Weekly Reading Insights:
Lech Lecha

Overview of the Weekly Reading

Torah: Genesis 12:1-17:27;
: Isaiah 40:27-41:16 (because of 41:2-3, which alludes to Avraham's miraculous victory over the Four Kings' armies)



"The L-rd said to Abram, go out from your country, and from your family, and from your father's house." (12:1)
The command to "go out" of one's natural inclinations and become spiritually elevated is directed toward every person individually. No one is required to do more than he is able; at the same time, each person is expected to achieve all that he is capable of. G-d doesn't require Reb Zushe to be a Baal Shem Tov. He does, however, expect him to be a Reb Zushe.
(Rabbi Zushe of Anipoli)

"Go out of your country...to a land which I will show you." (12:1)
The Hebrew word for "I will show you" can also be interpreted to mean "I will reveal you." It is through man's service of refining the earthly plane that his true potential is revealed. Regardless of a Jew's position in the world, he is connected with G-dliness and can thus elevate the world, revealing the G dliness within it.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe)

"To a land that I will show you." (12:1)
On a spiritual level, the "land that I will show you" refers to the revelation of G-dliness that comes as a reward for Divine service. This service of "going out" consists of connecting the soul as it is invested in the physical body with its spiritual source above, which can actually "see" G-dliness. When the lower soul and its higher source are connected, the soul within the body benefits from this vision.
(Ohr Hatorah)

"Abram took Sarai his wife... and all the souls they had made in Charan." (12:5)
"They were brought under the wings of the Divine Presence. Abraham converted the men [to the belief in one G-d] and Sarah converted the women." -- Rashi
Because this took place before the Torah was given at Sinai, the concept of conversion did not exist as it does today; according to halacha, Abraham and Sarah were considered "Children of Noah." Thus Rashi uses the unusual phrase "brought under the wings of the Divine Presence" to establish this fact before using the word "conversion" in a non-literal sense.
(Likutei Sichot)

"For their wealth was great, so that they could not dwell together." (13:6)
Not poverty but wealth, and the jealousy it engenders, is the cause of most of the dissension and conflict in the world.
(Likrat Shabbat)

"For all the land which you see, I will give it to you and your descendants for ever." (13:15)
Rashi points out that "He gave the Land of Israel to the Children of Israel as a gift and not as an inheritance." An inheritance is given irrespective of whether the inheritor is worthy or unworthy. A gift, however, is given only to one who deserves it. The Land of Israel is a gift, and Israel has to prove worthy of it.
(R. Moshe Yehiel Epstein) From "Hasidim in Israel" by Tzvi Rabinowicz (Aronson).

"Fear not Abram, for I am your shield." (15:1)
Our forefather Abraham was the epitome of unlimited loving-kindness; in his eyes everyone was good and had merit. Unfortunately, however, looking at the world in such an undiscriminating fashion precludes the entire purpose of creation, i.e., the eradication and nullification of evil. For this reason G-d promised Abraham that He would put a "shield" on his loving-kindness, to make sure it would be applied with the proper discretion.
(Torah Ohr)

"Your reward will be exceedingly great." (15:1)
The reward a Jew receives for doing mitzvot is vastly out of proportion to the deed itself: a finite and limited action is rewarded with an eternal and everlasting dividend.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe)

"Look at the heavens and count the stars; …so shall be your descendants." [15:5]
Just as the stars seem tiny when viewed from earth but at their actual locations they are huge, so the Jewish people sometimes seem small and insignificant in this physical world while in the world-to-come they are very great.
( From Sefas Emmes - translated from Sichat HaShavuah #461)

"I will bring judgement against the nations that enslaves them..." [15:14]
"The nations that enslaves them" - the reason that the nations of the world rule over Israel, is hinted at in the word "judgment" - the Jewish nation is judged. About what? About "I"- the lack of connection with the "I" of "I am G-d, your L-rd."
(from Rabbi Yosef Yitschak of Lubavitch - translated from Sichat HaShavuah #200)

"When Abram was ninety-nine years old the L-rd appeared to Abram." (17:1)
Our forefather Abraham fulfilled all of the Torah's laws even before it was given. Why, then, did he not circumcise himself until he received an explicit command from G-d? The answer is that before then, circumcision was forbidden, as the Torah prohibits the shedding of blood. The mitzva of mila overrode this prohibition.
(Likutei Sichot) (from L'Chaim #590)

"Your name shall be Abraham." (17:5)
It states in the Talmud: "Anyone who calls Abraham [by his former name] Abram transgresses a positive commandment, as the Torah explicitly states, 'And your name shall be Abraham.'" Yet there is no similar prohibition against referring to our forefather Jacob as Jacob, even though he was later given another name, Israel. One explanation is that the name Abram was given to Abraham by his non-Jewish father, Terach, and it is forbidden to change one's Jewish name and assume one given by a gentile. Jacob, by contrast, was given his name by a Jew, our Patriarch Isaac.
(Toldot Levi Yitzchak)

"My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant." (17:13)
Whenever a Jew does a mitzva it connects him to G-d, but the bond it creates is not visible to the eyes of flesh. There is, however, one exception: the mitzva of mila. With this mitzva, the Jew's connection to G-d becomes manifest even to the nations of the world.
(Likutei Sichot) (from L'Chaim #590)

"But My covenant I will establish with Isaac." (17:21)
G-d informed Abraham that Isaac, and not Ishmael, would be the one with whom His covenant would be forged. Ishmael is symbolic of nature; Isaac is symbolic of the Jew's supernatural connection to G-d. Ishmael was conceived and born according to natural law; Isaac's conception and birth were miraculous. Ishmael was circumcised at 13; Isaac at eight days, before any intellectual understanding of the mitzva could come into play. Every Jew, like his forefather Isaac, is similarly connected to G-d by a bond that transcends time, place and natural limitations.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe)






"Go out of your land, out of your birthplace, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you." (Gen. 12:1)
By obeying G-d's command to go to the land of Israel, Abraham acquired it for himself and for his progeny forever. Even now, more than 3,300 years later, G-d's words convey an important message for us to apply in our daily lives, urging us to hasten the Messianic Era in which all Jews of all generations since the beginning of time will dwell in peace and prosperity in the greater land of Israel.
(Likutei Sichot) [Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

"After [he Avraham] returned from his victory over Chedorlaomer and his allied kings, the king of Sodom came out to greet him in Equal Valley (now King's Valley.)" (Gen. 14:17)
It was called "Equal Valley" and "Kings Valley" because the kings of all the nations gathered there and equally accepted Avraham as king over them. They also swore to him that from that time on they would never serve idols. The Midrash quotes Rabbi Elazar that also in the future, in that same valley, the nations of the world will swear to G-d and to Mashiach that they will give up idolatry forever and serve G-d only.
[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

"The sun came down, and Avraham fell into a deep sleep." [Gen. 15:12]
The sun represents Mashiach, as it is written in Pslams 89:37, "His
(Mashiach's) throne is like the sun before Me." Avraham represents the
Jewish people. The meaning of the verse, "The sun came down, and
Avraham fell into a deep sleep," is that the Jewish people will be in a
deep spiritual slumber before Mashiach comes. Mashiach will awaken us
all from this sleep.
[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

"That nation whom they serve will I judge, and afterward they will go out with great substance." (Gen. 15:14)
Just as those Jews living during the previous exiles in Egypt and Babylonia who put their faith in the nations and their kings for their salvation were proven wrong, so too will those who, in our present exile, think that we must rely on the nations of the world for our continued existence and redemption. When Mashiach comes and G-d judges all the nations, the Jews will see that their faith in them was misplaced. At that time we will also "go out with great substance," the greatest riches of them all - the ultimate Redemption.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

"To your seed I have given this land …[the lands of] the Kenites, the Kenizites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amarites, the Cannanites, the Girgashites and the Yebusites." [15:19-21]
When G-d promised Avraham that his descendants will inherit the Land of Israel, He listed the 10 lands which would become part of it. In the days of Moshe, however, G-d told them that they will inherit only 7 nations (Deut. 7:1), as happened in the days of Yehoshua.
The other three nations - Kenites, Kenizites, and Kadmonites -- will be given to us with the complete Land of Israel in the Days of Mashiach. These 3 lands are better known by the names, Edom, Moav, and Ammon. Later (Deut. 12:20), G-d promised Moshe that He would eventually give these 3 lands to us: "G-d will enlarge your border as He has promised you...."
(From Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion, as posted on Moshiach.org)

"The sun came down, and Abraham fell into a deep sleep." (Gen. 16:12)
According to the Midrash, the sun represents Moshiach and Abraham represents the Jewish people. The meaning of the verse, then, is that the Jewish people will be in a deep spiritual slumber before Moshiach comes and Moshiach will awaken us all from this sleep.
(Torah Shleima)(from L'Chaim 991)

"Abraham's son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised." (Gen. 17:25)
The Zohar relates an argument between Yishmael and G-d about who should be given the Land of Israel. Yishmael claimed that Yitzchak was not the only one who was circumcised, as he too was circumcised. As reward for this great mitzvah, Yishmael argued, he deserved the Holy Land as much as Yitzchak did.
"Your mitzvah was not nearly as great as Yitzchak's," G-d replied, "since you were already 13 years old when you were circumcised." Yishmael answered, "But don't I still deserve some reward?"
At that time G-d decreed that Yishmael's descendants will control the Land of Israel for a certain period of time. But when that time expires, nations from all around the world will help return it to the Nation of Israel, through the coming of Mashiach.
May this happen speedily, now.
(Based on Zohar 11:32a)
(From Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion, as posted on Moshiach.org)


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