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And He (Hashem) said, “Please take your son…and go to the land of Moriah.” (22:2)

The Torah dedicates two parshios to Avraham Avinu.  The first one begins with Hashem’s command to Avraham, “Lech Lecha,” (12:1) Go forth, leave the land and reach out to the world.  The second ends with another Lech Lecha.  Here he is instructed to take his son, Yitzchak, and go to the land of Moriah.  He begins his mission focusing on himself, his responsibilities.  He ends his mission by taking his son to Har Hashem, exposing him to the Divine, ensuring that he will carry on his father’s legacy.  Indeed, is that not what Yiddishkeit is all about?  The father goes…

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Hashem remembered Sarah as He had said…And she (Sarah) conceived. (21:1,2)

            Rashi quotes Chazal, who explain the juxtaposition of Sarah’s conception upon Avraham’s prayer on behalf of Avimelech and his family.  As punishment for Avimelech’s abduction of Sarah, he and his household were subjected to a complete cessation of their reproductive functions.  Avraham prayed for them and, in turn, was himself blessed.  The inference is that, if one prays for another, if he himself is in need of that same cure/help, his prayers will soon be answered.   The Tiferes Shmuel interprets this statement with a slightly different twist, providing an important lesson.  He reads the dictum in the following…

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The child grew and was weaned. Avraham made a great feast on the day Yitzchak was weaned. (21:8)

Rashi says that feast was “great” because the great men of that generation, Shem, Eiver and Avimelech attended it.  In the Talmud Shabbos 130A, Tosfos contends that this feast took place on the day Yitzchak was circumcised, the eighth day after his birth.  Rabbeinu Bachya feels that this unique feast took place on the day that Yitzchak began to study Torah.  It is no wonder that Avraham “bypassed” the first “milestone” of Bris Milah.  After all, he himself was three years old when he “realized” that there was a Creator Who ruled the world.  Consequently, he felt that the most…

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And Hashem remembered Avraham; so He sent Lot from amidst the upheaval. (19:29)

The Ran infers from this pasuk that Lot was spared only because of Avraham.  Chazal question what did Lot do that granted him such merit that he was saved from the destruction that befell Sodom.  They respond that when Avraham referred to Sarah as his “sister” in order to protect himself from the Egyptians, Lot did not utter a word in dispute.  Since he was compassionate with Avraham, Hashem took pity and spared him.  The various commentators ask if this was the only merit that Lot possessed.  Surely, he must have performed acts of chesed and good deeds that would…

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What if there should be fifty righteous people in the midst of the city? (18:24)

If there had been tzaddikim, would they have made a difference?  In reality, there were not even ten righteous people.  If there would have been  ten tzaddikim, however, the city would have been saved.  Why?  Will a few tzaddikim accomplish so much that their presence would save the city from disaster?  The answer is yes, if these few righteous Jews do not isolate themselves from the community.  The key phrase is, “b’soch ha’ir,” in the midst of the city.  The fact that tzaddikim live in a community is not necessarily a guarantee that it will be spared.  Hashem does not…

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Hashem said, “Because the outcry of Sodom and Amorah has become great, and because their sin has been very grave. (18:20)

Even sin has limits.  In order for Hashem to destroy an entire population, the evil must have stretched to its nadir.  Indeed, we find only two places in the Torah which manifests destruction of such magnitude: the Mabul, flood; and the cities of Sodom and Amorah.  True,  other individuals sinned, but in these two incidents iniquity reached a milestone.  What was there about these sins that was so baneful that the consequences for the sinners was total annihilation?  As long as teshuvah, repentance, is an option, Hashem refrains from striking the final blow.  Hashem’s disciplinary measures are not punitive.  They…

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