GOOD MORNING! A father was reading a Torah story to his young son. He read, "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned to salt." His son quizzically looked at his father and asked, "What happened to the flea?"
I have a great story to share with you this week! It will help clarify the answer to a question on this week's Torah portion. The Torah portion begins with, "God appeared to Avraham in the Plains of Mamre..." Why does the Torah deem to tell us the location of the Almighty appearing to Avraham? Rashi, the great commentator, explains that the reason the Plains of Mamre is mentioned it to give praise to Mamre who counseled Avraham to enter into the covenant of Bris Mila with the Almighty.
Avraham had three friends: Eshkol, Aner and Mamre. When the Almighty proposed a covenant, Avraham sought counsel from his friends. The first two friends responded negatively ("You're too old, it's too painful..."). Mamre, however, was incredulous that Avraham should even ask -- a covenant with God is the pinnacle of meaning, the ultimate opportunity in life! And as we know, Avraham entered into the covenant.
Now, here is the question: Why don't we ever hear again about Mamre in the whole Torah? Wouldn't you think that with such clarity, Mamre would become a disciple of Avraham, even beg Avraham to intercede with the Almighty to include himself (Mamre) in the covenant? Yet, Mamre is lost from the pages of history.
And, finally, here is the story! There was once a young man who graduated from Harvard. Before entering Columbia Law School, he traveled the world to experience different ways of life. The second to last stop was a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. There he spent three weeks learning to meditate under the tutelage of a Jewish Buddhist priest named Goldberg from Brooklyn.
After two weeks, Goldberg asked the young man, "Where are you going from here?" The young man replied, "To Israel, to learn about my own heritage." Goldberg inquired where he was going to study, to which the young man replied, "It's a Jewish country, I'll find some place."
At this point, the Jewish Buddhist priest walks over to his bookshelf and pulls off an April 1977 Rolling Stone Magazine featuring an article on Aish HaTorah and tells his student, "Here, read this. It's a perfect place for someone who is seriously seeking answers to life." The young man was enthralled by the article, came to Aish HaTorah's world center in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem to learn, and is today a prominent Manhattan attorney strongly identified with Judaism and Jewish causes.
But where is the Jewish Buddhist priest? He is still in the monastery in Thailand! Why? He had such clarity for the young man, what about himself? (Hopefully, this sounds like a familiar question!)
The answer is the same for Goldberg and for Mamre -- for other people it is easy to have clarity, but when it comes to ourselves we have every good reason or excuse not to follow through on what is objectively sound advice.
The lesson for us: When you have an important decision, seek advice from someone else. When you give advice to others, check to see if it applies to you. Don't let excuses get in the way of good decisions and growth!
Portion of the Week
Avraham, on the third day after his Brit Mila, sits outside his tent looking for guests to whom to extend his hospitality. While talking with the Almighty, he sees three visitors (actually angels of the Almighty). Avraham interrupts his conversation with the Almighty to invite them to a meal. One angel informs him that in a year's time, Sarah, his wife, will give birth to a son, Yitzhak (Isaac).
God tells Avraham that He is going to destroy Sodom because of its absolute evil (the city is the source of the word "sodomy"). Avraham argues with God to spare Sodom if there can be found ten righteous people in Sodom. Avraham loses for the lack of a quorum. Lot (Avraham's nephew) escapes the destruction with his two daughters.
Other incidents: Avimelech, King of the Philistines, wants to marry Sarah (Avraham's wife), the birth of Yitzhak, the eviction of Hagar (Avraham's concubine) and Ishmael. Avimelech and Avraham make a treaty at Beersheva. Avraham is commanded to take up his son, Isaac, to sacrifice him (Akeidat Yitzhak). astly, the announcement of the birth of Rivka (Rebecca), the future wife of Yitzhak.
Want to know the reward for listening to the command of the Almighty? This is what the Almighty told Avraham: "... I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore; and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy. And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring, because you have listened to My voice."
MAYBE YOU HAVE A GOOD IDEA?
I need your help. I have written a book entitled, "How to Prevent an Intermarriage -- a guide for parents." The book is written for parents who would like to discuss with their children why they want the child to marry someone Jewish, but cannot express the reasons for their feelings; it is for parents who care, but may not even know why they care. It is a guide to enhance communication and to help the parents to help their child to clarify his goals in marriage. Actually, with its 16 questionnaires, the book is excellent for parents to help their children to clarify their marriage goals even if they are marrying someone Jewish!
I am stumped for a cover. I have hired a graphic artist and, frankly, he fired me after I rejected his 7 suggestions. If you have an idea for a cover, either fax it to 305-531-9334 or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and put the words "Book Cover" on the subject line. Thanks! The winner gets my eternal thanks ... and a free book!
CANDLE LIGHTING - November 2:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:15 Hong Kong 5:28 Honolulu 5:37
J'Burg 6:06 London 4:15 Los Angeles 4:41
Melbourne 7:37 Miami 5:21 Moscow 4:30
New York 4:33 Singapore 6:32
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Nothing in the world
can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not;
nothing is more common
than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not;
unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not;
the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination
alone are omnipotent.
-- Calvin Coolidge
In Honor of