Friday, November 02, 2018

Chayei Sarah Audio Shiur: Chesed and Gevurah

A talk given via Skype to the students at Shalhevet High School in Vancouver, BC


A summary of the talk, written by my daughter, Head of School at Shalhevet:

When Eliezer asks Hashem to send him the appropriate wife for Yitzchok, he davens (prays), "V'asisa chesed im adoni - and You will do kindness with my master." What kindness is he referring to?

The Meshech Chochma explains that each of the Avos (forefathers) had a defining middah that represented, as well, their relationship with Hashem.   Yitzchok'sdefining middah (character trait) was gevurah - strength and restraint. This is opposite of chessed, and each trait has its time and place. 

Avraham represented and exhibited the middah of chessed: he was outgoing, and he made active efforts in outreach. Yitzchok represented the middah of gevurah: he was very internal, introverted, contemplative, and restrained. Each of them needed a wife who would balance them out - Sara was considered to have the trait of gevurah and Yitzchok was looking for a wife with the trait of chessed. [Yaakov who had the middah of tiferes - a blend of gevurah and chessed - needed two wives who had each of these middos to balance out his character.]

When Eliezer saw Rivka and realized she was the girl who personified chessed whom he was looking for he said, "B"H asher lo azav chasdo va'amito... - blessed is Hashem Who has not removed  His kindness and truth..." The Meshech Chochma explains that at first Eliezer was asking Hashem to find the character trait of kindness he was seeking, but with this tefilla (prayer), he was thanking Hashem for not forsaking the kindness necessary to make Yitzchok into the person he needed to be.

All of us have all of these middos, and in every situation we encounter in life we have to determine what is tiferes: what is the glory for this situation? There will always be a time when one of these are necessary; often we need to use them in a mixture. More specifically, every relationship has a time for chessed and a time for gevurah, as well. When we determine who are the best friends for us to choose, how to best relate to them, and how to act in general, these are decisions to make with these ideas in mind.

We'll know we're making good choices when we use our middos l'shem Shamayim - for the sake of Hashem. We should always look to live our lives in harmony with those around us, and be"H we will be zoche to meaningful, enriching relationships!

Mrs. Meira Federgrun
Head of School
Shalhevet Girls High School
785 16th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1S8

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