פ’ לך לך תשע”ח
Volume 21, Issue 3
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך אל הארץ אשר אראך
“Go for yourself from your land, from your birthplace, to the land that I will show you.” (12:1)
Sequentially, a person first leaves his father’shome, then his birthplace, and finally his homeland. The verse, however, lists each departure not in order of precedence, but in increasing order of difficulty for Avaraham. Leaving one’s land of residence is difficult, even more so if it is his birthplace. Leaving one’s family is the hardest of all. The Torah writes it in order to show the greatness of Avaraham’s love for Hashem and how much he was willing to sacrifice for the Ribbono Shel Olam. (Ramban)
ואעשה לגוי גדול ואברכך ואגדלה שמך והיה ברכה
“I will make you into a big nation, I will bless you, make you famous and you will be a blessing.” (12:2)
QUESTION: Rashi explains that this refers to what we say in Shemoneh Esreh, “Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak, Elokei Yaakov,” but, Hashem told Avraham, “the beracha will be concluded with your name only – magen Avraham.” Wouldn’t Avraham be happier if Yitzchak and Yaakov were also mentioned in the conclusion of the beracha?
ANSWER: In Pirkei Avot (1:2) we learn that the world stands on three pillars: 1) The study of Torah, 2) avodah – the service of G-d, and 3) gemilat chasadim – acts of kindness, tzedakah. The patriarchs each epitomize one of these pillars. Avraham = chessed (21:33), Yitzchak = avodah (24:63), Yaakov = Torah (25:27).
According to Rashi, the pasuk is projecting the history of Klal Yisrael. There will be a time when the major relationship between the Jews and Hashem will be through the study of Torah (Elokei Yaakov). Other times it will be through tefillah – prayer (Elokei Yitzchak), and there will be a period when it will be through chessed – tzedakah (Elokei Avraham). However, the “concluding phase” of galut and the coming of Mashiach will not depend on all three pillars, but in zechut of tzedakah alone, which is personified by Avraham. (Vedebarta Bam)
Rashi quotes “And I will make you into a great nation” – as we say in the Amidah, “G-d of Avraham”; “and bless you” – as we say, “G-d of Yitzchak”; “and magnify your name” – as we say, “G-d of Yaakov.”
While the term “G-d of Yitzchak” was clearly a great blessing for Avraham, signifying that his son would follow in his spiritual footsteps, how was “G-d of Yaakov” a magnification of Avraham’s name?
My rebbe once explained: often a son is religious only to please his father or to avoid his wrath, not out of conviction. Once he leaves home, he will not transmit these “burdensome” traditions to his own children. Conversely, by perpetuating Jewish tradition, one implies that his father was an inspiring and loving personality. Thus, the true magnification of Avraham’s reputation as a great teacher comes with the third generation, Yaakov, whose greatness testifies to his grandfather. (Rabbi Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik)
ואת הנפש אשר עשו בחרן
“And the people that they made in Charan…” (12:5)
This refers to the people who were taught by Avraham and Sarah to recognize Hashem. The Ra’avad asks: How is beit din allowed to make the beracha of “v’tzivanu al milas geirim” upon circumcising a convert? Where is there a mitzvah in the Torah to convert other?
The Ra’avad answers that we learn it from this verse, “V’et hanefesh asher asu b’Charan”. Avraham is credited with “making people” because he converted them. While it was certainly praiseworthy that Avraham brought others closer to Hashem, where does it say that it is a mitzvah? The mitzvah is Ahavat Hashem. When one loves something, he wants to share it with as many people as he can. Converting people who want to become part of Klal Yisrael is a fulfillment of the mitzvah of Ahavat Hashem. (Rav Asher Dovid Mai)
הבט נא השמימה וספר הכוכבים אם תוכל לספר אתם ויאמר לו כה יהיה זרעך
“Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you can count them! So shall your offspring be.” (15:5)
QUESTION: In what ways are the Jewish people like stars?
ANSWER: Although the plain meaning of this statement is that the Jewish people will eventually be as numerous as the stars, its metaphorical meaning is that they will sparkle like the stars; their light is so bright that even those walking in the thick of night will not stumble. We are all Avraham’s “shining stars,” possessing sufficient moral and spiritual fortitude to prevent those around us from stumbling and to exert a positive influence on them. (Lubavitcher Rebbe)
From earth, the stars appear very small. However, in heaven, the stars are actually immense. Hashem assured Avraham that although on earth the nations of the world consider the Jewish people very small and of minor significance, in reality, in heaven, they are of primary importance. (Divrei Shaul)
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