Know Before Whom You Stand by Rabbi Joel Grossman


This week’s parsha opens with a Pasuk teaching us about the life of Sarah.  We are told that Sarah lived for “700 years, and 20 years, and 7 years.”  Rashi is bothered why did the Torah write this way and not simply “127 years”?  He answers that when Sarah was 100, she was like a woman of 20 in regard to punishment for sin, since she had never sinned.  Rashi continues that when Sarah was 20, she was like a girl of 7 in regard to beauty.  Rav Moshe Feinstein in Darash Moshe asks a question on this comment of Rashi.  Usually a woman of 20 is more beautiful than a girl of 7, so what does Rashi mean by his explanation?  He answers, that no matter what a 7-year-old girl does, others will only see the beauty in it.  They will say that the reason for her actions are because she is so young.  This is the great tribute which the Torah is teaching us by breaking up her lifetime the way it does.  When Sarah was 20, everyone saw all of her actions as beutiful.  It is not a physical description of a 20 year old compared to a 7 year old; rather, it is a description of her actions. 

How can we work on ourselves so that our actions also should be viewed as proper and correct?  I believe the answer can be found in a story I once heard from Rabbi Joseph Stavsky.  He relates that there were two rabbis who lived in a certain city.  One was very successful; whenever he spoke the synagogue was packed with people who anticipated his every word.  During the week, people would be speaking about his speech.  The other rabbi, who prepared very diligently for his speeches and Shiurim, was not as fortunate.  When he spoke, hardly anyone ever attended and even those who did never gave his words any thought.  One day the two rabbis met and the unsuccessful one asked his counterpart for his secret to all of his success.  He replied that he could read minds.  The other responded, “That is impossible-no one can read minds!”  The first rabbi said, “It is true-I really can read minds.  You think of something and I’ll tell you what you’re thinking about.”  The unsuccessful rabbi decided to go along with this so he thought of something and then said, “tell me what I am thinking.”  The other rabbi responded, “You are thinking of the Pasuk in Tehillim “Shiviti Hashem Linegdi Tamid”.  The unsuccessful rabbi screamed out “I knew you where a fake.  I am not thinking that at all.”  The successful rabbi said, “That is my point the reason for my success is that I put Hashem before me at all times.”  We, too, must keep this message with us constantly, realizing that whatever we do, wherever we go, we are constantly in front of Hashem and we must make the correct choices in life.  If we have this thought, hopefully, people will only see the beauty in our actions.

Human Nature by Ari Selevan

Does Hashem Change His Mind? by Zack Rosenberg