Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!


Back to Home -> Lech Lecha ->

ויאמר אברם אל לוט אל נא תהי מריבה ביני ובינך ובין רעי ובין רעיך כי אנשים אחים אנחנו

And Avram said to Lot, “Please let there not be a fight between me and you and between my shepherd and your shepherds, because we are brothers.” (13:8)

Klal Yisrael is destined to experience various galusim, exiles. The last exile is America, a country that has been good to us, despite its permissive and pervasive society. We are allowed to practice our religion, build mekomos HaTorah, institutes of Torah – schools, shuls which follow their unique Torah traditions. We need not fear a pogrom. While this does not mean that everything is great, it just shows that, in comparison to the previous exiles in our tumultuous history, America is by far the easiest. Yet, it is called galus, because we must contend with an almost constant attack on…

Continue Reading

ואעשך לגוי גדול ואברכך ואגדלה שמך והיה ברכה

And I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you and I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. (12:2)

Rashi explains the three terms/blessings of this pasuk; “And I will make you a great nation”: we refer to this when we say in Shemoneh Esrai – Elokai Avraham, G-d of Avraham; “And I will bless you” – refers to Elokai Yitzchak, “And I will make your name great,” alludes to Elokai Yaakov. Rashi adds, “One might think that they conclude the blessing with all of them, i.e., Elokai Avraham, Yitzchak, v’Yaakov.” To teach otherwise, the pasuk says, V’he’yeih brachah, “And you will be a blessing.” B’cha chosmin v’lo ba’haem, “With you, Avraham, they conclude the blessing and not with…

Continue Reading

לך לך מארצך

Go for yourself, from your land. (12:1)

The purpose of the life of Avraham Avinu was to set the tenor for how a Jew should live. His life story begins with Lech lecha, “Go for yourself.” He was instructed to separate himself from the society at large and forge a new approach to living – the Jewish/Torah way of life. What best characterizes this way of life? Horav Moshe Eismann, Shlita, relates a short vignette which, by extrapolation, can serve as the guiding principle by which we are to live in the context of a society that is totally foreign (or should be) to our standard of…

Continue Reading

ותאמר שרי אל אברם חמסי עליך

Sarai said to Avram, “The outrage against me is due to You!” (16:5)

A perfunctory reading of the pesukim, which details Sarah Imeinu’s relinquishing her maidservant, Hagar, to Avraham Avinu for the purpose of establishing posterity, followed by her dismissing Hagar from her home, when her insolence became too much to overlook, is misguiding. So much depth is contained in these parshiyos, with every action of the Avos and Imahos, Patriarchs and Matriarchs, steeped in the highest esoteric meanings and secrets, that one is impelled to study every word, every lesson, every nuance, in order to simply scratch the surface of the narrative. Let us focus on one lesson as seen through the…

Continue Reading

והאמין בד' ויחשביה לו לצדקה

And he trusted in Hashem, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. (15:6)

Avraham Avinu was rishon v’rosh l’maaminim, first and foremost of the believers in Hashem. Discovering on his own that this world did not just happen and that every moment of its existence – and the existence of every creation – is providentially guided by Hashem, he devoted his life to spreading this concept to a world to whom this idea was foreign. His descendants, the Jewish People, have maintained his teachings with emunah in Hashem, the pre-emanate foundation of our dogma. Throughout (what presented themselves as) the worst moments in our tumultuous history, we have continued and maintained our faith…

Continue Reading

אל תירא אברם אנכי מגן לך

Fear not, Avram, I am a shield for you. (15:1)

We are referred to as Bnei Avraham Avinu, children of the Patriarch Avraham, because we inherited from the father of our people a national character trait. The Chiddushei HaRim writes that the term Magen Avraham, shield of Avraham, is a guarantee from Hashem that the nekudah, characteristic, which defined Avraham would be bequeathed to each and every one of his descendants. The Patriarch was referred to as Avraham HaIvri, because he stood his ground on one eiver, side, while the rest of the world was on the other side. This applies to Avraham’s ability to withstand societal coercion, family pressure…

Continue Reading

ויבא הפליט ויגד לאברם העברי

Then there came the fugitive and told Avram, the Ivri. (14:13)

The term Ivri (translated as Hebrew, or “to one side”) is applied only to Avraham Avinu. It is written concerning him only once in the Torah, with regard to the fugitive whom Rashi teaches was none other than Og, the future king of Bashan, enemy of the Jewish People. Og hoped (or assumed) that nothing would stand in the way of Avraham rescuing Lot, who had been taken captive. Thus, he would be killed in the war. Once Avraham was out of the picture, Og would be free to marry his widow, Sarah Imeinu. Two questions are glaring. Why does…

Continue Reading

ויאמר ד' אל אברם לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך

Hashem said to Avram, “Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father’s house.” (12:1)

This is our introduction to Avraham Avinu: no biography; no family lineage; no prior history. Whatever we know about the first Patriarch is from Chazal. Even Moshe Rabbeinu’s birth and genealogy are recorded. Why not that of the father of our nation? Avraham’s father was Terach, an idolater, who was so committed to his pagan beliefs that he informed on his son to the evil Nimrod. Had Hashem not provided a miracle for Avraham, he would have been immolated in a fiery cauldron. Avraham’s wife, Sarah Imeinu, was Terach’s granddaughter, whom he had raised after the untimely death of her…

Continue Reading

ובן שמונת ימים ימול לכם כל זכר לדורתכם

At the age of eight days, every male among you shall be circumcised throughout your generations. (17:12)

The following incident, which occurred about two hundred years ago with the saintly Chasam Sofer, gives us a glimpse into the extraordinary greatness of the man who is responsible for saving Hungarian Jewry from the tentacles of the Haskalah, Enlightenment. The Chasam Sofer was not only the leading posek, halachic arbiter, of his day, but also a holy and righteous Torah giant, who obviously was as comfortable in the Heavenly sphere as he was in the mundane world. The story is cited by Horav Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal, zl, who heard it from the son-in-law of the Rav of Kashua, a…

Continue Reading

ותקח שרי אשת אברם את הגר המצרית שפחתה... ותתן אתה לאברם... ותהר ותקל גברתה בעיניה. ותעניה שרי ותברח מפניה... ויאמר לה מלאך ד' שובי אל גברתך והתעני תחת ידיה

So Sarai, Avram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her maidservant… and gave her to Avram… she conceived… her mistress was lowered in her esteem… and Sarai dealt harshly with her, so she fled from her… and an angel of Hashem said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her domination.” (16:3,4,6,9)

The narrative concerning Sarah Imeinu and Avraham Avinu regarding Hagar, followed by Sarah’s anger, Hagar’s running away, and the angel’s instruction that she return, even if it meant submitting to Sarah’s domination, is confounding. Clearly, the profundity escapes the superficial reading of the story. Sarah has been recognized in our sacred tradition as a woman who represents the epitome of all good and noble virtues. To think that all this goodness dissipated when Hagar conceived and gave birth to Yishmael, especially when it was Sarah’s idea that Avraham take her on as an additional wife, is unacceptable. Furthermore, if Sarah…

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!