Parshas Vayeira: Far Reaching Effects

וישא עיניו וירא והנה שלשה אנשים נצבים עליו וירא וירץ לקראתם מפתח האהל וישתחו ארצה- He lifted his eyes and saw, and behold three men were standing over him. He saw [them] and ran from the door of the tent to greet them, and he bowed down to the earth.

Rashi explains: אחד לבשר את שרה ואחד להפך את סדום ואחד לרפאות את אברהם, שאין מלאך אחד עושה שתי שליחיות- that one Malach came to bring tidings to Sarah that she would give birth in a year, and one came to overturn Sedom and the third one came to heal Avraham, for one malach does not perform two missions. Rashi proves this from the language of the possuk. The eating was done by all three, so it says ויאכלו- they ate (plural). But for each task, it is written in singular because each Malach had its mission. Rashi adds that after Rafael healed Avraham, (only) he went to save Lot.

The meforshim ask that Rashi seems to indicate that the malach was indeed able to perform a second mission? Tosfos Hashalem explains, that healing Avraham and saving Lot are two variations of the same mission of mercy.

We know that there is no shortage of malachim at Hashem’s disposal. So why did Hashem use the same malach a second time? The Chidushei Harim answers that if we look at the possuk (18:9) הנה באהל- Rashi explains that due to tzniyus, Sarah was in the next room. The Gemara in Masechta Yevamos (76) rules a male convert from Amon and Moav may not marry into the Kehal Hashem. The reason why they are punished for eternity is because they did not greet Bnei Yisroel with food and water when they traveled in the desert. However, this is only a claim on the men, because כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה-a woman’s place is inside so it was not expected of them. Therefore, upon hearing הנה באהל- that Sarah was tzniyus and inside and that this is the way if a woman, the Malach now understood a new halacha; that the Moavite women would not be held accountable. Accordingly, he went and saved Lot from whom Rus the Moavite would emerge. She would now be allowed to marry Boaz and eventually, she would have a grandson, David Hamelech. From here we see how far-reaching the ramifications of a simple action can be. The tzniyus of Sarah Imeinu , so many years earlier would eventually bring forth David Hamelech.

We find another instance of this in our Parsha. Avraham Avinu went above and beyond in his Hachnasas Orchim, sparing no details. And yet, there is a small criticism here when it comes to the water. Instead of tending to it himself, יקח נא מעט מים- it was done through a shaliach. As a result, Hakadosh Boruch Hu gave Klal Yisroel water through Moshe Rabbeinu and the rock instead of directly. Rav Yaakov Mosh Charlop (Mai Marom) comments “See how important it is to do a מצוה בשלימות? As a result of the most minute deficiency, look at what happened- Avrohom gave water through a shaliach which there is actually nothing wrong with (שלוחו של אדם כמותו). Still, it would have been better had he done it on his own (מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו). So now Hashem gave Bnei Yisroel water through a shaliach- Moshe Rabeinu. Subsequently, Moshe hit the rock and was punished by not being able to enter Eretz Yisroel. Chazal tell us that had Moshe entered Eretz Yisroel, the Bais Hamikdash would have never been destroyed and we would have never been exiled from there. Once again, we see how far-reaching our actions are.

Finally, there is another dimension of the far-reaching effect of a yid’s actions. When a yid does anything down below in this world, he should know that it is בשמים עליותיו-reverberating in the heavens above him.  יעקב חבל נחלתו- Yaakov’s inheritance is a rope, i.e. How HaShem deals with His children is like a rope; we shake it on one side and it continues to shake on the other.

Rav Chaim Volozhiner writes in his magnum opus, Nefesh HaChaim (shaar 2 “haga’a”), that one should never think that our actions down here in this world are insignificant and carry no ramifications. On the contrary! The Mishna is Avos teaches: דע מה למעלה ממך- know what is above you. Homiletically, Rav Chaim explained that Da- one must know that, mah l’maala- that which occurs upstairs, is in fact, mimcha-from you. Our actions down below create a new reality up above. This is like the rope that the possuk mentioned. We give the rope a shlep down below and the rope ripples high above.             

Good Shabbos, מרדכי אפפעל