Parshas Lech Lecha
Worthy of the Brocha!
By Rabbi Label Lam
And he (Pharaoh) treated Avram good because of her (Sarai), and he acquired
sheep, cattle, donkeys, slaves and maidservants, female donkeys and cattle.
And he treated Avram good because of her: Rabbi Chelbo says, “A man should
always be careful with the honor of his wife because blessing is only found
in a person’s house because of his wife. (Bava Metzia 59a)
This is a little odd. If Pharaoh was the benefactor, how do we learn from
here that blessing comes to the house because of a person’s wife? Was
Pharaoh the source of blessing? The Maharsha explains that the word “hetiv”
–“did good”- is referring to ultimately to HASHEM, while the agency of that
goodness to Avram channeled through, even through Pharaoh. How might one
access that blessing?
It was a regular weekday night at home. Dinner was still happening for some
while others were in various stages of doing and avoiding doing homework and
preparing for bed. My wife and I were feeling like referees in a rugby
match. Suddenly a loud honk signaled from outside. I picked up my attaché
case, and loudly declared, “My ride is here! I’ve gotta go now. Bye!” I
left. I could immediately feel the waves of serenity washing over me and I
could now prepare for the evening lecture in Queens. Yossi the Israeli
driver was there with a guest lecturer from Israel, Rabbi Cohen, who
specializes in issues of Shalom Bais. He was to give a separate class in
Hebrew. We greeted each other and I was ready to go when Rabbi Cohen asked
me in Hebrew, “Did you get the Brocha (blessing)?” Between his lack of
ability to speak English and my impoverished modern-Hebrew skills I was
confused. I asked for clarification. “Do you mean the Brocha- for eating? I
did that a long time ago!” We didn’t budge from the curb.
He insisted, “The Brocha!” I assumed now he was talking about the “Asher
Yatzar” (bathroom blessing”) posters that are widely distributed by our
office. Wrong again. Then he quoted the statement of the sages referenced
above, “Blessing is found in the house of man because of his wife.” He
passionately pressed on, “How can a man hope to be successful in teaching or
business or anything without a blessing from his wife?” I got it, but I told
him, “We’re late!” He insisted, “We’ll wait!”
I walked sheepishly up the lawn and knocked on my front door before
reentering the house. There I stood looking up from the landing of our split
level home and the kids started shouting out to Ima, “Abba’s home!” My wife
arrived immediately with a baby wrapped in a towel and blankly asked me,
“Did you forget something? I chokingly let out, “I forgot the Brocha.” She
wondered aloud, “We ate dinner hours ago.” I told her again that I had
forgotten the Brocha and so she pointed to where we have stored boxes of
those Asher Yatzar posters.
I was glued to that spot and now I had to explain, albeit hesitatingly at
first, “The blessing is only found in the house of man because of his wife.
How can I give a successful class or do anything well without your Brocha,
Ima?!” I remember she looked at me as if I was drunk and asked me, “Did you
lose your job?” I said submissively, “Ima, I need your Brocha!” Then she
melted and fountain-like flowed the following, “I hope you get to where you
have to go and come back home quickly and safely and while you’re there, the
words should come out from your heart and mouth with ease and enter the
hearts of the listeners and make a difference in their lives and in the
whole world!” I and all the kids assembled shouted together, “AMEN!”
Now I told my wife, “I hope that the dinner gets magically cleaned up and
the homework gets done and everyone settles down in a timely fashion, and
you get a chance to unwind and read a good book and talk to your best friend
on the phone while I’m out.” I earned a mediocre, “amen”, and I sped into
the night with wind in my sails and the kids shouting out the window, “Be
Matzliach Abba! –Be successful!” That piece of advice has since let loose
contagion of encouraging wishes. The beauty is that even while engaged in
different activities we can always feel that we are working together. Now I
cannot imagine leaving home without getting the blessing and doing whatever
is necessary to be worthy of the Brocha.
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.