Friday, November 11
- 06:50 am – Shacharit
- 04:05 pm – Mincha
- 04:08 pm – Candle lighting
- 08:15 pm – Men’s Class on Derech Hashem at the home of Matthew and Leah Garland, 226 Clifton Street #1 (knock on the first floor window to the left of the front porch)
Saturday, November 12
- 07:45 am – Shacharit at Salem Towers
- 08:45 am – Shacharit
- 08:59 am – Latest time for Kriat Shema
- 10:30 am – Jr. Congregation
- 11:15 am – Kiddush
- 03:40 pm – Mincha, followed by Se’udah Shlishit
- 05:05 pm – Ma’ariv
- 05:15 pm – Shabbat Ends
November 13 – 18
- 08:00 am – Sunday
- 06:40 am – Monday and Thursday
- 06:50 am – Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
- 04:05 pm – Sunday – Thursday
- 04:00 pm – Friday
- 04:35 pm – Sunday – Thursday
To print this schedule, click here to go directly to the post, and then press ctrl-P (Windows) or cmd-P (Mac) to print it.
Weekly Words of Torah
A Matter of Choice
Insights into Parshat Vayera of Rafi Jacobs of Yeshivat Sha’alvim, by Rav Re’uven Ungar of Sha’alvim.
In the middle of this weeks parsha, Hashem sends two Melachim, one to save Lot and the other to destroy Sedom. The people of Sedom became so twisted and corrupt that Hashem had to destroy the entire city. The people of Sedom had the idea of Chesed, but they twisted it in the most perverse way. If someone wouldn’t fit on a bed because he would be to tall, they would cut off his legs so he would fit. If someone made a woman miscarry, he would have to rape her to pay back for her lost child. Give Tzedaka, give plenty of it, just don’t let the pauper use those coins to buy food. Sedom took the middah of chesed and warped it to what they saw as ethical, what they held kindness was.
Lot brings the travelers (Melachim) into his home, (which no one is allowed to do in Sedom) offers them food and lodging (which is punishable by death), when the people of Sedom want to sleep with the travelers Lot offers his two virgin daughters in their place, and then is willing to give up his own life to save his guests. The Melachim then strike the attackers with blindness and inform Lot that he must run away from Sedom, in order to save himself. Rashi (19:29) says that Lot merited from being saved from Sedom because when Avraham put Sarah in a box before going into Egypt, Lot didn’t tell the Egyptians that Sarah was hidden inside. Lot could’ve told the Egyptians who would then steal Sarah, kill Avraham, and Lot would bequeath all of Avraham’s property, but instead he kept his mouth shut. Here we see that Lot’s only true merit was from not telling on Sarah and he had nothing else.
It begs the question – why in the world would Lot not get any merit for doing the most incredible hachnasat orchim that this world has ever seen? Lot was willing to give up his life for these travelers and his only merit comes from not trying to kill his uncle? Furthermore Sarah according to Rashi, Baal Haturim, and T.Y was Lot’s sister! So Lot gets an incredible merit for not trying to give over his own sister to Egypt and kill his uncle, but nothing for what he did for the Melachim? Rav Dessler in Michtav Me-Eliyahu (Sefer Alef page 116) in Nikudat Habichira gives us an incredible answer. If a person was taught as a child all the halachot of Shabbat and he lives in a Shomer Shabbat house, then the merit he receives for not turning on a light on Shabbat is small. This person doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. He knows not to (and why not to) turn on a light on Shabbat, and the disgrace that he would be in his friends and family’s eyes, stop him from even thinking about it. Thus his trial in this world isn’t will he turn on the lights on Shabbat, but rather will he learn for five hours on Shabbat, or will he be haughty when he explains an interpretation to his chavruta (study partner).
The whole point is that every Jew is on their own level with their own tests, but something that you are so accustomed to do, and that you are taught to do your whole life, stops becoming a test for you eventually. The Yatzer Harah won’t even try to get you because he knows that you are accustomed to doing this certain mitzvah and you won’t change.
Lot was brought up in the house of a man who was the epitome of chessed. After living with Avraham for so long, and following his example day by day, Lot became so accustomed to doing Hachnasat Orchim to the point where he essentially had no choice -bechira- in the matter. Lot had to be kind to people, he has been living that way for so long. If this is the case, says Rav Dessler, then Lot doesn’t get any merit for doing the tremendous acts of Hachnasat Orchim that we see in this weeks parsha. (There is still merit received even for mitzvot done with no bechira, but it wouldn’t have been enough to save Lot).
Lot, on the other hand, had extreme physical desire for money. As we see clearly in the Chumash, Lot separates from Avraham due to a desire for money. If Lot would’ve informed on Sarah he would’ve been rich. He would inherit Avraham’s possessions and live a happy life. This was Lot’s true test, or in other words, Bechira (free will). Lot conquered his evil inclination for money, didn’t tell on Sarah and through this one act, which looks completely insignificant to the naked eye, merited to be saved from the destruction of Sedom.