Thursday, November 2, 2017



It was one of the most intriguing stories I have ever read, and yet, I don’t know how many people are familiar with the story:
                   A few years ago, a high-ranking minister and member of the private security cadre of the Queen of Denmark, was walking alongside the Queen at a public gathering. The minister noticed that a wooden plank in front of the Queen seemed shaky, and he jumped in front of the Queen to stop her from stepping down on it. In doing so, he indeed protected the Queen, but broke his own leg. 
A few days later, the Queen did something unheard of. As an expression of her gratitude to her loyal minister, she herself paid the minister a visit, together with her royal entourage and security detail.
It seemed very strange that, even as she sat opposite him, he had his cell phone on the table in front of him, which he kept glancing at. He apologized profusely to the Queen for his seeming indolence, and explained that it was actually for the protection and security of her majesty. He always had to be vigilant and on-call, because any security breaches or potential dangers would be directed to him first.
Sure enough, in midst of their conversation, the minister looked at his buzzing phone, then stood up, and grabbed his crutches. He asked the Queen to please wait for him to return, as he tended to an urgent security matter. Then he hopped out into his waiting car, and was driven off, to the utter shock of the Queen’s entourage.
The truth is, that we all know the story. Only some of the details have been altered. The story did not occur with a Queen, but with the King of kings, G-d Himself. The beloved minister was Avrohom Avinu. On the third day following his circumcision, when he had “injured himself in the line of duty” while performing the mitzvah, the ninety-nine-year-old Avrohom was weak, and in great pain.
Hashem Himself came to visit Avrohom, setting an example about performing the mitzvah of bikur cholim – tending[2] the sick.[3] 
Then, suddenly, Avrohom saw in the distance, three Bedouins traveling across the desert under the blazing heat of the midday sun. Avrohom immediately arose, and asked Hashem to please wait for him until he returned.[4] Then, ignoring his pain and discomfort, Avrohom ran towards the trio and beseeched them to allow him to host them.
The gemara derives from Avrohom’s actions that “hospitality to wayfarers is greater than receiving the Divine Presence.”
Rav Shimshon Pincus zt’l views Avrohom’s request, that Hashem not pass before Him while he tended to the guests, in a novel manner. Avrohom was not asking that Hashem “wait for him” until he returned. Rather, he was asking Hashem to accompany him, as he set out to fulfill the mitzvah. In other words, it was as if Avrohom was saying, “Until just now, I was receiving Your Divine Presence in one manner. Now, I am going to receive it in a different manner, i.e. by fulfilling one of Your mitzvos, to help another in need.”
Rav Pincus concludes, that this is our goal whenever we conclude davening or learning Torah. As we close our siddur or sefer, we should not feel that we are ‘leaving from before the Divine Presence’, but rather that we are requesting that Hashem accompany us into our next endeavor. A Jew seeks to live his entire life in the service of His Creator, even when he is not actually “standing” before G-d in prayer or Torah study.
We can add that our observance and fulfillment of the laws of Shabbos, is not only for Shabbos itself. The real goal is that Shabbos is the beginning of the following week, which gives us the spiritual boost to spiritually catapult us into the coming days.
The Torah describes Shabbos as “לדרתם ברית עולם... אות היא לעלם[5], simply translated as “for their generations, a covenant forever… a sign forever”. But the word “olam” also means ‘the world’. Thus, Shabbos is also a “treaty and a sign for the entire world”. No matter where in the world we find ourselves during the work-week, the previous, and coming Shabbos, are signs of who we are, and in Whom we place our trust.
On Shabbos we serve Hashem and feel close to Hashem in shul, at our Shabbos table, and even while walking down the street. Then, throughout the week, we seek to take that feeling of closeness with Hashem with us, wherever we go.
That is how Avrohom Avinu lived his entire life, and that is the model we all seek to follow.

“If I have found favor in Your eyes, please do not pass from your servant”
“A covenant for the entire world”

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – Heichal HaTorah
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor

[1] Based on the speech delivered at Kehillat New Hempstead, Shabbos morning, Parshas Vayera 5777
[2] literally the word bikur means investigating. The true mitzvah is to investigate whether all of the needs of the one who is sick are being tended to.
[3] Sotah 14b
[4] Shabbos 127a. According to this explanation, when Avrohom said (18:3) “My Master, if I have found favor in Your eyes, please do not pass from your servant”, those words were directed to Hashem Himself.
[5] Shemos 16-17

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