205. Of the verse, "Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation..." (Beresheet 18:18) HE ASKS, Why does this blessing appear here? AND HE RESPONDS, To teach us that even when the Holy One, blessed be He, sits in Judgment on the world, He is unchanging. Because He displays Judgment to one and Mercy to the other. And all this happens simultaneously. SO WHILE HE DISPLAYED JUDGMENT TOWARD SODOM, HE SHOWED MERCY TOWARDS ABRAHAM AND BLESSED HIM BY SAYING, "ABRAHAM SHALL SURELY BECOME A GREAT AND MIGHTY NATION."
206. Rabbi Yehuda then said, But it is written, "But as for me, my prayer is to You, Hashem, in an acceptable time" (Tehilim 69:14). THIS SHOWS THAT some times are acceptable, while other times are not. So there are times when He listens TO THE PRAYER and times when He does not; there are times when He is present, and times when He is not. This corresponds to what is written, "Seek Hashem while He may be found, call upon Him while he is near" (Yeshayah 55:6). THUS, WE CAN CONCLUDE THAT THERE ARE TIMES WHEN HE IS NOT PRESENT AND CANNOT BE FOUND, NAMELY, DURING THE TIME OF JUDGMENT. IF THIS IS TRUE, HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT WHILE HE SITS IN JUDGMENT ON ONE, HE SITS IN MERCY ON THE OTHER?
207. Rabbi Elazar said that the verses sometimes refer to individuals and sometimes refer to the entire community. FOR THE INDIVIDUAL IT CHANGES ACCORDING TO THE TIMES. FOR THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY, HOWEVER, HE ALWAYS DISPLAYS MERCY, EVEN WHEN HE SITS IN JUDGMENT. Here it applies to one place, while there it applies to the whole world, TO WHICH HE ALWAYS SHOWS MERCY AND NEVER CHANGES. This is why He blessed Abraham AT THE TIME WHEN JUDGMENT WAS EXECUTED ON SODOM. Abraham is considered as the whole world, because it is written, "These are the generations of the heaven and the earth when they were created (Heb. Behibar'am)" (Beresheet 2:4) and we have learned THAT BEHIBAR'AM CONTAINS THE LETTERS OF BeAbraham ('with Abraham'). THEREFORE, HE WAS CONSIDERED AS THE WHOLE WORLD.
208. The numerical value of the letters in yihyeh ('shall...become') is 30. And we have learned that the Holy One, blessed be He, arranged for each generation to have thirty righteous men, just as Abraham had for his generation. THIS MEANS, AS IT IS WRITTEN, "THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH WHEN THEY WERE CREATED (BEHIBAR'AM)," WHICH IS THE COMBINATION OF THE LETTERS BEABRAHAM, FOR WHOSE SAKE THE WORLD WAS CREATED. AND HE SAYS, THERE ARE THIRTY RIGHTEOUS MEN IN EACH AND EVERY GENERATION, FOR WHOSE SAKE THE WORLD WAS CREATED, AS IT WAS CREATED FOR THE SAKE OF ABRAHAM.
209. He opened with the verse, "He was more honorable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three..." (II Shmuel 23:23). "He was more honorable than the thirty" refers to the thirty righteous men whom the Holy One, blessed be He, had called upon to come into this world in every generation so the world will not remain without them. And of Benaiah, the son of Jehoida, it is written, "He was most honorable among the thirty," as he was one of them, "but he attained not to the first three" because he is not of equal importance as the first three, upon whom the world is established.
210. Thus, "but he attained not to the first three" MEANS THAT HE IS NOT EQUAL TO THE THREE UPON WHOM THE WORLD IS ESTABLISHED. He was not counted as one of them. He deserved to be included among the thirty righteous men, but he was not on a level with "the first three," and was not privileged to be associated with them as an equal. "Yihyeh ('shall...become')," as we have learned, is numerically equal to thirty, and for that the Holy One, blessed be He, blessed him so that HE COULD BECOME EQUAL TO ALL the 30 righteous people.