Points to Ponder

Lech Lecha 5777

And I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great and you will be a Beracha (12:2) – The Gemara (Pesachim 117b) notes that this refers to the fact that we bless Hashem by referring to all of the Avos but close with Mogen Avraham alone. Rav Yitzchak Koppelman ztl. notes that Avraham was unique among the Avos for he was the only one who had no Mesorah and needed to develop his awareness of Hashem on his own. Thus, Hashem told him, lest you think that similar to your experience, at the time of Moshiach many will need to respond without personal Mesorah and still achieve a calling in the name of Hashem.

And he called in the name of Hashem (12:8) – In Pirkei Avos we read that there were 10 generations from Noach to Avraham and Avraham came and took the reward due to them all. The Sefer Lechem Shomayim asks why? Why do we not account for Shem and Eiver? Rav Ovadiah Yosef ztl. answers that the difference between them and Avraham was that he was Moser Nefesh to proclaim the name of Hashem publically. He made it his life’s mission to make sure that anyone he met would call out in the name of Hashem. Thus, he gets THEIR Sachar too. This is similar to the tenth man at the minyan who affords the other 9 to daven. He gets the Sachar not to their detriment but he afforded them the opportunity to Daven.

And to Avraham they were good because of her (12:16) – How could Avraham agree to accept gifts from the king of Egypt and not from the king of Sodom? Rav Elyashiv ztl. suggested that when he went to Egypt, Avraham did not seek to live there. He was merely waiting out the famine. However, when he was in Gerar he was a citizen. Thus, as a citizen he was subject to the rules of the land. In Egypt he was not. Having been insulted as a visiting diplomat, he accepted gifts – not for himself but rather for the affront to the general world culture at the time.

Not from a thread or a shoelace (14:23) – Chazal connect the idea of the shoelace to the shoe of Aliyah L’Regel. What is the connection all about? Rav Zechariah Tubi Shlita suggested that Aliyah L’Regel is the Jew’s opportunity to recognize that everything he has is from Hashem. He leaves his domicile and goes up to Hashem at personal financial risk. Still Hashem promises Lo Yachamod Ish Es Artzeicha BaAloseicha – no one will desire your land when you go up and Hashem will protect you since it all comes from him anyway. The same is true here – Avraham tells the king of Sodom that everything comes from Hashem and he does not want anyone to tell him otherwise.

And the land did not let them live together (13:6) – Why does the Possuk mention that the land didn’t let them live together and then repeats that due to their wealth they could not live together? Rav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Kiryas Melech explains that at first the issue was one of finances. However, as the Midrash explains, the differences rose above the finances into spiritual matters and rose above the Shepards and began to split Avraham and Lot. Hence,  the double language.

With what shall I know that I will inherit the land (15:8) – Rashi comments that the interest here was to know with which merit would Avraham’s children merit the land. Rav Schachter Shlita often cited the comments of the Netziv who explained that the intent of Irasheinah refers not to Yirusha but rather to a process of seizing. They were asked with what will they acquire the land (like V’Horashem Es HaAretz).

Sarai took Hagar her Egyptian maidservant at the end of 10 years (16:3) – The Gemara (Yevamos 64) learns that one needs to marry a different wife if a couple cannot procreate after 10 years of trying. Tosafos (Chagigah 2b)  explains that a Jewish child whose mother is a Canaanite maidservant does not fulfill his father’s procreation obligation. That being the case, what did Sarai’s actions help here? Rav Noson Gestetner ztl. explains that only after the command of Bris Milah was Avraham commanded not to intermarry. Prior to that, he was not. During those times, biblical lineage followed the patriarchical line. Ergo, a child born to Avraham and Hagar would be Jewish and aligned with Avraham’s destiny. 

Haftorah: Who was awakened from the East (Yeshaya 41: 15) – This Possuk references Avraham. But why? Rav Gideon Weitzman Shlita explains that Avraham was able to be taken from  Ur Kasdim and brought to Israel but Hashem wanted to make the move and take the initiative. Hashem would finish the job. This is part of the job of Lech Lecha.