For the week ending 20 October 2007 / 8 Heshvan 5768

Parshat Lech Lecha

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Ten generations have passed since Noach. Man has descended spiritually. In the year 1948 from Creation, Avram is born. By observing the world, Avram comes to recognize G-ds existence, and thus merits that G-d appear to him. At the beginning of this weeks Torah portion G-d tells Avram to leave his land, his relatives and his father's house and travel to an unknown land where G-d will make him into a great nation. Avram leaves, taking with him his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, their servants, and those whom they converted to faith in G-d. When they reach the land of Canaan, G-d appears to Avram and tells him that this is the land that He will give to his descendants. A famine ensues and Avram is forced to relocate to Egypt to find food. Realizing that his wifes beauty would cause his death at the hand of the Egyptians, Avram asks her to say that she is his sister. Sarai is taken to Pharaoh, but G-d afflicts Pharaoh and his court with severe plagues and she is released unmolested. Avram returns to Eretz Yisrael (Canaan) with much wealth given to him by the Egyptians. During a quarrel over grazing rights between their shepherds, Avram decides to part ways with his nephew Lot. Lot chooses to live in the rich but corrupt city of Sodom in the fertile plain of the Jordan. A war breaks out between the kings of the region and Sodom is defeated. Lot is taken captive. Together with a handful of his converts, Avram rescues Lot, miraculously overpowering vastly superior forces, but Avram demurs from accepting any of the spoils of the battle. In a prophetic covenant, G-d reveals to Avram that his offspring will be exiled to a strange land where they will be oppressed for 400 years, after which they will emerge with great wealth and return to Eretz Yisrael, their irrevocable inheritance. Sarai is barren and gives Hagar, her Egyptian hand-maiden, to Avram in the hope that she will provide them with a child. Hagar becomes arrogant when she discovers that she is pregnant. Sarai deals harshly with her, and Hagar flees. On the instruction of an angel Hagar returns to Avram, and gives birth to Yishmael. The weekly portion concludes with G-d commanding Avram to circumcise himself and his offspring throughout the generations as a Divine covenant. G-d changes Avrams name to Avraham, and Sarais name to Sarah. Hashem promises Avraham a son, Yitzchak, despite Avraham being ninety-nine years old and Sarah ninety. On that day, Avraham circumcises himself, Yishmael and all his household.


Essential not Consequential

“…and all the families of the earth will bless themselves by you.” (12:3)

Our introduction to Avraham Avinu in this week’s Torah portion must rank as one of the most perfunctory of all time.

Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, G-d chooses to conduct the entire future of the world through a single man — Avraham Avinu — and his progeny.

Why doesn’t the written Torah tell us a little about Avraham’s background?

Avraham was the first person to recognize G-d; he was like a traveler who comes upon a mansion ablaze with light and surmises that the mansion has to have an owner. So too Avraham saw this wonderful world of light and knew it had to have an Owner. Then G-d revealed Himself to Avraham.

Yet the written Torah makes no mention of this or any of the other great qualities of Avraham.

Why is Avraham seemingly thrust into the limelight with no mention of his credentials?

The spiritual masters teach us that any love that depends on something else will evaporate when the ‘something else’ disappears. The divorce courts are full of wives who married rich men who became poor, and husbands who married thin wives who committed the unspeakable crime of getting fat.

True love is a unique species in our world. It is the only thing where the cause is the effect and the effect is the cause. Real love means you love someone because …you love them. Why do you love them? Because you love them.

True love is like two mirrors facing each other reflecting till eternity.

If the Torah had listed Avraham’s credentials, we might have concluded that G-d’s choice of Avraham was based on those qualities, and that if, at some point in the future, his offspring no longer exemplified those traits, G-d would call the deal off; He would reconsider His choice.

Thus the Torah says nothing of Avraham’s great qualities to teach us that G-d’s great love for Avraham and the Jewish People is essential, not consequential.

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