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  • Борьба и Триумф Наших Праотцов

    Как вы уже знаете у нас есть 3 праотца это Авраам Авину, Ицхак Авину и Яаков Авину, и они олицетворяют собой три качества: Авраам Авину это Хесед или доброта, Ицхак Авину это Гевура или сила и Яаков Авину это Эмэт или Истина. Давайте рассмотрим каждый из них в отдельности.

    Авраам Авину это Хесед или доброта, это очень легко увидеть в Мидрашах и в Торе - его дом был местом куда приходили поесть бесплатно - первая сеть бесплатных столовых в пустыне - где нет ничего кроме песка и солнца, и всё что он брал за плату, это благословение за еду. Люди стекались толпами и Авраам Авину смог привести много людей к вере в Единого Творца. Доброта и была тем магнитом которая притягивала к нему эти массы людей.

    Ицхак Авину, он олицетворяет собой Гевура или силу. Но если вы почитаете Хумаш, то вы наверняка заметите что он не участвовал ни в одной войне, где бы он мог показать свою физическую силу, а всё время учился в шалашах Торой. Но есть один момент. В Недельной Главе Тольдот, Брешит 26:17 рассказывается как Ицхак Авину переехал в долину Герар, и начал откапывать колодцы которые принадлежали его отцу Аврааму но были засыпаны в их отсутствии. Откопав первый колодец и увидев воду его слуги обрадовались, но прибежали филистимляне и начали спор доказывая что этот колодец принадлежит им. Ицхак Авину промолчал, и отошёл подальше от того места. Когда люди Ицхака Авину откопали другой колодец, филистимляне прибежали доказывая своё и отобрали и этот колодец. И опять Ицхак Авину промолчал и перешёл в другое место. Откопав следующий колодец, и увидев воду он оглянулся и ждал - а не придут ли опять чтобы отобрать и этот? Они не пришли, и он назвал это место Реховот и сказал: "Вот сейчас Г-сподь сделал место для нас и мы будем размножаться на этой земле" (Берешит 26:18-22).

    Так что же заслужило ему титул сильного? В Пиркей Авот в четвёртой главе, говорится: "Кто сильный? Тот кто может побороть свои наклонности." Как говорится в Книге Притчей Соломоновых 16:32, "Лучше тот, кто медлит свой гнев, чем тот у кого есть сила, тот кто правит своим духом, чем тот, кто захватывает город." Каждый раз когда филистимляне отбирали колодцы повышая свои голоса, и доказывая что это принадлежит им, Ицхак Авину держал себя в руках, пред своими слугами, домочадцами и зеваками на улице не проронив ни слова в ответ и не отстаивая земли которые принадлежали ему по праву. Умение совладать собой и заслужило ему титул сильного.

    А Яаков Авину это символ Эмэт или Истина и мы знаем, что Истина - Эмэт – одна из характеристик Торы. А это значит, что Яаков Авину, который всю свою жизнь посвятил изучению Торы – איש תם, יושב אוהלים – Простой человек, обитавший в шалашах. - желал жизни, наполненной исключительно миром и правдой. Наши мудрецы подчеркивают, что в этом заключалась вся его сущность. Но, как мы видим из Торы, его желание не осуществилось.

    Однажды Яаков Авину был дома и приходит к нему Эсав и говорит что очень голоден. Увидев суп с чечевицей, он просит ему дать поесть. Яаков Авину предлагает сделку - тарелку супа в обмен на первородство. Эсав говорит, на что оно мне это первородство, и соглашается на обмен. Проходит некоторое время, и их отец Ицхак Авину чувствует что приходит время уходить в мир иной. Подозвав Эсава он сказал ему что хочет его благословить. Отцовское благословение самое огромное сокровище и Эсав это знает, он уходит в лес на охоту чтоб приготовить обед и получить его благословение. Но его опережает мать - Ривка Имену. Она идёт к молодому Яаков Авину и говорит ему чтоб срочно привёл животное и она приготовит из него блюдо. Она одевает ему на руки лоскуты из кожи козла, чтоб сделать его на ощупь с волосатыми руками и быть похожим на Эсава, и уговаривает его пойти к отцу и взять благословение первым. Яаков Авину сомневается, но мать его переубеждает и говорит если отец проклянёт, то она готова принять все проклятия на себя, и она очень хотела бы чтоб Яаков Авину получил благословения. Яаков Авину идёт и получает благословение, выдавая себя за Эсава. Получив благословение Яаков Авину выходит из комнаты и за ним входит Эсав и просит отца сесть за стол чтоб потом его благословить. Но Ицхак Авину говорит, разве он его уже не благословил? И в этот момент он понимает что произошло, и говорит: пусть тот кто получил на самом деле будет благословлён. Эсав заплакал, зарыдал и попросил отца другое благословение, которое он и получает. (Брешит 27:36)

    И вот Вам вопрос, мне кажется что Ривка Имену повела себя как то странно. Почему она настояла на своём чтоб Яаков Авину притворился Эсавом, одела на него лоскуты из козлиной кожи, для чего нужен был весь этот спектакль и маскарад? Чтоб ответить на этот вопрос, нам нужно узнать побольше о Ривке Имену.

    Её отцом был Бетыэль, человек очень любивший денег, его сыном был Лаван который не отставал от своего отца. Для них обман было очень обыденным делом и очень часто они нагло обманывали людей. Для них не было никаких преград для обмана, прегрешений и достижений своих целей. Раши в Брешит 25:51 говорит "...[Бетуэль] был до того злодеем что он даже хотел предотвратить чтоб Ривка пошла с Элиэзером, он попытался отравить его[Элиэзера]". Сын его не отличался от отца, много лет спустя, когда Яаков пришёл к Лавану чтоб взять в жены Рахель, и отработав за неё семь лет, Лаван подсовывает старшую дочь, а на следующее утро оставляет его ещё на годы работ чтоб получить ту жену которую он хотел в начале, и после меняет условия контракта и выплаты этим самым избегая платежа. Ривка выросла в этой среде, и видела каждый день все их трюки.

    Когда у неё родились свои дети - Эсав и Яаков, она начала замечать в Эсаве те же манеры которые она видела в доме своего отца. Перед отцом и людьми Эсав был очень религиозным, он учился с Яаковом Авину в школе, был одет по религиозному и вёл себя очень религиозно и даже спрашивал у отца очень религиозные вопросы. А вне дома он вытворял всё что хотел. В тот день когда он продал своё первородство за тарелку супа, в Трактате Бава Батра 15Б сказано: "Говорит Раби Ёханан: Пять грехов сделал Эсав в тот день - прелюбодеяние, убийство, отрёкся от веры и будущего воскрешения и призрено отнёсся к правам первородства."

    Но Ривка Имену знала еще что то другое, чего не знали ни Ицхак Авину и ни Яаков Авину.

    Когда Ривка Имену вышла замуж за Ицхак Авину, они ждали детей 20 лет. Когда их молитвы были услышаны и она забеременела, но беременность проходила с огромными трудностями и страданиями, на что она воскликнула: "Если так то зачем я жива?" И она пошла спросить у мудреца почему беременность такая трудная, говорится в Брешит 25:22. В Мидраше Брешит Рабба 63:6 говорится: "Когда Ривка проходила мимо дома идола то Эсав хотел выйти наружу, а когда мимо дома Г-спода то Яаков". Не знавши что у неё двое детей в чреве, это раздвоенное желание её плода очень её огорчало. И вот она получает пророчество от мудреца: "Два народа во чреве твоем, и две нации разойдутся из твоих внутренностей; и нация от нации будет укрепляться, и старший будет служить младшему" (Брешит 25:23).

    Она готова была принять все проклятия от Ицхак Авину. Но она не могла позволить чтоб Эсав получил благословения, отлично понимая всю ту обманчивую ауру которую он строит вокруг самого себя. Она всячески старалась сделать всё и привести события к исполнению пророчества.

    А Яаков Авину понимал один очень важный факт: цель жизни состояла чтоб построить Еврейский народ и построить хорошую и твёрдую основу для народа. Эсав не подходил на эту роль - сделавший все выше перечисленные прегрешения, он знал что Эсав не построит народ, он знал что он не передаст последующим поколениям правильные качества, тем самым не выполнит поставленную перед ним задачу и не продолжит миссию отца, и поэтому Яаков Авину покупает у него первородство, которую Эсав охотно продаёт за тарелку супа.

    Даже страшно представить себе на секунду если бы Эсав получил благословение. Наше общество выглядело бы не совсем таким каким бы хотел видеть нас Творец, и таких бы Эсавов вокруг было бы очень много.

    Хочу заметить очень важную деталь. "Когда Эсав услышал от своего отца эти слова (что благословение первородства было отдано его брату), он завопил громким и очень горьким воплем, и сказал отцу: "Благослови меня тоже отец" (Брешит 27:34).

    וַיִּצְעַ֣ק צְעָקָ֔ה גְּדֹלָ֥ה וּמָרָ֖ה עַד־מְאֹ֑ד - "он завопил очень громким и горьким воплем" - почему? Только теперь Эсав понял и вспомнил всех людей которым он причинил боль и страдания в жизни, и теперь он почувствовал всю эту боль и горечь которую они испытали, и узнал боль пострадавшего, и ощутил эту боль на себе.

    Эсав потерял, и я бы сказал очень даже много, он потерял первородство, благословение первенца, и он и его потомки не стали частью Еврейского народа ни в этом мире ни в мире Грядущем. Только его голова удостоилась быть похоронена с праотцами, а не тело. Тора была в его голове - в знаниях и в понимании добра и зла, но в его делах она отсутствовала.

    Каждый день и каждый миг Вс-вышний ставит перед нами выбор - быть как Эсав или как Яаков Авину - в чём и заключается суть свободы выбора. Этот выбор всегда за нами, и никто его у нас не отбирает. Подаваясь своим порывам страстей, мы спотыкаемся об очередное качество - которое в нас ещё не отработано или было игнорировано нами годами, но из за которого пострадало или страдают люди - и вот за эти прегрешения мы в ответе.

    Живя с Лаваном - мастером манипуляций, его имя означает белый - он отбеливал реальность так, что полуправда и неправда приобретали глянцевое подобие правды и несмотря на все его уловки, Яаков Авину остаётся верным и честным человеком, не перенявший от него его  плохие привычки. Он делает это не своей тихой жизнью, а остаётся честным в гуще повседневной лжи, обмана и злобы. И именно живя в этом лживом мире, Яаков Авину удостаивается стать третьим из трёх наших праотцов.

    Авраам-авину воплощал собой Хесед - милосердие, колонну с правой стороны - делая добро и помогая другим. Ицхак Авину стоял с противоположной стороны, воплощая мужество - Гевура. Яаков-авину не тянулся к какому-то конкретному направлению, но он был готов стоять за правду, защищая ценности и идеалы, был готов бороться со злом - несмотря в какие одежды оно одето. Благодаря этой черте своего характера, подобной качеству Торы, он сочетает две крайности в срединной линии – золотой середине. Этим сумевший соединить в себе в одно единое целое - добро, силу и истину, и передать это духовное наследие своим детям, и нам до наших дней.


    Шаббат Шалом

    Шмуэль Катанов

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  • The Inner Battle

    The Gemarah says that the First Bet Hamikdash was destroyed due to three sins - idol worship, forbidden relations, and bloodshed. The Second is due to one - Sinat Chinam or Baseless Hatred. The Chachamim say, that the sin of baseless hatred is equivalent to the three severe transgressions of the First Bet Hamikdash and was enough to destroy the Second. Today, I would like to concentrate on the issue of the Second Bet Hamikdash, since I believe there's a message that may be waiting for us to be discovered.

    Let's take for example the times of the Second Temple. The Gemarah tells us of a story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, but I would assume you know the story, and I will not go into details. But imagine this - a person that has been thrown out from a party, and went through humiliation while witnessing the total silence from the rabbis and other members of his community present at the party, has assumed that they were OK with what was done to him. But the worst thing of all, is his next step - to frame the Country and I don't mean the host of the party or some of the members of his community that were present at the party, but a country where the ones who suffered were all the residents of the ancient Jerusalem, his parents, I assume his wife and children, neighbors and many other people unknown to him - millions were killed and taken into captivity.

    Till today, the Jewish nation has not recovered from this, and the exile has been going on for 1,954 years. Our nation says that we have suffered enough and we deserve redemption - but do we? Have we learned from our mistakes? Have we learned from the mistakes of the generation of the Second Bet Hamikdash? Do we know what this sin is - a baseless hatred?

    What moves the person to hurt someone else - jealousy...ego? Not being happy with his lot, not being happy with what Hashem has given him, and looking into someone else's plate and saying - that plate should have been mine, why he and not me, and going miles, doing and saying much - to destroy the good others have, just to have that feeling - that the other person no longer has more than him.

    That feeling of anger that lurks inside the person at those moments and the bleeding ego springs him into action. That desire to rip the other person's life apart, or simply as he thinks, to level the battlefield, or to totally level the other person to the ground - is an animalistic desire that stems from the other side of the human body. 

    But what is this desire to cause damage, or these traits - anger, ego and jealousy? These are traits that have led to the downfall of many over human history... but they are also the traits that go against G-d, against his decision, and His authority.

    When Adam and Chavah were just created and resided in the Garden of Eden, they were given only one commandment - not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. But as you know they did not pass that test, and the end result wasn’t that they have acquired all the bad character traits, but this also means that those bad character traits can now compete with the other traits - the good traits

    The human body has two spiritual forces - The Neshama and The Nefesh. The Neshama is the G-dly Soul that pulls the person to do G-dly work, and the Nefesh is an animal soul or an earthly soul that pulls the person to act in the physical world. There's a constant battle between these two souls. Who wins you ask? It depends, on what you fill yourself with.

    If you fill yourself with Torah knowledge, and good deeds then your Neshama becomes stronger and is able to fight off your animalistic soul. But if you indulge in this world, don't learn and transgress the laws of the Torah, and don't keep commandments - the animalistic soul wins every time and the person slowly changes into a different being.

    So, what is baseless hatred? It is a combination of several traits - anger, ego and jealousy of another human being, enough to move the person into action to set some goals for himself - goals not of his growth, but of bringing the other person down - to affect every area of someone's life and to bring him to the point of total destruction of the other's character, income, and social standing. Whether it may take months, or years he will be doing it constantly and will involve many others in this endeavor. And all of this is done, while totally ignoring the laws of Torah and Hashem's authority over his and other person's life.

    In the times of the Second Temple, the nation didn't have a tribe of Yehuda ruling the Jewish nation. Because of this one fact - as was declared by Yaakov Avinu, all other parts of the society were not aligned correctly, which led to many problems in the future, as we'll see.

    The position of the Cohen HaGadol was going to the highest bidder - since the people that were not cohanim were able to become one, even though they knew fully well, that they will die upon entry into Kadosh Kedoshim. And since the office of the King and Cohen HaGadol had problems, there was no system of checks and enforcement of the laws - no one demanded the Kohanim and Leviim to go out and to teach the nation. And since nobody learned, and no one demanded, but the few, the general population was busy hating, ridiculing, spreading lies, and framing others. People were coming to bring sacrifices to Hashem, but on the other hand, continued to hate and malign others. 

    In the Haftorah of the Parashat Devarim, in Shabbat Chazon, it says: "Why do I need your numerous sacrifices? - says Hashem - I am satiated with elevation offerings of rams and the choicest of fattened animals; and the blood of the bulls and sheep and he-goats I do not desire. When you come to appear before Me - who sought this from your hand, to trample my courtyards? You shall not continue to bring a worthless meal-offering - incense of abomination it is unto Me; New Moon and Shabbat, calling of the assembly, I cannot accept untruthfulness from society. Your New Moons and your appointed festivals, My soul hates; they have become a burden upon Me that I am weary of bearing. And when you spread your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you were to increase prayer, I do not hear; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, purify yourselves; remove the evil of your doings from before My eyes; desist from doing evil. Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the victim, do justice for the orphan, take up the cause of the widow."

    The nation was deep in its evil ways, the hate flowed in all directions, along with animalistic behavior. People were killing others with their rumors and words, destroying livelihoods and families, while totally neglecting the sanctity of the place they were in. To Hashem, and to many others it seemed like a WILD JUNGLE in HIS own House - The Bet Hamikdash. And this Hashem did not allow to continue - thus blood flowed - many were killed and many were taken captive when Hashem destroyed the Second Bet Hamikdash.

    In Yerushalmi, Masechet Yoma 1a, the Sages teach, "Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times". 

    And here we are today. Are we ready for redemption and the building of Bet Hamikdash, or are we in the process of destroying the one we were going to build?

    Not by coincidence, our shuls are called Small Batey Mikdashim. 

    Do we think twice before we malign, spread rumors, and act in an animalistic and hateful way toward others? Are the tefillin, daily prayers, and tzedakah held in high importance, while spreading lies, rumors, and hate is allowed? Do our shuls look like a Jungle in the eyes of Hashem and others, that try to stay as far away as possible from the places of Torah? Or do they look like a place that draws others in, to learn how to serve Hashem better?

    And maybe this is another coincidence, but since the destruction of the Second Temple, we say in the evening prayer of Aravit, in the Hashkivenu part - ...Shevor Ve Haser HaSatan Milefanenu U Meacharenu - Break and remove the Satan from before us and from behind us - could mean that those people with animalistic traits have graduated from an Animal level to a Satan level, and got really good at ruining people's lives - and here we ask for Hashem's assistance to deal with them?! Deal with them while they are in our presence, and deal with them when we are not around them, and they are out there spreading rumors and lies. 

    So, what are we doing with our Bet Hamikdash - building it or destroying it daily? Will it be the next generation that will succeed and build it, or will it be us? 

    For as long as we avoid Torah learning, we’ll repeat the behavior and the mistakes of the previous generations, since we'll think that everything we do is right and we have no need to change. The animal in us will strive and grow, and will take over our lives while trampling over others. We won't notice the bad we do, since we will feel that we are prospering and growing in life, but in reality, we'll be walking over the bodies of other people "to reach our goals" as it happened in the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza who achieved his goal of revenge, but had total disregard to the consequences of his actions.

    But then we realize, that we’ve ended up with nothing good, and have gained whole lot of bad - since we’ve been filling our souls with evil, lies and emptiness of this world while strengthening the traits of anger, ego and jealousy, and committing countless amounts of sins - by making the animal inside of us stronger and bolder every day.

    So, I ask you my reader - who do you give your strength to in your life - to your G-dly Soul or to your Animal Soul?

    Shmuel Katanov

     

    PS: Dedicated to B.S. & F.N.

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  • Solar Eclipse or MoonShine vs WifeShine

    by Shmuel Katanov

     During the total solar eclipse - moon covers the sun. Moon aligns with a sun, and sun allows the moon to bathe in its aura.

    This is a MoonShine.

    A husband is considered to be as a sun and wife as a moon.

    When he follows the Torah and she helps him in that task - aligns herself with him, being on the same page with him in life goals, values and priorities - he grows and one day he will become a luminary - a sun. That's when as the moon she will bathe in his aura.

    When Rachel wanted to go through the crowd to see Rabbi Akiva - no one allowed her and that's when Rabbi Akiva said: "Let her through. All the Torah that you have and all that you know is because of this woman. All that I have become is because of this woman".

    This is a WifeShine.

    Rachel was bathing in the aura of her husband - Rabbi Akiva. Just like the Moon bathes in the aura of a Sun during a total solar eclipse.

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  • 100, 20 and 7 years - why the Torah breaks down the years of the life of Sarah Imeinu?

    וַיִּהְיוּ֙ חַיֵּ֣י שָׂרָ֔ה מֵאָ֥ה שָׁנָ֛ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֑ים שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה׃ - Sarah’s lifetime—the span of Sarah’s life—came to one hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years. (Bereshit 23:1)

    Here Torah broke down the years of her life into the stages of 100, 20 & 7 years. This is what Rashi says on it:  ויהיו חיי שרה מאה שנה ועשרים שנה ושבע שנים And the life of Sarah was 127 years (literally, 100 years, 20 years and 7 years) — The reason the word שנה is written at every term is to tell you that each term must be explained by itself as a complete number: at the age of one hundred she was as a woman of twenty as regards sin — for just as at the age of twenty one may regard her as having never sinned, since she had not then reached the age when she was subject to punishment, so, too, when she was one hundred years old she was sinless — and when she was twenty she was as beautiful as when she was seven (Bereshit Rabbah 58:1).

    But my question, why would Torah break down her years and what is Torah hinting at?

    The Yalkut Shimoni (16:78), says Avraham Avinu was 25 years old and Sarai was 15 years old when they got married, this makes them as barren couple for 75 years.

    When Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu got married they brought into their marriage their past experiences. On top of it, during their life together, Avraham Avinu went through many more trials in his life: being childless for 75 years and everything that comes with it, problems in the community, being singled out in his hometown for his monotheistic ideas, being thrown into a fiery furnace, and many other tribulations in his path of life.

    And during all of this, one thing we know for sure, Sarah Imeinu was there for him and with him all that time, feeling his pain and supporting him in all of his trials and endeavors.

    When the angels came to them in Parashat Vayera, she was there in the tent (Bereshit 18:9) working tirelessly doing the work to support Avraham's endeavor of hosting guests and spreading the faith of One G-d.

    When Hashem told him to leave his hometown in Parashat Lech Lecha, she travelled with him from place to place for many months, enduring much suffering during those travels. 

    When she gave Hagar to Avraham Avinu as a maidservant to have a child through her, and Hagar got pregnant from the first time, Sarah Imeinu suffered much from Hagar later since she started shaming Sarah, because she couldn't conceive.

    She was there when he was in trouble and in pain. She was there for him when he was bringing people back to Hashem, tirelessly doing the work needed to be done. And she was there when he was in triumph at the birth of his son Yitzchak.

    Sarah Imeinu didn't live her life - her life had a purpose, her life had a vision, she was part of something BIG, something that was driving her existence. She was like a moon reflecting the life struggles, accomplishments and the vision of Avraham Avinu. So when Avraham Avinu reached the age of 100 years old, it was her age and achievement as well, it was as if she reached that age, since she has been with him through the good and the bad together.

    So what are the 20 years? Shlomo Hamelech said in the song of Eshet Chayil, צ֭וֹפִיָּה הֲלִיכ֣וֹת בֵּיתָ֑הּ - She oversees the activities of her household. When Sarah Imeinu saw the behavior of Yishmael - shooting the arrows toward Yitzchak, as a play, she foresaw this as a future problem, so she asked Avraham Avinu to send Yishmael away, thus making sure Yitzchak would be the only heir through whom the nation will be build. Avraham Avinu did so, so the next 20 years she was raising Yitzchak in the way of Torah, instilling in him the values of Torah and the idea that he would be the next patriarch to build the future of the nation.

    The next 7 years, were the years where she worked on his love and full dedication to Hashem. When Yitzchak asked his father Avraham Avinu, where's the korban that will be brought when they get to their destination? Avraham Avinu answered him that Hashem will choose the korban, and this is when Yitzchak understood that it was him that would be the korban, and it says that they Vayelchu Shnechem Yachdav - And the two of them walked on together (Bereshit 22:7-8). He understood, and accepted that he will be the korban that his father will bring, and he walked together with his father to his death. He was not made the korban, they brought a sheep as a korban instead (Bereshit 22:13), but since he has accepted the decision of Hashem, he was elevated to the holiest level - worthy of becoming one of the Avot.

    Avraham Avinu came from the Akedah and saw that Sarah Imeinu passed away. Torah says that he didn't mourn for long (Bereshit 23:2-3). He needed to get up and do the things that needed to be done. Why? Because, remember they were on a mission - Sarah Imeinu and Avraham Avinu were a team and were together on this all along - working tirelessly day and night for years. Since in order to build the nation, and this nation should have a future, one needs to claim ownership of the land. So he purchased the land - which is a Maarat HaMachpela, where Adam and Chava were already buried. Right after that Avraham Avinu started looking for a wife, for his son Yitzchak.

    Avraham Avinu married Ketura and had children with her. Years later, he sent them all away to the East, thus to separate them from the future Am Yisrael and Yitzchak. Following their example, years later Rivkah Imeinu made sure that Yakov gets the beracha from his father Yitzchak Avinu, which made Yaakov Avinu the next patriarch of the nation.

    The last sentence in the song Eshet Chayil, written by Shelomo HaMelech says: תְּנוּ־לָ֭הּ מִפְּרִ֣י יָדֶ֑יהָ וִיהַלְל֖וּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִ֣ים מַֽעֲשֶֽׂיהָ׃ - Extol her for the fruit of her hand, And let her works praise her in the gates. The fruit of her hands - as Rashi explains, Glory and greatness, strength, beauty and the ruling power. I would like to also add wisdom and the loyalty to be by her husband's side, to stick to the goal of building the nation, to foresee the trouble that may lay ahead, and to raise the family in the values of the Torah. This is what Sarah Imeinu accomplished and this is what she has entrusted all the women after her - to follow in her footsteps and to continue her work and the work of Avraham Avinu. That is why all men sing to their wives every Erev Shabbat: אֵֽשֶׁת־חַ֭יִל מִ֣י יִמְצָ֑א וְרָחֹ֖ק מִפְּנִינִ֣ים מִכְרָֽהּ׃- What a rare find is a capable wife! Her worth is far beyond the gemstones.

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Shmuel Katanov

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  • Let us make man in our image

    And G-d said, Let us make man in our image... - וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ - Bereshit 1:26

    There are many explanations for this verse, such as who did G-d speak with, and who did He consult with? The Sages say that G-d has consulted with the angels, before creating a man... But maybe, it can also have a different meaning.

    Perhaps, it was not the angels that Hashem consulted with, but He consulted with the souls of the future rabbis and teachers of the Torah. Like for example:  Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, David, Shlomo, Rambam, Rashi, the sages of the Talmud, Mishna, and the rabbis of every generation until our times.

    Why? Because these are the people that dedicate their lives to learn Torah, and as they do this, something happens to them. They become holy and their Tzelem Elokim or Divine Image is revealed to the world.

    So, Hashem was speaking to these great souls, or shall we say - instructing them: Let us make man in OUR IMAGE. What does it mean - in Our Image or Divine Image - it is a study of how to emulate Hashem - to be holy as Him, to do as Him, to live life according to His Torah, and His laws.

    Since Hashem is Holy, and the above souls already have the Divine Image which is revealed later because of their learning, and self-work to emulate Hashem - their congregants, and their followers that come to shuls, and places of study all across the globe, haven't yet acquired their Divine Image. So, this will be the job of the rabbis and the teachers of the Torah in every generation - to teach, to guide, and to help individuals to reveal their Divine Image while leaving their own Torah knowledge in the pages of the Talmud, in their students, and in their books.

    Shmuel Katanov

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