There are three possibilities in the performance of chessed:
- As we see from the thoughts and actions of Avraham Avinu, one who
actively seeks and pursues chessed, looking in the distance for opportunities, and not resting on laurels or being complacent with past and even significant accomplishments.
- One who properly and meticulously performs chessed, but only when the opportunity arises, such as the knock at the door-giving a respectable amount, b’Sever Panim Yafos.
- One who does not utilize every chessed opportunity, and does not like “getting caught” in a chessed, but instead does chessed “in his way” and “at his time.”
Obviously the chessed of our forefather Avraham is the #1 enhanced and preferred method. With this in mind, the Skulener Rebbe looks to the zemiros that many of us sing on Friday night: “Dorshei Hashem Zerah Avraham Ohavo HaMe’achrim Latzeis Min HaShabbos U’Memeharim Lavo - seekers of Hashem descendents of Avraham His beloved, who delay parting from Shabbos and rush to enter.” The Rebbe queries, what does rushing to enter or delaying to leave the Shabbos have to do with the fact that we are descendents of Avraham His beloved?! He beautifully looks to the three levels of chessed performance, and compares them to our Shabbos performance as well:
“There are those, like Avraham Avinu, who look out for shabbos well in advance, beginning preparations to enhance the shabbos earlier on in the week - What do I need to buy? What do I need to clean? What do I need to prepare? Is there anything that happened last Shabbos that I have to improve upon or make sure that it does not happen again? What do I need to learn this shabbos?
This enhanced level of preparation, U’Memeharim Lavo,is a mark of the progeny of Avraham Avinu, and labels one as an especial Doresh Hashem as described in the zemiros.
The second level of shabbos preparation, with almost everything left for Erev Shabbos, and much especially left for the hours close to shabbos, is comparable to the second level of chessed in which the Mitzvah is properly performed, but lacks the grand level of excellence attributable to our forefather.
The third level, of course is the person who does not seem to get it all together on time and is “caught by the bell” (or the siren), having done what he could under the circumstances, but entering into and experiencing shabbos with something lacking, just as the one not recognizing or properly dealing with the chessed opportunities that have presented themselves to him….
We are coming off the very shabbos in which we witnessed Avraham Avinu’s anticipation and earnestness in pursuit of Chesed. It is up to us, teaches the Skulener Rebbe, to take the lesson to heart for shabbos kodesh and to look out, put additional thought, effort, and action into enhancing the coming Shabbos early-on.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate that we are the descendants of Avraham Avinu is by following his great and active lead, as we look out for Shabbos, and begin to prepare for it with love!
(Taken from yesterday's Hakhel post)