Rav Brazil On Parshas Vayeirah: Second Impressions


rav-shmuel-brazil-1By Rav Shmuel Brazil

The passuk describes that Avraham saw the three guests twice because it mentions the word vayar two times. Rashi comments and says that the second viewing was really understanding their situation beyond the superficial level. He noticed that they were hesitating approaching him so not to bother him right after his milah. So the Torah is teaching us here that one must take a double take when he sizes up a situation. First impressions and quick assessments are not the desirable method. One must see and then see again with deeper understanding and then evaluate what he saw as he looks at the whole picture and not just the details..

One erev Pesach a man approached Rav Chaim Brisker and asked him whether he can use milk for the four cups of wine during the Seder. Rav Chaim answered no and then gave the individual, who obviously was poor quite a large sum of money. When questioned afterwards why give so much money for the wine, it doesn’t cost that much, he replied that if is already asking to use milk for the four kosos, then he obviously is poor enough also not to have any fleishiks for the Seder meal either.

Rav Chaim did not just see the situation but rather he gave another look and analyzed it with understanding. Only with this he came to the conclusion that the man is poorer than he seems.

The Ohr Chaim learns that the second look of Avraham was his understanding that they were angels and not men. If so we have to attempt explain why did Avraham go through an entire Purim shpeil of catering to their needs as human guests bothering himself and household, when in actuality at the end they did not eat nor did they need to eat since they were malachim?. The Ohr Gedalyahu explains with the story of the Gaon. When he took upon himself self inflicted galus and wandering, he once came into a shul sitting in the back as usual trying to be inconspicuous and unnoticeable. The Rav of the shul noticed him and was about to bring the Gaon up front as befitting his kovid, when he stopped in his tracks. He said to himself if the Gaon wants to be incognito, I cannot go and reveal his true identity. The kovid for him is to keep his secret. So too, Avraham in his second look realized that they were malachim and nevertheless they came in the form of humans. They obviously want to be looked upon as humans and therefore I must treat them as such and not according to their true identities.

Avraham was willing to go through the entire bother of treating them as royal guests only because he took a second look and a second assessment. We find a similar theme in the laws of tzaraas. If a chasan who thinks he has tzaraas comes before the kohen to check if he should be pronounced tamei or not, the kohen should not see him lest he will have to paskin on him tamei and that would ruin his sheva berachos and his simcha. The same din applies to someone who thinks he has tzaraas on a Yom Tov. One may question and ask why turn a blind eye, the truth is the truth so who cares if he is a chasan or it is Yom Tov, tamei is tamei? The answer is that even the Torah says one has to take a second look and the whole picture must also be taken into account. One must examine the particulars of the individual that one sees before he makes a pesak and also the time frame before he renders his judgment. The Ohr Sameach writes [Vayikra 13,3] that the source of this derivation can be read in the passuk itself. Veraah hakohen, the kohen sees that the negah has become a tamei negah, verraahu hakohen veteemay oso, the kohen sees it and makes him tamei. Rav Meir Simcha asks why would the passuk repeat the word veraa and the kohen saw the negah. The second seeing is superfluous? He answers that the second seeing “veraahu” is not referring to the negaah but rather to the individual who the negah is on. It is insufficient to determine the status of his tzaraas without viewing also the state of the carrier and the time when the shailah is taking place. For when the kohen will see not only the negah but also the individual who is a chasan, then he cannot pronounce his tamei for it will take away from his great simcha. And the Chazal comment even if it is not him who has the negah but rather his clothes or his house nevertheless he is not allowed to be declared tamei for anyone of these will put a damper on his simcha.

The same concept applies with the mitzvah of limud zehcus. Sometimes after a hard day at work we come home and see that the wife may not have cleaned the house as usual or the children are a little rowdy. The first thought and reaction should not be Boy my wife does not know how to clean a house or take care of the kids. For our Chazal teach havey dan es kal haadam lekaf zechus that one must judge the entire man meritoriously. What does it mean when they say kal haadam – the entire man. It means to teach that when judging a person with demerits and a negah one must look at the whole picture. Could it be the extra errand that she had to take care of that day took away some of the time she normally uses to clean the house? Could it possibly be that she was exhausted after staying up with her 3 year old Yanky who woke up three times during the night, while you had your beauty sleep and your honorable wife didn’t wake you for the night shift because she cherished your kollel boker shiur over her exhaustion? Could it also very well be that you have spontaneous amnesia that you have forgotten that almost always your wife does have a clean house even though it might be an avodah for her, and this is the exception to the rule and norm. To this the Chazal say judge the entire person with all the history and merits. Take the second look with a little understanding and maybe then you will reframe the original picture that you saw on first impressions.

Giving a quick look and first impressions signifies that you are too lazy to open up the door and look inside the situation. Only a second look opens that door. The word vayar twice is gematria deles which means door. A double vayar opens that door of limud zechus.

Do you remember seeing the picture that allows one to see either a young lady or an old one? If you take a little more time and focus, the subject changes completely. I have a paper back book which contains 3D pictures. Only if one stares for a while at the picture all of a sudden from a certain angle ones eyes begin to see a pop up of another totally different image in 3D form. It is an incredible experience. It was there the entire time yet the naked eye without patience and concentration would never be able to see the picture within the picture. So too are life’s situations. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos says Hevu mesunim badin take your time to judge otherwise the chances are that you first impressions are incorrect.

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