This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Chayei Sarah (5766)
This week's section deals mostly with the difficulties of Abraham.
First, those that he had in buying a grave for his wife and then the even greater ones finding a bride for his son Yitzchak (Isaac).
If you think about it, this seems to makes no sense. Abraham wasn't just an ordinary person. He was a Biblical character, the father of Judaism, devoted every instant and with every fiber of his being to serving the Creator.
Why didn't G-d make life easy for him?
And if there were difficulties why does the Torah have to tell us about them, why not just smear them over?
What possible benefit could the Bible have in telling us that G-d had trouble providing such simple things as a grave for this holy Tzadik's departed wife and a bride for his devoted son?
Exactly the opposite! This is very discouraging: If Abraham had troubles then what chance have we got?
And why doesn't the Torah just deal with more religious or spiritual things like we would expect from a religious book?
To answer this here is a story that appeared in the Jewish Press a while back.
Mister Yirmiahu (Jerry) Yarden was an American businessman on the way up. His business was doing well, his social life was fine, he had friends, a nice house and everything a man could desire - until the pain began.
At first he just took a few aspirins and thought everything would be fine. But when it didn't go away he went to a doctor who suspected something serious and sent him to be x-rayed. The x-rays ended his American dream.
It was about as bad a disease as they come but Jerry wasn't going to go down without a fight. He went to the best doctors in the best private hospital, spared no money and it paid off; the operation was a success. He was free from disease and pain for a few months.
The pains returned and his new x-rays showed that so had the disease. He immediately returned to the same hospital and requested the same excellent doctors. But that surgeon happened to out of the country. He would return only in two weeks and all the experts that saw the x-rays agreed that the operation couldn't wait.
Jerry even sent the x-rays special delivery to the surgeon to get his opinion, but he too agreed that they must not delay.
A well known professor was chosen to operate in his place and the operation was set for the next day.
Jerry was wheeled into the operating room half sedated and when the anesthetist gave him a larger injection and he lost conscious, the operation began.
"Suddenly in the middle of the operation I woke up. I felt myself and my body, I was clearly conscious but I didn't feel any pain. I looked around and even sort of sat up and saw the doctors standing around my body operating on me.
"But then I noticed that standing at the foot of the bed was someone that didn't belong in the operating room...it was the Lubavitcher Rebbe! I thought that for sure it was a dream and would change in a second or two, but it didn't. The Rebbe looked warmly into my eyes, smiled and said, 'Tell the professor who is operating on you that if he puts on Tefillin every day his daughter will recover from her disease.'
"I said I would try to pass on the message and....poof! The vision disappeared.
"The nurse heard me mumble a few words, probably those that I said to the Rebbe, and frantically informed the doctor that she thinks the anesthesia is wearing off. The doctor told her to give me another shot because if I wake I won't be able to stand the pain and it will be dangerous.
"The nurse approached with another syringe full of anesthetic but I refused. I said I had a message to give over to the professor and wanted to talk to him.
"The operating staff was astounded. There I was laying on the operating table cut open like a fish holding a conversation like it was my birthday party.
The doctor, who couldn't believe his eyes asked me a few questions to see if I was conscious and coherent and as he saw I was, his eyes widened like saucers; he had never seen or even heard of such a thing in his life.
"That is when I got up my courage and asked him if he had ever heard of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He replied that he had but what does it have to do with the operation?
"I told him that a few seconds ago the Rebbe was here and told me to tell the doctor that if he puts on Tefillin every day his daughter will get better. I breathed deeply and the next thing I remember is waking up early the next morning in the recovery room with no memory of the conversation.
"But the Doctor reminded me. He came to visit me, held my hand and with tears in his eyes said that I changed his life.
"He began weeping and telling me of his young daughter that had a disease that none of the doctors could heal. Even he himself the great professor that could heal everyone was helpless. In fact he felt so helpless that today he woke in the morning and did something he hadn't done since his Bar-Mitzva almost forty years ago, he prayed. He actually begged G-d, who till today he wasn't sure even existed, to save his daughter and to send a sign that his prayer had been accepted.
"'You are the sign!' the professor said, 'I don't know how you got here or how the Lubavitcher Rebbe got involved but for sure It's a sign that my daughter will live'.
"Sure enough, the professor bought a pair of Tefillin that very day and began putting them on each morning until his daughter began feeling better."
The end of the story is happy. Both the girl and Jerry recovered completely and the professor recovered his Judaism.
This explains Abraham's troubles. The Jews are G-d's chosen people, but they were not chosen to make miracles. Rather they were chosen to make this 'sick' world completely healthy and Abraham was the first to begin.
When the world was created it was healthy; each and every creation, mineral, plant, animal and human was living testimony that there is a Creator that creates it. But after Adam ate from the tree of Knowledge and the ensuing generations sunk into further transgressions the world became the biggest obstacle to G-d's existence and to doing what is right. And that is where Abraham and the Jewish people after him came in; to fix and heal, ultimately through Moshiach, the entire world (the gentiles through the Seven Noahide Commandments)
That is what the Torah is teaching us here; every time a Jew overcomes and obstacle and increases his awareness of the Creator it fixes the world and brings us a bit closer to the way things were when it was created… and even higher.
Just as the Rebbe appeared in the midst of Jerry's, and the Professor's difficulties to solve them (as the Talmud tells us Elijah the prophet did many times) so Moshiach will arrive to solve those of the entire world.
This is the main message of the entire Torah and especially our section; that we have the power, the ability, the blessing and the promise of G-d to overcome all obstacles and transform this world into heaven on earth.
As the Lubavitcher Rebbe said many times: we must do all we can and before we know it the entire world will see that....Behold the Moshiach is here!!
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