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See the Good in All

Develop yourself to the best of your ability

וַיִּשְׁתַּ֙חוּ֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִפְנֵ֖י עַ֥ם הָאָֽרֶץ׃

Then Abraham bowed low before the landowning citizens,

וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר אֶל־עֶפְר֜וֹן בְּאׇזְנֵ֤י עַם־הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר אַ֛ךְ אִם־אַתָּ֥ה ל֖וּ שְׁמָעֵ֑נִי נָתַ֜תִּי כֶּ֤סֶף הַשָּׂדֶה֙ קַ֣ח מִמֶּ֔נִּי וְאֶקְבְּרָ֥ה

אֶת־מֵתִ֖י שָֽׁמָּה׃

and spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the landowning citizens, saying, “If only you would hear me out! Let me pay the price of the land; accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.”

(Genesis 23:12-13)

Abraham, bowing down from Efron, giving him the respect he deserves in the eyes of the townspeople, is willing to pay the full amount for the grave and the field around it. Abraham, the great Abraham, to whom the land would belong. Abraham, he who always shows humility, but also takes his strength when needed.

וַיַּ֥עַן אַבְרָהָ֖ם וַיֹּאמַ֑ר הִנֵּה־נָ֤א הוֹאַ֙לְתִּי֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אֶל־אֲדֹנָ֔י וְאָנֹכִ֖י עָפָ֥ר וָאֵֽפֶר׃

Abraham spoke up, saying, “Here I venture to speak to my lord, I who am but dust and ashes:

(Genesis 18:27)

Why dust and asshes. Dust can be seen as fertile, you can plant seeds in it that can grow into beautiful trees with fruits. Asshes is infertile, it won’t give you fruits (anymore).

Daat Zkenim points out on a practical level that “dust” refers to the battle Abraham had with the five kings. Humanly speaking, he could not have won and would have died in the battle and become “dust” again. Only with Hashem’s help could he overcome it. “Ashes” points to the event with King Nimrod who threw Abraham into a fiery furnace, but from which HaShem miraculously rescued him.

כִּי־ה֭וּא יָדַ֣ע יִצְרֵ֑נוּ זָ֝כ֗וּר כִּי־עָפָ֥ר אֲנָֽחְנוּ׃

For He knows how we are formed;

He is mindful that we are dust.

(Psalms 103:14)

As long as we are alive, we are fruitful. We can live according to Hashem’s will, perform His mitzvot and thereby bear fruit. The moment we die, we are no longer able to do so and are as it were barren.

We are עפר and we become אפר. We start with the Ayin and we end with the Aleph. Ayin has the usual gematria of 70. The “usual” number of years a person lives.

יְמֵֽי־שְׁנוֹתֵ֨ינוּ בָהֶ֥ם שִׁבְעִ֪ים שָׁנָ֡ה וְאִ֤ם בִּגְבוּרֹ֨ת

שְׁמ֘וֹנִ֤ים שָׁנָ֗ה

The span of our life is seventy years,

or, given the strength, eighty years;

(Psalms 90:10)

During this time, he has to use his eye (Ayin) to see the good in the world, the revealed goodness, as well as the hidden goodness. The letter Ayin is made up of the letters Zayin and Yud, with the respective gematria of 7 and 10, which together makes 17, which is the same gematria as the word “tov” good. Everything man sees he must relate and bring to the aleph, to the Aleph, to Hashem the King.

Then man will recognise that everything comes from Him and that yourself cannot achieve anything without His help. Just as Abraham could not have won from Nimrod or the 5 kings alone, we cannot overcome challenges in our lives alone. Then you become humble like Abraham, whose name begins with the Aleph, as opposed to Esav, whose name begins with the Ayin, and thought he could bend his – material – world to his will with his own insights and his own strength. In our lives, let us practise humility, and in humility perform our 7 Mitzvot as best we can. Bringing that which is in our power – with Hashem’s help – to Him.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: The Divine Code by rabbi Moshe Weiner and Dr. Michael Schulman

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