Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.
Please Use Our New Website
still under constructions
to purchase safety books and educational materials

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.

Parsha Vayera 5765
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Not Rated Yet   |   Viewed 2524 times since 12/19/06   |   0 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend


A Torah Thought for Teens – Parshas Vayera

By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

V’anochi Afar V‘efer (Bereshis 18:27)

The Torah relates how Avraham pleaded with Hashem for mercy on behalf of the people of Sedom and the surrounding cities. He began by asking Hashem to forgive the people of Sedom if He would find fifty tzadikim in the city. When it became clear that there were not fifty tzadikim to be found, Avraham continued to daven to Hashem and attempted to lower the number of tzadikim needed to save Sedom – from fifty to forty-five to forty; and beyond. Several times, in midst of his tefilos, he paused, and apologized for the appearance of possible disrespect to Hashem. At one point, Avraham humbly said, “I am [considered to be worthless like] dust and ashes [and therefore I should not have the temerity to continue my tefilah.]

Rashi explains that Avraham selected these 2 metaphors for worthlessness to allude to the fact that he was further humbled by the intervention of Hashem, which saved his life on 2 occasions:

1) 1) He would have been buried in the dust of the desert had he been killed while chasing the 4 Kings

2) 2) He would have been reduced to ashes after being thrown into the fire of Nimrod.

Several questions come to mind:

Why were 2 examples of worthlessness noted by Avraham, when one would have sufficed?

Secondly, the order of the 2 should have been reversed; e’fer v’afar (ashes, then dust)? After all, the incident with Nimrod took place long before the war between the kings!

The Beis Halevi explains that there was, in fact, a deeper meaning behind the seemingly casual statement of Avraham.

Earth has limitless potential for future planting and producing, so long as seeds and nutrients are provided. This is the case even if the earth would have been dormant for thousands of years. Ashes, on the other hand, represent something of the past, such as the pile of ash that is the sole remnant of a magnificent building with a glorious history.

This would explain the order of the 2 expressions, says the Beis Halevi. Avraham, in his humility, used them to highlight the fact that he had done nothing of value in the past (similar to earth), and would not do anything noteworthy in the future (comparable to ashes).

The Gemarah notes that in response to the anivus of Avraham, Hashem answers him by giving Klal Yisroel 2 mitzvos[1][1], afar sotah (the earth used by the cohen that was mixed with water from the beis hamikdash) and the efer parah (the ashes of the parah adumah used to purify one who became tamei).

The Beis Halevi explains that these 2 mitzvos were given as a direct response to the 2 expressions used by Avraham. The earth of the sotah only addresses the past, while the ashes of the parah purify the future, regardless of one’s past. Avraham told Hashem that he had no zechusim in the past and expected none in the future. Hashem expressed the greatest confidence in Avraham and gave his children the most priceless gifts – 2 mitzvos – that are rooted in the past and the future.

Often, we are faced with 2 divergent obstacles in our path to success in avodas haKodesh, in our development of middos tovos, or in any other area of self-improvement. We may be troubled by past misdeeds, or we may feel that we have little hope of realizing our goals for the future. Both of these, especially when taken to the extreme, can cripple our ability to grow and thrive. The correct path to follow is to have sincere regret (and do teshuvah) for missteps in the past, while believing in our own ability, with the help of Hashem, to strive for and achieve our lofty dreams. May we be zoche to realize all of them.

Best wishes for a Gutten Shabbos.

[1][1] Gemorah Sotah 17a

To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.

Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:       Not Rated Yet
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)
There are no comments yet. Click above to write the first comment.
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.

Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593