LECH LECHA (Genesis, 12:1-17:27) — “CHANGE!!”

 G-d said to Abram, “Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father’s house… (Genesis, 12:1)

Change is difficult.  It is challenging, and sometimes frightening to leave one’s comfort zone and to go into uncharted waters.  Abram was called upon to take leave of his familiar surroundings.  And it wasn’t as if he had a clear idea as to exactly where he was headed:

…to the land that I will show you.  (Ibid)

G-d did not give Abram an itinerary.  Abram was told to have faith that it would all work out.  But he was given no details.  There was, however, a promise:

And I will make of you a great nation.  I will bless you and make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”  (Ibid, verse 2)

———————————————

As the Torah Portion progresses, we read of the many challenges that Abram is forced to confront:

  • No sooner does Abram reach his destination (Canaan, the Holy Land), that there is a famine that forces him to go to Egypt to survive.
  • He gets to Egypt and his wife is abducted.
  • His nephew/brother-in-law Lot is captured, forcing Abram to go to war to save him.
  • He is commanded to circumcise himself at an advanced age.

 In total, Abram (later known as Abraham) was subjected to ten tests of his faith.  Ten times, he was forced to deal with unexpected change.  Ten times he rose to the occasion.

———————————————

Let’s face it. CHANGE is in the air.  Our country is beginning to undergo a fundamental change in its entire method of doing business.  Some of us welcome the change.  Some of us are profoundly disappointed.  Some of us have great hope and optimism for the future that will be heralded in by our new president and Congress.  Others are frustrated and frightened by what will happen to our economy, our status in the world, our security and Israel’s security.

Let me give both sides a bit of news.  You’re both wrong!

In discussing the Book of Esther and the Purim story, the Talmud (Megillah 15b) discusses Queen Esther’s motives.  Why, asks the Talmud, did Esther invite Haman to her parties with the king?  She could have just gone to the king and said, “Your Majesty, I want you to know that I am Jewish.  I also want you to know that Haman is plotting to murder my people, and I am begging you to stop him.”

That would have been the end of the story.  The king would have strung up Haman, the Jews would have been saved, and we’d all live happily ever after.  Right?

One little problem.  It doesn’t work that way.  Rabbi Nechemia says that Esther was concerned about people’s attitudes.  “We have a sister in the king’s palace,” they said.  “She’ll speak to the king and take care of everything.”

Esther did not want her people to put their faith in anyone, not even her.  Once they saw that she was pretending not to be Jewish, they started to get nervous.  Once they saw that Esther was rubbing elbows with Haman, they feared that she had abandoned them.  They were left with but one option:  G-d.

The Jews of Shushan fasted.  They repented and cried their eyes and hearts out to the only One Who is really in a position to save us.

And they were saved.

———————————————

We Jews attempt to forge political connections.  We try to seek out friends of our community and elect them to positions of power and influence.  And we try to make friends out of those who are already in positions of power and influence.

 And that is the proper thing to do.  We are not supposed to sit back and expect miracles.  We should be politically active.

However, we must remain cautious.  We rely too strongly on anyone at our own peril.  We dare not say, “We have a sister in the king’s palace.”

We have no one upon whom we can rely.  Friends sometimes become enemies, and enemies even occasionally become friends.  Presidents Truman and Nixon, anti-Semites in their personal lives, showed themselves to be great friends of Israel.  Truman led the world in making the United States the first country to recognize the State of Israel, and Nixon airlifted massive amounts of arms to Israel shortly after the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War.  Bill Clinton, the great lover of Jews and Israel, pressured the Israelis to give away East Jerusalem.  George W. Bush, a man who had the wisdom to take out Saddam Hussein and eliminate that threat to Israe,l turned around and forced Israel to give up strategic territory in Gaza.

Do you think Obama is a threat to Israeli and American security?  Pray.  It’s all in G-d’s hands.

Do you think Obama is a boon to Israeli and American security?  Pray.  It’s all in G-d’s hands.

———————————————

 Can we trust in G-d to watch over us?  “Yes, we can!”  Can He protect us from whatever adversity may come our way?  “Yes, He can!”

G-d tested Abraham and He tests us as well.  Sometimes he tests us by making life difficult; sometimes he tests us by making life too easy.  Abraham walked with G-d through every experience, and G-d walked with him, through thick and thin. “…I will make of you a great nation.  I will bless you and make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” 

And that promise is one thing that will never change.

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

———————————————————————————–

From the Archives

“The Surrogate Mother and the Terrorist” (2009) 

…What a story!  Sarai can’t conceive, so she makes Hagar her “surrogate.”  Hagar conceives right away and “disses” Sarai.  Sarai persecutes Hagar, causing her to lose her baby and run away.  The angel tells Hagar to accept Sarai’s tough treatment, and promises that since G-d has heard her prayer, she will give birth to the father of the nation that will eventually give us Arafat, bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein!

Sarai’s behavior is puzzling… 

Read more.

———————————————————————————–

“CHANGE!!” (2008)

 Let’s face it. CHANGE is in the air.  Our country is beginning to undergo a fundamental change in its entire method of doing business.  Some of us welcome the change.  Some of us are profoundly disappointed.  Some of us have great hope and optimism for the future that will be heralded in by our new president and Congress.  Others are frustrated and frightened by what will happen to our economy, our status in the world, our security andIsrael’s security.

Let me give both sides a bit of news.  You’re both wrong!…

Read more.

———————————————————————————–

 “Tune that Name!” (2006)

… it is the universal desire of all parents to give their child an honorable name, and to bless him with the hope that he will grow up to bring credit to his name…

It is, therefore, rather surprising that we find that several of the Sages of the Talmud were named Rabbi Yishmael.  Ishmael, the oldest son of Abraham, does not seem to be a person whom we would want our children to emulate…

How could it be that parents would want to name their children after such a scoundrel?…

Read more.

———————————————————————————–

“There Goes the Neighborhood!” (2005)

… It has happened so many times… How many nations have invited us in, enjoyed success, and then kicked us out?…

This past Tuesday, a rabbi I know was standing in front of the building where he had just voted.  One of our fellow citizens walked past him and made a comment that says it all: “I can’t stand looking at you people!”

Nice…

Read more.

———————————————————————————–

“The Soul Maker” (2003)

He gazed into her eyes.  He whispered to her words he had never said before.  “I now realize how beautiful you are!”

How romantic!  Who was this young man, who was expressing his fond appreciation of his beloved’s radiance?  Who was this lovely young beauty, the subject of his admiration?

This couple, who had dedicated their lives to teaching Torah, were no youngsters.  He was 75 years old.  She was 65.  His name was Abram; hers, Sarai.  (Later known as Abraham and Sarah.)…

Read more.

———————————————————————————–

“The Salem Trial” (2002)

… It was a major superpower summit.  The most powerful men in the world were about to meet… Chapter 14 of Genesis describes what should probably be called the First World War.  Five kings went to war against four kings.  … What would happen when these two leaders would meet? …  How did “Malchizedek-the-bartender” become “Malchizedek-the-Priest”????? …

Read more.

———————————————————————————-

“The Reward for a Mitzvah…” (2001)

…We’ve all heard of the city ofSodom… Abraham gave up the opportunity to become its king… A great selfless act on the part of our great patriarch.  However, he still could have done more…

Read more.

———————————————————————————-

“A Covenant of Dedication” (2000)

… The Mohel performed the Bris and handed the child to his mother who embraced him, kissed him, and fainted flat out onto the floor!…

Read more.

———————————————————————-

This is the weekly message at http://TorahTalk.org . Copyright © 2000-2011 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

———————————————————————-

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (Brisrabbi.com) and chaplain in  Monsey,  New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

———————————————————————-

If you enjoyed this message, email it to a friend.

To subscribe to this mailing, send an e-mail to TorahTalk@gmail.com and type SUBSCRIBE on the subject line. To unsubscribe, type UNSUBSCRIBE on the subject line.

 

Advertisements
Published in: on November 5, 2008 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://torahtalk.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/lech-lecha-%e2%80%9cchange%e2%80%9d/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: