Our Relationship to God By Rabbi Hershel Solnica zt'l


            In the sedra וארא, the Torah states וארא אל אברהם אל יצחק ואל יעקב ושמי ה' לא נודעתי להם (ו-ג). Rashi comments אל אבות -וארא .

            Many ask the obvious question what חידוש is רשי revealing to us? It is obvious from the Pasuk that it is referring to the אבות!

            The Chatam Sofer offers a sharp insight that expresses a deep philosophical approach necessary for leading an appropriate Torah lifestyle.  The word "אבות" can mean "want" from the root אבה"." Rashi is teaching a beautiful idea, that God appeared to those (Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov) who desired to establish a holy nation - the Jewish people.  Similarly the Ramban explains that the identification of God as אהיה אשר אהיה (שמות ג:יד) "I will be who I will be," means I will be close to those who want to be close to Me. 

            On Shabbat Shuvah we read from the Navi Hoshea שובה ישראל עד ה' אלוקיך "Return O' Israel to Hashem your God," (הושע יד:ב).  My father זצ"ל related a fascinating story regarding this Pasuk.  The story is told about the Kotzker Rebbe who once suddenly called out in the middle of Shalosh Seudot, "Where is God?"  All the Chasidim were astonished that the Rebbe posed such a simple question.  One brave Chassid ventured an answer - "God is everywhere" another pointed out that the angels asked this question איה מקום כבודו.  The Rebbe then suddenly called out "גאט איז א וואו מלאסט אים אריין," "God is where you let him in."  Too many people have labeled the Ribono Shel Olam as the God of the Rav, the Rebbe, the Agudah or the Mizrachi, which is obviously shortsighted.

            Ultimately what is most important is not our political affiliations.  Rather, it is the quality of our relationship to God that matters.  If we each develop a close relationship with Hashem, then Am Yisrael can grow into a ממלכת כוהנים.  An example of such a great occasion was after קריעת ים סוף  when we all recited זה קלי ואנוהו, "this is my God and I shall adore Him."

            Our אבות were the ones who taught us that every individual Jew must become bound up with God and His deeds.  The careers of the אבות enabled a Jew to feel that we are Hashem's children בנים אתם לה' אלוקיכם, "you are the children of God," (דברים יד:א)  We must learn to appreciate the gifts that Hashem bestows upon us, which are similar to the gifts a parent presents his children.  Chazal introduced the phrase הטוב כי לא כלו רחמך והמרחם כי לו תמו חסדיך מעולם קוינו לך, into our prayers to teach us that we must pay attention to the benefits and kindness that God presents us.

            This is the lesson of the word אבות.  We must cultivate a desire to appreciate God's goodness and to observe His beautiful and sacred Torah.

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