By: Rav Moshe Weber, Shlita, Editor: Rabbi I. Ido Weber Erlich, Shlita
Eng. Translation: Emanuel Behar, Ari Chester
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Lekh Lekha |
One is commanded to keep and fulfill Torah and Mitzvot for the sake of Heaven, and not for any other purpose..
One must realize that everything which he sees and hears is a result of Divine Providence (Hashkacha Pratis)..
One is obligated to exert utmost effort in bringing those around him closer to Hashem..
One must thank Hashem for all the good in his life..
Insights on life: One is commanded to keep and fulfill Torah and Mitzvot for the sake of Heaven, and not for any other Purpose, as the Sages write, “Do not be like servants who serve their master for the sake of receiving a reward, but rather be like servants who serve their master without the intent of receiving a reward” (Pirke Avot 1:3)
The significance of this Mishnah is that one must serve his master without anticipating reward for his service. There is a second version of this saying: “Be like servants who serve their master with the intent of not receiving a reward,” that is, on condition that there will be no reward. The Baal HaTosphot Yom Tov writes that the second version is the more accurate. The essential meaning of the Mishnah, writes the Baal HaTosphot, is that he who serves Hashem out of love never considers himself as having reached his potential in this service, due to his fervent, intense love of Hashem, as says the Mishnah, “and this is what Hillel said...and if I am only for myself what am I?” And the Bartenura writes, “Even if I credit myself, what is the credit, and what is the value thereof considering my obligation?’ This is the legacy of the Jewish People, the servants of Hashem, who serve Him out of love, with no intention whatsoever of receiving any reward.
To elucidate, these servants of Hashem of which we speak ideally serve Hashem by fulfilling Torah and Mitzvot for a higher purpose, namely to satisfy Him. By satisfying Hashem, they themselves are satisfied, but not because they will receive any reward for their fulfillment of the Mitzvot.
The commentators on the Mishnah ask: How can the Sages, of blessed memory, forbid serving Hashem with the intent of receiving a reward when there are many verses in the Torah urging the service of Hashem in order to receive a reward: “In order to lengthen your days”; “so that it will be good for you...”; “In order to lengthen your days and the days of your children...”; and so forth. This difficulty is resolved as follows: Not everyone is capable of understanding the true value of a mitzvah, which is to satisfy Hashem; this is more important then anything in the world. What is a mitzvah? It is an action with joins and connects us to Hashem, as understood from the word “mitzvah” itself, which linguistically suggest association and unification. A mitzvah, connects and joins one mitzvah to another; that is, the reward and consequence of one mitzvah is a second mitzvah, which connects us to Hashem even more! Yet this is difficult for most people to realize. Therefore, the Torah tells us of the physical reward for Mitzvot as an incentive to fulfill them. So even though the mitzvah is performed for the wrong reasons, ultimately it will be for the sake of Heaven, namely, to satisfy Hashem; for one mitzvah will result in another mitzvah, connecting and joining us to Hashem, for which one will understand the true essence of a mitzvah. Thus the Sages, of blessed memory, write, “A person should always learn [Torah] even if it is not for the right reason, because by doing this he will ultimately learn for the sake of Heaven.
Furthermore, the Torah explicitly states the physical reward of a mitzvah so as to test each Jew. For although a Jew knows the physical reward of a mitzvah, he is obligated to fulfill the mitzvah because it is a commandment of Hashem, and not because of the physical gain, the reward. This is why the Torah informs us of the physical reward and not the spiritual reward, as discussed above: to test each Jew, to determine if he is fulfilling the mitzvah for the physical reward, that which is visibly manifest and apparent, or for the very fact that the mitzvah is a commandment of Hashem.
What is the source in the Parsha? “So Abraham went as Hashem had spoken to him”. The Torah tells us here that Abraham did not go to the Land of Israel because of any reward or gain as promised in the Torah; this is the meaning of, “And so Abraham went.” Rather, he went to the Land of Israel only because Hashem commanded him to do so. From this we can understand the verse, “and you found his heart loyal before you”. Abraham fulfilled the will of Heaven with a loyal heart before the Holy One, blessed be He.
Insights on Life: One must realize that everything which he sees and hears is a result of Divine Providence, from which he must learn how to live his life and act according to Torah. (From the Pri HaAretz in Parshat Pinchas, in the name of the Baal Shem Tov.)
What is the source in the Parsha? “See now, I have known that you are a woman of beautiful appearance.” Rashi says, “Until now, he [Abraham] had not perceived her [Sarah’s] beauty, owing to the extreme modesty of both of them; now, however, through this event, he became cognizant of it.” “That they passed through water and he saw her reflection in the water” (Sifsay Chochomim). When Abraham our Father inadvertently saw the face of his wife, Sarah, in the water, he realized this event was Divine Providence. From this he concluded that the Egyptians must not be aware that Sarah was his wife. So he requested that she claim to be his sister; and through this, both of them were saved.
Insights on Life: One is obligated to exert utmost effort in bringing those around him closer to Hashem, specifically his relatives (from the Sh’lah). Our sages, of blessed memory, say that the verse in Isaiah 50:8, “then you shall call, and the Lord will answer,” refers to he who brings those around him closer to Hashem, especially his friends and relatives.
What is the source in the Parsha? “And when Abraham heard that his kinsman [Lot] was taken captive...”(Bereshis 14:14). Upon hearing this, Abraham risked his life to save his nephew, Lot.
Insights on Life: One must thank Hashem for all the good in his life. We must thank Hashem for the goodness He bestows upon us, and for His kindness, mercy, and charity, but not because we deserve such grace owing to our limited merits.
What is the source in the Parsha? “And he [Abraham] trusted in Hashem, and he reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Bereshis 15:6). Abraham believed in G-d and he considered it due to the righteousness of the Holy One, blessed be He, that He would give him a child under all circumstances, and not because of Abraham’s state of righteousness and reward (Ramban).
Themes in the Parsha.
“Go away from your land - to a land that I will show you” (Berashit 12:1)..
“Every man, wise of heart, knows that the souls of the wicked are not like the souls of the Nation of Israel,” because wicked souls are from the outside world of division, whereas the souls of the righteous are from the holy world of unification. Therefore, the souls of the Jews are all considered as one, as it says, “All of Israel are united one with the other.” We also know from the Sages, of blessed memory that anything in the realm of holiness does not leave from it’s place, but it’s primary root and source remains, and from there spreads out. These are the words of Hashem to Abraham, “Go away,...” Go away, commands Hashem, to yourself and to your source; specifically, his “source” is his connection to Hashem, and the land to which he goes is the Land of Israel. So, by living in the Land of Israel, one is connected to himself, to his source - to Hashem, and his life is thereby improved and sanctified, because he himself is not the same abroad as he is in the Land of Israel. (from the Alshich)
Regarding such advantages of dwelling in the Holy Land, the Ramban writes, “Know that the judgment of Sodom was due to the superiority of the Land of Israel, since Sodom is part of the ‘Inheritance of the Eternal’ (II Samuel 20:19), and it does not tolerate men of abominations.” And see that G-d destroyed Sodom as a sign that Israel would inherit the Holy Land, for there shall be the Temple of Hashem.” According to this, we can understand the words of Kalev ben Yephuneh: “Very, very good is the [Land of Israel], but don’t rebel against Hashem.”
Insights on life from the above: “As settlers in the Holy Land, we must be very strong in the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvot.” Thus the Gra, of blessed memory, writes, in his letters, “In the Land of Israel we must truly walk in the ways of Hashem.”
Secrets of the Torah.
“Know for sure that your decedents will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs.”.
This presents a difficulty: Since the verse says, “your descendants will be foreigners,” Why does it also say, “in a land that is not theirs,” this refers to the Nations of the Worlds, not the Jewish People. Thus the Torah says, “[Joseph] removed them in to cities,” from one end of the border of Egypt to the other (Bereshis 27:21)”. According to Rashi, Joseph did so to, “remove the shame from his brothers [the Jews], that the Egyptians should not call them ‘Exiles’ (47:21). According to the Arizal, many of the inhabitants of Egypt were themselves foreigners, as they migrated to Egypt during the famines in surrounding countries. The Jews, therefore, were foreigners, in a land wherein most of the inhabitant’s were likewise foreigners - “in a land that is not theirs.”
At the Right Moment.
And he trusted in Hashem (Bereshis 15:6).
The Baal Shem Tov and his disciple, R’ Menachem Mendel of Ber, were walking along a deserted road. They were far from any signs of civilization; all was desolate, scorched by hot summer sun. There was no water to be found in sight, no farmhouse, no well.
“What are we going to do? We will die of thirst!” R’ Menachem Mendel said desperately.
“Where is your faith in Hashem, your Bitachon?” the Baal Shem Tov chided his disciple. “Your faith has to be strong enough for you to believe in miracles. If you really and truly have faith that Hashem can provide us with water, in this deserted, desolate spot, if you believe with your heart and soul, then He truly will! Now begin to concentrate!”
R’ Menachem Mendel closed his eyes tightly and thought deeply. Then he opened his eyes and said, “Hashem can surely provide us with water, even in this forsaken spot.”
Suddenly, a gentile appeared, as if from nowhere. “Have you perhaps seen horses roaming about? They have run away from me. I have been looking for them for the past three days but have found no trace of them.”
The two men shook their heads. “No, we are sorry, but we have seen no horses here. They must have gone in a different direction.”
The gentile was about to turn around when suddenly a thought struck him, “You look like you are very thirsty. Would you like some water? Here I have a pitcher full, much more than I need. Drink your fill.”
The two men tipped the water pitcher to their lips and drank until their thirst was quenched. Thanking the man, they continued along.
R’ Menachem Mendel turned to his teacher and said, “I am now really convinced that faith can perform miracles. But there is one thing I do not understand. The man said that he had been wandering around this area for three days in search of his horses. I know that Hashem sent him especially to quench our thirst. Why, then, did he set out three days ago?”
The Baal Shem Tov replied, “Hashem expected us to be traveling through this area. He anticipated our thirst and wanted the water to be on hand at the very moment that we needed - and prayed - for it.”
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