Monday, November 3, 2008

Doreish Tov on Medrash Rabbah Parashas Lech Lecho 5769 (1)

Doreish Tov on Medrash Rabbah
Parashas Lech Lecho 5769


The Medrash

The Medrash states that it is said (Bereishis 12:1) vayomer HaShem el Avram lech lecho meiartzecho, HaShem said to Avram, “Go for yourself from your land… Rabbi Yitzchak said that it is said (Tehillim 45:11) shimi vas urii vihati azneich vishichi ameich, hear, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house. Rabbi Yitzchak said that this can be compared to a person who was travelling and he saw a castle burning. He said to himself: “it seems that the castle does not have a ruler.” The owner of the castle than appeared to him and declared, “I am the owner of the castle.” Similarly, Avraham our Father said that perhaps the world does not have a ruler. HaShem appeared to him and declared, “I am the ruler of the castle.” It is said (Ibid verse 12) visav hamelech yafyeich ki hu adonayich, then the king will desire your beauty; for he is your master… This is what is meant when it is said vayomer HaShem el Avram, HaShem said to Avram…

The simple meaning of the Medrash

In the simple sense the Medrash is informing us that prior to this week’s parasha we have no mention of HaShem appearing to Avraham. The question then is, why did HaShem appear to Avraham now? The answer is that Avraham was travelling from place to place and he had not yet discovered that HaShem is the Creator and the Ruler of the world. Hashem then appeared to Avraham and informed him that He is the Ruler of the world.

The difficulty with the simple meaning of the Medrash

It is difficult to say that at this stage of his life Avraham did not have the knowledge that HaShem was ruling the world. What, then, does the Medrash mean when it states that Avraham questioned if the world has a ruler?

The deeper intention of the Medrash

The Medrash employs a verse from Tehillim to demonstrate HaShem’s desire of Avraham and of us, His Chosen Nation. The verse in Tehillim is interpreted to mean that the essence of listening is that one should not hear anything else and then he can hear the truth. The Sfas Emes writes that Avraham greatly desired that all of creation would turn themselves to HaShem, and HaShem informed Avraham that he must go for himself. This means that Avraham wished that no one in the world should defy HaShem’s will, and HaShem demonstrated to Avraham that the Jewish People will be the Chosen People and they will dominate the rest of the world. In the metaphor the burning castle reflects the idea that HaShem created many things in the world whose existence is through their negation. Avraham presumed that all forces in the world should be channeled to HaShem so nothing would be lost. Hashem informed Avraham that there are things that at present cannot be incorporated into HaShem’s will, so to speak, and one must distance himself from them.

The lesson of the Medrash

Every Jew has times when he wishes that HaShem would just destroy the evil and then he will be able to sit and study Torah and pray in a peaceful state of mind. The Sfas Emes teaches us based on the words of the Medrash that man must be constantly coming close to HaShem, and in order to do so one must distance himself from evil and cleave to what is good.

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