Vayeira: Avimelech and Introspection

One of the positives of living in Eretz Yisroel, is the ability to get brachos from leaders of the generation.  Some are not so easy to get to; some are a bit easier.  After discussing a small issue with somebody, they suggested on Motzei Shabbos to drive to Nahariya to see Rav David Abuchatzeira, the grandson of the Baba Sali.  I really didn’t think that was possible, since I don’t have a car, and it’s not easy to get to by bus.  However, it hit me that on Shabbos (last Shabbos), a friend was coming with his family, with a rental car, and I knew that he had some questions he needed answered about some issues going on in his life.  So, I called him up and asked him if he would be interested in running to Nahariya after Shabbos, and he was happy to oblige.


Since, he has hundreds of people visiting him at a time, everything was at a whirlwind pace.  I knew he reads letters super-quickly and then gives answers/brachos, depending on the situation.  So, I wrote my letter with three issues, asking a bracha for each one.  My friend went first, briefly told over his situation (which might force him to leave Eretz Yisroel), and I was happy to hear, “Here . . . here . . . only here . . . .” When I went, I gave the rav my letter, and he started zipping through it, and after each paragraph, he gave a different bracha.  My natural pessimism was stifled, thankfully, when I saw his eyes, when reading my letter, go back and read again.  Obviously, I, or my handwriting wasn’t clear enough on a certain point.  It was good for me to see that.


So, we left happy.  My friend got his answer, and I got my brachos, and frankly, it’s good to see "big people."


Okay, on to Torah!


I will give a warning.  This dvar Torah is an original thought of mine and I did not see it written anywhere.  So, if it’s heretical, which knowing me, it could be, just discard it.


I was always wondering about Avimelech, the King of Gerar.


When Avraham visited his land, he announced that Sarah was his sister, so he wouldn’t be killed, and like Pharaoh in Egypt, Avimelech took Sarah to be his wife.  And like Pharaoh, he and his household were struck with a plague, but unlike Pharaoh, Hashem came to him in a dream and told him why he was struck and what he must do to correct the situation.  What made Avimelech so great that he received a prophecy from Hashem?  What made him different than Pharaoh who made the exact same mistake?


The possible answer hit me this year, and it’s found in one pasuk:


“Avimelech then asked Avraham, ‘What did you see to make you do such a thing [say that Sarah was your sister]?’” (Bereishis 20:10).


It takes a lot for a person to admit his mistakes.  It takes a lot for a king to admit his mistakes.  But it’s a whole new level when a person can honestly ask, “What did you see in me that was wrong?”


Perhaps this is what made Avimelech different.  To have the ability to find out what was wrong with him and his people, and, I assume, to use that knowledge to fix that gap, that is something which is not easy for anybody, let alone royalty, to do, and perhaps that is why he deserved a full conversation with Hashem.


Have a wonderful Shabbos!


Michael Winner