The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.
In Bereishis 18:23-32, Avraham Avinu tried to save the city of Sodom by bargaining with Hashem. In so doing, he referred to himself in Bereishis 18:27 as Afar V'Afer. Rashi explains that Avraham means that he already should have been dust because he should have been ground down in battle of the kings and that he should have been ashes, because he had been thrown into the fiery furnace by Nimrod.
R' Frand quoted R' Avraham Bukspan's new sefer Parsha Pearls who explains that Avraham in 18:27 was saying that now I am Afar V'Afer, even though he clearly was not at the time. This is a lesson for recognizing and internalizing the good that was done for a person. A person can go though a life altering experience and when he survives, decides that he wants to take on a new level of observance. But as time goes by, he may see that start to peter out. R' Frand told the story of a man who made certain changes after he was saved from death when he was in a serious car accident. But as the year went by, he started to feel less enthusiastic about the changes. In order to internalize and keep the motivation in mind, a person needs to constantly remember the feeling that he had at the moment that he took on that special observance.
R' Frand gave a mashal of a man who lost his job and was unemployed for a period of time. The man came to need to rely on charitable organizations, but eventually found a job. He was overjoyed and so thankful that he had gainful employment. But after a number of months he became dissatisfied with the working conditions and began to express his displeasure. He no longer felt depressed about how his being unemployed. He had lost that since of gratitude of being employed after living with no source of income.
R' Frand quoted an old GM advertisement which stated - it is typically American to ask - what have you done for me lately. He also quoted Pete Rose who said - you are only as good as your last at bat.
This is not the Jewish way - there is a need for Hakaras HaTov, to recognize the good that was done for you. This is not to say that people should dwell on and continually be depressed over their prior situation. But, they do need to remember that they were in that situation and that they were cured or rescued from it. This is Avraham Avinu's reminder - I am Afar V'Afer.
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