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Parshat Lech L'cha

PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.

AND

MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL


Menachim Z. Shimanowitz

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PARSHA
FACTS

1 MITZVAT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT) - CIRCUMCISION - BRIT MILAH

NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 126

NUMBER OF WORDS: 1686

NUMBER OF LETTERS: 6336

HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Yeshayahu / Isaiah 40:27 ­ 41:16


פרשת לך לך
THE
PARSHA

In our last episode Hashem pulled the plug on mankind and wiped out every living thing on the planet. Only Noach and his family survived in a Teva (Ark) along with two of each animal. With the sign of a rainbow, Hashem and Noach made a deal to start from scratch. But it only took 300 years to blow that deal. Nimrod the self-proclaimed divinity has the whole world sitting "idol" on the worshipping front. Mankind has plunged into darkness once again. But just when you think all hope is lost, Avrom comes on the scene.



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'ALL ABOUT AVROHOM'
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At the age of three, Avrom realizes that Hashem is the One true G-d, the Creator. As defender of the truth, Avrom blatantly destroys his father Terach's, idols. For this mad destruction, King Nimrod sentences him to die in a blazing furnace in Ur Kasdim. But just when all seems lost, Hashem, Himself, miraculously saves Avrom from the fire. There are big plans in store for this wonderboy.

As our Parsha opens, Avrom and his wife, Sarai, have settled in the land of Charan. Their lives are dedicated to spreading the name of Hashem, the one and only G-d. They've got a good thing going. With word of Avrom's miraculous triumph over Nimrod, people flock to his home. Avrom's theme is "Hachnasat Orchim:" First they feed and bathe their guests. Then, when it comes time for thanks, Avrom and Sarai say "don't thank me, thank Hashem!" Avrom teaches the men, while Sarai teaches the women.


ARRIVEDERCI
CHARAN

Now, let's not forget that in all this time, Hashem has never actually communicated with Avrom. Finally, at the age of 75, Hashem speaks to him in a dream. He commands Avrom, "Leave your land, your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you."

Uh, hello... I don't remember Hashem specifying any particular location, do you? But check out Avrom's unyielding loyalty to Hashem. I've never seen someone pack up so quickly! And it's not just him, it's the entire household that obediently hits the trail.

Avrom, his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and his servant Eliezer, head out the door. Then there are all of Avrom's followers. Let's not forget that Avrom is a very persuasive person. He's got thousands of students who will follow him wherever he goes. With heaven-sent clouds as their guide, they soon arrive in the beautiful land of Canaan.

The problem is that a drought also arrives at the same time; the rain stops falling, the crops wilter and the trees stop producing fruit. What a disaster! Of course, this is all part of Hashem's plan. Will Avrom complain? Will he say, "In Charan we had plenty to eat and now we are starving"? Nope! Avrom trusts Hashem and is determined to make the best of the situation. Just not in Canaan.


GO DOWN, AVROM!

From Canaan, the Avrom clan heads down to Egypt where there's plenty of food. Egypt is a wicked place, though. Avrom is worried that when they see his beautiful wife, they'll kill him and take her away. So Avrom comes up with a plan. He tells Sarai to say that she is his sister. Then he hides Sarai in a big black box. At the border of Egypt, Pharoh's customs officers do a full inspection and discover Sarai in the box. Immediately, they dispatch a messenger to Pharoh letting him know that this beautiful woman "fit for a Pharoh" has arrived with her brother. A message comes back to send Avrom and Sarai to the palace. Pharoh checks out Sarai and declares "you will become my wife." Pharoh offers Avrom lots of presents in exchange for his "sister."

That night Sarai prays to Hashem for help... Help is on the way! Now, Pharoh and his household are stricken with a multitude of painful plagues. Now, Pharoh's no dummy. He realizes that something is wrong. When he discovers that Sarai is married, he summons Avrom to the palace. There is a strict "hands-off wives" policy in Egypt and Pharoh blames Avrom for the whole fiasco. He claims that if Avrom had been honest in the first place, they wouldn't be in this mess.

Pharoh can tell that Avrom and Sarai are great Tzadikim (righteous people) and that Hashem is looking out for them. Pharoh's not willing to take a chance at offending these two. His best bet is to get them far away as quickly as possible. So Pharoh showers them with lots of expensive gifts and boots them out of Egypt. One of these gifts is Pharoh's own daughter, Hagar. She is presented as a maidservant for Sarai. Pharoh declares, "Better a servant with Sarai than a Princess in Egypt."

Avrom and Sarai are now famous: they took on Pharoh and have lived to tell about it.


LOTSA'
PROBLEMS

Whose  Camel Blessed by Hashem, Avrom has become a very rich man. Lot, his nephew, hasn't done too shabby himself. They've got herds and livestock and lots of camels too. That's what happens when you hang around with a tzadik. Things are groovy for a while, but once they are back in Canaan, a feud breaks out between the herders of Avrom and Lot.

Avrom always insists upon muzzling all his animals when they go through other people's fields since eating their grass is stealing. Lot's shepherds figure that since Hashem has promised Avrom the land of Canaan and Avrom has no sons, Lot will eventually inherit the land. The grass will be their's sooner or later anyway!

Avrom does not want people to say that he and his relatives can't get along. So he gets together with Lot and makes a deal with him. "There's plenty of land in Canaan. Let's split up and live in peace. North or South - you pick the direction and I'll head the opposite way," he offers. Avrom assures Lot that he'll always be around to help out if Lot ever gets into trouble. Avrom settles in Mamre, near Chevron. Lot heads out for Sodom, on the banks of the river Jordan, where the soil is moist and there's lots of grass for cattle.

That's a bad move, though. Sodom and the four other cities in the area have a real wicked reputation. As a matter of fact, they're the most wicked in all the land. A real tzadik would steer clear of these forsaken cities. But Lot doesn't figure it that way. After years of hanging with Avrom, Lot feels spiritually fortified to withstand their wicked ways - and let's not forget that grassy plain... lots of room for the cattle to graze. He'll be even richer than before! But what must Lot sacrifice for his greed...?


KING ME

Look what Lot's gotten himself into: For 12 years the King of Elam has been collecting taxes from Sodom. Finally Sodom hooks up with four other oppressed cities to knock out the tax man. But Kedarla'omer, the king of Elam, is ready. He gathers up his army and recruits another three kings. Together Elam's team crushes Sodom's team. Elam takes the entire population of Sodom captive.

Meanwhile, back west, Avrom hasn't yet been affected by the war. He doesn't know that his nephew, Lot, has been taken prisoner along with the rest of Sodom. That's the news that Og, the giant, has come to bear. Og's a real survivor; first he made it through the flood and now he's fled the battle. Avrom recruits his household servants and students. That makes 318 men ready, willing and able to challenge the armies of the four kings. 318 men? Not much of a platoon, but Avrom has a secret weapon - faith that Hashem will help him defeat his enemies.

The faithful troop heads out to the battle field. Miraculously, Avrom and his small army are victorious. Not one of Avrom's men loses his life. On the other hand, Avrom makes at least one bonus point when Amrafel, an enemy king, is slaughtered in the heat of battle. Our sages tell us that Amrafel is, in fact, Nimrod, Avrom's old enemy!

The king of Sodom is very grateful. He offers Avrom all of the treasures captured by Elam. But Avrom refuses to take booty. He declares that Hashem has more than fulfilled His promise to make him rich. Besides, if Avrom takes the loot then people will say that the king of Sodom made him rich. Avrom refuses to take even a single thread or a shoelace for himself. He does, however, take a 10% cut of the riches for Noach's son, Shem, now known as "Malkitzedek."

Malkitzedek is a righteous man. He is considered Hashem's Kohain Gadol. He rules the city of Shalem, later called Yerushalayim. Avrom also gives a cut to the 318 men who fought in the war and to the men who guarded his belongings while he was at war.


SEEING STARS

After antagonizing four local kings, Avrom is worried that even more kings will get together to take revenge. Hashem reassures Avrom that no army will ever defeat him. Hashem will always protect Avrom and his descendants... But that's the problem! Avrom hasn't got any descendants. Without kids he ain't gonna be a nation - great or otherwise! This little detail doesn't seem to worry Hashem. Hashem tells Avrom to look up at the sky. The night is filled with a tapestry of billions of stars. Hashem declares: "Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. They will inherit the land of Canaan."

Covenent As a sign, Hashem and Avrom make a pact known as "Brit Bayn HaBesarim" "(the deal between the halves.)" What halves? Well, in Avrom's time the way a deal was done was to cut animals in half and walk between them. Hashem commands Avrom to take three calves, goats and rams, a pigeon and a dove. He should cut the animals in half but leave the birds whole. Avrom lines up the animal carcasses in two rows.

Suddenly a bunch of vultures swoop down. Avrom waves his arms and chases these birds away. This is a sign. When idol worshipping nations will attack the Bnei Yisroel in the future, Hashem will remember Avrom's merits and save his descendants.

Avrom falls into a deep sleep and Hashem zaps him with a prophecy. A terrible darkness surrounds him. It is a sign that his children will go through hardship before they inherit the promised land, Eretz Yisroel. For 400 years they will be exiled in a strange land where they will work as slaves. But not to worry, because Hashem will come to the rescue and make this lowly people a great nation. They will conquer the nations of Canaan and inherit this land.


HAGAR'S
BRUSH
WITH
HEREDITY

You can't make a nation without a baby. After many years, Sarai realizes that the answer might be to give her servant Hagar to Avrom as a wife. She secretly hopes that in this merit Hashem will grant Sarai her own child. Avrom knows that Sarai is a righteous woman. He listens to her advice and marries Hagar.

Months later Hagar is expecting a child. Sarai is hurt when Hagar makes maligning comments about her: "If you are such a tzadaiket, why won't Hashem give you a child?" Sarai punishes Hagar by making her work harder. Now, Hagar can dish it out but she can't take the pressure. She runs away to the desert. That might temporarily solve Sarai's problem, but Hashem has big plans for Hagar. She can't escape Avrom's household yet. Hashem sends a Malach (Angel) to Hagar with a message. The Malach reveals that she will give birth to a son who will be a wild man and the founder of a major nation. Hagar is commanded to call him Yishmael. Hagar is ordered to return to Sarai and obey her. Hagar does go back to the tent of Avrom and gives birth to Yishmael. He is the father of all the Arab nations.


A BRIS,
A NAME
CHANGE
& A SON
IS
PROMISED

Well, that's the last we'll hear the names Avrom and Sarai in the Torah; At the age of 99, Hashem changes Avrom's name to "Avrohom" which means "father of many nations." Sarai's name is changed to "Sarah," meaning "Princess for the world."

Here's the deal: Hashem commands Avraham to circumcize himself and all 318 males in his household. Yishmael, is 13 at the time. He is circumcised too. Avrohom performs this Mitzvah without hesitation, passing this test of faith with flying colors. He circumcises everyone (including himself) in one day, at the age of 99 (What a great Mohel!!). Hashem reveals to Avraham that the Mitzvah of Brit Milah is to be performed on all his descendants - every newborn male - on the eighth day of his birth. The Brit Milah is a sign of service to Hashem. Hashem promises Avrohom that Sarah will bear him a son, whom he will call Yitzchok. Avraham laughs with joy at the good news.

With the name change, a new era has begun for Avraham and Sarah, but will they be able to handle the challenges that lie ahead? And what about Lot; he's still hanging around that wicked city of Sodom.

For the answers to this and many other questions, tune in next week when Malachim (Angels) pay a visit to Avrohom, and his hospitality is a lesson for us all. Watch as Hashem destroys some very wicked cities in the next exciting episode of:

Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Maven on Lech L'cha


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