For the week ending 12 November 2016 / 11 Heshvan 5777

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 wife's beauty could 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. G-d 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.


You’ll Always Be My Baby

“...he (Avram) armed his disciples who were born in his house...” (14-14)

However many the grey hairs that appear on the heads of our offspring, or however many the lines that appear on their faces, they will never cease to be our “babies.”

Obviously the relationship of a parent to a child traverses many phases. You can’t compare diapering your son to discussing with him a moot point in Jewish law, but there is always an unchanging fixed point in that relationship.

And maybe that fact should teach something: Bringing up children doesn’t end at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. It doesn’t end when they get engaged or married. It’s a lifetime duty to be there for them. And as they grow and mature, so do their needs become more sophisticated.

“...he (Avram) armed his disciples who were born in his house...”

Rashi comments that “his disciples” refers to Eliezer, whom Avraham initiated into the performance of mitzvot. The concept of chinuch (often translated as “education”) implies the initiation of a person or, for that matter, a tool or implement, into the service that it will eventually continue to fulfill as – says Rashi - “in the case of the chinuch of children.”

If a father teaches his son Torah in his younger years, but doesn’t give sufficient care to his son’s continuing development as a Torah Jew, that cannot really be called chinuch.

It’s clear from Rashi that we can only say that we have truly ‘educated’ our children if they continue to fulfill the instruction they received in their early years.

  • Source: based on Rabbi Meir Shapira of Lublin in Mayana Shel Torah

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