Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Lech Lecha

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began the vort by quoting the Medrash Rabbah which cites R' Yitzchak who would introduce the parsha by citing a pasuk from Tehillim (45:11) "My daughter listen to me and forget your nation and the house of your father."

The question is - what does this pasuk in Tehillim have to do with Parshas Lech Lecha?

R' Frand answered based on the Sefer Nachlas Eliezer who sought to address an inherent conflict in the first pasuk of the parsha. The pasuk states that Avraham was told to leave his land, his city and his father's house. Yet the pasuk seems to be backwards since when a person leaves home, he first leaves his father's house, then his city and finally, the country.

R' Frand answered that Avraham was not being told to leave his home, he was being told to change his very existence which needs to be done by leaving everything behind.

R' Frand gave a mashal about a problem that he had with his laptop. He brought the laptop to his computer guy who said that the laptop was old and had too many things running on it. The techie said - you need to wipe the laptop clean so that it can run well again. But it would be cheaper for you to start fresh with a new laptop, vs paying me to wipe this laptop clean.

The message to Avraham was - wipe your hard drive clean. I am starting a new nation with you and to do that, you need to be fresh and clean. So first, leave your land. But a person's nationality has the least impact on him. But a person is more impacted by his local surroundings than his land. So then Avraham was told leave his city. But the greatest impact on a person is what he saw in his father's house. This is a person's DNA, because it is what he saw when he was growing up. So Hashem says last, leave your house where you grew up.

This is what R' Yitzchak was saying - forget your nationality and the house of your father. This is exactly what is happening in Parshas Lech Lecha.

R' Frand said that based on this we can address another question on the first pasuk of the parsha. Rashi comments that Avraham was to leave for his own good. But how can this be a challenge? Where is the test if Avraham is told up front that it was for his own benefit?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Yisrael Salanter who explains that there are two elements of passing a test. The first is to have emunah in Hashem, that He will help you. But the second element is to belittle the challenge, to say to yourself - this is not a mountain, it is only a hill. 

R' Frand gave an example that a person may need to exercise, but the only time that he can do it is at 5 AM. But how does a person 'psych' himself up to do it? Just by saying I need to do it? That does not work. Instead, a person creates a carrot - if I get up at 5 I can have a special coffee for breakfast as a reward.

Hashem is telling the 75 year old Avraham - you need to change everything. But in order to psych Avraham up to do this, Hashem must give him a carrot, he must let him know that there is a reward.

R' Frand finished the vort by noting that Rashi explains that Hashem tells Avraham that He is giving Avraham the ability to give berachos to whomever you want. Hashem gives this to Avraham because he is a different person and is doing it all for Hashem.

This explains why when Avraham died, Hashem blessed Yitzchak. Rashi asks, why did Hashem have to bless Yitzchak? The source of blessings had been given to Avraham! Rashi answers that Avraham did not give that power to Yitzchak because he saw that there would be an Esav who will come from Yitzchak. 

But how can a father not give the blessing to his son? And after all, we are talking about Yitzchak who allowed himself to be brought at the Akeidah!

Still Avraham says, I can't give this to him because Esav will come from him. This was the ultimate act of selflessness. He did not pass this to his son because he worked on himself and took himself out of the equation. This came from following the message of Lech Lecha. So Hashem had to act to give the source of berachos to Yitzchak.

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