Parashas Lech Lecha
I Will Show You
"Hashem said to Avram, 'Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you'" (Bereshis 12:1). What will Hashem show Avram? The land? That is the most common explanation of these words. The Meshech Chochma offers a different explanation.
Hashem commanded Avram to go to a special place. Adam HaRishon and Noach had offered up their sacrifices in this place. This land had been specially designated for serving Hashem from the beginning of time. There, and only there, would Avram be able to show the world that Hashem exists, and to sanctify His Holy Name. In doing so, Avram would discover a wonderful thing. He would see the kochos (spiritual strengths) hidden deep within his heart. Hashem would find him to be a faithful servant.
This is the meaning of the words, "that I will show you." It is not referring to the land; rather it is referring to the hidden strength of Avram. "In that land I will show you who you really are. In that land, you will become a spiritual giant. In that land you will pass the tests, and in doing so sanctify My Holy Name. In that land, your hidden strengths will be revealed for all to see. I will show the world who you really are - My faithful servant, Avram."
Kinderlach . . .
In addition to explaining the first verse in the parasha, the Meshech Chochma gives us an insight into Divine tests. Hashem confronts us with difficult situations every day. We can look at them as troubles or opportunities to grow. We all have tremendous kochos buried deep within our hearts. We have the ability to become outstanding people - rachmonim (compassionate), bayshonim (modest), and gomlei chassadim (kind). We can fulfill our potential in Torah learning. The tests challenge us to bring out our kochos and use them. Then they will become revealed. Then Hashem can say about us, "I will show them what is in your heart."
It's Not Me
"What are you reading, Avi?"
"A war story, Abba. It is really action packed."
"Really? What is the name of the book?"
"The Chumash, Abba. I am reading this week's parasha. 'And it happened in the days of Amraphel . . .' (Bereshis 14:1-16) the first world war in history. Four kings and their armies went to war against the legions of five kings. Although the four kings were small in number, they had great power, and were able to defeat the five kings. They captured Lot from Sdom (who was one of the five kings.) When Avram was informed that his nephew had been taken captive, he and his household (just 318 people) immediately set out to pursue the four powerful kings. He placed himself in mortal danger to save his nephew. A great miracle happened . . . Avram won! After the war, the king of Sdom went out to meet him, bless him, and offer Avram the spoils of the war."
"Avi, you give me so much nachas! You learn the Chumash with all of your heart! Tell me, what was Avram's reply to the offer of the spoils?"
"Avram said to the king of Sdom, 'I lift up my hand to Hashem, G-d, the Most High, Maker of heaven and earth' (Bereshis 14:22). He then refused to take any possessions."
"Very good, Avi. The Meshech Chochma has a fascinating explanation of this declaration. Avram was giving all of the credit for his amazing victory to The Almighty. Hashem is the One Who guides a man's steps. He fights the wars. Only a fool can think that his own strength brought him victory. Therefore, Avram was saying that he lifts up his hand to Hashem; the One Who brought him success in the war. The spoils are His. If Avram would gain pleasure from them, it would be like benefiting from hekdesh (holy things)."
"Our father Avram was a very holy man, Abba. He never passed up an opportunity to give credit to Hashem, and to reveal and sanctify His Holy Name in this world."
"Yes, Avi. That is his legacy. Our life's work is to try to emulate him."
Kinderlach . . .
You can be like Avraham Avinu. How? By making a Kiddush Hashem. The Torah relates that Avram praised Hashem after a dramatic military victory. We do not need to wait for such a big event. We can praise Him every day. As the Meshech Chochma says, "He is the One Who guides a man's steps." Praise Hashem when you are walking. He gave you the ability to put one foot in front of the other. Talk to Him. Tell Him how much you love Him and appreciate His Kindness. Praise Hashem when you are eating, by blessing Him before and after you eat the food. Praise him when you wake up, and when you go to sleep. Kinderlach, practically every moment of your life is an opportunity to praise Hashem. Think about Him, talk to him, and get close to Him. Just like our ancestor, Avraham Avinu.
The Ultimate Victory
"Chaim, if four kings beat five kings, then what beats four kings?"
"Right. Amazing, isn't it?"
"Yes, Avi. Rashi points this out. The four kings were fewer in number, and they still prevailed. This shows their great strength. Even so, this did not prevent Avram from pursuing them."
"I see. This was one of his ten tests, and he prevailed. The Ramban has a bit deeper explanation, based on the Medrash Rabba."
"Please share it with me, Avi."
"The four kings represent the four kingdoms that will rule the world during the Jewish exiles. Amrofel the king of Shinar represents Bavel, Aryoch the king of Elosor represents Moddai, Cardilomer the king of Elam represents Yavan, and Sidal the king of Goyim represents Edom. Avraham defeated them all. That was a sign that these four kingdoms will rise and rule over the world. However, in the end of days, the nation of Avraham Avinu, the Jewish people, will prevail over them all."
"May it happen speedily in our days."
Kinderlach . . .
The golus grows darker and darker. The ruling kingdom gains more and more power. We, the Jewish nation, remain small in number. How can we win? Do not fear. Avraham Avinu paved the way. He did not fear the might of the four powerful kings. He defeated them all. We should also not fear their might. When Hashem declares that the time has come, we will defeat them, just as our forefather Avraham did. We can only repeat Avi's words, "May it happen speedily in our days."
What is the definition of "pere adam"? (Rashi 16:12)
What is the meaning of Avram's new name? (17:5 and Rashi)
What is the disadvantage of living outside of Eretz Yisrael? (Rashi 17:8)
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