did merit to go out. Therefore, he committed himself to provide tzedakah for people, who were created in the image of God, for that would certainly be a great mitzvah. At that time, Avraham Avinu established an inn, where he provided food, drink, and a place to sleep.

Although the trait of envy or jealousy is usually a negative one, inspiration we gain from others can send us to great heights. May we all merit to be inspired and inspire others to attain great achievements in the service of Hashem!


Rav Noam Rosen graduated FYHS in 1999. He then spent 20 years learning at Yeshivas Toras Moshe, both as a Beis Midrash student and as a Kollel member. He received Semicha from Rabbi Moshe Meiselman and Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. He served as a Rebbe at Yeshivas Noam HaTorah, and is currently a rebbi at Yeshiva Imrei Binah. He lives with his family in Ramat Eshkol.

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