Lech Lecha

November 5th 2022

11th of Cheshvan 5783

Avraham Avinu Receives Reward of All Generations

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

Chazal say (Avot 5:2), "There were ten generations from Noach to Avraham – to show the degree of His patience; for all those generations angered Him increasingly, until our forefather Avraham came and received the reward of them all."

We can ask why the Sages single out Avraham Avinu as the one who took the reward of all the generations. After all, Noach was also a tzaddik, as the Torah clearly testifies (Bereishit 6:9), "These are the offspring of Noach, Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generations." Hashem Himself said to Noach (ibid. 7:1), "For it is you I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation." If so, why wasn't the righteous Noach deserving of the reward of them all? Or at least the reward of his generation?

We can explain by saying in praise of Avraham Avinu, he did not use any day of his life for his own pleasure. Rather, he labored his entire life to publicize the Name of Hashem in the world, as the verse says (ibid. 11:33), "There he proclaimed the Name of Hashem, G-d of the Universe." When his guests wished to thank Avraham Avinu for his kindness, his reaction was: "Bless the One Whose food you ate." His sole desire was to bring recognition of Hashem to the world.

In addition, Avraham Avinu converted many people, bringing them under the wings of the Shechina. He also built a Mizbeach for Hashem, proclaiming to one and all that there is none other than Him. And even when Hashem told him "Go for yourself," for your own pleasure and good, Avraham Avinu's sole motivation was to carry out the will of Hashem.

Furthermore, Avraham Avinu always sought to live in well-populated places, to maximize the opportunities to publicize Hashem's Name. With true self-sacrifice he smashed the idols belonging to his father Terach, and fought against Nimrod who incited the whole world to rebel against Hashem. Although this led to Avraham Avinu being thrown into a furnace, he was not deterred.

So due to all his great toil on behalf of Torah and Judaism, he rightly receives the reward of all future generations, for it is in his merit that all these generations exist, as it says (Bereishit 2:4), "These are the products of the heaven and the earth, בהבראם, when they were created." Chazal expound that this word can be rearranged to spell אברהם, because in his merit heaven and earth were created.

Hashem considers it as if Avraham Avinu lived and lives in all past, present and future generations, continually publicizing Hashem's Name.

Now we can understand; even though Noach was considered a tzadddik, he did not trouble himself in any way to publicize Hashem's Name in the world. Even in his corrupt generation, and even after the Flood, instead of occupying himself with the spiritual resurrection of the world, he planted a vineyard and became drunk. Years later Avraham Avinu appeared on the stage of history and influenced people to repent and return to Hashem, so it is indeed fitting that he take the reward of all.

Walking in Their Ways

Making Spirituality Count

My esteemed father zy"a, Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto, was always satisfied with little and he saw the fulfillment of the verse (Tehillim 34:11), "Those who seek Hashem will not lack any good." Even when he had the barest of material possessions, he always felt he did not lack anything good, for his heart was not drawn after the pleasures of This World. His clothes were modest and simple, his food was plain, yet he was always smiling and ready to encourage and help any destitute or downtrodden person.

Ima a"h told me there were times when Abba possessed only a single shirt, and when it would require cleaning he had no other shirt to wear meanwhile. So immediately after it was washed Abba would put it back on, while still wet... But despite the poverty and lack he never complained about his situation. On the contrary, he was delighted the Creator merited him with toiling in Torah while being content with little.

He never had a sugary drink of any kind on his table; not Coke, Tempo, or anything else – that's what I remember from my childhood. And only in honor of Shabbat, since there is a mitzvah to enjoy special foods, father would buy a small bottle of Pepsi and distribute a little to each family member.

The more Abba disregarded materialism, the more he grew spiritually. He would quote the prayer, "He makes the wind (רוח) blow and He makes the rain(גשם)  descend" and quip that the more a person casts off materialism (a play on the word 'גשם', which has the same root letters as 'גשמיות', materialism), to that extent he brings 'spirituality' (רוחניות - רוח) upon himself.

Abba lived this principle and closely guarded his spiritual treasure chest, constantly adding new valuables, while engaging in physical pursuits to the barest minimum. He understood that abstaining from lust and being satisfied with little is a most necessary condition for receiving the Torah.

Words of the Sages

What Was Avraham and Sarah's Art of Persuasion?

If we take a close look at Avraham Avinu's occupation with bringing others closer to Hashem, we will discover that his attribute of kindness was not a collection of feelings of compassion or pleasure in influencing others, but rather a manifestation of something much higher and more sublime. Hashem calls him "Avraham who loves Me." This ardent love of Hashem was the source of his great love for His creations. This was the motivation behind his attribute of kindness.

The Rambam teaches us that the essence of love for Hashem is the longing and thirst to know Him. It follows that Avraham's longing for knowledge of Hashem was not satisfied with his personal knowledge of Hashem, but also included a desire and hope that all His creations would know and recognize Him. Love for Hashem is a longing for complete connection between the world and its Creator.

Avraham's influence converted souls because it stemmed from the depth of his love for Hashem. This is the power of love that breaks through from a most sincere place; it touches hearts and inspires them to see the good, believe in it, and attach their very reality to it.

Let's think for a moment about the best approach when faced with a child unwilling to listen. How do you approach a student who is not interested in co-operating? What is the correct way to touch his heart? This is a question that should concern not only educators. After all, there is no Jew who does not find himself in a place of influence, trying to convey a message, enlighten a view, or teach a way of life. Because our role in life is not only when facing our children or students; every social interaction entails the responsibility of conveying the word of Hashem through our behavior and speech. So how do we do this in the best possible way?

"And the souls they made in Charan." Although they faced a world of idol worshipers, Avraham and Sarah managed to touch the hearts of many and reveal the truth to them. What language did they use? What was their art or rhetoric of persuasion?

The simple view sees the converting of souls as arising from the attribute of justice that obliges man to fight evil. And as part of the fight he must spread the truth and connect to it as many people as possible. However, Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler zt"l writes that "The souls they made in Charan" was precisely due to Avraham's attribute of kindness. What he means is that the desire to benefit others and give them the greatest gift there is – the meaning of life – was the motivating factor behind Avraham and Sarah's actions.

This teaches us that spiritual influence that leaves a noticeable mark is that which comes from a place of wishing to benefit others. Not necessarily out of the desire to change, fix, or make him a better person, but simply for his personal good.

When the person we are trying to influence feels we are not standing opposite him – but at his side – that we do not wish to take something from him, rather to give, that we are not attempting to attack or weaken his position, but rather wish to give him something wonderful, only then does he feel loved and not attacked, and he opens up to hear and feel, ready to try and experience change, and even adopt what he feels and understands will be for his good.

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

The Power of Influence on Others

"So Avraham said to Lot: 'Please let there be no strife between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen… Is not all the land before you? Please separate from me: If you go left then I will go right, and if you go right then I will go left'" (Bereishit 13:8-9).

Lot's dishonest shepherds grazed their flocks on other people's pastures. Avraham's shepherds, who were careful to take their animals out to pasture only with muzzles on their mouths, rebuked them for this. This resulted in a quarrel breaking out between them.

As we know, Avraham Avinu excelled in the attribute of kindness. He constantly sought ways to benefit others and give of his own, never taking from others. He shared with others all the abundance he received from Hashem, not accumulating it for himself alone. He lived by the guideline "נתון תתן, You shall surely give him," on which Chazal explain (Sifri Devarim 117) the double expression of giving as the obligation to give even a hundred times.

Avraham Avinu constantly felt he was here in This World only in transit. This was the basis for his determination and devotion to performing acts of kindness and hospitality, constantly spreading Torah and publicizing Hashem's Name.

And while Avraham Avinu toiled to influence and benefit others, Lot, his nephew, who physically resembled Avraham and at this point seemed to be his sole heir, did the opposite. Lot tried to derail Avraham Avinu's goal in life by stealing from others and allowing his flock to graze in fields that did not belong to him. He took advantage of his position, using it to steal from others, rather than being kind to them.

This sin surely deterred people from drawing close to Avraham Avinu! Through demonstrating bad middot, Lot caused a chilul Hashem; he casted Avraham Avinu in a bad light, causing people to say, "If this is how Lot behaves surely his uncle Avraham Avinu has a hand in it."

Avraham Avinu certainly continued pleading and begging Lot to correct his actions and ways. But when he saw Lot maintaining this situation of chilul Hashem instead of rectifying it, he politely told him, "Please separate from me." We can no longer remain in close proximity. It is important for people to continue learning from me and realize your behavior has nothing to do with me. I will forever continue to uphold my charitable ways.

A Day of Delight

The Departure of Shabbat

1. One must not engage in any type of act forbidden on Shabbat before the time of departure of Shabbat specified on the calendar.

2. Some follow the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam and delay the departure of Shabbat (which in winter is about half an hour after the regular time of Shabbat departure, and in summer about forty minutes). Anyone who is careful with this receives Heavenly blessings.

3. One who is stringent and keeps "Rabbeinu Tam" may ask someone who keeps the regular time to do a forbidden act for him.

4. If necessary, one may perform certain acts forbidden m'd'rabbanan after Shabbat but before Rabbeinu Tam, such as turning off electricity, moving muktzah items, joining a car ride (if the driver keeps the regular time of Shabbat departure. The passenger should not open the door himself, since this activates a light and other electrical sensors which is a Torah prohibition).

5. In the evening prayer on Motza'ei Shabbat, the chazan draws out the words "Barchu et Hashem Hamevorach," and the congregation too should draw out the response, "Baruch Hashem Hamevorach l'olam va'ed." This is a segulah for success and to be protected from harm the entire week.

The reason for drawing out these words is because on Motza'ei Shabbat, souls return to Gehinom, and as long as one draws out these words they do not return. Another reason is to accompany the King and show how difficult the parting is for us.

6. In the Atah chonen blessing in Shemoneh Esrei on Motza'ei Shabbat one adds the prayer "Ata chonantanu." If one forgot to say it, Shemoneh Esrei is not repeated, because later on he will recite hamavdil as part of Havdalah.

7. If one forgot to say "Ata chonantanu" and also mistakenly ate before reciting Havdalah, he should recite Shemoneh Esrei again. He should make the prayer conditional; if he is not truly obligated it should be considered a tefillat nedava, voluntary prayer. Even if he already made Havdalah after he ate, he should still repeat the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, because he ate before Havdalah.

8. If one forgot to recite "Ata chonantanu" and also mistakenly performed forbidden acts before Havdalah, he should pray again but as a voluntary prayer.

9. After the half-Kaddish which follows Shemoneh Esrei one recites "Vehi Noam" and "Yoshev B'seiter Elyon" in which Moshe blessed Bnei Yisrael when they completed the work of the Mishkan.

One should be particular to recite the "Yoshev b'seter elyon" psalm (also called Shir shel Pegaim, Song of Plagues) because one who recites it with faith in Hashem will be helped by Him in time of danger. The holy Zohar writes: When Shabbat departs, mazikim who wish to take control of the holy Jewish people roam the world. Therefore it was established to recite the "Shir shel Pegaim," to prevent this calamity. When they see the holy people praying, making Havdalah over wine and saying this psalm, they fly away to deserts.

For any questions in practical application of these halachot, please consult a rabbinical authority.

Zecher Tzaddik Livracha

Maran Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto Hakatan zy"a

Rabbi Rabbi Haim Pinto Ha-Katan width=

On the occasion of the holy hilula (15th of Cheshvan) of the esteemed Maran Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto Hakatan zy"a, the Admor Rabbeinu David Chananya Pinto shlit"a speaks of the greatness and wonders of his venerable grandfather:

My grandfather, the holy Rabbi Chaim Pinto Hakatan zy"a, was known as a miracles worker.

Once when I was in Canada, I was approached by an elderly woman who related:

When it was time for my mother to give birth, she experienced a very difficult time. On the third day of labor, her situation turned critical, and the Chevra Kaddisha was called to her bedside. My father, unable to watch her suffering, left the house and waited for news. Suddenly your holy grandfather zy"a walked past and asked him why he looked so disheartened. My father told him about the great danger to my mother's life, and how she had been suffering for three days already. The tzaddik reproached him and said, "Why did you wait until now? Why didn't you come to me right away?" He added, "Take my stick, place it on your wife's stomach, take my tobacco box and let her smell a bit, and with Hashem's help you will see salvation! Your wife will give birth to a boy and I will be the sandak; you should call him Chaim…"

Father ran to do all the tzaddik commanded, and to everyone's astonishment, a short time later mother gave birth to a healthy baby boy whom they indeed called Chaim.

Chaim grew up but to my parent's sorrow, at the age of two they realized he could neither speak nor hear. After various tests the doctors sadly informed them there was nothing they could do for him.

At that time Rabbeinu Chaim Hakatan had already passed away. My father, who strongly believed the merit of the tzaddik would once again come to his aid, took the whole family, including Chaim, to the tzaddik's gravesite. Father stood in front of the grave and began crying out, "Honorable tzaddik, Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto! It was in your merit that my son survived the birth. We called him Chaim and you were his sandak. But now, to our great sorrow, it seems he will never be able to speak or hear. Is this what I prayed for?? What is all my trouble worth if he remains with this difficult defect?" Father burst into tears and asked that the merit of the tzaddik protect his son and send him a complete recovery.

And then the unbelievable happened! Suddenly little Chaim opened his mouth, looked at Father and asked, "Father, why are you crying?" And since then, to my parent's great astonishment and wonder, Chaim began hearing and speaking! When he came of age he established a beautiful family. He passed away at the age of eighty-two after living a fruitful life.

This is one of the thousands of stories about the miracles performed by my holy grandfather zy"a. He was an example of "A tzaddik decrees and Hashem fulfills (his word)." As great as his power to create miracles, so was his proficiency in all areas of the Torah and its secrets. Nevertheless, when he would be asked a question about halacha he would refer the questioners to the city's dayanim. When the dayanim asked Rabbeinu why he sends people to them, he would answer humbly, "Every person must recognize his place. Dayanim are the ones who are supposed to decide answers in halacha, not me. I, due to the merit of my holy ancestors, have been given the power to bless those who need salvation."

He Opens the Eyes of the Blind

How precious was the degree of faith demonstrated by even the simple Moroccan Jews! In Rabbi Chaim Pinto's neighborhood lived a man named Chaim HaLevi who was blind from birth. When he was called up to the Torah, usually someone from the congregation would hold his hand and accompany him to the bimah. However, he was prepared to crawl on his hands and feet if there was no other way to get there.

Once while he was crawling, my holy grandfather accidently stepped on his hand. As soon as he realized, he begged the man to forgive him. The blind man replied, "If it is you, Rabbi Chaim, I do not forgive you…"

My grandfather was startled and said, "What, you won't forgive me?!" And the blind man answered, "No, I will not forgive you! Look what you did to me..." And then he added, "I am not prepared to forgive you, unless you pray that my sight be restored!"

Dear friends, I don't know if you will believe me or not, but this was indeed the reality! Rabbi Chaim said to him, "Come with me now and together we will go to the cemetery." They approached the gravesite of the holy Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto Hagadol zy"a, with the entire congregation accompanying them, wishing to witness the miracle. Rabbi Chaim Pinto Hakatan called out, "This blind man is not ready to forgive me for the sorrow I caused him, unless his eyesight is restored. I do not know what to do with him! May it be Hashem's will that your great merit stand for me and indeed he begin to see."

As soon as he finished his prayer the unbelievable happened. The blind Chaim HaLevi opened his eyes, to his astonishment and the astonishment of all those present! He was able to see for  the first time in his life!


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