From Insights and Inspirations
Published by the Ra’anana Community Kollel
Ra’anana Community Kollel
Rabbi Binyomin Lispon
“And Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Do not fear him, for I have delivered him, his nation, and his land into your hand . . .’”
When the Jewish people were preparing to do battle with Og, the mighty king of Bashan, Hashem consoled Moshe with a special promise that his people would emerge as the victors. However, earlier in the parshah when the Jewish people stood in virtually the same situation before their imminent confrontation with the Emorites, they were offered no such encouragement. Why did Hashem feel it necessary to reassure Moshe specifically at this time? We can only deduce that Moshe was particularly unsure of the nation’s ability to defeat Og in battle and thereby required Hashem’s encouragement, while when fighting the Emorites he did not lack confidence. Was Og really so much more powerful than Sichon, the king of the Emorites? Why was Moshe more afraid of Og that he needed a special reassurance from the Almighty?
Rashi comments that indeed, it was not Og’s prowess in battle that Moshe was afraid of. In Parshat Lech Lecha, the Torah relates how four kings of the Jordan Valley waged war against and conquered their enemies, and how in the course of the ensuing battle, Avraham’s nephew Lot was captured and taken prisoner. When a messenger subsequently arrived and informed him of the fate of his nephew, Avraham successfully retaliated against the kings, freeing Lot from captivity. Interestingly, the Midrash relates that this messenger who escaped the battle and came to tell Avraham about Lot was none other than . . . you guessed it, Og, the king of Bashan. But don’t think that Og was just trying to do a favor for Avraham. The Midrash explains that Og knew very well that Avraham would never allow his nephew to remain a prisoner of war, and that he would certainly attempt to save him. Most likely, reasoned Og, Avraham would be killed in battle, leaving Sarah widowed and free to marry . . . you guessed it again, Og King of Bashan. Although as a result of Og’s intervention Avraham was eventually successful in rescuing Lot from the clutches of the four kings, we would hardly say that he was deserving of any reward for it. As his intentions were solely for his own benefit and not for the sake of Avraham, it can hardly be said that Og had performed an act of kindness. Nevertheless, Rashi tells us that it was precisely because of the favor that Og did on behalf of Avraham that Moshe was so afraid to fight him; perhaps the merit of Avraham would stand up for him.
This is certainly quite an amazing statement. If the merit of Og’s “assistance” to Avraham which he offered entirely for ulterior motives was so great that even Moshe was afraid to challenge him, how much greater must be the merit that we acquire when we perform a true kindness for the good of its recipient? While the effects of a kind act are not always apparent to us at the time, in the World to Come every additional effort that we exert in an attempt to do kindness for others will be magnified to unimaginable proportions.
The sister of the Vilna Gaon and another woman took on the arduous task of collecting money and distributing it to the needy families of their city. Subsequently, they made a pact between them that the one who passed away first would visit the other in a dream and describe the portion that was awaiting her in the World to Come. Shortly after the second woman’s passing, she appeared to the Gaon’s sister in a dream and told her, “I am not permitted to reveal details concerning the World to Come, but I can tell you the following: One day while we were out collecting funds, you caught a glimpse of a person who had given generously to our cause in the past walking on the other side of the street. Quickly, you called to her, waving your hand to get her attention. When you arrive here, you will receive great reward even for the additional effort of waving your hand.” We must never underestimate the importance of our every effort on behalf of others, and in turn, the great reward that awaits us in the World to Come for each and every one of them.