Avraham’s nisayon was even more impressive than you remember!

Parshas VaYeira contains one of the most challenging episodes in Jewish history: Akeidas Yitzchak. While even the thought of facing such a test would make any regular person tremble, Avraham was able to pass with flying colors. However, Avraham’s successful completion of his nisayon is only half of the story, just one element of his righteousness.

First things first.

Parshas B’reishis is all about the beginnings: first creation, first light, first day, first person, first commandment, and, of course, first sin. After blessing mankind to be fruitful, Hashem gives Adam his first official mitzvah. Yes, it has to do with trees and fruit, but it’s not what you think.

“Each person according to his praise.” (Mishlei 27:21)

The conventional understanding of the above proverb is that we can discern a person’s true character from which of his qualities stand out to others, the praises they choose to share about him. It’s nice for a person to consider himself to be thoughtful and generous, but it is the perspective of those around him that is most telling. The impact he leaves on others is what will ultimately determine a person’s legacy. This is the classic approach to the verse (see Rashi, Metzudos, ad loc.).

How can we “extend a hand” even when we are frustrated?

After the conclusion of the Flood, Noach needed a way to determine how far the waters had receded. Enter the dove. Or more precisely, exit the dove. Noach was hopeful that it would find a place to land, indicating that it was safe for him to disembark. Much to Noach’s dismay, however, the dove quickly returned, and its message was evident: The coast is not yet clear. The pasuk concludes that Noach stretched out his arm to bring the dove back into the ark (B’reishis 8:9), before waiting seven days to try again.

What is the joy of Sukkos all about?

When B’nei Yisrael traveled in the desert, Hashem provided three special miracles to take care of their needs: Delicious manna rained down from heaven, fresh water flowed from Miriam’s well, and ananei ha’kavod (clouds of glory) enveloped the people (Taanis 9a).