Weekly Reading Insights: Lech Lecha 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Lech lecha

To be read on 13 Cheshvan 5764 (Nov. 8)

Lech Lecha is the 3rd Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 3rd overall, and 23rd out of 54 in overall length.
Torah: Genesis 12:1-17:27;
Haftorah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16 
(because of 41:2-3, which alludes to Avraham's miraculous victory over the Four Kings' armies)
Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

(Genesis 12:1-17:27) G-d told Avram to leave his current location. Avram left with his wife Sarai, and nephew Lot. Upon reaching Shechem, G-d promised to give the Land of Israel to Avram's offspring. Avram built an altar there. Due to famine, they to moved to Egypt. Avram told Sarai to act as his sister, for she was beautiful, and the Egyptians might kill Avram and make her Pharaoh's wife. Thinking Avram to be Sarai's brother, Pharaoh abducted her and was generous to Avram, but was suddenly struck with a plague. He realized that Sarai was actually Avram's wife, and sent them away. Avram and Lot went their separate ways, and Avram settled in Chevron. There was a war, and four kings defeated five other kings. Lot was taken captive but Avram rescued him. G-d made a covenant with Avram, giving him the Land of Israel. Sarai's servant Hagar, bore Avram a son, Ishmael. G-d changed Avram's name to Avraham and Sarai's name to Sarah. G-d promised Avram many descendants. He was circumcised at the age of 99. G-d promised that Sarah would bear him a son, to be called Yitzchak.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:03-64/Lech Lecha )

Abraham was the archetype of kindness, which is naturally susceptible to abuse. Since he was the example of pure kindness in a dangerous world, G-d promised to shield him from all who would try and have power over him.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:03-64/Lech Lecha )

Of the three "brains" of the intellect, daat is subjective intellect, or the ability of the mind to apply abstract comprehension to real life and make it relevant. It is thus the focal nexus between intellect and emotion, where intellect translates into emotional response.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:03-64/Lech Lecha )

Abraham was seventy years old when He received G-d's first assurance that his descendants would possess the Holy Land. An allusion to this is found in the verse "He establishes the boundaries of the nations" (Deut. 32:8).

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"To a land that I will show you." (12:1)
On a spiritual level, the "land that I will show you" refers to the revelation of G-dliness that comes as a reward for Divine service. This service of "going out" consists of connecting the soul as it is invested in the physical body with its spiritual source above, which can actually "see" G-dliness. When the lower soul and its higher source are connected, the soul within the body benefits from this vision.
(Ohr Hatorah)

"For their wealth was great, so that they could not dwell together." (13:6)
Not poverty but wealth, and the jealousy it engenders, is the cause of most of the dissension and conflict in the world.
(Likrat Shabbat)

"Your reward will be exceedingly great." (15:1)
The reward a Jew receives for doing mitzvot is vastly out of proportion to the deed itself: a finite and limited action is rewarded with an eternal and everlasting dividend.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:03-64/Lech Lecha )

Parshat Lech L'cha speaks entirely about Abraham, the first Jew, and G-d's commands to him. Therefore, it is an archetypal portion that affects our entire year. Similarly, it is a happy portion, more than rectifying the calamities recounted last week in parshat Noach. It therefore behooves us, no matter what the circumstances, to make a special effort this week at getting into Shabbat and at being happy.

Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber of Lubavitch reveals a secret. From the moment that the Holy One Blessed Be He said to our forefather Abraham, "Go out from your land" and further where the Torah recounts, "…and Abram traveled back and forth in the Negev", the secret of birurim, "extracting" began. This refers to the common purpose each of us shares to extract the spark of G-dliness hidden in exile within every physical thing.
Every move a Jew makes, every experience or trial one faces, is according to divine direction. Each person is sent to where those sparks that are supposed to be extracted by him are waiting. The righteous, who have a special ability to see through the facade of the world, merit to see where their sparks are found and go there on their own. For the rest of us, the Almighty is the guide. He who is the Cause of all the causes, and the Reason behind all the reasons, contours reality, causing a person to arrive at that place he is needed to fulfill his task.

It is incumbent on parents to not only raise their children properly but to try their best to provide for their future. It is common, even among those that are religiously observant, to put aside not only their physical needs but their spiritual development for the sake of their children.
Unfortunately, it is also common that often a person spends his entire life in that mode and ignores much of what G-d has required of him personally. The children grow up, join the parents in their work efforts, and yet the parents continue, not changing their behavior in the slightest. This is one of the messages of last week's portion that begins with the words, "These are the descendants of Noah, Noah...." (Gen. 6:9) The parents, instead of working to provide for their offspring physically and spiritually, reveal by their actions that they are truly working only for themselves.

As the first Jew, G-d commanded Abraham not to act that way. The Shlah interprets the opening words of the parsha, "Lech l'cha…", as "Go and conquer the way for your children". Abraham's first journey led him and Sara outside of Israel to Egypt, as an indication and future help for their children, the Jewish people. Abraham opened the way not only physically, but spiritually for his children. The bottom line is to ask ourselves, is what we are doing for our children's sake, or is it really for our sake? And change our behavior accordingly.

Do you think things were easy for Abraham? Let us not have any illusions. When the Mishna (Avot, 5:3) says that Abraham was put through 10 trials, we are not talking about holding back a temper tantrum, or not eating a 2nd chocolate donut. Just as G-d wanted to test Abraham, so we as his descendants are also being tested. And just as Abraham accepted the yoke with happiness, we must find our own way to deal with our problems. There is a saying from the Breslever Chasidim that no matter how difficult things are, always respond to the question "How are things?" with the answer "Baruch Hashem, - great!" A person is always led by the way he is going. If things are terrible, and we say "terrible", G-d looks down on us and says, "If you think this is terrible, I'll show you what's really terrible." If, on the other hand, a person answers that things are great, G-d will look down and say, "If you think this is great, let me really show you what is great!"

The were once two Chasidim; one was a master of crying, and the other, a master of happiness. Reb Abraham Ber explained their behavior like this: The first meditates about where the soul was in the height of spiritual heights and where the soul has now fallen in this world - and falls into depression. The second contemplates where the soul is now, in this lowly world, and compares it to where it will be in the Future, with all the accompanying revelations of the World to Come; he acknowledges that all is dependent on our behavior now, and he automatically wells up with joy. Reb Abraham Ber closed by saying that the master of happiness is spiritually greater.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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