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Vayeira 5765

Vayeira (Genesis 18-22 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!   Avraham our forefather is the paradigm of kindness. Not all people are intrinsically kind, but we can all work on being kinder - with varying results. The story is told of a drill sergeant in World War II who was ordered by his lieutenant to inform Private Feebish that his mother passed away. The sergeant, not the epitome of tact and kindness, called his squad to attention and announced, "Feebish, your mother died. Troops dismissed!" When the lieutenant heard was happened he was so horrified that he sent the sergeant to Tact School. Six weeks later the sergeant returns just in time, unfortunately, to inform Private Feebish that his father had passed on.

The sergeant called his squad to attention and announced, "Everyone whose father is still alive, take three steps forward. Feebish ... not too fast."

All of us can aspire to be kinder and to do more acts of kindness. Hopefully, the following 20 ideas developed by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin will help someone you know be kinder and to help make this a better world:


  1. Be resolved to become a kind person. How do you do this? Think, speak, and act with kindness.

  2. Love kindness. When you do what you love, you are happy. A master of kindness is a master of joy.

  3. When encountering someone, let your first thoughts be, "What kind words can I say to this person and what kind things can I do?"

  4. Keep asking people, "What can I do for you?"

  5. Everyone needs encouragement. Ask yourself, "What can I say that will be encouraging?"

  6. Wherever you are, you are there for a reason. Ask yourself, "Since I am here now, what kindness can I do?"

  7. Every kind person is unique. You have unique talents, skills, knowledge, and resources. Utilize them to help others in your own unique way. Ask yourself, "In what unique ways can I be kind?"

  8. Do a daily act of kindness without letting anyone know who did it.

  9. Learn from every kind act you see or read about. Ask yourself, "How can I learn from this to be kinder?"

  10. A valuable rule is, "Even if you don't feel like a kind person, you can still act like one." Think of a kind act you can do that you don't feel like doing.

  11. Think of a kindness telephone call that you can make today.

  12. Think of a kindness note, letter, or email that you can write today.

  13. View your own pain, distress, and suffering as tools for empathy and understanding. Ask yourself, "How can this experience help me be a kinder person?"

  14. Keep asking yourself, "If I were this person, what would I want others to do for me?"

  15. As soon as you recognize a need, volunteer to do something about it. Don't wait until you are asked.

  16. Listen to those who need a listening ear. Listening to someone is a great act of kindness.

  17. If you know that someone is looking for a job or needs to earn more money, ask yourself, "What can I do to make it happen?"

  18. Be empathetic and compassionate. Be resolved not to cause distress, pain, or loss with your words and action.

  19. Learn from everyone. Keep asking people, "What kindnesses from others have you appreciated?"

  20. Pray for the welfare of others.

If you would like more wisdom for being kinder, I highly recommend buying
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's Kindness: Changing people's lives for the better
available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by
calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.

Torah Portion of the Week

Avraham, on the third day after his brit mila, sits outside his tent looking for guests to extend his hospitality. While talking with the Almighty, he sees three visitors (actually angels of the Almighty). Avraham interrupts his conversation with the Almighty to invite them to a meal. One angel informs him that in a year's time, Sarah, his wife, will give birth to a son, Yitzhak (Isaac).

God tells Avraham that He is going to destroy Sodom because of its absolute evil (the city is the source of the word sodomy). Avraham argues with God to spare Sodom if there can be found ten righteous people in Sodom. Avraham loses for the lack of a quorum. Lot (Avraham's nephew) escapes the destruction with his two daughters.

Other incidents: Avimelech, King of the Philistines, wants to marry Sarah (Avraham's wife), the birth of Yitzhak, the eviction of Hagar (Avraham's concubine) and Ishmael. Avimelech and Avraham make a treaty at Beersheva. Avraham is commanded to take up his son, Isaac, as an offering "on one of the mountains" (Akeidat Yitzhak). Lastly, the announcement of the birth of Rivka (Rebecca), the future wife of Yitzhak.

Do you want to know the reward for listening to the command of the
Almighty? This is what the Almighty told Avraham:

"... I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore; and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy. And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring, because you have listened to My voice."


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Avraham invites three visitors to stay for a meal with the words:

"I will fetch a morsel of bread that you may sustain yourselves, then go on."

Yet, Avraham does not give them just a crust of bread, he serves them a lavish multi-course feast. Why does Avraham use such a humble invitation? Wouldn't a more descriptive invitation have been more enticing?

In the Talmud (Bava Metzia 87a) the Sages derive from here the principle that the righteous say little and do much. The wicked, however, say much and do little (as we see next week with Efron's false assurances to Avraham when Avraham wants to bury his wife, Sarah).

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz, of the Mir Yeshiva, comments that talking about what you plan to do is negative. It is superfluous and often counterproductive. Talking is easier than doing. It creates expectations. And then, even with the greatest of intent, things happen which prevent doing. There is pleasure in talking about the good you intend to do, but it is a cheap way of getting honor and approval. Talking changes the focus from doing good for its own sake to doing good for the sake of approval. And there are those who make grandiose promises and then they forget ... causing great heartache and pain.

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