Midreshet Amit


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Avraham- the Man of Kindness

By: Rabbi Simi Sherman

As we bid Avraham farewell, the Torah leaves us with one final episode; a final capstone event in the life of our patriarch. Interestingly, though, the event we are left with seems somewhat less glamorous than what we may have anticipated. The last recorded episode we are left with is the image of Avraham buying Maarat HaMachpelah as a final resting place for Sarah. This is the final image and our lasting memory of Avraham.

But why, asks Rabbi Yoseph Dov Soloveichick, is this Avraham's final recorded act? If we were to review Avraham's life in search of his greatest accomplishment, one would hardly have suspected that his purchase of a grave for his wife, Sarah, would be at the top of the list. Avraham, against the tide of his own family and community, found Hashem and brought monotheism to the world. Avraham stood firm in his belief in Hashem as he was marched through a burning furnace. Ultimately, Avraham was even willing to bring his beloved son, Yitzchak, as a sacrifice to fulfill the command of Hashem. Couldn't the Torah have just ended the story of Avraham's life with the Sacrifice of Yitzchak? Wouldn't his passing of this final and most difficult test have been a more fitting final scene for Avraham? And yet, it is the simple image of a real estate purchase that we are left with as our final memory.

Perhaps we may suggest that while Avraham's previous accomplishments demonstrated his ability to act with great strength- Gevurah, ultimately Avraham as a person was the quintessential Man of Kindness. Yes, he performed acts of Gevurah throughout his life. But, it was his kindness that defined him. Each of us has certain strengths and abilities that are particular to us and that define us as people. For Avraham it was his Chesed- Kindness. Hence, the final image we are left with is of Avraham performing an act in line with exactly who he was as a person. It is this act of pure kindness that truly captures who he was and the specific character trait that he passed on to each of us.

Moreover, is fascinating to note to whom Avraham performed this final act of chesed. One may have suspected that if Avraham is primarily, and above all else, a man of chesed then his final performance of kindness should have been something very public and something directed towards strangers and outsiders whom Avraham nevertheless embraced as his own kin. And yet, what we find is that Avraham's last great act of kindness is performed for his dearest and closest companion, Sarah. Indeed, chesed towards those who are distant from us is vital to the true fulfillment of our mission as a nation, but at the same time, we cannot lose sight of the potential we each have to perform equally valuable acts of chesed to those closest to us.