This week we study Parashat Lekh Lekha (Genesis 12:1-17:27).
* Rabbi Berel Wein writes: “It is the unwavering courage and tenacity of Avraham, in the face of all defeats, hurts, hostile enemies and false friends, that most impresses us about our father. This strength of constantly renewing resilience is the legacy that he has bestowed upon us, his generations and descendants.”
* Rabbi Wein writes: “Throughout Jewish history, the Land of Israel has posed the greatest challenge to Jewish communal living. It is no surprise therefore that we who live in Israel find it to be a daily struggle in our lives. Nevertheless, it is the place for the greatest Jewish accomplishments and achievements. And therefore it is the destination for Avraham in his quest for spiritual growth and attainment.”
* Jews don’t call themselves children of Noah, but children of Abraham. Noah didn’t leave us much of a legacy. Abraham did.
* Rabbi Wein writes: “It describes Avraham as a person whose influence flowed from his personality and his behavior rather than from public pronouncements or ideological statements. By feeding the hungry, befriending the lonely, remaining loyal to those who were no longer really worthy of his loyalty, he “called out the name of the Lord” wherever he was. People saw in him a special person, a unique figure, a hero of spirit and action. Eventually people saw godliness in him. And finally, people saw God Himself, so to speak, through Avarham’s eyes and faith. All of this through Avraham’s behavior, demeanor and public reputation.”
“Western society, post-modern and essentially rootless, pursuing pleasure and individual gratification at almost all cost, unwilling to sacrifice for the future or for others, suffers from a lack of heroes and role models. Sports stars, movie actors and actresses, princesses and politicians, all have proven to be poor objects of emulation and imitation. Having no standard by which to measure ourselves, we are unhappy in our narcissism and mediocrity. We do not realize the cost to ourselves and our world of remaining ignorant of Torah and Jewish tradition, of not attempting to reach out and touch the hem of our father Avraham, of being smug and self-righteous in our prosperity and selfishness.”
“Having no memory any longer even of our grandparents, let alone of Avraham, modern American Jews facing self-induced extinction, blissfully whistle past the graveyard and espouse causes and struggles that can only further dim the Jewish spark still remaining within us. We were meant to represent godliness, morality, goodness, tradition, loyalty, and family in the world. These were the prime beliefs of Avraham and through his behavior, the rest of humanity came to recognize and even adopt these values. Does the non-Jewish world see these traits and life-style in the Jewish community today? Are we interested in “calling out to the name of the Lord” in today’s world? Are we proud to be the children and people of Avraham, or do we feel the whole matter to be superfluous and irrelevant to us and our families in today’s world? These are the crucial questions that face Jews today – not pluralism, peace processes, continuity and other manufactured sloganeering. Let us be the children of Avraham in deed as in name!”
* Rabbi Wein writes: “What is the lesson of this wandering state of Avraham and of his descendants throughout the ages? Why, even when the Jew has seemingly struck deep roots in a country and its society, is there always a storm that pushes the Jew on to a new home and a different Land? In our century, Jewish Europe was decimated and almost completely destroyed. The Jewish wanderer has now settled mainly in North America and in Israel. Are these more or less permanent homes for us or are they also only temporary havens (God forbid)? Why was it the Jewish fate to be the wanderers of the world?”