Lech Lecha: Standing Alone

I had an interesting "Torah" thought this week, which my rav liked.

This week Halloween falls out the day before (yet another round of) Israeli elections.  What's the root of Halloween? From what I remember, it's the day that the dead would return to this world.  And in order to appease them, the living would give them gifts, so they would be left alone, until the dead return to their world.

What are Israeli elections?  The day politicians return from their world into ours.  And in order to keep them way from us, we appease them with gifts called "votes," so they too would return to their world and leave us alone.

What do you think?

Okay, on to more important things.

Oh, before that, I would like to thank those who donated to my son's yeshivah.  It was very much appreciated.

What I've seen and learned to appreciate about this particular yeshivah, is that you can see very clearly that all the money is being used toward the kids and making sure they are in an environment which is safe spiritually and physically.

Thankfully, they opened up on Sunday, and hopefully, they can stabilize their financial situation in a more permanent fashion.

We see in this week's parsha (Bereishis 14:13) that Avraham is called "Avraham HaIvri."  The Midrash explains that he is called this because the entire world was on one side (ever) and Avraham stood on the other side alone.

Rav Pinkus once told over the Midrash about Rebbe Shimon Ben Chalafta.  One erev Shabbos, he realized that he had no food or money to buy food.  So, he left the city and davened to Hashem.  As he finished davening, a beautiful jewel came down from Heaven, which he would be able to use to buy food.

When he returned home, his wife questioned where he received this jewel.  When he told her what happened, she refused to allow him to sell it or use it.  She knew that this jewel was part of his reward that he was to receive in the next world, and if he used it here, he would be lacking "later."

Rebbe Shimon went to Rebbe Yehudah HaNasi and explained the situation.  Rebbe Yehudah HaNasi told him to tell his wife not to worry; anything that Rebbe Shimon is lacking in the World to Come, Rebbe will give from his share.

When Rebbe Shimon returned to his wife and told her what Rebbe Yehudah HaNasi said, she still refused, saying, "Is it not true that in the next world, each Tzaddik is in his own world with Hashem and doesn't share it with others.  If so, Rebbe Yehudah HaNasi can't give over any of his share!"

At that point, Rebbe Shimon conceded to his wife's wisdom and returned the jewel.

Rav Pinkus said that we learn from this that in the next world, when Hashem gives over reward to each individual, He will give it over only according to what that person did in this world, but not according to what others did .

This is what Rebbe Shimon's wife was saying to Rebbe Shimon: The only reward that you will receive will be based not on what others do, but what YOU do.

Even though the Torah puts a lot of emphasis on the community, in the end, a person stands alone.  His life in the next world is based solely on what HE does in this world.

Sometimes the community gets … distracted about things in the world that it shouldn't get distracted about.  In America, it could be local sports.  In Israel, local elections.  And when those in the yeshivah or the beis medresh are busying themselves in such conversations, and you decide to sit and learn, you are emulating Avraham HaIvri.

When levels of modesty in the community are going down, and certain women decide not to follow suit, despite the looks they might receive from others, they too are emulating Avraham HaIvri.

Standing alone in this world can be difficult, since you are not only standing alone against the non-Jewish world, which is hard enough, but sometimes you need to stand alone against the Jewish world.  But in the end, just as you stood alone, you will be rewarded alone.

With that, I wish you all a wonderful Shabbos!