Section: Parshas HaShavua   Category: Life Lessons
Parshas Vayeira: Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz - A Story about a Not So Simple Cup of Water
At the Levaya of a great person it is often said that to speak about the greatness of the niftar is not possible, therefore we will say stories about him and with this paint a portrait of the man. Speaking about one's character is too subjective and can cause trouble if it is overdone or underdone, but a story is a story. Right? "Wrong", says Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz.

A act is not objective. It depends how it was done. The same act can be done by two people on two different levels, even worlds apart. In order to properly appreciate an action we must understand who the actor because it is the actor who give the act its life and vitality.

Rav Chaim gives an example. The gemara in Bava Metzia (87b) says that because Avrohom said to his three guests, "Yukach Na Mi'at Mayim", take a little water (Vayeira 18:4), Bnei Yisroel merited to have the well of Miriam in the desert to supply them water. To us this gemara seems mind boggling. Because of a little water given to three thirsty travelers, over a million of Avrohom's descendants received water daily in a harsh and arid desert? Who among us wouldn't run to give a little water to a thirsty wayfarer just like Avrohom?

Rav Chaim with his keen insight explains that it is true that every reward must match the deed. Therefore he says we must conclude that Avorhom's "giving a little water" was actually an act of unfathomable proportions. Sure the Torah says Avrohom gave a little water, which in our terms means exactly that, he extended them a glass of water to quench their thirst. But in Avrohom's terms it meant giving over his entire being with that water. What that means we don't know, but it had to have been with such devotion and passion that it deserved a reward of billions of cups of water for all of Klal Yisroel.

When we tell a story of a Gadol we put ourselves in the position of the Gadol and think of it in our terms, as that's all we know. But if we really understood who the Gadol was, the story would come out much differently, like night and day. And the same applies to us and our actions.  So next time you do a mitzva, ask yourself who am I, and how can I make it special.