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Becoming a Chosen One


In Hashem’s first appearance to Avraham, He issues a test: “Leave your land, place of birth and family; go to the Land I will show you.” In contrast, when Noach was chosen to build the teivah, the Torah clearly states the reason Hashem chose Noach: “Noach ish tzaddik, tamim hayah be-dorotav…” Noach, as the most righteous person of the generation, was handpicked to save a tiny remnant of the world and to built upon it the future. With Avraham, however, no explanation is given as to why he was chosen for his mission. Why was Avraham chosen?

The Sfas Emes suggests that the Torah is telling us that Avraham was not really chosen at all. Rather, Hashem directed His message to all mankind, but it was only Avraham that heard it. Why? Even before Hashem called out, Avraham was already listening. Even before this command of “Lech Lecha,” Avraham was searching and investigating, looking at the world around him and trying to sift through the falsehood of avodah zarah, seeking the true G-d in the world.

When Hashem calls, why don’t we always hear Him? Because we’re not always listening. We’re often so distracted by what is going on around us that the channel is blocked with static and we are unable to tune in.

The Piascetzner Rebbe (in “Bnei Machshavah Tovah”) offers an down an incredible mashal for this phenomenon based on an ancient idolatrous practice. In ancient times, each pagan cult had its own way of worshipping its god. The cult of Molech was one of the worst: As a sign of worship and veneration, parents would burn a child as a sacrifice. In order to drown out the cries of the suffering infant, loud drums would be played at the time the child was placed in the fire. The Piascetzner explains that this can be seen as a mashal for our neshamah. We are so lost in this world that often, we sacrifice our spiritual connection to Hashem for material pleasures and comforts. Our poor neshamah cries out in pain, but we don’t hear it. We’ve managed to fill up our lives with so much noise from the outside – music, movies, TV, Facebook – that the voice of our neshamah is drowned out. We are no longer listening, and therefore do not hear.

It is incumbent upon us to learn from Avraham Avinu in this week’s parsha, in the beginning of his journey to Eretz Yisrael, at the start of his connection to Hashem and to his own road to greatness. Instead of wondering where Hashem is in our lives, why we are not inspired, why Torah doesn’t speak to us, we need to turn inwards and realize that all of these things are not making an impact because we are not listening! As the Kotzker Rebbe said when asked where Hashem may be found, “Hashem may be found wherever you make space to let Him in!” Hashem is constantly talking to us, reaching out to us, guiding us. It is our job to start listening and refocusing – examining where we are headed, trying to take upon ourselves even something small that connects us to Torah and kedushah. By doing so, we will be able to start tuning out the noise outside and hear the truth inside.




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