Parshat Lech Lecha

(Genesis 12:1-17:26)

Haftara (Isaiah 40:27-41:16)

  1. [12:1] “… ‘Leave (lech lecha) your land’…”  R.  Menahem Mendel of Kotzk (1787-1859, Poland) says that the phrase “lech lecha” means, “Go to your true self.”  What is the difference between one’s “true self” and one’s “untrue self”? How do each of these “selves” behave differently?
  2. [12:2] “And you will be a blessing…and all the families of the earth will be blessed in you.”  Why doesn’t the Torah say that “all the families of the earth will be blessed by you? Why is the emphasis here on “families” rather than tribes or nations?
  3.  [15:6]  “And he believed in God, and he (He) considered it tzedaka (justice or charity) on his part.”  Rashi says that God considered it tzedaka on the part of Avraham. The Ramban (1194-1270) says that Avraham considered it tzedaka on the part of  God.  What does it mean that it was considered “tzedaka” according to each of these explanations?
  4. [15:8]  “And he said, ‘My Lord, God, how will I know that I will inherit it’?”  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 to God in relation to Sdom, “Will the judge of the earth not do justice?” Why is Avraham punished for questioning God in the first statement, but not in the second one?
  5. [Haftara: 41:8] “…Avraham, my friend.”  In what way was Avraham God’s friend? What types of relationship can a person have with God  other than that of a friend?

Commentary

The nation which does not have the collective power to rise to holiness,  cannot collectively pass on to its children the desire to live purely and ethically. Only the nation that has holiness resting in its deepest spiritual depths can encourage its children to be ethically pure, to the point where the individual will also rise up to holiness.

–R. A. Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And  to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

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