Perashat Vayera 5778
Perashat Vayera 5778Friday, November 03, 2017
We tend to measure a missva according to how grand a deed it is. If it is an act such as performing hessed with thousands of people including residents of an entire city, we feel like we did a great deed. But when we do a small act, such as holding a door for someone, we give it little importance. From the actions of our forefathers, we see the opposite, that even very small actions are valued.
In our perasha, we learn of Abraham Abinu, who hosted three angels who were disguised as nomadic Arabs. The pesukim describe in great detail what was served to them: "Let now a little water be fetched, and bathe your feet, and recline under the tree. And I will take a morsel of bread, and sustain your hearts... And to the cattle did Abraham run, and he took a calf, tender and good, and he gave it to the youth, and he hastened to prepare it. And he took cream and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and he placed [them] before them, and he was standing by them under the tree, and they ate" [Bereshit 18: 4-8].
The Gemara in Baba Messia quotes Rabbi Yishmael: "In reward for three acts of hospitality that Abraham performed for the angels, his descendants merited three rewards." The Gemara elaborates, "In reward for providing them with curd and milk, the Jewish people merited the manna; in reward for 'And he stood [omed] by them,' the Jews merited the pillar [amud] of cloud. In reward for Abraham saying, 'Let now a little water be fetched,' they merited the Well of Miriam."
This illustrates the way Hashem judges even miniscule actions that we perform, and the great rewards that he bestows for actions that are seemingly unimportant. The act of giving a little butter and milk to someone who is hungry is tantamount to the abundant manna that fed Am Yisrael for forty years in the wilderness. Standing for a small period of time for the purpose of fulfilling a missva, is compared to the pillar of cloud Hashem provided that protected Am Yisrael, also for forty years. Giving some water to a thirsty fellow is considered by Bore Olam to be equal to the Well of Miryam which supplied water to the Jewish people in the desert.
We also learn from here that the concept of measure for measure is notevidenced by punishment and reward. It is a direct effect that Hashem has implanted in nature, that an apparently small deed could bring about a parallel result on a much larger scale.
We find the same concept in nature since the reality of our world is parallel to that of the spiritual world. A tremendous amount of energy could be extracted from an infinitesimal amount of matter such as that created by an atomic bomb. The matter from which the bomb is made is miniscule but the energy created by it is immense and could generate a very wide scope of damage that could have a lasting effect for decades.
Each and every missva is considered to be significant before Hashem. The Creator is "Rav Hessed", "abundant in loving kindness". He is like a father who out of great love gives generously. As it says in Tehillim, "Ki hu yada' yisrenu", "For he knows our urges". Hashem knows how much effort one is required to invest in order to be able to conquer his/her reluctances to do good deeds, and therefore rewards amply.
Praiseworthy is one who understands this concept and who aspires to do Hashem's will both in small deeds and in great deeds.
May 28 2020
Sivan 5 5780