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Parshat Chaya Sara -Chesed begins at home!

Parshat Chaya Sara -Chesed begins at home!

 

Parshat Chaya Sara [the Torah portion “Life of Sarah”] commences with Avraham Avinu [our Patriarch Abraham] preparing for the funeral of his lifelong partner, his beloved wife, Sara Imeinu [our Matriarch, Sarah]. The Midrash on Parshat Noach [Torah portion Noah] interprets the pasuk [sentence] in Mishlei [Proverbs 21:21] that states “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness finds life, righteousness and honor.”…as that one who chases after Tzedakah [righteousness] and Chesed [kindness] will live a long life and find Tzedakah and Kavod [honour]. It refers to Avraham who was a Rodef Tzedakah [pursued righteousness] and also that he was a Ba’al Chesed [kind person] because he buried Sarah, Avraham also lived a long life. Avraham merited this long life because Avraham adopted Hashem’s    [G-d’s] traits, so Hashem gave him these rewards.

 

Why is Avraham’s paradigm act of kindness the burial of his wife? Why would such normal conduct be the defining moment in crowning Avraham as the ish shel chesed [kind person] for which he is known and the man whom we wish to emulate? Every human being buries a dead relative. Even when the angels came and Avraham thinks that they are idol worshippers and he busies himself with their meal this is not considered the significant chesed event in Avraham’s life.

 

There are people who will do tremendous chesed for others, but will not help out at home. They may help a stranger change a flat tyre, but they will not help with the laundry if their wife had a hard day.

According to Rabbi Chaim Vital) the leading disciple of the Holy Ari, Rabbi Isaac Luria) a man is judged by his relationship with his wife. There are men who do chesed with the rest of the world, but are not nice in their own homes. These men, when they come to shamayim [the Next World], will expect entry to the Garden of Eden. Woe to them, as they do not understand that the first step of chesed is at home, “Let him know for sure that they will check how he behaved toward his wife. If he behaved toward her with kindness he will have a great share in Heaven, but if he was angry and unhelpful then he will be judged based on that, and all the kindness he did all the years of his life will not be counted.

Other aveirot [transgressions] do not cancel out chesed in this way.” (Rabbi Chaim Vital).

Rav Naftali Amsterdam stated that after his marriage he was asked by Rabbi Israel Salanter (founder of the Mussar Movement) whether he performed the mitzvah of gemillut chasadim [charity]. He replied “Rabbi and teacher I have no money with which to do the acts of kindness”. Rabbi Salanter replied “I was not referring to charity with money, I mean acts of kindness to help your wife with her household duties for you should know that a wife is not a slave but a woman who is part of you”

 

A newly married Kollel man went to the Stiepler Rov and told him that his wife had trouble getting ready for Shabbat on time matter how late shabbat came in, his wife was never ready.. The Stiepler told him to pick up a broom and help his wife.

This is the message of the Medrash – Avraham’s chesed began in the home and it is this Chesed which is demonstrative of his quality of being a Ba’al Chesed the obligation of doing chessed is greatest for one’s family members  Avraham’s chesed began in the home and spread way beyond it.

 

 

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