Not Just an Insignificant Debate by Nachi Farkas


In Parashat Lech Lecha, an altercation between Avraham and Lot threatens their relationship.  According to Rashi, this argument is sparked when Lot’s shepherds wrongly allow his animals to graze on land belonging to the Canaani and Perizi nations.  In response, Avraham’s shepherds rebuke Lot's.  Wanting to stop the argument without causing further discord, Avraham suggests that he and Lot split up and go their separate ways.  Avraham lets Lot pick the direction he would like to go.  What was so significant about this seemingly petty disagreement to warrant the separation of Avraham and Lot?

According to the Sefer Maayanah Shel Torah, the answer lies in the precise wording of the Pesukim.  In one Pasuk (13:7), the quarrel between Avraham's and Lot's shepherds is called a Riv, but one Pasuk later it is a Merivah.  This shift in nouns implies that, originally, there was only a small squabble between the shepherds (a Riv), but it then developed into a full-blown fight (Merivah).  Avraham warned Lot that the two of them had to stop the dispute before it escalated into an even larger battle.  In the end, Avraham realized that if Lot were to remain with him, their fight would intensify and Avraham's prized relationship with Lot would degenerate even further.

This story highlights the importance of solving any arguments we may have as soon as possible.  If we don’t resolve our problems fairly and quickly, it is possible that relationships we hold dear to our hearts will be destroyed by baseless hatred.  We must make sure that in everything we do, we try to create peace and unity in the world.

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