Weekly Reading Insights: Lech Lecha 5765




Overview of the Weekly Reading: Lech Lecha

To be read on 8 Cheshvan 5765 (Oct. 23)

Torah: 2:1-17:27; Haftorah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16  (because of 41:2-3, which alludes to Avraham's miraculous victory over the Four Kings' armies)

Lech Lecha is the 3rd Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 3rd overall, and 23rd out of 54 in overall length.

G-d tells Avram to leave his land. Avram left with his wife Sarai, and nephew Lot. When they reached Shechem, G-d told Avram that He would give the Land (of Israel) to his 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 her husband to take her to be Pharaoh's wife. Thinking him to be Sarai's brother, Pharaoh abducted Sarah 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 was rescued by Avram. 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 made a covenant with Avraham, promising him many descendants. He had a Bris Milah 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:03-65/Lech Lecha)

Now when a person dies in this world, the Nefesh never leaves the place where the body is buried, and it is this force that the dead recognize when they communicate with each other.

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:03-65/Lech Lecha)

This is the mystical meaning of G-d's command to Abraham: "Go forth from your land, and from your birthplace, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you, and I will make you [there] into a great nation...."

When he went to the Land of Israel, he caused Zeir Anpin to develop and mature into the level of "intellectual" -consciousness.

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:03-65/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). In that verse Israel is contrasted with the other seventy nations. It is no accident that when Abraham's descendants moved to Egypt they numbered seventy, i.e. a counterweight to the seventy nations of the world. There they became refined through their bondage to the Egyptians.

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


"The L-rd said to Abram, go out from your country, and from your family, and from your father's house." (12:1)
The command to "go out" of one's natural inclinations and become spiritually elevated is directed toward every person individually. No one is required to do more than he is able; at the same time, each person is expected to achieve all that he is capable of. G-d doesn't require Reb Zushe to be a Baal Shem Tov. He does, however, expect him to be a Reb Zushe.
(Rabbi Zushe of Anipoli)

"But My covenant I will establish with Isaac." (17:21)
G-d informed Abraham that Isaac, and not Ishmael, would be the one with whom His covenant would be forged. Ishmael is symbolic of nature; Isaac is symbolic of the Jew's supernatural connection to G-d. Ishmael was conceived and born according to natural law; Isaac's conception and birth were miraculous. Ishmael was circumcised at 13; Isaac at eight days, before any intellectual understanding of the mitzva could come into play. Every Jew, like his forefather Isaac, is similarly connected to G-d by a bond that transcends time, place and natural limitations.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:03-65/Lech Lecha)

"Go out of your land, out of your birthplace, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you." (Gen. 12:1)

By obeying G-d's command to go to the land of Israel, Abraham acquired it for himself and for his progeny forever. Even now, more than 3,300 years later, G-d's words convey an important message for us to apply in our daily lives, urging us to hasten the Messianic Era in which all Jews of all generations since the beginning of time will dwell in peace and prosperity in the greater land of Israel.
(Likutei Sichot)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:03-65/Lech Lecha)

After describing the Flood, last week's Torah portion ends with quite a lengthy discussion of the Tower of Babel-how the people after the Flood tried to build a city and a tower, and how G-d undid their plan. Especially since many important commandments are only hinted to in the Torah, why is the story of the Tower of Babel written in such length and detail? The Rebbe answers that when we consider how only a handful of people were saved from the Flood, we can see that our generation is also based on those that survived the 'flood' of this century.

The Torah is teaching us that after a tragedy like the 'flood', the survivors must avoid acting like the generation after Noah, thereby preventing the unpleasant consequences that resulted. Looking more deeply into the actions of the people from Babel, they wanted to 'make a name for themselves'-to not let themselves become dispersed. Why was this so terrible?

When people gather for only one reason-themselves-without any higher purpose, the problem is not only the simple fault of 'selfishness'. When selfishness is the basis, the means used to attain that end are often far from being just and proper. All the more so when such intentions follow a catastrophe like the flood that came as a result of inappropriate behavior.

What is the teaching? Instead of building a city and tower to protect ourselves, we are being told that we must build cities and towers of holiness. Our towers must be our synagogues, and our cities must be places that teach and spread Jewish values.

It is into this setting that we welcome our forefather Avraham. Even before going to Israel, Avraham was a unique individual, totally in control of himself and spiritually conscious, having reached the highest level he could on his own. Then came the command of "Lech Lecha"-'go to yourself'-to reach a higher level. But this could be attained only after circumcision. From this, we can understand how high a level the covenant of circumcision brought him to.

Everything Avraham accomplished before the circumcision was attainments using his own abilities because they were in relation to the finite world. However, his circumcision brought a completely new dimension of connecting to G-d. It reached a level of drawing down divine energy from a plane superceding the created universe. Just as circumcision removes the foreskin, so too, on a spiritual level circumcision allows a Jew to remove obstacles in order to experience divinity. When the body becomes the vessel and interface for spirituality, all the parameters change.

This is such a happy situation that it not only affects the week following the Torah reading, but brings happiness into the entire year, just as Simchat Torah does.

This is the meaning of the first words of Lech Lecha. In order to reach this very high level of divine consciousness, the Torah tells us that more than selflessness which we learn from Noach, it is imperative to realize and then leave our own limitations which our environment imposes upon us and that blind us to our higher mission.

This only happens with a firm and unbending commitment to Jewish life and values.

Lech Lecha is the first portion of the month of Cheshvan, which is the month following Tishrei and the High Holidays. It teaches us that arriving in the 'the Holy Land' is only by leaving our own intellectual limitations. Not only will G-d reward us by bringing us to our destination, but also, 'I (G-d) will make your name great'. This means that G-d's Name will be made great and divinity will be revealed in the world, through the ultimate revelation of Mashiach! (Adapted from talks by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1960 and 1987).

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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