Lech-Lecha 5774 – Gilayon #820


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Parshat Lech-Lecha

Abraham took

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 land

of Canaan.

(Breishit, 12:5)


And his brother's son Lot, because he followed Abraham

and went with him. They had amassed – he and Lot

together amassed money and other possessions. And the

persons that they had acquired in Haran,

the servants and maids that they acquired in Haran …"And have won this wealth for

me," (Deuteronomy 8:17). Onkelos is of the opinion that these people also believed

in the faith of Abraham, our father, because Lot

was also a believer and followed him. Lot

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.

(Radak, ibid)


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.

(Haskuni, ibid)


…And the persons that they

had acquired…. – who studied the Torah (oriita).

(Targum Onkelos, ibid)


Lech-lecha: the God of Abraham

Yossi Hatav

Our father

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.

Likewise, it

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

understood rationally.

And here

in our Parsha, about "the persons whom he

acquired in Haran,"

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

forests of Haran,

but taught Torah, and thought and pondered together with these "people".

The scheme

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.

During the

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??

Just in

case, Abraham suggests to God "that Ishmael shall live before him."


suggestion to Lot to separate as to prevent

quarrelling is based on the logic of preserving the correct relationship

between them, intellectual argument, with no empty arguments, but as the

acceptable solution.


also uses his intellect in his request to save Sodom to convince God to give up his plan of

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 Beersheba. "In the name of the Lord the God of the world" in the

next parsha, Veyereh.

The climax

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 land

of Moriah.

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.

Thank God,

and thanks to our Talmudic Torah tradition, the nation of Israel established

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."

Finally, the

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."

The father's

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."


Avraham, Avraham

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 tefilin

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

Usually, sometimes

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 Lot, that it could

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 Sodom is known.

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.

The Gmara

(Bavli Yebamoth 14:72) describes a dispute between Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai, on basic principles, and this is the language of

the Talmud:

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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