Haftara (Isaiah 40:27-41:16)
1. [12:2] “And you will be a blessing…and all the families of the earth will be blessed in you.” What does it mean to be a blessing? Why does the Torah say all the families of the earth? Why doesn’t it say all the nations?
2. [12:10] The first major story about our father, Avraham, is the story of him going down to Egypt because of a famine. As he and Sara enter Egypt, he tells Sara to say that she is his sister, and she agrees. Because of this, she is taken into the Pharoah’s house. The Ramban (Spain, 1194-1285) says that this was an unintentional sin by Avraham. Why does the story of the Jewish people start with such an uninspiring and negative story?
3. [13:2] Avraham accepted gifts from Pharoah, but later [14:23], he refuses to accept gifts from the king of Sodom. Why does he accept them from Pharoah, but not from the king of Sodom?
4. [Haftara: Yeshaya 40:31] “Those who hope in God will renew their strength…” Some would say that being realistic makes a person stronger than being optimistic. What do you think?
5. [Haftara: Yeshaya 41:8] “…Avraham, my friend.” How does one qualify to be God’s friend? In what way was Avraham God’s friend?
[13:3] “And he went on his journeys from the south to Bet-El…:
Rashi: “Avraham paid back his debts.”
Which debts are these? Would Avraham have gone toward Egypt without money for the journey? It must be that he paid his spiritual debts. But Avraham was already a very moral person, so what spiritual debts did he have?
This is coming to teach us that life-experience and dealing with trials and difficulties makes many people more perceptive and sensitive. On the way down to Egypt, Avraham did things that seemed fine to him. But after his difficult experiences he understood on a deeper level. So on the way back, he corrected the more subtle mistakes that he had made on the way down—he paid his debts.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg
And this study page is also dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker