Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dvar Torah for Parshas Lech Lecha

       The first steps towards the birth of the Jewish People appear in this week’s parshah with the introduction of Avraham Avinu, the patriarch of the Jewish Nation. The parshah begins with Hashem telling Avraham to move to Eretz Yisrael, and ends with the promise of a great nation coming through Avraham’s future son, Yitzchak.
       The parshah begins with the first instance that Hashem ever spoke to Avraham, who at the time was still known as Avram. The pasuk reads, “וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ“And Hashem said to Avram, ‘Go forth from your land, and from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you” (Bereishis 12:1). The Ohr HaChaim points out that there is no other instance of Hashem speaking to someone without first appearing to that person in some capacity, either through a dream, vision, or a physical object. By Avraham, however, Hashem spoke to him without the assistance of a visual aid.
       The Ohr HaChaim gives two reasons for this. First, unlike anyone else that Hashem spoke to in the Torah, Avraham, from a very young age, actively sought out Hashem. In fact, until that point in history, no one else had ever done this. At a time when everyone was worshipping idols, Avraham looked at the world and recognized that Hashem as the true creator. With everyone else that Hashem spoke to, while they all believed in Him, there was a part of them that did not completely ‘recognize’ Hashem for who He is. Therefore, Hashem had to speak to them using a visual aid in order for His full impact to be appreciated and ‘understood.’ However, because Avraham had worked on recognizing Hashem in a ‘hostile’ environment, and completed this journey over the course of his life, he did not need the extra visual aid when Hashem finally came to speak to him. He had developed this appreciation and understanding of Hashem while overcoming a world full of idol worshippers, and recognized Hashem as the one true God.
       The second reason also has to do with Avraham recognizing Hashem, but from the opposite perspective. For the previous ten generations since Noach, there had not been anyone who had been worshipping idols and then gone away from them to seek out Hashem. Therefore, Hashem was not ready to appear before just anyone, He had to be sure that Avraham was really committed to Him. So He first spoke to Avraham, without a visual aid, and gave him a difficult task, to leave his family and his homeland and venture into the desert. Once Avraham completed that task with enthusiasm, Hashem saw that it was the right time to appear to him. By the others Hashem appeared to, they already had grown up knowing Hashem and had shown themselves to be committed to Him, and therefore, Hashem felt comfortable appearing to them immediately on His first time speaking to them.  

Shabbat Shalom!

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