your mother asks you to run an errand, she doesn’t just say “Hey, run me an
errand.” Instead, she’ll probably tell you “Could you please run to the store
and pick up some eggs?” or “Remember to pick up your brother from basketball
practice.” When someone asks you to do something there is always an end goal
accompanied by a set of instructions. This idea, while intuitive and obvious,
seems to go right out the window at the beginning of this week’s parsha.
Baruch Hu tells Avraham lech-lecha
there doesn’t seem to be any obvious end goal. If we examine this episode in a
vacuum, our first forefather seems to be following the vaguest of marching
orders for the most lofty of rewards. We may know that this was the first step
in establishing the Jewish nation, but Avraham couldn’t have known that at the
In reality, Avraham’s
decision to go along with Hashem’s seemingly ambiguous directives contains
within it a fundamental idea in Judaism, as expressed by Rav Noach Weinberg,
zt”l, the founding Rosh Yeshiva of Aish HaTorah.
In discussing this question, Rav Weinberg explained that at the core of
Avraham’s journey, deeper than creating the foundation for the Jewish people or
Yisrael or anything else promised to Avraham’s
eventual progeny, was simply the quest for a higher Truth, capital T. Again,
when reading it in a vacuum, Avraham’s setting off, away from everything he
ever knew, for rewards that you can only dream of seems to be a foolhardy
endeavor. However, when you recognize that Avraham only wanted capital-T-Truth,
the most real emet in his life, you will
realize that everything he was promised by Hashem can only be in store for someone
in search for that sort of Truth.
Yet, we are still marked by our question of why Hashem couldn’t tell Avraham a
specific place to go or a specific set of things to do all in one go.
Rav Weinberg explained
that any quest for Truth cannot be started with a bias. This is what we learn
from Avraham’s course of action; his quest for Truth couldn’t have its ultimate
destination outwardly stated because that might have given him tunnel-vision.
The same goes for everything in life - you can never accurately determine what
decision is best for you if you already decided on a course of action. However,
as we learn from Avraham, the one decision that you can safely make is that
confidently following the word of Hashem will lead you to an ultimate Truth in
life and will, b’ezrat Hashem, help us reap all the
promises that were made to our forefathers so long ago.
Yeshivat Birkat Moshe
week's parsha begins with God commanding Avraham to leave his home land and
travel to Israel. Immediately and almost out of place we find God blessing
Avraham that "I will bless those who bless you and those who curse you
will I will curse …". It seems rather strange that God interrupts the
narrative to bless Avraham; it almost seems like God needed to provide Avraham
with incentive to obey His command. This seems rather strange knowing that
Avraham was reputed as the man who went around spreading monotheism and God's
word, despite encountering stark opposition. Why all of a sudden does God
decide to bless Avraham?
we think about it, Avraham was coming from a place where despite being
ideologically opposed, he was established. Our rabbis teach that Avraham came
to Israel with a group of followers. While in his homeland he may have had a
challenge, Avraham was successfully accomplishing his goal to spread
monotheism. Now he was coming to a new place, a new situation, and most people
would feel somewhat intimidated by the new challenges he was going to face.
Avraham now had a new crowd to convince. It seems very natural, then, that God
blesses Avraham at this point, because this blessing would reassure Avraham.
God tells Avraham: don't worry that you're going to encounter new challenges,
because I'm going to bless those who bless you. Just as you are blessed with
the truth so too other people are going to learn the truth from you and in turn
be blessed. And those who will not agree with you and don't believe in what you
have to say - they are cursed, for they don't know the truth. To know the truth
is a blessing. To know what is right and to stand up for it is to be blessed.
Whenever we stand up for something that we know is correct, we must not be
afraid of what other people may think. We must remember that from the time of
Avraham the Jewish people have been committed to spreading the truth thoughout
the world. Which is precisely what makes us a blessed people. And as for our
opposition, the people who refuse to support or believe the truth, we must not
let them bring us down, for they are cursed, and we who strand up for the
truth, are blessed.
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