Parshas Lech Lecha

וַיֹּאמֶר יְדֹוָד אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ:(בראשית יב/א)

Our parshas opens with the possuk, “Go forth from your land…. to the land asher arehko (usually translated- that I will show you).

Zera Shimshon asks two questions. Firstly, asher arehko means “that I will show you”, like it usually does, then it is more fitting to write “asher ereh lecha“.

Secondly, in truth we never find that Hashem showed Avraham he should go to Eretz Yisroel! It is only written (possuk 5), “And Avram took Sarah his wife….and they left to go to the Land of Kanaan“. The possuk doesn’t mention that Hashem told him to go there and it implies that Avraham understood this by himself. How did Avraham realize that this was the land that Hashem intended for him to to?

Zera Shimshon explains in light of the Medrash (Yalkut Shimoni Vayairo remmez 102) that explains the origin of the name “Yerushaliyim“. The medrash explains that Avraham called it “Har Yayroeh” and Shaim (the son of Noach) called it “Shalaim“. Hashem combined both of these names, contracted them, and called it Yerushaliyim.

The commentator on the Yalkut asks why did Shaim and Avraham call it two different names? What is the depth in each of these names?

He explains that Shaim called it Shalaim, which means complete, because he was able to perceive the completeness of Hashem’s physical world, health, strength, and prosperity that manifested itself in Yerushaliyim. However he wasn’t on such a high level of spirituality to bring out the spirituality that also exits in Yerushaliyim. Avraham on the other hand, who was on a much greater level of spirituality, also brought out the tremendous spiritual beauty of Eretz Yisroel in general, and specifically Yerushaliyim. Therefore he called it Har Yeiroeh, which has the same root as yiras Hashem.

Hashem called it both of these names because in truth both exist there; great spirituality, for those who can be aware of it, and also great plenty for those who are not at that level.

From here, continues Zera Shimshon, we see that Eretz Yisroel is different from other lands. The quality, beauty and splendor of all lands are independent of the character and conduct of its inhabitants. However the spiritual and physical beauty of Eretz Yisroel is connected and proportionate with its inhabitants conduct. When there are tzaddikim there, for instance Shaim, then its physical beauty is seen. And when there are even greater tzaddikim there, like Avraham Avinu, then even its spiritual glory can be felt.

According to this, concludes Zera Shimshon, when Hashem told Avraham to go to the land asher arehko, which means to the land in which I (Hashem) will show your greatness to others, Avraham understood that Hashem was referring to Eretz Kannan. It is only in Eretz Yisroel that a persons greatness is reflected in the beauty of the land.

2

וַיֹּאמֶר יְדֹוָד אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ:(בראשית יב/א)Our parsha begins with the possuk, “And Hashem said to Avram, “Go out from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you”. Rashi explains, “Go out -for your benefit and for your good, and there I will make you into a great nation, but here you will not merit to have children.”

Rashi teaches us here that Avram’s being in his birthplace and in his father’s house prevented him from having children.

The Rashi on the next possuk, however, seems to contradict this. In that possuk (possuk 2) Hashem promises Avram that H. will make him into a big nation. Rashi explains the reason for this promise is because “being on the road” usually diminishes the chances of having children. Therefore Hashem promised Avram that in his case this will not happen but rather he will become a great nation.

From this Rashi it seems that it is the fact that Avram was traveling is the reason that Avram will not have children and not just being in his birthplace!

How do we reconcile these two statements?

Zera Shimshon explains in light of a dispute in the Gemorro (Rosh HaShana 16b). “Rebbi Yitzchak further said: Four things annul a person’s (bad) verdict; tzedakah, prayer, change of name and change of conduct. … Some add, relocating [also helps], as it is written, Now Hashem said to Avram, Go out of your country, and it proceeds, and I will make you a great nation. And the other [ — Rebbi Yitzchak, why does he not reckon this]? — In that case (the case of Avram’s moving to Eretz Kenaan) it was the merit of Eretz Yisrael which helped him.

In other words, according to Reb Yitzhak only moving to Eretz Yisroel changes the decree of a person and according to the other opinion moving anywhere helps.

In light of these two opinions Zera Shimshon reconciles the seeming contraction in Rashi.

It was clear that in order for Avram to become a great nation he had to leave his birthplace. According to the opinion who argues with Rebbi Yitzhak, it would be enough for Avram to move to a place that is close to his birthplace. It would be farther enough away to be considered that he relocated, so he could annul the decree that he can’t have children, and there would be no problem that traveling diminishes the chance of having children. (This is what the first Rashi is referring to.)

However, Rebbi Yitzchak argues and he holds that simply relocating is not enough to annul a bad decree. Therefore Avram couldn’t rely that the decree to be childless would be nullified if he only moved closed to home. He had to move to Eretz Yisroel so that the merit of living there would help him have children. However there is a problem to travel so far because “being on the road” diminishes the chance of having children.Therefore Hashem promised him that in his case this would not be but he will become a great nation.

3

וַיֹּאמֶר יְדֹוָד אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ:(בראשית יב/א)The Medrash Raba on the opening possuk of our parsha, points out that even though it says in the last parsha that Terach died he really didn’t die then. He actually died  maby years after Hashem commanded Avraham, “Lech lecha“.  Therefore, the Medrash  interprets “Terach died” not that he physically died but he was considered dead because wicked people, even when they are living, are considered dead.

The Medrash continues that Avraham was afraid to leave his father. He said to himself that if he leaves his father, he will cause Hashem’s name to be disgraced. People will attack and “bad mouth” Avraham (and Hashem) for leaving his elderly father. Hashem therefore told Avraham, “I will exempt you from honoring your father and mother. However I will not exempt others from honoring their parents…”

Zera Shimshon asks what does the Medrash mean that Hashem exempted only Avraham from honoring his father and not other people. Terach was a rosho and worshipped idols. The halacha is that NO ONE  is commanded to honor a parent who is a rosho! It would seem, then, that anyone in Avraham’s situation is exempt from honoring their parents and not only Avraham.

Zera Shimshon explains by first asking a very basic question: Why did the Torah write Terach’s death out of order, before Hashem told Avrahamlech lecha” and not when it actually happened?  True, the Medrash explains  that “and Terach died” is not to be understood literally but that he was a rosho. However, why didn’t the Torah just write about his death in the proper chronological order, after Hashem told Avraham, “Lech Lecha” and we will understand the posuk literally?

The answer to this question, Zera Shimshon reasons, is that his wickedness (his death) is the REASON that Hashem told Avraham to leave Ur Kasdim. Therefore, it was written before the command of “Lech Lecha“.

However, it wasn’t so simple! Terach, even though that initially he was wicked, he began to do teshuva! We learn this from the possuk, “And Terach took Avram his son and they left Ur Kasdim…”.

Therefore Avraham was in a dilemma. On the one hand his father was wicked and to stay close to him would affect him negatively. On the other hand, if he leaves him, he will cause a chillul Hashem. People will look down and find fault with  Avraham leaving his father and not help him in his path of teshuva.

Even more than this. Avraham reasoned that if he takes him with him to Eretz Yisroel, the merit of living in Eretz Yisooel will actually help his father in the teshuva process just like it helped Avraham to have children!

The Medrash concludes that Hashem told Avraham, your concern is valid and other people in your situation, whose parents have began to go on the proper path,  should honor their parents and stay with them to help them along. However things are different in your case. In the Bris Bein HaBessarim I promised you that Terach will do teshuva (ref. to Rashi on the possuk, “and you will go to your fathers in peace”) so there is no reason for you to stay with him to help him along. He will do ex teshuva even without your being close to him.
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