Friday, November 03, 2006

Lech - Lecho by Reb Jay

In this week’s parsha there is the chronicle of the relationship between Avraham, the father of the Jewish people, and Hashem.

Avraham had been involved in a war. After the war, and the rescue of his nephew Lot, and after Avraham had seen miraculous acts performed by Hashem, Avraham said to Him, “You have given me no offspring.” Avraham was not complaining. In fact the Midrash relates (Bereshis Rabbah) that he was worried that perhaps when Hashem performed these miracles for him, his merit had run out. Furthermore, he saw in the stars that he was to have no children. The Torah tells us: Hashem took him outside and said “gaze now towards the heavens and count the stars if you are able. And He said to him, so shall your offspring be” (Bereshis 15:3-5).

Hashem told Avraham to go outside for two reasons. The first reason is logical, to show Avraham the vast number of stars and how they are uncountable. The second reason is much deeper. The Gemara explains (Shabbos 156a) that Hashem was telling Avraham to see outside of nature. Yes, according to nature Avraham was not able to father children, and the astronomers were reading the stars correctly. Hashem was telling Avraham to see outside of his perceptions, in that not only was Avraham outside nature, but it had to be that way, for he was to father a nation that would be outside nature. Ain mazal l’Yisroel-the Jewish people are not under astronomical influence.

For example, a nation usually starts when a group of people live in a regional area, decide to form a government, write a set of laws, form an army, and become a nation. Rarely is the constitution written before the area is even settled. Yet that is what the Jewish people did, by receiving the Torah and then going to Israel. It is outside the natural order of the world for a group of people to identify both as a religion and a nation while away from that land for close to two thousand years, but that is what the Jewish people have done.

Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes in Da’as Tevunos, that Hashem runs the world with two traits. The first trait is the way of judgment, in that the world runs through reward and punishment. The second trait is through His goodness, as due to His perfection He desires to return the world to a state of perfection, to rectify the world. The first trait is how Hashem runs the world through nature; the second trait is above nature. It must be our will to perform the will of Hashem. We elevate ourselves through performance of His will, the Torah, and cling to His trait of running the world above nature, leading to the perfection of the world.

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