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Por más de 35 años, Machon Meir ha dado a conocer a través de Israel como el lugar para obtener una comprensión más profunda lo que realmente significa ser un miembro del pueblo judío. También se ha convertido en el punto de aterrizaje para muchos nuevos inmigrantes de todas partes del mundo, porque de aliento de la vida en la Tierra de Israel del instituto. Majón Meir también ha creado una estrategia para distribuir la Torá en todo el mundo a través de su canal de medios, Arutz Meir. Desde sus inicios, Arutz Meir ha estrenado una serie de series de televisión y archivado más de 25.000 clases que constantemente se están actualizando y ver todos los días en todo el mundo en 5 idiomas diferentes. Con una variedad de temas y discusiones dirigidas por renombrados eruditos judíos, nuestros televidentes seguramente encontrará una clase que va a crear chispas de inspiración.
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PARSHAH IN A NUTSHELL: Lech-Lecha
Cheshvan 5, 5775 · October 29, 2014
G-d speaks to Abram, commanding him to “Gofrom your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” There, G-d says, he will be made into a great nation. Abram and his wife Sarai, accompanied by his nephew Lot, journey to the Land of Canaan, where Abram builds an altar and continues to spread the message of a One G-d.
A famine forces the first Jew to depart forEgypt, where beautiful Sarai is taken to Pharaoh’s palace; Abram escapes death because they present themselves as brother and sister. A plague prevents the Egyptian king from touching her and convinces him to return her to Abram and compensate the brother-revealed-as-husband with gold, silver and cattle.
Back in the Land of Canaan, Lot separates from Abram and settles in the evil city ofSodom, where he falls captive when the mighty armies of Chedorlaomer and his three allies conquer the five cities of the Sodom Valley. Abram sets out with a small band to rescue his nephew, defeats the four kings, and is blessed by Malki-Zedek the king of Salem (Jerusalem).
Still childless ten years after their arrival in the Land, Sarai tells Abram to marry her maidservant Hagar. Hagar conceives, becomes insolent toward her mistress, and then flees when Sarai treats her harshly; an angel convinces her to return and tells her that her son will father a populous nation. Ishmael is born in Abram’s 86th year.
Thirteen years later, G-d changes Abram’s name to Abraham (“father of multitudes”) and Sarai’s to Sarah (“princess”), and promises that a son will be born to them; from this child, whom they should call Isaac (“will laugh”), will stem the great nation with which G-d will establish His special bond. Abraham is commanded to circumcisehimself and his descendents as a “sign of the covenant between Me and you.”
WEEKLY ALIYOT: Parshat Lech-Lecha
Cheshvan 5, 5775 · October 29, 2014
Lech Lecha Aliya Summary
General Overview: Abram and Sarai travel to Canaan. Due to a famine in the land they temporarily relocate to Egypt, where Pharaoh unsuccessfully attempts to add Sarai to his harem. They return to Canaan with great wealth and Abram parts with his nephew Lot. Abram defeats the armies of the four kings who had taken his nephew Lot hostage. G‑d seals a pact with Abram, bequeathing the lands of Canaan to his descendants. Childless Abram marries Hagar and she gives birth to Ishmael. G‑d changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai becomes Sarah. Abraham is circumcised at the age of 99.
First Aliyah: G‑d commanded Abram to leave his father’s house and homeland, and travel to the land that He will show him. As reward for doing so, G‑d promised to make Abram the patriarch of a great nation. Abram obeyed, taking along his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot. Once Abram arrived in Canaan, G‑d informed him that He will eventually give that land to his descendents. Abram traverses the length of the land until a famine forces him to travel to Egypt. Fearing that the Egyptians would kill him in order to take Sarai, Abram asked her to allege that he was her brother.
Second Aliyah: And indeed because of her beauty, Sarai was taken captive and brought to Pharaoh. G‑d struck the members of Pharaoh’s palace with a plague, causing Pharaoh to hastily release Sarai. Pharaoh loaded Abram and Sarai with gifts and riches, and had them escorted out of his land. Abram returned triumphantly to Canaan.
Third Aliyah: Lot, who had accompanied Abram and Sarai, was independently wealthy. When Lot’s shepherds quarreled with Abram’s shepherds, the two parted ways, with Lot settling in the province of Sodom, which was renowned for its evil inhabitants. After Lot departed, G‑d spoke to Abram again, reiterating His promise to bequeath the land to his descendents, and promising to make his descendents numerous as the soil of the earth.
Fourth Aliyah: The southern region of Canaan was embroiled in a major war involving many kings. When the dust settled, the victorious kings took captive all the inhabitants of the Sodom region — Lot included. When Abram was informed of Lot’s plight he rushed to the rescue along with a handful of men, engaged the victorious kings in battle, soundly defeated them, released all the captives and returned all the spoils.
Fifth Aliyah: Abram rebuffed the king of Sodom’s wish to award him with all the war’s spoils. When G‑d reassured Abram that he would be greatly rewarded for his righteousness, Abram broaches his childlessness. “What is the point of all the reward and wealth,” Abram cried, “if I have no heir to inherit it?!” G‑d assured Abram that he will indeed have a child, and promised that Abram’s descendents will be as numerous as the stars of the heaven.
Sixth Aliyah: Abram requested a sign from G‑d that his descendents would inherit the land of Canaan. G‑d responded in the famous “Covenant Between the Parts.” Abram and the Divine Presence passed between an assortment of halved animals, and G‑d told Abram that his descendants would be exiled and in bondage for four hundred years. At the conclusion of this period, Abram’s descendents would leave with great wealth, G‑d would punish the nations which enslaved them, and Abram’s children would inherit the lands of Canaan. Following this pact, Sarai — seeing that she and Abram were still childless — suggested that Abram father a child with her Egyptian maid, Hagar. Hagar conceived and began to mistreat her mistress Sarai, who responded with a heavy hand, prompting Hagar to flee. Hagar encountered an angel who encouraged her to return to Sarai, promising her that the child she will bear will become a great nation. She obeyed, and gave birth to Ishmael. At the very end of this section, G‑d added the letter hey to Abram’s name, making it “Abraham.”
Seventh Aliyah: G‑d sealed a covenant with Abraham and his descendants; the sign of the covenant is the circumcision of all males when they are eight days old. Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah, and G‑d promises a delighted Abraham that he will father another son, this time from Sarah. At the age of 99, Abraham circumcised himself, his son Ishmael, and all the members of his household.
TORAH STUDIES: Parshat Lech-Lecha
Cheshvan 5, 5775 · October 29, 2014
There appears to be a contradiction between the name of this Sidra and its content. For “Lech Lecha,” as the Sicha will explain, means “Go to yourself”—Abraham’s movement towards the fulfillment of his task. But the Sidra describes a series of events which happened to Abraham, seeming to deflect him from his mission. The Rebbe resolves the contradiction by going in depth into the meaning of fulfillment, or “ascent,” for the Jew.
1. What’s in a Name?
Names are not accidents in Torah. We find in many places that the name of a person or a thing tells us about its nature. And the same is true of the Sidrot. The names they bear are a cue to their content, even though on the face of it they are simply taken from the first words of the Sidra and are there, as it were, by chance. For there is no such thing as pure chance in events, since everything happens by Divine Providence; certainly in matters of Torah.
We might think that the names of the Sidrot are a relatively late convention, since we are not certain that they are mentioned in the Talmud,1 while the names of the books of the Torah2 and of the divisions of the Mishnah3 are all detailed there. But there is a law relating to legal documents, that a name mentioned in one becomes a name recognized by Torah law if it has stood unchallenged for 30 days.4 A fortiori, since the names of the Sidrot have stood unchallenged for more than 1,000 years, and are mentioned by the Sages (Rashi,5 for example), they are recognized as such by Torah.
So we can sum up the inner content of the whole of this week’s Sidra by understanding the implications of its name: Lech Lecha.
2. Lech Lecha: Go To Yourself
This is usually translated as “Get thee out (from your country and your birthplace and your father’s house….)” But it literally means, “Go to yourself.” “Going” has the connotation in Torah of moving towards one’s ultimate purpose—of service towards one’s Creator. And this is strongly hinted at by the phrase, “Go to yourself”—meaning, towards your soul’s essence6 and your ultimate purpose, that for which you were created.
This was the command given to Abraham, and the first part of the narrative bears this out. For he was told to leave his heathen background and go to Israel. And within Israel he was “going and journeying to the South,” that is, towards Jerusalem. He was moving progressively towards an ever increasing degree of holiness. But then we suddenly find: “And there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt.” Why this sudden reversal of his spiritual journey, especially as the whole Sidra (as testified by its name) is supposed to contain an account of Abraham’s continual progress towards his fulfillment?
3. Ascent or Descent?
That it was a reversal seems clear. To go to Egypt was itself a spiritual descent—as the verse explicitly says, “And Abram went down to Egypt.” And the cause of his journey—“and there was a famine in the land”—also seems like the deliberate concealment of G-d’s blessing. The more so as G-d promised Abraham, “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great.” Is it not strange that when he reached the land that G-d had shown him, a famine forced him to leave?
A possible answer is that this was one of the trials which Abraham had to face to prove himself worthy of his mission (and the Midrash7 tells us when faced with this inexplicable hardship Abraham “was not angry and did not complain”).
But this will not suffice. For Abraham’s mission was not simply a personal one—it was his task to spread G-d’s name and gather adherents to His faith. The Midrash8compares his many journeyings to the way a spice box must be shaken about, to spread its aroma to all corners of a room. So an explanation of his descent in terms of a personal pilgrimage will not do justice to the difficulty. Especially since its immediate effect was to endanger Abraham’s mission. It could not help the work of spreading G-d’s name for the arrival of a man of G-d to be followed by a bad omen of a national famine.
Worse is to follow, for when Abraham entered Egypt, Sarah, his wife, was taken by Pharaoh by force. And even though he did not so much as touch her,9 it was an evident descent from the spiritual course that seemed to be outlined for them.
And even before this, when they first approached Egypt, Abraham said to Sarah, “Now I know you are a woman of beautiful appearance.” Thereby he had already begun to see (though only relative to his own exalted standard) with “Egyptian” eyes; for previously he had not noticed this10 because of the spirituality of their modest relationship.
So how, in the face of so many contrary indications, can it be that the whole story of Lech Lecha is—as its name would seem to imply—one of Abraham’s continual ascent towards his destiny?
4. History Foreshadowed
We can work towards a resolution of these difficulties by understanding the inner meaning of the famous dictum, “The works of the Fathers are a sign for the children.” This does not mean simply that the fate of the Fathers is mirrored in the fate of their children. But more strongly, that what they do brings about what happens to their children.11 Their merit gives their children the strength to follow their example. And in Abraham’s wanderings, the subsequent history of the children of Israel was rehearsed and made possible.
Abraham’s journey down to Egypt foreshadows the future Egyptian Exile. “And Abram went up out of Egypt” presages the Israelites’ redemption. And just as Abraham left, “weighed down with cattle, silver and gold,” so too did the Israelites leave Egypt “with great wealth.”
Even that merit for which the Israelites were saved they owed to Sarah; for just as their women kept themselves from sinning with the Egyptians,12 so had Sarah protected herself from Pharaoh’s advances.
5. The End is Implicit in the Beginning
Understood in this light, we can see the end of Abraham’s journey to Egypt foreshadowed in its beginning. For its purpose was his eventual departure “weighed down with cattle, silver and gold,” expressing the way in which he was to transform the most secular and heathen things and press them into the service of G-d. This was indeed the purpose of the Israelites’ exile into Egypt, that G-d’s presence should be felt in this most intransigent of places. The final ascent was implicit in the descent.
There is, in Jewish learning, an image which captures this oblique directedness. The Babylonian Talmud, unlike the Jerusalem Talmud, never reaches its decisions directly but arrives at them through digressions and dialectics which shed, in their apparent meandering, more light than a direct path could. Indeed, when the two books are in disagreement, the Babylonian verdict is always followed.13
So too do the seeming digressions of Jewish history represent not a wandering from the path of destiny but a way of shedding the light of G-d on untouched corners of the world, as preparation for, and part of, their subsequent redemption.
Abraham’s removal to Egypt was not an interruption but an integral part of the command of “Lech Lecha”—to journey towards that self-fulfillment which is the service of G-d.
And as Abraham’s destiny was the later destiny of the children of Israel, so it is ours. Our exile, like his, is a preparation for (and therefore part of) redemption. And the redemption which follows brings us to a higher state than that which we could have reached without exile. “Greater will be the glory of this latter house (i.e., the Temple of the Messianic Age) than that of the former (the first Temple).”14
Exile, then, is an integral part of spiritual progress; it allows us to sanctify the whole world by our actions, and not simply a small corner of it.
Perhaps one will say: Where is this progress apparent? The world does not appear to be growing more holy: Precisely the opposite seems to be the case.
But this is a superficial judgment. The world does not move of its own accord. It is fashioned by Divine Providence.
What appears on the surface to be a decline is, however hidden, part of the continuous process of transformation which we work on the world whenever we dedicate our actions to Torah and G-d’s will. In other words, the world constantly becomes more elevated and refined. Nothing could illustrate this more clearly than the story of Abraham’s journeyings, seen first on the surface, and then in their true perspective.
Whatever a Jew’s situation, when he turns towards his true self-fulfillment in the injunction of Lech Lecha, he places his life and his actions in the perspective of Torah, and takes his proper place in the bringing of the future redemption.
(Source: Likkutei Sichot, Vol. V pp. 57-67)
ESSAY: The Covenant of Abraham
The Torah portion of Lech Lecha1 relates how G-d commanded Avraham to circumcise himself and the members of his household. By doing so, Avraham became the first and primary individual2 to adopt the sign of the holy covenant that exists between G-d and every Jew.
This connection between circumcision and Avraham is so strong that the blessings for circumcision include the phrase: “to enter him into the covenant of Avraham, our father,” i.e., the circumcision currently taking place is directly related to our patriarch Avraham. Since Avraham is our father,he makes it possible for all of us, his children, to inherit the privilege of entering into an eternal covenant with G-d.
This kind of inheritance is not at all dependent on any preparations or qualifications on the part of the inheritor — a one-day old infant can inherit everything. Moreover, such inheritance does not even entail a change of ownership;3 the inheritor merely takes the place of the legator.4
So, the covenant made by each and every Jew is the actual covenant of Avraham , since the ability of all Jews to enter into it comes as an inheritance from their father Avraham.
The following, however, must be understood: In explaining the commandment of circumcision, the Rambam states:5 “We do not engage in circumcision because our father Avraham, of blessed memory, circumcised himself and his household, but rather because G-d commanded us through our teacher Moshe to circumcise ourselves.”
But why then does the blessing read “into the covenant of Avraham, our father,” stressing the connection with Avraham? Would it not be better to say, “into a covenant with G-d,” thereby emphasizing that the person being circumcised is entering into a Divine covenant, as commanded by the Almighty?
There is something about circumcision that is unlike any other commandment. While all commandments bring about a unification with G-d, the result of this unification is not usually visible within the body of the one performing the deed; while the hand that distributes charity becomes more spiritually refined through the act, the change is not apparent. Circumcision is unique in that the change brought about by the performance of the commandment becomes a part of the person himself.
In effect, circumcision causes the entire person, even his lowest parts, to be eternally bound to G-d. Thus, a Jewish child is circumcised at an age when there can be no intellectual desire to fulfill commandments. For an act to affect every fiber of a person’s being, even his lowermost level, it is best to perform it when one is only eight days old.
The reason why the text of the blessing reads “to enter him into the covenant of Avraham, our father,” can be understood accordingly:
It is logical to assume that the performance of circumcision was more difficult for Avraham than for later generations; since he was the first to do so, he had to blaze the trail, as it were.6 But in truth, every Jew who performs circumcision performs it in the same manner as Avraham. The reason for this is that, were circumcision performed as the result of a logical imperative, then the logic behind it would become more readily discernible with the passage of time.
As stated above, however, circumcision is not performed because it is logical to do so; this is why it is performed on a child when he is only eight days old. Therefore, every Jew’s performance of circumcision is entirely similar to Avraham’s — he is verily performing it as a “first,” entering into it in exactly the same manner as did our father Avraham.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, pp. 44-47