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וימל אברהם את יצחק בנו בן שמונת ימים כאשר צוה אתו אלקים

And Avraham circumcised his son, Yitzchak, when he was eight days old, as Hashem had commanded him. (21:4)

For the Jew, Bris Milah, circumcision, is much more than a rite of passage; it defines him.  This applies to a halachic bris, performed by a bona fide mohel.  It does not apply to the surgical procedure performed by one is who not of the Jewish faith – either by birth or by practice.  The Jewish child that has been ritually circumcised shares an inextricable bond with the Almighty that transcends any form of physical ligature.  In his commentary to Chumash, Horav Aryeh Leib Heyman, zl, very beautifully explains this relationship.  He notes that the Torah does not mention Avraham…

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ויאמר אברהם כי אמרתי רק אין יראת אלקים במקום הזה והרגוני על דבר אשתי

And Avraham said, “Because I said, “There is but no fear of G-d in this place and they will slay me because of my wife.” (20:11)

We can derive a powerful lesson from Avraham Avinu’s statement.  Yiraas Shomayim, fear of Heaven, is the “be all” and “end all.”  One who fears Hashem has hope that he will navigate through life’s journey without encountering challenges that are insurmountable – not because they will not occur, but because he has the one tool that gives him the ability to surmount and triumph over whatever the “satans” of life throw at him.   Avraham felt that a lack of yiraas Shomayim on the part of the Plishtim could even lead to bloodshed. We see this on a regular basis.  When…

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וישלחו האנשים את ידם ויביאו את לוט אליהם הביתה ואת הדלת סגרו ואת האנשים אשר פתח הבית הכו בסנורים... וילאו למצא הפתח

The men stretched out their hand and brought Lot into the house with them, and closed the door. And the men who were at the entrance of the house, they were struck with blindness…and they tried vainly to find the entrance. (19:10, 11)

The angels pulled Lot into the house making sure to close the door behind them.  Immediately afterward, the angels struck the men at the door, blinding them.  They no longer could locate the doorway to Lot’s house.  One can only find what he can see.  We wonder why the door had to be closed once the men had been blinded.  They could no longer find the entrance.  Lot was essentially protected.  He could sit right in front of them, and they would not be aware of it. Horav Shalom Schwadron, zl, explains that the door was not closed in order…

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אולי יש חמשים צדיקים בתוך העיר

What if there should be fifty righteous persons in the midst of the city? (18:24)

The pasuk seems to be emphasizing tzadikim b’soch ha’ir, “righteous persons in the midst of the city”.  Simply, this means that these virtuous men do not play out their righteousness only in the private sphere, but also in the midst of the city.  It might not be convenient for some to express their religious beliefs in public – such as when it means adhering to the standard uniform of an observant Jew, i.e. tzitzis, yamulka– yet, they do so out of religious conviction.  Hashem was setting the standard: a righteous person at home and in the street.  (We have also…

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וד' אמר המכסה אני מאברהם אשר אני עשה. ואברהם היו יהיה לגוי גדול ועצום

And Hashem said, “Shall I conceal from Avraham what I do, now that Avraham is surely to become a great and mighty nation?” (18:17, 18)

Hashem informed Avraham Avinu, that He was about to destroy the city of Sodom. Its community of sinners had gone too far, elevating sin to the level of cultural acceptance.  It had become a way of life.  The Torah teaches that Hashem’s intention in notifying Avraham of His plans was to inform Avraham about his future as Patriarch of a large nation.  Is this the reason that Hashem informed Avraham of His plans?  True, Hashem wanted Avraham to pray for the people of Sodom, to teach the Patriarch the significance of prayer and its ability to rescind a decree –…

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וירא אליו ד' ... והוא ישב פתח האהל

Hashem appeared to him…while he was sitting at the entrance of the tent. (18:1)

Rashi’s commentary to this pasuk is well known.  Hashem appeared to Avraham Avinu, visiting him during the Patriarch’s recuperation from his Bris Milah.  It was the third day following the circumcision, a day which is especially painful, so Hashem was mevaker choleh, visited the sick.  Rashi’s source is Chazal, who laud the exalted nature of this mitzvah.  While everyone agrees that this mitzvah is meaningful, both to the beneficiary and benefactor, it is also a source of incredible reward to the individual who fulfills it. The Sefer HaMiddos writes concerning the mitzvah of bikur cholim: “In the merit of bikur…

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