Shalom! At the beginning of this weeks Torah reading, G-d informs Avram to leave his land, his relatives and his father's house and travel to an unknown destination where G-d would transform him into a great nation (Bereishit 12:1-2). Avram left, and took with him his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, their servants, and those whom he converted to have faith in G-d. Avram was the first so called ‘out reach (Kiruv) worker’ and had phenomenal success in helping people find the ways of G-d, he always had his tent opened to anyone who wanted to come in for a meal or for a conversation. He followed the ways of G- d and was the most approachable and well liked of all men of his era. In fact, later on in the Torah portion, G-d will change his name from Avram to Avraham, signifying his greatness in stature (Nedarim 32b)
He honored everyone he met, greeted all individuals and we learn from him an important lesson; Pirkei Avot asks ‘Who is the truly honored person?’ the answer given is ‘One who gives honor to other people. (Avot 4:1)’ Avram looked at the good in all people and brought them to follow the ways of G-d with pure joy and happiness.
When they reached the land of Canaan, G-d appeared to Avram and told him that this is the land that He will give to his descendants. A famine then ensued almost immediately in the land and Avram was then forced to relocate to Egypt to find food (Bereishit 12:10). Realizing that his wife’s beauty could potentially cause his death at the hand of the Egyptians, Avram requested her to act as his sister (Bereishit 12:13)
Sarai was taken to Pharaoh, however G-d afflicted Pharaoh and his court with severe plagues in order to prevent Pharaoh from co habiting with Sarai (Bereishit 12:17/Arachin 16), and she was released unmolested (Commentators say that Pharaoh was the first man to suffer from leprosy).
Avram then returned to Eretz Yisrael (Canaan) with much wealth given to him by the Egyptians (Bereishit 12:16), as it was customary in the old days when marrying off ones sister in the Biblical era, the man marrying the woman would shower the family of the bride with gifts and money.
The reading continues with an argument which breaks out between Avram’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds, over the grazing rights between their lands; as Lot’s shepherds were grazing their animals in fields which were not theirs. Lot and Avram then moved off to different destinations (Bereishit 13:6-9), Lot chose to move to the rich but much corrupt land of Sodom (a City which we will learn about in next weeks Torah reading).
Lot is soon after captured, in the ‘first ever World War’ between the Four kings against the Five kings (Bereishit 14:1-16), the Four kings defeated the ‘Five kings’ and they in turn captured Lot. An unlikely hero stepped in to inform Avram that his nephew, Lot, had been captured, that was the giant of the name ‘OG.’ He informed Avram, with a hidden motive, with Avram going to battle against the Four Kings, he was sure Avram would be killed, that would allow him now to marry the beautiful Sarai (Rashi).
Despite OG’s hidden agenda, he was still rewarded with a very long life, which shows that when one performs a mitzvah insincerely they still will get reward for performing them. The war resulted in victory for Avram which was miraculous as many opinions say that it was himself and his servant, Eliezer, who were able to defeat the four kings and their armies (Nedarim 32b), which proves how much Avram had G-d on his side.
The Torah portion continues with a prophetic covenant, G-d revealed to Avram that his offspring will be exiled to a strange land where they will be oppressed for 400 years, after which they would emerge very wealthy and return to Eretz Yisrael, their irrevocable inheritance (Bereishit 15:13). In fact it proved to be only 210 years and not 400 years as prophesised, the 400 years started off from the birth of Yitzchak.
The reading then continues, relating to the birth of Yishmael. Sarai was barren and gave Hagar, her Egyptian hand-maiden (daughter of Pharaoh), to Avram, in the hope that she will provide them with a child. Hagar then became arrogant when she discovered that she was pregnant. Sarai in turn dealt harshly with her (Bereishit 16:6), and Hagar fled. On the instruction of an angel, Hagar returned to Avram, and then gave birth to Yishmael (Bereishit 16:15).
The Torah reading then concludes with G-d commanding Avram to circumcise himself and his offspring throughout the generations as a Divine covenant (Bereishit 17:9-14). Circumcision should always take place on the eight day after the baby being born, however different circumstances may prevent it being taken place on that specific day.
The Haftorah of this weeks Torah reading is taken from chapter 40 in the book of Yeshaya.
This Dvar Torah is dedicated to the recovery of my grand mother, Esther Bat Rivka, please pray for her to have good health. Hope you all have a fantastic day and Incredible Shabbat!!!! Shabbat Shalom!
SHABBAT HAFTORAHT LECH LECHA
For the third consecutive week, we will be reading the Haftorah from the book of Isaiah, in fact the Haftorah will be focusing on sections of the Chapters 40 and 41, which are Chapters written just before the Haftorah for Bereishit.
There are many connections with the Haftorah and the Parshah, we almost instantly see the prophet compare Yaakov with Israel (Isaiah 40:27), in fact later on in the book of Bereishit, another name given to the patriach Yaakov will be Israel.
The Haftorah enters Chapter 41 with Isaiah stating 'He spread nations before him, and ruled over Kings, with his sword he made them as dust, with his bow, he made them scatter with the wind,' in fact this very much eludes to the War of the Four Kings against the Five Kings in this weeks Torah reading, where Avraham successfully chased and defated the mighty Four Kings, guided by Kedarlaomer. In fact the Talmud states that he defated these four mighty Kingdoms in a way as he took with him only 318 people (Nedarim 32), this was purely in order to save his nephew Lot (Bereishit 14:1-16).
Several verses later the prophet states 'Yaakov, whom I have chosen, the Seed of Avraham, who loved me (Isaiah 41:8),' This proves how Yaakov is considered a descendant of Avraham, maybe not just in his physical and spiritual make up, being the grandson of Avraham, however also in the way he had great belief in G-d and how he behaved, following the rules of the Torah to its greatest extent, as obviously at that point the Torah had not been given until we see in Parashat Yitro.
The following verse brings about another cpomparison with Parshat Lech Lecha, as the prophet states how the Jews are the most powerful of all nations, how the Jews are his servants and how he has chosen the Jews and not rejected them. In the Parshat G-d states to Avram (Bereishit 15:5) how his descendants would be so many, comparable to the the stars in the sky.