Home November 2011 Kindness: A Simple Primer

Kindness: A Simple Primer

God promises Avraham seven blessings if he leaves his father’s house.  The fourth blessing is “Veh’yey Beracha” (“ . . and it will be a blessing to you.”)  Commentators offer many explanations as to the meaning of this blessing.
It is brought down that often when a man achieves fame and wealth, he distances himself from his family and friends, feeling it is beneath him to continue to associate with or even to help his less fortunate brethren and friends.  As a result, people become jealous of him, disliking him, cursing him and giving him an ayin hora (evil eye).  The blessing that God bestows upon Avraham is designed to counteract these human emotions; for after Avraham becomes a “great nation,” achieves wealth and a great name, he will continue to have humility, to be a good person and to give tzedakah (charity).  Only then will this be a true blessing since the people will love him and be happy for him.
God says to Avraham, “Become a blessing to me by your deep understanding of My ways, whereby you will acquire perfection and teach knowledge of God to the people.”
How is this a blessing to Avraham?  What benefit can he gain from spreading the glory of God’s name?  Of course, it is important to bring honor to His name but how is it a blessing to Avraham himself?  The question is even more profound, because later, in Parashat Toledot, when Yitzchak tells Yaakov to go to Padan Aram to find a wife, the former blesses his son by saying, “And may God give you the blessing of Avraham to you and your children.”  The Sforno asks, “Which blessing are they talking about?”
The answer requires a deep appreciation of the greatness of Avraham and of his special middah (characteristic/trait) of lovingkindness with which he is best identified.  We learn that Avraham was the first to come to the recognition of the concept of “One God” and reject idol worship.  Everyone knows the famous midrash about Avraham smashing the idols in his father’s shop and demonstrating to his father the stupidity of idol worship.  In addition, we recall the story of the fiery furnace and of Avraham’s battles with Nimrod, all of which were based upon his open contempt and disdain for idol worship.  But our rabbis go further and teach us that Avraham did not stop with the recognition of the “One God” as the Creator of the Universe.  He examined the beauty and wisdom of creation and recognized the tremendous chesed – love/kindness that was inherent in it.  And he realized that God did not create the world for His own reward or benefit but simply for the kindness that is the very nature and essence of God.  Avraham understood that this was the way of God, and that he must follow and emulate Him by doing chesed for its own sake.
It is a powerful message for us as we begin this blessed New Year!

Walking Partners
We learned that Hanoch walked with God; that Noah walked with God and that Avraham walked before God. How does one walk with or before God?  One can walk with Him in one’s mind, which is the closest form of togetherness.  (All My Glory, Rabbi Avigdor Miller)

A Final Thought
“By conducting our lives like Avraham, by illuminating our homes so that our children will shine like the stars of the firmament – radiating light and truth – so will Heaven’s blessing brighten man’s horizon.”  (Dayan Moshe Swift)

NOVEMBER 2011
Heshvan-Kislev 5772
Candle Lighting Times
and Torah Portions

Friday, November 4
Light candles at 5:39 p.m.

Saturday, November 5
Torah Portion: Lech Lecha
(Genesis 12:1-17:27)

Friday, November 11
Light candles at 4:33 p.m.

Saturday, November 12
Torah Portion: Vayera
(Genesis 18:1-22:24)

Friday, November 18
Light candles at 4:29 p.m.

Saturday, November 19
Torah Portion: Chayei Sarah
(Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Friday, November 25
Light candles at 4:26 p.m.

Saturday, November 26
Torah Portion: Toledot
(Genesis 25:19-28:9)

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