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Friday, Mar-Cheshvan 19, 5784 / November 3, 2023


At the end of this week’s Parsha, Vayeira, we read about the greatest test with which G-d tested Abraham, when He told him to bring his beloved son, Yitzchak, for a sacrifice.


Each and every one of us goes through our own personal tests in life. Life is full of tests. But G-d doesn’t put us through tests which we cannot handle. If He gives us the test, He also gives us strength to pass these tests. We need to believe that we have the strength within us to pass them. All G-d expects of us is to do the best we can.  


The following two stories from the Midrash illustrate that in Judaism it is not about who does more; who gives more; who knows more or who performs mitzvot more.  It’s all about effort.  It’s about performing to the best of our ability, which is how our accomplishments are measured.


First Story: During the time of the Holy Temple, a wealthy man was leading his ox to be offered as a sacrifice in the Holy Temple.  Suddenly the ox refused to continue.  Nothing worked and the ox stubbornly stood there and refused to move.  A poor man, holding a bundle of grass, saw all this and decided to help.  He offered the ox his bundle of hay and as the ox was eating the hay he was led toward the Temple.


That night, the rich man had a dream, in which he was told, “The bundle of grass which the poor man sacrificed was appreciated in heaven even more than your sacrifice.”


Another Midrash story: The three great Talmudic sages, Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva traveled to a suburb of Antioch to collect for Tzedakah-charity. In that suburb there lived a man by the name of Abba Yuden, who used to give the rabbis a considerable amount and always gave it happily.  But this time, unbeknown to the rabbis, he had lost everything and was now very poor.


When he saw the rabbis and knowing that he had nothing to give, he felt terrible. His wife asked if he was sick, and Abba Yuden told her that he feels awful because he has nothing to contribute.


His wife said to him: “We have only one field left. Sell half of it and give the money to the rabbis. He did so. When he gave the money to them, they said to him, “May G-d make up what you’re lacking.”


A while later, Abba Yuden went to plow the half-field he still owned. As he plowed the ground opened up beneath him and his heifer fell into the hole and broke a leg. When he went down to lift up the animal, he noticed a treasure hidden. Abba Yuden said, “It was for my benefit that my animal fell into the hole.”


Sometime later, when the rabbis came back, they inquired about Abba Yuden.  People told them, “Abba Yuden is very wealthy, he owns servants, he possesses goats, donkeys and oxen.”


When Abba Yuden heard that the rabbis were there, he came to see them. They asked him how he was doing.   He replied, “Your prayers had produced fruit and the fruits have also produced fruits!”


The rabbis, who realized his difficulty when he gave them the contribution, said to him, “We want you to know that even though others gave more than you, we wrote down your contribution at the top of the list!”  There are many stories in the Talmud which illustrate that effort is what counts most





Montreal candle lighting time: 5:20 / Shabbat ends: 6:24