Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The Talmud (Bava Metzia 86b) recounts that each of the three angels who came to visit Avraham Avinu had a specific mission. Michoel came to tell Sarah that she would give birth to a son, Refoel came to heal Avraham after his bris milah, and Gavriel came to overturn S’dom. The Talmud notes that the pasuk later says (Bereishis 19:1), “and the two angels came to S’dom in the evening” and elaborates that Michoel accompanied Gavriel in order to save Lot. In fact, the Torah tells us (Bereishis 19:25), “and he overturned those cities,” and it does not say “they” overturned the cities.

The Chiddushei HaRim asks: Why was it necessary then for Gavriel to go to Avraham? He could have waited for Michoel to meet up with him, instead of imposing on the elderly Avraham to prepare an elaborate feast for an extra person.


The Chiddushei HaRrim explains that Gavriel did not know whether Lot was to be destroyed along with the other people of S’dom, or whether he was to save Lot, as Rus the Moavi was a descendant of Lot, and from her descended Dovid HaMelech and eventually the Melech HaMoshiach. Hashem told Gavriel that he will find his answer in the house of Avraham Avinu.

The Talmud (Yevamos 76b) relates that when Dovid killed Golias, Shaul asked Avner, “Who is this young man?” and since he had already met Dovid and knew who his father was, it is understood – states the Talmud – that Shaul wanted to clarify Dovid’s lineage in order to ascertain whether he could become king. Do’eg, who was present, told him: Before you inquire whether he is suitable to be king, why don’t you find out whether he is even fit to enter the congregation of Israel? This uncertainty was because, as a Moavite, Rus – Dovid’s mother – would be prohibited from becoming part of the Jewish people.

Avner responded that that concern had already been addressed. Before marrying Rus, Boaz had gone to the elders to inquire whether the marriage was permitted. They expounded the pasuk (Devarim 23:4), that a Moavi could not enter the congregation of Israel, but a Moavite could. It was the men who were punished, and not the women, because (Devarim 23:5), “they did not greet you with bread and water on the road.” The sages argue that we learn from Sarah that it was the way of a man, and not a woman, to go forth to meet guests, as it says (Bereishis 18:9) that the angels asked Avraham where Sarah was, and he said she was in the tent, implying that a woman remains inside.

Hashem instructed the angels: If Sarah brings you the food, then you will know that it is proper for women to bring food to the guests, and the ruling that a Moavite may enter the congregation of Israel would be invalid. But if Sarah does not appear and remains in the tent, then you will know that it is not the practice for women to bring food to the guests.

So when Avraham responded that Sarah was in the tent, it was clear that Lot should be saved in order that Dovid HaMelech would be among his progeny.

We read that the angels asked Lot (Bereishis 19:12), “od me lecha poh – whom else do you have here?” The Baal HaTurim says that the word poh – here has the same numerical value as Boaz. The angels were telling Lot that the reason he was being saved was because in the future Boaz would be part of his family, and there would be a question whether Rus could be a member of the Jewish people.

We see how Divine Providence orchestrates everything from the beginning of creation until the end of time – always setting the stage for the future.

The Shaagas Aryeh, the famed R’ Aryeh Leib Gunzberg (1695-1785) was head of the yeshiva in Minsk, Russia, served as rabbi in Pinsk and Volozhin, and for the last thirty years of his life was the chief rabbi in Metz, France. His shamash (attendant), R’ Asher, was a G-d-fearing individual who dedicated his life to helping the tzaddik in any way possible. On his deathbed, the shamash begged the Rav, “I have never asked you for remuneration for my loyal service to you. But now, I am asking you to please care for my young son, Refoel, to ensure that he is learned in Torah.”

The Shaagas Aryeh promised to personally teach the young boy, and R’ Asher’s soul departed in purity.

Immediately after the shiva, the Shaagas Aryeh took little Refoel under his wing. He learned with the young orphan every day, and Refoel soon astounded everyone with his broad knowledge and grasp of Shas.

One morning the young boy could not be found. The Shaagas Aryeh was devastated. He prayed and cried so bitterly that he fainted and lost consciousness, during which time it was revealed to him from Heaven that Refoel had been kidnapped by the clergy and was hidden in a nearby monastery. It was known that at times the church would kidnap Jewish children to convince them to convert.

When the Shaagas Aryeh was revived, he immediately called for the tailor of the city, Noach, who had some contact with officers of the church. The Rav told the tailor that in his dream he had seen Refoel in a room that was on the left of the entryway to the monastery, and asked the tailor – who was familiar with the edifice – to save the boy. The Shaagas Aryeh promised that after his passing the tailor would be buried next to him – an exceptional honor – as a reward.

Noach agreed, and dressed in peasant clothes he went to the monastery in middle of the night. He managed to gain entrance to the monastery, found Refoel exactly where the Rav had said he would be, and smuggled him out to a safe refuge.

Many years passed, and the Shaagas Aryeh passed away in the month of Tammuz and was buried in Metz.

Twenty-eight years later the tailor, on his deathbed, called for the Chevra Kadisha and told them that the Shaagas Aryeh had promised that he would merit to be buried next to him. They didn’t believe him and planned to bury him with the simple people in another part of the cemetery.

However, as the Chevra Kadisha approached the cemetery late that Friday afternoon, the skies darkened and torrential rains began to fall. The hour was getting late, and the people in attendance could barely see each other, let alone where they were headed. The decision was made to bury the tailor in the place where they stood.

When they returned to the cemetery, the Chevra Kadisha found that the tailor had in fact been buried right next to the Shaagas Aryeh. There was a discussion to move him, but the Rav ruled that no one was permitted to touch the kever. The will of the Shaagas Aryeh had indeed been fulfilled.


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Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, a prominent rav and Torah personality, is a daily radio commentator who has authored over a dozen books, and a renowned speaker recognized for his exceptional ability to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.