A group of students, products of Yeshivas Mir and disciples
of HaGaon R' Yeruchom zt'l, formed nucleus to study a
certain tractate together on a permanent basis. It bore
fruit and the time came for them to celebrate the conclusion
of their project. It was a momentous enough occasion for
them to request the participation of their revered mentor
and they duly drew up and sent a letter informing him of the
upcoming siyum. It reflected a joy comparable to that
of a wedding!
R' Yeruchom sent a return letter which was a masterpiece of
expression in which he exposed a unique angle of approach to
the portion dealing with Avrohom Ovinu's hospitality, as it
appears in this week's parsha.
"You were privileged . . . to complete . . . " he writes.
"You informed me that you set a day aside to celebrate this
momentous occasion. Let me tell you that that day is for me,
likewise, a day of jubilation and rejoicing, and I join in
"You did well in preparing for this occasion, just as we
were commanded to celebrate the completion of a mitzva with
a festive meal. And in this, we are set apart from all the
nations on earth.
"Chazal commented on the verse, `And great shall be the
peace to your children.' Do not read `your children --
bohnayich but bownoyich -- your builders,' for
all those deeds are in the category of construction.
"When a craftsman fashions something and completes it, it
can be called a vessel. If it lacks any detail, however, it
lacks the definition of a vessel; it is an incomplete,
"The Torah describes Avrohom Ovinu's attribute of
hospitality in full detail. Ostensibly, the principle act of
hospitality merely includes feeding one's guest and giving
him to drink in generous measure. Nevertheless, we see that
the Torah elaborates in its description of his performance,
from the very inception: `And he lifted his eyes, and he
saw, and he ran . . . and he bowed . . . and he rushed, and
he said: Hasten . . . etc.'
"Nothing is omitted. This comes to highlight the conduct of
our patriarchs, which was perfect, not superficial,
haphazard, but in the manner of an architect, carefully
constructed and completed. It further teaches that our
Ovos emulated Hashem, Who is `the rock, perfect is
His handiwork.' He is the beginning and the end. We are
shown that all of a person's actions should strive to
perfection, to a complete whole, an edifice in every way,
that nothing should be lacking, either in the inception or
the end. Everything should be constructed airtight, without
gaps or weak spots. Therefore, it is good that you arranged
a festive siyum, so that you can be called true
builders! Let not even a single day and single daf be
missing, for if it is, the loss is simply immeasurable. It
falls short of perfection, and great is the pity.
"Dear Brothers: Take courage and fortify yourselves. And may
you merit to build perfectly complete edifices, and not
faulty, leaky vessels."
A new look. A whole edifice. Vessels and not broken
When we read in this portion that every blink of an eye and
gesture of Avrohom Ovinu's hand were meditated and reported
in detail in the Torah, and, in effect, became part and
parcel of the very Torah itself, the conclusion we arrive at
is that by great people, there is no such thing as a
conglomeration of small deeds, but that every single act is
a single unit in a perfect composite, every gesture is a
necessary building block in the end product.
Maran HaGaon R' Dovid Povarsky zt'l expresses this in
his talks: "A great man is one who is not subject to doing
puny acts." A superficial person expresses himself in those
areas he deems important, but dismisses "small-time" matters
as negligible, not worth his attention and therefore, things
that don't count. They are incidental to him.
In contrast, a great person brings the sum of his soul,
himself, to expression in every single thing he does, great
or small. His stature is reflected in everything because he
invests concentration and concerted effort to achieve the
maximum of every deed, great or small. Nothing, indeed, is
insignificant in his eyes.
"The deeds of the ovos," writes R' Yeruchom, with his
golden pen, "were not incidental, casual, but meditated and
measured, like a master architect. The product of design,
with no detail of the blueprint overlooked, since every
single line represents integral features, even an entire
room, if not more, when translated from the paper to the
field of activity. So is the attitude towards life of those
`builders,' with special attention accorded to every detail.
Negligible acts which normal people dismiss with a wave, are
bested with great importance by great men, like the stone
which the builders shunned, "evven mo'asu habohnim,"
the stone which eventually becomes a keystone, a
Chazal say, "Whoever begins a mitzva is told to finish it."
And one cannot help wondering why this needs to be said. The
truth is that sometimes people burn out; they tire, lose
momentum and energy before reaching the finish line. It is
necessary to boost their morale and say: Stick to it; see it
to the end.
Whoever develops an attitude of construction to a project
will also complete it. He will commence, persevere and will
not miss out on a single day or a single daf, as the
letter above stressed. And he will see it through to
completion. He will march along the path of Hashem, Whose
deeds are perfectly whole and wholly perfect, because even
if a building is standing, it will not stand for long if any
vital component or feature is lacking. At some point, it
will collapse. In the eyes of those who are "builders" and
not only "sons," every mitzva, every study project or any
undertaking, for that matter, is a construction project. And
a building must be whole. "Make them rejoice with a complete