Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Loving Kindness

We find in the Avos d’Rav Noson that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai was once leaving Yerushalayim, followed by Rabbi Yehoshua. When Rabbi Yehoshua caught a glimpse of the destroyed Beis Hamikdash he exclaimed, “Woe to us that the place that atoned for the sins of Israel has been laid to waste!”

Rav Yochanan ben Zakai responded, “Do not be too distressed, for we still have one act that atones as the Beis HaMikdash once did: chessed.

Once, a certain chossid came to Rav Chaim of Sanz zt”l and lamented that he lacked the money to cover his daughter’s dowry. The Rav sent him to a wealthy and learned follower with a written request to help the poor man raise the sum.

When the poor chossid presented the letter, the wealthy scholar demurred. “I don’t have the time, I’m too busy learning!”

A few months later, this man came to Sanz but the Rav didn’t shake his hand. When it was time for him to take his leave, the Rav said, “We find that when Yaakov struggled with a “man,” it was the angel of Eisav. But when it says that a “man” found Yosef, it was the angel Gavriel. How did Chazal know which “man” was which? When a “man” comes to show Yosef the way when he was lost, he’s a holy angel. But when a “man” refuses to give Yaakov a blessing because he is in a rush to sing shirah, he’s an angel of Eisav! Chessed, you do at all times!”

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