The Power of Aiding Others

by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – October 14, 2010

In the Torah section of Lekh Lekha (Bereshit 14:13), we read, “And the fugitive came and told Abram.”  On this verse, Rashi comments, in accordance with Bereshit Rabbah, that this fugitive was Og, who later waged war with the Israelites, descendents of Abraham.  Og informed Abraham of Lot’s capture with the intended purpose of getting Abraham to go into battle whereby he hoped Abraham would be killed and leave Sarah free for him to marry her.

Later on, when Og waged war with the Israelites, G-d told Moses, “Do not fear him” (Bamidbar 21:34).  There Rashi explains, in line with our Sages (Babylonian Talmud, Nidah 61a) that Moses was afraid that Og would merit protection for having informed Abraham of Lot’s danger whereby Lot was saved.

The aforementioned brings to the fore an amazing point, as expressed by the 19th century Torah great R. Yosef Zundel Salanter.  Moses feared for Og’s merit for aiding Abraham, even though no favor would be done directly to Abraham – only to Lot – and Og’s intention was actually for Abraham to die and for him to marry Sarah, Abraham’s wife.  How much more so should we recognize and appreciate when someone who is righteous and trustworthy does another a favor and he actually intends good for the other!

Indeed, earlier on we read that G-d tells Abraham, “And you will be blessing,” (Bereshit 12:2).  Rashi points out, as the Sages tell us, that this means “with you [Abraham] they [the Jews] conclude the [first] blessing [of Shmone Esrei] and not with them [Isaac and Jacob]”.  Ohel Torah as cited by Ma’ayana Shel Torah emphasizes that, while the traits that Isaac and Jacob were known for – Avoda (service to G-d) and Torah study – will diminish before the Messiah’s arrival, salvation will come to their descendants as a result of the kindness and charity exemplified by Abraham, as Isaiah says, “Zion will be redeemed through justice and those who return to her through righteousness” (Yeshayahu 1:27).  This is hinted to in this Rashi: “With you,” with the trait of caring for your fellow man that Abraham exemplified will “they conclude” their exile.

One should not discount the power of aiding others.  Moses thought it so great that it may have stood as sufficient merit for Og, and, in the end, it will be in the merit of such behavior that the salvation of the Jewish people will come.