by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS LECH L'CHO 5764 BS"D
Ch. 12, v. 1: "Va'yomer Hashem el Avrom lech l'cho" - And Hashem said to Avrom, Go for your benefit - This command is one of the 10 tests to which Avrohom was subjected. He had already passed the more challenging task of Ur Kasdim, when he was challenged to either renounce his belief in Hashem or be thrown into a fiery cauldron. However, this incident is not recorded in the Torah, leading the Ibn Ezra to question if it ever happened, notwithstanding Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer, which records it.
Positing that it took place, we can explain why the Torah did not mention it overtly. Since Avrohom did not receive a command from Hashem it is of less import than when Avrohom passed even an easier challenge that came as a command. The Sfas Emes on parshas Shmini writes that the main thrust of the words of a birkas hamitzvos, "Asher kidshonu b'mitzvosov v'tzivonu .." is V'TZIVONU. We become somewhat sanctified by doing that which is right, but mainly because it is Hashem's COMMAND.
Ch. 12, v. 2: "Ve'h'yei brochoh" - And be a blesser - Rashi says that although we say "Elokei Avrohom Elokei Yitzchok vEilokei Yaakov, when it comes to the end of the blessing we only say "mo'gein Avrohom." This is explained homiletically by Rabbi Shimon Shkop. He says that the "ending" refers to the final generation before the coming of Moshiach. One might think that it will be crowned with people of great stature in the realm of "avodoh," service of Hashem, the trademark of Yitzchok, and in the realm of Torah, the trademark of Yaakov. However, it is the trademark of Avrohom, our Patriarch who came to understand and serve Hashem by himself, and also taught others, bringing them to believe in Hashem and to serve Him, that will mark the generation that will greet Moshiach. That generation will see a great surge of "baa'lei teshuvoh."
Ch. 12, v. 9: "Holoch v'no'so'a haNegboh" - Walking and traveling to the south - The word "holoch" appears four times in Tanach, here, "holoch v'chosor" (Breishis 8:5), "holoch voshov" (Breishis 8:3), and "holoch v'go'deil" (Breishis 26:13). This teaches us an important lesson in how to study Torah. One should not learn vast amounts and only afterwards review his studies. Rather, he should review his studies after a relatively short amount of material has been covered, even though this entails reviewing at frequent intervals. If one is "holoch v'noso'a," moves along in his studies and covers great distances, then "holoch v'chosor," he will lose a lot of his knowledge. If he is "holoch voshov," moves along in his studies and immediately reviews, then "holoch v'go'deil," he will move along in his studies and become great. (Galanter Rov in Eitz Chaim)
Ch. 12, v. 10: "Va'y'hi ro'ov bo'oretz vayei'red Avrom Mitzraymoh" - And there was a famine in the land and Avrom descended to Egypt - Avrom left the land simply because he feared that the local people would say that Avrom the Ivri was the cause for the famine. Jews are always the scapegoat for all problems. (Abarbanel)
Ch. 12, v. 11: "Hi'nei noh yodati ki ishoh y'fas ma'reh ot" - Behold I now have become aware that you are a beautiful woman - Rashi asks why Avrohom became aware of this just now. There are two types of beauty. One is of a spiritual nature, when one sees sanctity on the face of another and this creates an appearance of beauty. There is a second type of beauty and it is simply physical. Rashi on Breishis 11:29 d.h. "Yiskoh" mentions two opinions regarding this name for Soroh. One is that she is covered with the Holy Spirit, the first type of beauty, and one is that all stare at her beauty, the second type of beauty. Until now Avrohom beheld his wife as beautiful, but felt that it was of a spiritual nature. Now that he entered the land of Egypt, the stronghold of impurity, the power of spiritual beauty surely wanes in such an environment. Since he still perceived her as beautiful, he remarked that he had just now become aware of her physical beauty as well. (Malbim)
Ch. 12, v. 13: "Imri noh achosi ot" - Please say that you are my sister - We translate "noh" in this verse to mean PLEASE. Rabbi Yitzchok of Volozhin translates it as NOW. Start referring to yourself as my sister NOW, as we enter Egypt, and not only when asked about our relationship. Otherwise there is the fear that someone might hear you referring to yourself as my wife and the news might reach the ears of someone who might want to do away with me.
Ch. 13, v. 11: "Va'yisa Lote mi'kedem" - And Lote traveled from the east - Rashi in a manner of "drush" explains that Lote traveled from "kadmono shel olom," the primary being of the world, saying "I do not want any part of Avrohom nor his Hashem." Lote later sired Amon and Moav (Breishis 19:36-38). Here Lote said that he wanted no part in Avrohom, and Hashem reciprocated by prohibiting his descendants from entering into marriage with the Jewish nation, "Lo yovo Amoni uMo'ovi bikhal Hashem .. ad olom" (Dvorim 23:4). (M'oroh Shel Torah)
Ch. 14, v. 3: "Hu yam Ha'melach" - It is the salt-sea - Rashi on verse 7 twice states that names mentioned in the verse were not yet existant and yet were used in the verse "al shem ho'osid," because they would be so named in the future. If so, why didn't Rashi say the same here, four verses earlier,since it only became Yam Ha'melach after S'dome and Amoroh were destroyed? I believe the answer is very simple, but await your response.
Ch. 14, v. 18: "U'Malki Tzedek" - And Malki Tzedek - Verses 18 through 20 seem to interject a non sequitir in the middle of the story of the king of S'dome's splitting the spoils of the war with Avrohom. We can say that originally the king of S'dome assumed that since Avrohom's motivation to enter into the fray was only to save his nephew Lote, he would surely be magnanimous and give all the spoils to the king of S'dome However, once he saw that Avrohom gave a tithe of the spoils to Malki Tzedek he realized that Avrohom had the intention to keep them. (Chid"o in the name of Rabbi Shabsi Nag'ara)
Ch. 14, v. 18: "Hotzi lechem voyoyin" - Took out bread and wine - Since this was the first night of Pesach he took out bread, i.e. matzos, and wine for the four cups of the seder. (M'va'seir Sholom)
Ch. 14, v. 23: "V'lo somar ani he'esharti es Avrom" - And you will not say that I have made Avrom wealthy - In previous issues there were numerous explanations for the difference between this situation and that of Avrohom's accepting gifts from Paroh (12:16). Another offering: By Paroh Avrohom made no physical effort to acquire the possessions. He clearly understood that they came as a gift from Hashem through the conduit Paroh. Here Avrohom risked his life and fought valiantly. He feared that he might fall prey to "kochi v'otzem yodi," so he vowed to not accept anything from the king of S'dome. By doing this he strengthened his belief in Hashem's being the One who sends a person his livelihood. This was the intention of his words, "harimosi yodi el Hashem .. ko'nei shomayim vo'oretz" (verse 22). (A'fi'kei Yehudoh) A bit of manipulating is required to explain the words "v'lo somar .." according to this explanation, as the main thrust is not the attitude of the king of S'dome, but rather, Avrohom's attitude.
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