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Parshat Lech Lecha


In this week's Parasha, we hear of Avraham's incredible journey from his homeland, from his father's house to a strange land that G-d showed him, Eretz Canaan. While the text focuses on Avraham's physical journey from land to land, the midrash fills in the details of his spiritual journey. When students are asked to name a midrash relating to that spiritual journey, most, if not all will discuss Avraham being thrown into the Kivshan Haesh. Midrash Rabba on Parshat Noach 38:13, quoted in the name of Rabbi Chiya, son of Rav Adda of Yafo discusses this famous incident. The midrash begins in the idol shop of Terach. He takes a short hiatus in his busy day and leaves his son Avraham in charge. The first customer enters the shop, walks out embarrassed when Avraham points out how ridiculous it was that he, a 50 or 60 year old man was worshipping an idol that was made the day before. It is the next customer that walks in that ultimately causes all the trouble. She walks in with a plate of fine flour and asks Avraham to offer this offering in front of the idols. Avraham then takes a stick and destroys the idols. When his father comes home, confused as to why the idols in his shop have been destroyed, Avraham explains that the idols got angry at each other, were jealous of the fine flour offering, and hence attacked each other. Terach, reading between the lines, realizes that it must have been Avraham who destroyed the idols since the idols clearly do not have feelings, do not move and hence could not have attacked each other. Terach, in anger, hands his son over to Nimrod. After a rather interesting debate, Nimrod decides to throw Avraham into the burning furnace. Interestingly, this particular midrash tells very little to no details of the miraculous saving of Avraham. It is at this point that we need another midrash to fill in the missing details of the miraculous savior. One such midrash can be found in Pesachim 118a. In this aggada, we are privy to a conversation between G-d and the angel Gavriel. Gavriel offers to go down and save the great tzadik, Avraham. G-d responds with a statement that reveals his unbelievable respect for this chosen individual. He says to Gavriel, "I am Unique in My world and he is unique in his world…it is only appropriate for a Unique One to go and save a unique one." This statement gives the reader insight into G-d relating to Avraham, His most loyal servant. The aggada continues though with the rest of the conversation between G-d and Gavriel. G-d tells the angel that because he offered to save Avraham, because he offered to do this good deed, he would be zoche to save the descendents of Avraham in the future. These descendents are Chananiah, Mishael and Azarya who are also thrown into a burning furnace in Perek 3 of Sefer Daniel, in a story that is undeniably similar to the one presented in the midrashim of Avraham. There are many times that we have good intentions and sometimes we are prevented from completing the good deeds that we had intended to do. From this aggada, we see that G-d recognizes not only the deeds, but the intentions as well. I believe that one of the greatest berachot one can give another person is, "Tizku l' Mitzvot", that one should be entitled to be able to do a mitzvah. It is beautiful to know that even if we cannot fulfill certain good deeds at the time of their original thought, G-d not only recognizes the effort but possibly gives us the chance to complete the deed at some point in the future.




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