The Shabbos Table – Chayei Sarah: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: The Penultimate Test & the Ultimate Test
This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi (Hareini Kaparas Mishkavah), my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-Yonatan Menachem Mendel Ben Orly, Eli Aharon Michel Ben Chaya
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and other tragedies.
-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael during this dire time, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
The wounded should experience Refuah Shileimah, the captives should be returned safely, the fallen should experience Kevurah, as well as Aliyah for their Neshamos and Nekamah for their Dam, their Krovim should experience Nechamah, the Chayalim should be Matzliach and Minatzei’ach, and Am Yisrael should experience Geulah.
Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)
“The Penultimate Test & the Ultimate Test”
Sichah – Chayei Sarah: Avraham’s Final Nisayon (2016)
“Nisayon Kevuras Sarah” – Yomim MiKedem, Chayei Sarah, Page 54
Asarah Nisyonos – Which was the Ultimate Nisayon?
The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (5:4) teaches that Avraham Avinu was tested with ten Nisyonos. However, the ten tests are not listed explicitly in the Mishnah, and there is, in fact, a significant Machlokes Rishonim as to what those ten tests were. And what might you suggest was the ultimate Nisayon which Avraham endured?
Akeidas Yitzchak – The Penultimate Nisayon
Many Rishonim assume that the ultimate Nisayon, that which strikes us as a reasonable possibility, was Akeidas Yitzchak (Rashi, Rashbatz, based on Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer). In other words, the Akeidah was the tenth and final test. However, many other Rishonim argue (Rabbeinu Yonah and Tashbeitz, based on the Midrash Rabbah, Midrash Tehilim) that Akeidas Yitchak was actually only the ninth out of the ten Nisyonos. In other words, it was not the ultimate, but the penultimate Nisayon.
The Ultimate Nisayon – Chayei Sarah
The ultimate Nisayon appears in the very beginning of Chayei Sarah, namely the death of Sarah Imeinu along with the need for Avraham Avinu to secure a Makom Kevurah (burial place) for her. The obvious question is why this Nisayon needed to be the ultimate test. When Avraham demonstrated the ability to pass the Nisayon of the Akeidas Yitchak, why was anything more necessary to demonstrate who Avraham Avinu really was? The Akeidah was undeniably the greatest test Avraham endured. Why would HaKadosh Baruch Hu test Avraham again? And why would He do so with a significantly lighter test?
The Klal Gadol BaTorah
I believe that the ultimate Nisayon can be understood in light of the Hakdamah of the Ein Yaakov where he cites the Midrash which addresses the question as to what should be identified as the (*catch-all) Klal Gadol BaTorah (great principle of the Torah). The Midrash cites three Dei’os (opinions):
(1) Ben Zoma cites the Pasuk of Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim, “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.”
(2) Ben Nanas cites that which we know from the Yerushalmi as R’ Akiva’s Klal Gadol BaTorah, “V’Ohavtah L’Rei’acha Kamocha.”
(3) Shimon Ben Pazi, whose opinion the Midrash endorses and like which it concludes, “V’Halachah K’moso,” cites the Pasuk of the Korban Tamid, “Es HaKeves Echad Ta’aseh BaBoker V’Es HaKeves HaSheini Ta’aseh Bein HaArbayim”-“the first ram which should be performed in the morning, and the second ram which should be performed in the afternoon.”
One can readily understand the first two Dei’os. But, what is the meaning of the Shimon Ben Pazi’s suggestion?
The Ultimate Test of the Day to Day
And perhaps the Yesod (foundational point) of this Midrash and the Shitah of Shimon Ben Pazi is that Toras Hashem is not merely about the moments and windows of heroism or the heroic decisions, but the day-to-day consistency in Avodas Hashem. There may be moments in life wherein one is faced with circumstances in which the stakes are high and demand that he make a heroic decision. One may even rise to the occasion. But the real challenge in Avodas Hashem is the day-in and day-out consistency that is reflected in the Tamid Shel Shachar and the Tamid Shel Bein HaArbayim. Yes, there are select times where a person will serve Hashem passionately, for example, when one is Davening a Tefilas Ne’ilah; he musters up all of his strength as the stakes couldn’t be higher. But, what about his Davening day-in and day-out? That is something which is absolutely most critical. That is the Klal Gadol BaTorah.
I would suggest that this is the Yesod of the final Nisayon of Avraham Avinu. It is possible, for a moment, to rise to an occasion of Mesiras Nefesh, such as Avraham did during Akeidas Yitchak. But it is the aftermath of that experience that is the real test of whether a person is true Eved Hashem. That is to suggest that the same passion, the same enthusiasm, the same Hislahavus that a person will manifest in those heroic moments will define the aspects of his day-to-day life. Avraham Avinu was not at all dismissive, to turn to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and say, “You tested me regarding the Akeidah. Why do You have to test me with the burden of securing a Makom Kevurah?” The recognition of this need for consistency in Avodas Hashem, that is telling, that is striking, that is something which informs every aspect of our every Avodah. (The same, no doubt, is true concerning the daily routine of a Ben Yeshivah. Attendance at Minyan, Seder, and Shiur reflects the heroics of the Korban Tamid.)
*We should be Zocheh to demonstrate Mesiras Nefesh at not only those critical moments, but in our daily Avodah, and we should be Zocheh to participate in the offering of the Korban Tamid with the building of the Beis HaMikdash in the times of the Geulah and the coming of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu!