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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Soul Sacrifice

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

We know about giving up some of our personal comfort to help someone else.

We know about giving up some of our spirituality to save a life or to help another human being live healthier.

We even know about giving up personal comfort to help someone spiritually.

But how about giving up my spirituality so that someone else can grow spiritually? It doesn’t seem logical. Why should you grow spiritually on my spiritual back?

“And Hashem spoke to Avrohom immediately after Lot left him …” (Breishis 13; 14)

“As long as this wicked person was at Avrohom’s side G-d did not speak to him” (Rashi)

The very presence of Lot interrupted Avrohom’s reception of the word of G-d. As long as Lot was present, Avrohom did not receive prophecy.

I can’t even imagine Avrohom’s pain. Avrohom lived for his relationship with G-d. He yearned for His word and to walk in His path and to constantly grow in the presence of Hashem. His relationship with Lot somehow did not allow for all that, so – get rid of him!

As soon as Avrohom realized that Lot was ruining his reception he should have said: “Lot! I don’t mind you being around me, but you have to better your ways. If you are not willing to change – go in peace and leave me be!”

And why in fact did Lot want to stay at Avrohom’s side? Because he admired Avrohom and he wanted to learn from him. And he did learn from his as is evident from the level of his hospitality. (Breishis 19; 1-7)

So how could Avrohom push him away? True, Avrohom was losing so much; but as long as Lot was gaining Avrohom let him stay.

Avrohom gave up his spiritual growth for the spiritual growth of his nephew Lot. Avrohom’s kindness was not limited to his sacrificing his body comfort only. He was willing to sacrifice the fulfillment of his soul for the spiritual welfare of another human being.

I once heard a story from the Mirrer Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Shmuel Berenbaum  ZTtl. (1920 -2008)

There was a small town that needed a mikvah. The Rav of the town spoke to the people of the importance of the project and he finally persuaded the community to build the mikvah. There was only one catch. The community owned a piece of land where the old synagogue once stood. They had built a new synagogue down the street and the community leaders decided that the only place for the mikvah is where the Shul stands no more.

The dilemma; there are many things that one can build on the plot that was once a shul. One of the things that can not be built there is a mikvah! If the rabbi allows for the building of the mikvah he is violating the halachah; if he doesn’t than the community will not have a mikvah at all. What should he do?

The perplexed Rabbi decided to consult with the sagacious Chazon Ish. (Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, (1878-1953)

The Chazon Ish answered, “If you build the mikvah you will be punished by G-d for violating the Halachah. However, as the Rabbi you should accept this punishment upon yourself so that the community will have a Mikvah!”

The answer boggles the mind, but this is the teaching of Abraham.

How far should one go? You have to even give up your soul in order to benefit the soul of your neighbor. Chesed L’Avrohom!

This week’s Dvar Torah is dedicated by my friend Jeff Zucker to the memory of his beloved mother, Ita bat Shalom, A"H, who shares her Yartzeit, 11 Cheshvan, with Rochel Imeinu. May her neshama have an aliya.

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