Avraham – The Knight of Faith by Rabbi Joel Grossman

(2000/5761)

The Parsha opens with Hashem’s commanding Avram to leave his land, his birthplace, and his father’s house to go to the land that Hashem will show him.  All of the commentaries view this as one of the ten tests given to Avraham, as stated in the Mishna in Pirkei Avot (5:4).  Rashi comments on the command of לך לך, “Go for yourself,” that the leaving would be for Avram’s benefit since his blessings could be fulfilled not in the land he was in at that time but in Eretz Canaan.  Rashi explains that the blessings were that Avram would have children, wealth, and fame only if he followed Hashem’s instructions and traveled to this unknown destination.  Rashi notes that since the things included in the blessings are usually decreased by travel, the blessings were necessary to motivate Avram.

Rav Moshe Feinstein, in Darash Moshe, asks how this can be viewed as a test.  Everyday people who are involved in certain businesses travel far with the hope of making money, and it is often doubtful if they will be successful, yet we do not view their travels as a test.  Rather, we say that this is what their business requires.  In Avram’s case, Hashem actually promised him that he would be wealthy if he went to the new place.  Perhaps this is not a test but a promise? 

Rav Moshe answers that the test was whether Avram would question Hashem by saying, “If Hashem is so powerful, why does He need me to travel to receive the blessings?  He could have given them to me right here without any trouble or bother!”  Since Avram did not ask any questions, simply obeyed the command of Hashem, and left his homeland for this destination, he was worthy of the blessings of children, wealth, and fame. 

This phenomenon of Avraham accepting whatever Hashem dealt him both here and at the עקדה explains the essence of Avraham.  We start Shemoneh Esrei by declaring Hashem the God of each of our forefathers: Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, but we conclude the blessing only with Avraham, because he embodied accepting whatever Hashem did as perfect and correct.

Throughout Sefer Bereishit, Ramban writes מעשה אבות סימן לבנים, the actions of our forefathers is a sign to their children, to explain why the Torah, which is a book of laws, tells us the stories of our ancestors.  We must learn this message of the test of לך לך very well and try to internalize it so we, too, can accept everything Hashem does for us individually and as a nation as just and correct and never come to question why He does something that does not make sense to us.  If we can change our thought patterns to emulate that of Avraham Avinu, we will become closer to Hashem and hopefully fulfill His commandments properly.  Then we too will merit to be blessed with children, wealth, and fame; something many people are striving for.

The Parsha opens with Hashem’s commanding Avram to leave his land, his birthplace, and his father’s house to go to the land that Hashem will show him.  All of the commentaries view this as one of the ten tests given to Avraham, as stated in the Mishna in Pirkei Avot (5:4).  Rashi comments on the command of לך לך, “Go for yourself,” that the leaving would be for Avram’s benefit since his blessings could be fulfilled not in the land he was in at that time but in Eretz Canaan.  Rashi explains that the blessings were that Avram would have children, wealth, and fame only if he followed Hashem’s instructions and traveled to this unknown destination.  Rashi notes that since the things included in the blessings are usually decreased by travel, the blessings were necessary to motivate Avram.

Rav Moshe Feinstein, in Darash Moshe, asks how this can be viewed as a test.  Everyday people who are involved in certain businesses travel far with the hope of making money, and it is often doubtful if they will be successful, yet we do not view their travels as a test.  Rather, we say that this is what their business requires.  In Avram’s case, Hashem actually promised him that he would be wealthy if he went to the new place.  Perhaps this is not a test but a promise? 

Rav Moshe answers that the test was whether Avram would question Hashem by saying, “If Hashem is so powerful, why does He need me to travel to receive the blessings?  He could have given them to me right here without any trouble or bother!”  Since Avram did not ask any questions, simply obeyed the command of Hashem, and left his homeland for this destination, he was worthy of the blessings of children, wealth, and fame. 

This phenomenon of Avraham accepting whatever Hashem dealt him both here and at the עקדה explains the essence of Avraham.  We start Shemoneh Esrei by declaring Hashem the God of each of our forefathers: Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, but we conclude the blessing only with Avraham, because he embodied accepting whatever Hashem did as perfect and correct.

Throughout Sefer Bereishit, Ramban writes מעשה אבות סימן לבנים, the actions of our forefathers is a sign to their children, to explain why the Torah, which is a book of laws, tells us the stories of our ancestors.  We must learn this message of the test of לך לך very well and try to internalize it so we, too, can accept everything Hashem does for us individually and as a nation as just and correct and never come to question why He does something that does not make sense to us.  If we can change our thought patterns to emulate that of Avraham Avinu, we will become closer to Hashem and hopefully fulfill His commandments properly.  Then we too will merit to be blessed with children, wealth, and fame; something many people are striving for.

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