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Thought for the Day: Lo Ba'Shamayim Hi; Even Angels Need a P'sak from the Gadol HaDor

One of the most frustrating experiences I had with my rav, R' Dovid Siegel, shlita, started when I asked the rav a detail I wasn't getting on a simple gemara.  What made it frustrating was that the rav went to look up the gemara.  I mean, it was a well known gemara that I was sure he had seen a hundred times; besides, I had given the rav the relevant facts.  I just needed a quick answer.  Fine; I got the gemara for the rav.  Next was even more unbelievable... the rav started reading the gemara as if it was the first time seeing it!  Reading from the beginning, getting context, even checking Rashi's!  Finally, finally the rav was getting to the point upon which my question revolved.  I listened patiently (more or less) as the rav learned up the gemara; then I blanched as I realized my question was based on a mistake in how I had read the gemara.  There was no question...

I have turned that frustrating experience into a life lesson.  I strive to never get p'shat based on something that someone says over.  If I have a question, I go back to the source and learn it up.  That hanhaga came in very useful this morning when a good friend and talmid chacham wanted to tell me a nice vort on a gemara based on a Chidushei haRim on parshas Va'yeira.  His vort was good, but the Chidushei haRim didn't make any sense to me.  He directed me to where he had seen it; Mayanei shel Torah; a very cool little and unassuming set of s'farim with a beautiful collection of chidushim on chumash.  I am so glad I looked it up!

Three angels came to Avraham Avinu after his bris mila; one to heal him (Rafael), one to destroy S'dom (Gavriel), and one to give him the good news about Sara Imeinu's impending pregnancy and birth (Cronkitel or Jor-El or another one... not sure).  Three m'alachim because there were three jobs; an angel can only have one job; as Rashi notes on the spot.  The issue is that Rafael is then sent on to save Lot. What?!  How can he have two jobs?

Says the Chidushei haRim, Lot was only saved in order that David haMelech could come from Mo'av.  Hang on... a Mo'avi can't convert because of they didn't offer sustenance to Klal Yisrael as they left Mitzrayim.  Ah... but a Mo'avis can convert; because it is not in consonance with the requirements of tznius for the women to go out to greet strangers.  Therefore there is no complaint against the women of Mo'av and they can convert; as Rus, in fact, did.  How do we know the halacha that a Mo'avis can convert?  From Sara Imeinu and Avraham Avinu.  However -- and this is the punch line -- that halacha was not paskened until the angels asked Avraham Avinu where Sara Imeinu was and he answered, "In the tent."  In other words, their hanaga of tznius and greeting guests was what established the halacha.  Before that issue was clarified it was not known if Lot was to be saved or not!  Now that Avraham Avinu had paskened, a new mission (to save Lot) was created.  Rafael had been on his way home after curing Avraham Avinu, so he could now be given that freshly created mission.  (I mean, he was already there, after all.)

There's a lot going on in the morning at the vasikin minyan; it's worth getting up.


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