This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Chayei Sarah (5770)
This week we read about the first wedding explicitly mentioned in the Torah; that of Yitzchak and Rivka.
The wedding of Adam and Chava (Eve) is only implied with a few words, but here the wedding is so explicit that almost our entire Torah portion deals with how Eliezer; Avraham's trusted servant, prepared for it by searching for and finally finding the suitable bride.
One of the details mentioned in Eliezer's adventures is that his journey was miraculously shortened. The Torah (Rashi on 24:42) tells us that instead of taking a week the journey took only one day!
At first glance this is totally not understood. G-d never does miracles just to 'show off'; every miracle has a purpose. But here seems to be an exception. What would be wrong if Eliezer arrived a few days later? Isn't patience a virtue?
To understand this here is a story. (HaGeula weekly #451)
One of the greatest enemies of Israel is its politicians. Because of them the stunning and total victory of the six day war was neutralized and thousands of Israelis lost their lives and we are in dire danger today due to the 'Yom Kippur War', 'Oslo Accords' and 'Gush Katif' fiascos.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe said time and time again; peace can only be attained by following the advice of army generals that have no connection to politics. And all such generals agree; concessions spell disaster.
Regarding this there was a little known miracle that happened just before the first Gulf war that saved countless lives.
Chiam Aflulo was lucky. When he was a young boy his parents enrolled him to learn Torah in Rabbi Grossman's Yeshiva in Migdal HaEmek. There he became attached to Chabad and when he was eighteen years old he traveled to Brooklyn to spend a year learning in the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Yeshiva.
When he returned to Israel he enrolled in the Israeli army and there met a young man named Eshkol Levi who would play a role in saving, perhaps tens of thousands of Jewish lives.
Although their backgrounds were a bit different; Chaim was a very religious Chabadnik while Eshkol was more lenient regarding Judaism, they became almost inseparable friends and often when Eshkol went home on leave he took Chaim with him.
At first there seemed to be nothing very significant in this, but it just so happened that Eshkol's father was a man who would become a very important and influential figure in Israeli politics; Dovid Levi,
Dovid Levi was very active in the "Likud" party and from the moment he met Chaim Aflulo he liked him and offered him a job.
Although Chabad takes great pains to distance themselves from politics (and also misses out on a lot of government allocation money because of it) they do take great pains to help other Jews. So when he offered Chaim to be an organizer of religious youth he took the job.
Chaim used his new position to influence young people to strengthen their Judaism and to get acquainted with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Many wrote letters and received replies that gave them a lifetime of direction and inspiration. But one of his best 'pupils' was the boss, Dovid Levi himself. He became so interested that several times he wrote to the Rebbe via Chaim and even personally visited the Rebbe for advice and blessings several times when his travels took him to the U.S.A.
In the year 1990 Chaim announced he was taking a one week leave from work and went to the Rebbe himself for the holiday of Lag B'Omer to recharge his spiritual batteries.
As soon as his friends and acquaintances in Israel heard he was going, they brought letters and requests. When he arrived in New York he came with a stack of letters and among them was a threefold request from Dovid Levi 1) Success for all the Jewish people 2) Success for his family and 3) personal success in his job.
This last request was more potent than it might seem. Levi had just recently been elevated to the important position of Minister of Foreign Affairs in the newly elected 'Likud' government headed by Yitzchak Shamir - and there was big trouble.
Shamir entered on a strong 'right' platform not to concede lands to enemies for meaningless promises of peace. But there was strong pressure from the world, especially the United States, to give in. President George Bush Senior had very close ties with the Arab world (perhaps because of his personal oil interests) and was determined to make a good impression by forcing Israel to capitulate and Minister Levi was scared.
As soon as Chaim arrived in 770 (the Rebbe's headquarters and Synagogue) he handed in all the letters to the secretaries and went about his business; getting settled by his host, meeting many old friends, learning Torah and, of course, hearing the Rebbe speak at the Lag B'Omer Farbrengen (gathering).
The next day, Friday, when he arrived back his host's home, he found out that one of the Rebbe's chief assistants, Rabbi Leibel Groner, had left an urgent message to contact him as soon as possible.
Chaim immediately ran to Rabbi Groner's office and received the following message,
"The Rebbe wants you to contact Minister Dovid Levi as soon as possible and tell him not to become intimidated when he meets with James Baker (Bush's Foreign Minister) but rather to be strong for the first few minutes and G-d will help".
Chaim did not know it, but Bush was so anxious for results that he personally sent his Foreign Minister to threaten Israel with anything and everything in order to get massive land concessions. And Bush promised he would personally stand behind every threat made.
Prime Minister Shamir was already showing signs of backing down and the only one standing in the way of disaster was Dovid Levi.
But Chaim didn't know all this. All he knew was that he had to get hold of the Minister...but how? First he called Levi at home, but he was out. So he tried Levi's office but secretaries said he was out of contact. It was getting close to Shabbat inIsrael and he was getting nervous.
Suddenly he had an idea. He looked in his notebook and found the number of Levi's driver. If he could only get to him before Shabbat.
He tried several times and it was busy. 'Good sign' he hoped to himself. 'Probably Mr. Levi is talking.' And he tried again, and this time it worked! The driver answered. "Hello! It's Chaim Aflulu. I have a message from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Is Mr. Levi in the car?"
The driver pulled over, told him that Levi was not in the car at the time, wrote the message down and promised that he would deliver it.
The middle of the next week Chiam returned to Israel and heard from Dovid Levi himself what happened.
When the driver gave him the message a few hours later he was totally amazed for two reasons; first, how the Rebbe knew about the meeting at all; Baker's visit was supposed to be a total secret! And second, how miraculously exact the Rebbe's advice was.
The meeting took place early Sunday morning and Baker was blunt and ominous. He began by yelling, pounding on the table and threatening a complete cut off of American aid unless he saw results. He pulled out a map of Israel with boundaries according to President Bush and a document to be signed that Israel was willing to consider these concessions. He was brutally frank and kept repeating,'He wants an answer NOW, or else! Anything but 'yes' would mean big trouble'.
Levi shuddered. If the USA left us who knows what would happen! But he remembered the Rebbe's advice. He remained silent for several minutes, took the map examined it for several more and then began to cross examine Baker, trying to show the flaws in his demands. Baker began to fume, the minutes were ticking away. How many minutes did the Rebbe mean?!
Suddenly, just as it seemed that Baker had reached the end of his fuse one of his assistants entered the room and told him he had a phone call. Baker picked up the phone and turned pale.
He put down the phone, mumbled something about his mother just passing away, apologized and left the room.
Shortly thereafter the Gulf war began and all Bush's demands evaporated. If Dovid Levi had signed that document it would have opened the door for disaster.
The Rebbe's prophetic advice and Dovid Levi's willingness to follow it prevented much heartache and tragedy.
This answers our question.
Minutes are precious, and time, especially 'holy' time devoted to building and finding meaning, is life.
The minutes that Dovid Levi listened to the Rebbe saved potentially millions of lives (Arab as well!). And every moment wasted could have brought disaster.
So to with Rivka. Before she reached the age of marriage (three and a half years old!) Avraham did not know she existed. But as soon as she became of age Avraham suddenly sensed that she was a holy person, fit to marry his son, but surrounded by evil selfish people; each second there was disaster. He had to find a way to take her out as soon as possible.
That is why G-d made the miracle. So Rivka would not spend even one extra day in such a negative environment. The same day Avraham sent Eliezer he arrived and set her free.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that this contains a very deep and encouraging lesson to all of us.
Just as G-d made miracles in order that Rivka not stay in 'exile' an extra moment, we should also not become depressed or defeated by the terrible dark exile (golus) around us. Rather we should know that G-d Himself wants to take us out as soon as possible and will not leave us in exile even ONE day or moment too long.
Just as He did not leave the Jews in Egypt for even one extra minute and took them out 'In the middle of the day' so also it will be in our present exile.
Indeed, G-d has already declared "As the days of your leaving Egypt I will show you miracles' (Micah 7:15)!
All we have to do is one more good deed, or good word or even one good thought to tilt the scales and bring…
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