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Past Weekly Shabbat Message
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Jewish Heritage
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Rabbi Dovid Saks
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rabbi@jewishheritage
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(Torah Portion Lech Lecha) Believers!

The union between our forefather Avraham and our matriarch Sarah was one that naturally could not bear children. That changed when G-d informed Avraham that he would be blessed with progeny. As soon as Avraham heard this wonderful and miraculous promise from G-d he believed it. The Torah admires Avraham for believing this and G-d considered Avraham’s faith as an act of Tzadaka – righteousness.

The Torah Temimah asks, “What was so special about Avraham’s belief in G-d’s promise. After all, it was G-d Himself who told Avraham the news. Who wouldn’t believe a personal communication from G-d?”

Suppose someone receives a personal invitation from a king or president to discuss a certain pressing issue. The person would certainly feel elated and honored for being singled out, and would also feel that he was chosen because he was most qualified and competent. When Avraham heard G-d’s promise for having children, of course he believed it just like anyone else would believe G-d’s communication. What G-d saw special and righteous about Avraham was that he did not attribute the blessing to his merits and accomplishments. Rather, he saw it as a total and complete gift from the Almighty!

Avraham taught and spread the Monotheistic belief in the Almighty. Commentators point out that this was the greatest gift one can give to mankind, because he gave people a reason and purpose to their lives. When one does not believe in the Almighty and is then faced with one of life’s major dilemmas, he may ask himself, ‘Is it worth staying alive?’

Avraham taught the world that there is a purpose to life and G-d placed us here for a reason – whether we understand it or not – and it is ultimately for the good. Throughout Avraham’s life he demonstrated this belief.

G-d tested Avraham and instructed him to leave his homeland and begin traveling to an unknown location. The Torah relates that almost immediately after Avraham reached his destination, the Land of Israel, there was a famine in the land and he was forced to travel to Egypt. From an outsider’s perspective, this turn of events doesn’t seem to be in line with G-d’s promise to Avraham to bestow blessing upon him. However, Avraham the consummate believer in G-d didn’t doubt G-d’s plan.

Avraham experienced challenges in Egypt. Pharoh took his beautiful wife Sarah, but she was released without being defiled because Pharoh and his household were smitten with an illness. Pharoh then gave Avraham great wealth due to the inconvenience he caused him

When Avraham traveled back to Israel, our Sages tell us he lodged at the same inns that he stayed in on his trip down to Egypt. They explain that Avraham returned to pay his outstanding debts with the resources he received from the Pharoh. The Chasam Sofer wonders how it was that Avraham rented his lodging in the first place, since he had no foreseeable way of paying them back at the time?

Explains the Chasam Sofer, that they are not referring to monetary debts. Rather, when Avraham was traveling to Egypt and he engaged the people in the inns in conversation regarding the belief in G-d, they asked him a major question for which he could not give a solid answer, “If G-d told you to travel to the Land of Israel, why is He forcing you out to travel to Egypt? Why is a righteous person such as you suffering?”

After Avraham’s experience in Egypt, he returned to the same inns and was able to ‘pay up’ and answer the questions they raised regarding his faith and belief in G-d.

Avraham related the miracles that G-d did for them by saving them from Pharoh and showed them the wealth he received. He showed them, that when we believe that G-d has an ultimate plan and purpose, it keeps us focused on our mission in life. G-d then navigates us through our journey through life.

Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Halbershtam – the Klausenberger Rebbe, suffered tremendously during the Holocaust. He lost his wife and eleven children.

Years later, after raising a new family of seven children, the Rebbe said the following stirring words, “I often stop and think about the tremendous compassion the Almighty has shown me. After all I suffered and endured, I was able to build my family, educational school systems and much more. I reflected and could not find any deed that I did for the sake of Heaven that would merit me all this. I finally came to the conclusion that there is one thing that can be counted as a merit. Through all my unbearable suffering I never bore any grievances against the Almighty. Instead I bowed my head under every wave that washed over me and accepted it with love!”

The Talmud tells us, “The Jewish people are believers, the children of believers.”

Wishing you a most enjoyable and exciting Shabbat!

Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family