* Avraham would probably be labeled by many as a pioneer; he was the first man to utilize his great gifts to the fullest and able to capitalize on his potential and bring them to fruition. Through passing the ten tests, he not only elevated the status of man, he also energized the world. He and his wife Sarah did what Noach and all the prominent people before them could not do – spread the word of G-d to the entire civilization and live up to the heights man was projected to live up to. Avraham fueled the attribute of kindness. Everyone is born with certain spiritual energies in which man has to step up to the plate. However, if these energies are not used as designed, it is taken away and transformed to somebody else. A person is provided with certain energies to combat the trials and tests of life to elevate him and by doing so, elevates the world as a whole. However, if he fails to take advantage of the opportunity then the energies transfers to someone else who will be given similar opportunities to elevate himself and the world. Adam, Noach, and others lost the powers while Avraham fueled the KOACH. Avraham had the chutzpah to say NO WAY!! to paganism; he had the audacity to stand up to what he believed in; risking his life for the sake of G-d.
* The Kli Yakar, one of the commentaries on the Chumash, has difficulty with the title of this week’s Parsha, Lech-lecha; literally it means “go to you” which doesn’t make sense. The scripture should be, either, “go” or “leave”. He explains, it actually does mean what it sounds like. “Go to you” is referring to one shall go to himself; he should explore his inner-self, the essence of man. Where shall he do that? The Parsha describes later, by the MAKOM – place. Which place? The place, G-d refers to, is Har Hamoria. This is the place where the Temple Mount stands today. The Kli Yakar informs us this is where the souls are manufactured, the nucleus of mankind is structured. Yaacov had his dream on this spot. The Kodesh Hakadoshim, the most important part of the temple, rested on that spot. Besides offering Avraham’s children riches, G-d offered Avraham clarity, a chance to be more spiritually close to G-d. The kedusha – holiness of the land of Israel, especially in certain parts of Jerusalem, is very apparent.
* Rashi says the third test, G-d made the it more difficult for Avraham by stating, “Leave your land, your place of birth and your father’s house”. By stating these points, it will invoke a feeling of familiarity, so dear, it would make it harder to depart. However, the question is asked, Avraham was ridiculed rather cruelly for not having children by his fellow neighbors and for his belief in a non-visible G-d. Unless Avraham is one of those people who likes getting abused and stepped on, not many do, he would jump at the opportunity to leave. So why did G-d state it like that? Even if one is in an undesirable environment, if it’s his home and his mother’s tongue, one would find it difficult to leave. It’s not an easy feeling going to an unknown destination.
* As soon as Avraham arrived in Canaan, the place where G-d had chosen, famine broke out. This was Avraham’s fourth test. G-d wanted to see if he would complain; he didn’t.
* Because of the famine, they were forced to go down to Egypt.
* This was a tremendous test for both, Sarah, as well as Avraham. Sarah’s morality and loyalty is tested. The frustrating and frightening incident where she is taken away by a king happened twice; once, here, by Pharaoh and another time by Avimelech, the king of the Pelishtim. She could have rationalized; “Maybe I should succumb to Pharaoh’s advances. After all, if I don’t, I am not only putting my life in danger but also the life of my husband.” Sarah could have stooped even further in human character and rationalized, “I can be the Queen. Do you know what Kavod – honor that is.” “Avraham will be fine; I can support him financially, after all, I’m the Queen.” Sarah prayed with intensity so Pharaoh will release her untouched. Both she and Avraham were protected by G-d, and reunited. The test of loyalty, though, happened a second time. The time with King Avimelech was a harder test. Pharaoh and the Egyptians were a barbaric society. However Avimelech and the Pelishtim were more of a high cultural, sophisticated and fashionable people. It seemed it would be more tempting. Moreover, the fact that it happened twice might frustrate her into thinking, “Maybe G-d is sending me a message; I missed an opportunity the first time with Pharaoh. Fool! Let’s try this again. Let’s not mess this up a second time.” On both occasions, Sarah rejected the king’s advances and was returned to Avraham unscathed. G-d then rewarded Sarah in the next Parsha with a son from Avraham. G-d said, “You were tempted with the reproductive organ; I will reward you through the reproductive organ.”
* The controversial question Rav Eliyahu Dessler asks, was Avraham’s decision to separate himself from his nephew Lot – correct? After all, Avraham was Mr. Outreach. Why didn’t he continue to influence his own nephew? As long as Lot was with Avraham, G-d didn’t fully communicate with our forefather. Furthermore it was only after Lot left Avraham, did Sarah have a child. It seems like Lot brought down Avraham spiritually. It’s not so clear-cut whether to have someone we know under our care and direction. Perhaps they might not let us grow in life.
* To save his nephew Lot, Avraham goes to great extent, in the war of 4 kings vs. 5 kings. The question is, why? Didn’t we learn previously that Avraham deemed Lot as unworthy. Furthermore, the kings knew Avraham will make every attempt to rescue his nephew. What’s so special about Lot? In next week’s Parsha, the angels specifically go to Sedom to save Lot before destroying the city. Why is Lot getting the VIP treatment? The reason is, the descendant of Lot is Ruth, and from her dynasty, David will be born. From David, the Moshiach will come.
* Avraham rejected any personal gains from the war even though he was entitled. This was to show his devotion to G-d and to show the nations of the world, it was G-d’s hand, not mine, that determined victory.
* Sarah suggested to her husband Avraham that he should take her maid servant, Hagar, for a wife; “Maybe then G-d will have mercy on me and give me children”.
* Hagar gives birth to Yishmael.
* One of Avraham’s ten trials was the commandment of circumcision.
* G-d instructed Avraham, “Your name will be changed from Avram to Avraham. I am adding a HEY to your name. Your wife’s name will also change from Sarai to Sarah by exchanging the YUD to a HEY. This change was significant because now Avraham and Sarah have been transformed to a higher level.
* When G-d removed the letter YUD from Sarah’s name, it flew up to G-d’s throne to complain. G-d comforted it, “In the past, you were the last letter of a woman’s name. In the future, I will put you at the head of a man’s name”. This will happen when Moshe will rename his student Hoshea to Yehoshua.