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What's Hashem Telling You?

By: Rav Aharon E. Wexler

Parshat Lech-Lecha opens up with the central figure of Avraham. The Torah uses the first eleven chapters to take a universal approach to man. Now in the twelfth chapter the story begins to focus on one man and his family.

That the Torah never tries to portray Avraham as the first monotheist is very interesting. There are many others that precede him. Adam and Chava surely had no other gods before them. Kayin and Hevel sacrifice to none other than the one true God. The Torah goes out of its way to tell us that Chanoch walked with God. Noach as well was someone who believed in HaShem.

What then is so special about Avraham? The Sages tell us that what is most special about Avraham is in the very title we give him; “Avinu”. Avraham’s uniqueness was not that he was the first to believe in HaShem but rather he was the first to be able to pass down his beliefs to his children and grandchildren.

Avraham Avinu is called such because he was the first “Jewish” grandfather. It’s not enough to have Jewish children. We need to have Jewish grandchildren. Avraham epitomizes fatherhood in being the first one to start a family of monotheists, one that continues to this very day.

The Parsha opens with a conversation between Avraham and God. Having grown up with all the midrashim, we forget that God never spoke to Avraham in his youth. All of those stories we grew up with about Avraham destroying the idols in his father’s store, or being thrown into the furnace, happened in the absence of any communication between God and Avraham. God was silent. And it was Avraham’s faith alone that propelled him to believe in God even though God's voice was absent. The greatness of Avraham wasn’t that he believed after God spoke to him, but rather he believed even before God spoke to him.

God breaks into Avraham’s life and ends His silence at the age of seventy five to tell him to go to Eretz Yisrael, as if to say “Avraham, you are great, and what you have done was great but for our relationship to continue to the next level, you need to get to Eretz Yisrael. Only in Eretz Yisrael can this relationship blossom into its fullness.”

In that first conversation we start a cycle of “introductions” of God to the Avot. Interestingly enough, the first time God speaks to each and every one of the Avot it is in connection to Eretz Yisrael.

To Avraham, God opens up by telling him “Lech-Lecha!” Go to Eretz Yisrael. To Yitzchak, the first conversation was the demand not to leave Eretz Yisrael. To Yaacov, he was promised by God to return to Eretz Yisrael.

Our sages tell us “Ma’aseh avot siman l’banim”, that the ‘deeds of the forefathers are signposts to the children’. So let us then look at each one of the introductions God makes as a lesson to a different type of Jew. To the Jew who is able to make Aliyah, he is told like Avraham “Lech-Lecha!” Go home to Eretz Yisrael!

To the Sabra, the native born Israeli, he is told like Yitzchak, never to leave Eretz Yisrael. And finally, to the Jew that is here in Eretz Yisrael and is forced to leave like Yaakov; he is promised that God will be with him in the Exile and that he too, will one day return home to the land of his fathers.

Shababat Shalom!






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