Parshat Vayeira 5781: An Understanding of Divine Tests

Dear Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShavua Vayeira is being sponsored by Yirmi and Rochelle Gold and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated Lilui Nishmas the First Yahrtzeit of HaRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, z”l on the 23rd of Cheshvan. To the Gold family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Vayeira 5781: An Understanding of Divine Tests

by Moshe Burt

Last year, this author wrote a Parshat HaShavua discussing the contrast between Avraham’s actions in response to each of Hashem’s tests regarding Sodom and Amora and the Akeidat Yitzchak.

This year, the vort will deal with providing an understanding of Divine tests. Rabbi Shmuel Goldin provides a powerful and poignant essay in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text” (Sefer Breish’t, pages 93 and 97- 98) which deals with understanding Divine Tests which seems to speak to World Jewry during this past year through to current day relating to the corona pandemic and its restrictions on tefillah, and specifically to Kehillot who have lost their Rabbanim, such Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham locally on our loss on the 23rd of Cheshvan, 5780 of our beloved Rav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, z”l. Rabbi Goldin writes:

Akeidat Yitzchak [Avraham’s attempt to sacrifice his son Yitzchak]… provides us with the perfect opportunity to explore the concept of nissayon within thought in Judaism as a whole.

The Rabbis delineate ten separate tests administered by Hashem to Avraham over the course of the patriarch’s lifetime.

The very concept of Hashem testing man, however, is very difficult to comprehend. A test is usually administered for the purpose of gathering information. Hashem, however, is All-Knowing. He knows in advance whether Avrahamwill or will not “pass” a specific test. Why, then, are these tests necessary at all? Two suggested approaches are suggested by the classical commentaries”

1/ Hashem tests man to enable man to be aware of his own capabilities and actualize his own potential. None of us knows before a moment of crisis how we will respond…. The quality of our actions cannot be predicted in advance. Through the course of the tests that he experiences, man learns the full extent of his capabilities. Even further, after the moment of crisis, we are no longer the people we were before. The very experience, and our corresponding reaction, changes us. Our potential for good or for bad is actualized and concretely shapes our further actions. An individual changes with each passing test. (Rav Goldin citing Ramban on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 22, posuk 1)

2/ Hashem tests an individual to proclaim that individual’s capabilities to others. As Avraham undergoes each test his greatness is recorded as an example for the world, That is why the nissayon (test) is derived from the word nes (banner).
A person’s true nature is revealed in the quality of his responses to the tests that confront him. (Rav Goldin citing Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim 3:24, Rabbeinu Bachya on Breish’t Perek 22, posuk 1, Abravanel on Breish’t Perek 22, posuk 1)

In every generation, Hashem will test man, say the Rabbis, for each and both of these reasons.

Rabbi Goldin concludes (ibid, page 97-98):

The Avraham who emerges following the Akeidat is very different. His focus turns inward, as in our next Parsha, Chayei Sarah, he occupies himself with two primary tasks: burying Sarah, and finding a wife for Yitzchak. (Rav Goldin citing Breish’t Perek 23, posuk 1 theough Perek 24, posuk 67) Past and future within his own family occupy his attention…

Apparently Avraham, traumatized by the Akeida, learns the lesson that, according to the Rashbam, Hashem wanted to convey. Avraham recognizes that his mission in the world remains of extreme significance and importance. His mission to his own family, however, and his responsibility to his nation’s future, become primary.

…. Avraham’s legacy is narrowed down to the life of one individual: his son Yitzchak. Avraham realizes that success or failure will depend on Yitzchak and Yitzchak alone.

Avraham’s personal journey surrounding the Akeida also serves as a clear reminder of our need to focus on what happens within our families. History is replete with stories of successful individuals who somehow were not successful within the context of their own homes. Our involvements in our communities and in the outside world, as important as they may be, can never become our sole or even primary focus. Time and effort must be spent on what is most important: the education and the development of our children.

As Avraham Aveinu’s legacy lives on, in that era, only through his son Yitzchak, the legacy of our beloved Rav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, z”l is soo massive and many-faceted in scope. From the incredible volume and mastery of his Torah knowledge, to his ability “think outside the box,” to his high level of knowledge of the world and human nature, to his editing of the Artscroll Gemuras — both the Bavli and Yerushalmi Gemuras, to his wit and his mentchlicheit to a degree that he related to an entire Kehillah on each of their individual levels, Rav Malinowitz inspired a Kehillah and the entirety of Ramat Beit Shemesh. HaRav is missed and leaves an imprint on us all.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free, as Naama Issachar is now free and home — which can only occur when Jonathan is home in Israel and carrying for his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.