A Parsha Thought
Parshas Lech Lecha
by: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
(14:18) U’malki Tzedek Melech Sholem hotzie lechem v’yayin v’hu Cohen l’Kail Elyon
(14:19) V’yivarachahu vayomer, “Baruch Avram l’Kail Elyon koneh shamayim v’aretz”
The Torah describes how Tzedek, the King of Shalem, (who was in fact, Shem Ben Noach, according to Rashi) rewarded the warriors who saved Lot by bringing them bread and wine, and then blessed them.
The order of the Torah’s description of these events, however, is a bit difficult to understand. Why didn’t the Torah begin by describing Shem properly at the outset, using both his titles – Melech and Cohen (Malki Tzedek Melech Shalem haCohen) -- before mentioning the actions he took?
Why were the 2 titles of Shem and his 2 actions listed separately?
The story is told about a clever poor person whose daughter was about to get married. He approached a wealthy man hoping to get assistance in paying for the cost of the wedding. Knowing that his chances were slim of securing a donation from the overburdened wealthy man using conventional means, he decided to take a different track. He did not ask the rich man for money, but rather requested a blessing for the young couple. The wealthy man was taken aback and asked, “Why are you coming to me for a blessing? Why don’t you go to the Rabbi, who is a great and pious man? People don’t come to me for blessings, they come to me for financial assistance,” he said.
With a twinkle in his eye, the poor man replied, “I guess you are right. In that case, can you please help me pay for her wedding expenses”? The wealthy man enjoyed the pauper’s innovative approach and rewarded him with a generous donation.
Perhaps this anecdote can help us understand the sequence of the p’sukim. Most people can either give spiritual support or offer financial assistance. Shem Ben Noach was a rare combination of a King and a Cohen, able to bless and assist materially as well.
The Torah tells us that Shem utilized all of his gifts and resources to help reward the warriors. He was a Melech, and in that role, he took bread and wine and sustained them after their grueling battle. He was also a Cohen, and he therefore offered them spiritual sustenance as well.
There is a powerful message for us in these psukim. We each have unique gifts and talents bestowed upon us by Hashem. Some of us have bright minds; others are artistic or musically inclined. We may have the gift of always knowing how to comfort a friend in need, or the ability to inspire our classmates to reach their fullest potential, or all of the above!
Shem Ben Noach did not squander his gifts, but rather he utilized all that Hashem gave him to help others. May each of us strive to do the same; thereby enhancing ourselves, our families and Klal Yisroel.
Best wishes for a Gutten Shabbos
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