(Genesis 12:1-17:26)

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?
  1. [12:5] “…and the soul that they made”. Rashi understands this statement to mean either the converts to belief in one God, or slaves. How does each of these explanations give us a different understanding of Avraham?
  1. [15:8] The midrash tells us that Avraham and his descendants are punished because Avraham questioned God by saying, “How will I know that I will inherit the land”. On the other hand, Avraham is rewarded when he says in relation to Sdom, “Will the judge of the earth not do justice?” The second statement seems more aggressive than the first one and still he is not punished. What is the difference between these two statements?
  1. [Haftara: Isaiah 40:27] At the beginning of the Haftara, The Jews believe that the fact that they were sent into exile is because they are no longer God’s special servants. The prophet assures them that the covenant with God is still in force.  If so, then the exile must serve some positive function. What function might the exile serve?
  1. [41:8] “…Avraham, my friend.” How does one qualify to be God’s friend? In what way was Avraham God’s friend

Commentary

[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 Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker

And this study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer