Lech-Lecha 5774 – Gilayon #820
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his wife Sarai and his brother's son Lot, and all the
wealth that they had amassed, and the persons that they had acquired; and they
set out for the
And his brother's son
and went with him. They had amassed – he and
together amassed money and other possessions. And the
persons that they had acquired in
the servants and maids that they acquired in
me," (Deuteronomy 8:17). Onkelos is of the opinion that these people also believed
in the faith of Abraham, our father, because
was also a believer and followed him.
would also teach the people and prove to them the belief in God and to worship
him alone and not idols. That is why he said they acquired and not he
acquired. Our sages (B"R 36:14) taught that they had
acquired, referred to Abraham and Sarai; he
converted the men and she converted the women, they had acquired, as it
is said "He who made Moses and Aaron" (Samuel 1 12:6), that brought them up and taught them. "…and they set
out," all of them were spiritually ready to go with Abraham.
…And the persons that
they had acquired – Rabi Eliyahu taught: This is
the beginning of the giving of the law and Targum Onkelos attests to this.
…And the persons that they
had acquired…. – who studied the Torah (oriita).
(Targum Onkelos, ibid)
Lech-lecha: the God of Abraham
Abraham was a "Rambamist." As the Rambam wrote in Laws of Repentance, (10:1), "So everyone must set himself
the task of understanding and comprehending the various explanations and
analyses of God to the best of his intellectual abilities, as we explained in Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah (The Laws of the Foundation of the Torah)… And
this attribute is very great and not every wise man merits it. And Abraham, our
father, had this attribute, as the Lord called him his lover, as he worshipped
him out of love."
understanding of the Lord that he discovered himself was a rational
understanding. A short survey of his actions and activities in the world, as
reflected in the MIdrash and the Torah, itself, reflect
that the mind, the rationale and the comprehension were his guideposts in life.
discovered that God created the world as the supreme Almighty God, "My
name, I made not known to them," The Torah tells us in Parshat
Vaera that looking at the movements of the sun and
the moon logically proved the existence of God to Abraham.
does not make sense to him, with his intellect, that a big idol can break small
idols or that idols can quarrel amongst themselves. The existence of God is
in our Parsha, about "the persons whom he
Midrash Tanchuma (Lech-Lecha 12) tells us, "And who are
these people? Abraham taught them to fear the lord and taught them the Torah,"
and Reish Lakish adds: "And
all who teach his fellow man the word of Torah, it is as if he created them."
And other sources tell us that "acquiring is acquiring intellectually, and
adapting the teaching for his needs." According to the Rambam,
I assume that Abraham and Sarah didn't dance and shout in the streets and
but taught Torah, and thought and pondered together with these "people".
that Abraham devised as a result of the famine was the product of the rationale
of Abraham, when he was under pressure between starving to death and dying on
the background of a romantic setting. He observes the customs of the place and
builds a scenario that saves him and his wife and also makes him very wealthy, in
retrospect. He does not pray, does not sacrifice and does not do any magic. He
thinks and plots – and what worked with Pharoah will
work with Avimelech.
covenant made with God, which is a mystical, mysterious experience, he is not
particularly impressed, but just to be safe, he asks, "How will I know I
will inherit?!" Abraham requests convincing proof.
announcement of the birth of Isaac, that he waited for, for 100 years, should
have filled him with supreme happiness, praise for the Lord and cause him to
make some kind of offering, something. But no! It doesn't jog with his
knowledge of male and female physiology, "And he says in his heart: Shall
a son be born to me after 100 years and to Sarah at 90 years?!" And in the
next Parsha, Sarah also adds, like her husband, "Now
that I am withered am I to leave enjoyment – with my husband so old?!" Nu…really??
case, Abraham suggests to God "that Ishmael shall live before him."
quarrelling is based on the logic of preserving the correct relationship
between them, intellectual argument, with no empty arguments, but as the
also uses his intellect in his request to save
destruction: God forbid you should kill a righteous man with an evil one with
your actions…shall the judge of all the earth not do justice? Not logical – does
not make sense.
But with the
many interventions of God in Abraham's life, the relationship between them changes
and the involvement becomes more and more emotional. In the quarrel between his
wife and maidservant Hagar, he acts on an emotional feeling against his better
judgment and even against his values, in order to preserve "Shalom Bayit," peace in the household, with God's, consultation
With Avimelech, and for the first time, Abraham turns to God as "THE
God "as a partner with Avimelech in
next parsha, Veyereh.
of the revolution from Supreme God, based on rational knowledge to the
emotional attachment, happens during the binding of Isaac, which is the most
irrational, illogical, nonsensical thing that God could demand of Abraham, and
Abraham, to our surprise, agrees to execute. With his complete devotion, Abraham
was prepared to go further than God. In opposition to commentaries who argue
that the intention "to sacrifice him" was only a prayer and a
spiritual sacrifice, Abraham took a knife and kindling to slaughter and burn
to Yeshayahu Leibowitz, at
the beginning, Abraham's fear of God was utilitarian-pragmatic. "There is
no fear of God in this place, "therefore, this is the custom. The role of
God was to regulate human relations with Abraham not playing a role. We, as
human beings, do have a role.
Leibowitz adds: the binding of Isaac
comes to tell us the difference between two kinds of "fear of God" or
of faith, which is the difference between the meaning of standing before the
king who lives in the land of the Philistines and between the meaning of
standing before God in the
Here, in the binding of Isaac, the test of utilitarianism is fear of God, the
fear that brought Abraham our father to his actions to do the unthinkable.
teaches us: Faith, rational involvement with the Lord, can be conveyed for
awhile, to arouse an interest in a spiritual power, but a rational stance can
be nullified by a counter rational argument. Take the erudite argument of
Richard Dawkins and other atheists. And on the other hand: faith, attachment to
the Lord that is wholly reliant on experience, on the mystical, or an
amalgamation of feeling, is dangerous in its own right. See the bloody battle
between the Catholics and Protestants in the Christian world and between the
Shiites and the Sunnis in the Muslim world.
and thanks to our Talmudic Torah tradition, the nation of
its faith and practice of its faith, also on intellectual learning, rational
debate and intimacy and devotion to God in prayer, festivals, etc. as well. But
this danger of extreme religious experience has lurked in the background in
different era. Shabataism is an example of this and
in our times we are not immune from this danger. Therefore, learning Torah
protects us from both intellectual extremism and mystical extremism. As the Rambam suggests "and this is the attribute that the
blessed Holy Lord has commanded us thru Moshe Rabbeinu,
as it says "You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with
all your soul and all your being" and while he loves God properly, immediately
he will fulfill the mitsvot out of love."
Rambam is justified when he says in Hilhot Deot: "Knowing the
real God is when man realized that he is not capable of knowing god."
deeds are an omen to his sons, is the message of our father Abraham. "Remain
sane and sober in your faith and be sensitive of your feelings in God's
presence. Do not come close to my dangerous extremism.
…And in the
Golden Path presented by Rambam, we will walk because
‘its ways are ways of pleasantness and its paths lead to peace."
Go, Avram, go
Your place is on the road
You are not wanted in our midst
From our place you are banished
Go, Avram, go
Your star is fading
Once there was radiance
You were living waters to a well
Wisdom and ethics you showered on us
Until the feeling of humiliation
And therefore to revenge
On your being exalted
You were locked in ghettoes
You were wiped out in the disturbances
You were humiliated with hats
You were pained with blindfolds
You were downtrodden to the ground
Until your vows were broken
And you still remained contented
Believing in your Torah
But having difficulty in explain
Go, Avram, go
Your way is still long
Until you will be called Avraham
Loved and accepted by all the people
Everyman needs a person to emulate
My wife and I put on tefilin
Every day we take turns
One day she puts on the head tefilin for
And I on the arm for commands
Our children know who to turn to everyday
To consult, to philosophize with and to transform
And from whom to stay clear of their strictness
Our children are smart
More than we know
You and us they are testing everyday
Our wants and wishes they reveal
And act appropriately
A complex and complicated mix
Of possibility and necessity
Of give and take
Of warmth and charm
Of the forgiving stick
And the carrot that cuts
Of security and worry
Of aggressiveness and doubt
In a whisper and a shout
Always! And forever with love.
Hagar my Hand Servant
I give thee a gift, my lady
Happiness Hagar gave to Sarah
To your beloved husband, I am expecting a child
Your wish and command
Soon the Lord will help
A son will be had by Abraham and Sarah
And I will always remain your maid servant
Sarah did not understand Hagar's joy
From her sadness and jealousy
She accused Hagar of adultery
As if she had stolen her husband
And awakened him in love
And she was betrayed by her naïve husband
A women's jealousy is as dangerous as murder
Sarah could not look at Hagar
And immediately banished her
But the merciful God returned her
And Sarah has no choice
But to deliver Hagar's baby
And at the same time she cursed the child
And even so she raised him for years
But with no warmth or love
And it is no wonder that he grew to be a wild man
And his younger brother irritated and bothered him
And now Sarah finally has a reason to banish the son of the maid
And Abraham had no choice
Because the Lord commanded him
Do all that Sarah tells you
He wanted to preserve peace in the household
With a heavy heart he banished his son and his mother, the maid
But in his heart he loved them
Many years Abraham waited
Until his wife, his partner, died and was buried
And he search for Hagar and found her
And this time he married her happily
And to Ishmael and Isaac were joined
Brothers and sisters together
And here in the world peace prevailed.
Dr. Yossi Hatav
is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst
18TH Anniversary of the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin
To Remember Lest We Forget
On Saturday night, Parshat Lech-Lecha, 18 years ago,
the eve of 18 Marheshvan, the Prime Minister of
Israel was assassinated at the conclusion of a rally whose slogan was: "Yes
to peace, no to violence." The relevance and memory and its intensity
change with the passing years, therefore we ask:
Is there still a reason, after
all, to remember and commemorate the day of the assassination, and, if yes, what
is the meaning of memory in 5774?
It seems to me, particularly,
with the episode of the quarrel between the shepherds of Avram
and the shepherds of
present to us sharply the possibilities that are confronting Israeli society.
The quarrel over values
between the shepherds from the House of Abraham and House of Lot was solved by
separating the two "brothers", but the miserable demise of Lot in
It could be that the
possibility to separate when there is no agreement on a preferred way, is
preferable to "wiping" out the opponent, but that also is not the
zenith of the fulfillment of the Zionist vision. It seems that the ability to
tolerate different and difficult ideological opinions in one society is the challenge
that is necessary.
(Bavli Yebamoth 14:72) describes a dispute between Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai, on basic principles, and this is the language of
Come and hear: Although Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel are in disagreement on the
questions of rivals, sisters, an old bill of divorce, a doubtfully married
woman, a woman whom her husband had divorced and who stayed with him over the
night in an inn, money, valuables, a perutah and the
value of a perutah, Beth Shammai
did not, nevertheless, abstain from marrying women of the families of Beth
Hillel, nor did Beth Hillel refrain from marrying those of Beth Shammai. This is to teach you that they showed love and
friendship towards one another, thus putting into practice the
Scriptural text, "Love
ye truth and peace." (Zachariah 8)
Respect and listening to
ideological opponents, and a democratic resolution of issues that demand resolution,
while constant effort towards truth and peace, will give meaning and
constructive relevance to the memory and the assassination.
The editor, Pinchas Leiser
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