Welcome back to our weekly look at the Torah Portion for the week. Jews, around the globe mark each Shabbat (Sabbath) with a reading from the Torah or the first five "books" of the Bible. Each year we read each chapter from Bereishis (Genesis) to Devarim (Deuteronomy) and once complete go back to the beginning and start over. Torah study is that important. But, do we learn new things? Yes, indeed.
This week's Torah Portion is from Bereishis (Genesis) 12 - 17 it is called Lech Lecha or "go for yourself" the 6th Hebrew word in this portion.
Here we read that G-d commands Abram (later Abraham) to "Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you." This, then is the start of an amazing journey of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. But, G-d is not done because he follows up his commandment with a promise, "And, I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you."
Pretty heady stuff!
Abram goes and finding a famine he travels to Egypt asking his wife Sarai (later to become Sarah) to tell people she is his sister. Why? Well, the folks in Egypt were fond of killing husbands so they could marry the wife.
Pharoah kicks Abram out of Egypt having not been successful in hooking up with Sarai. They settle in Hebron while Abram's nephew goes to Sodom. Abram recuses Lot.
Then Abram enters into a covenant with the Almighty (all covenants with the Almighty are eternal, never to be abrogated or replaced by new covenants), Avram is told that his descendants will be enslaved for 400 years and that his descendants (via Isaac, "... through Isaac will offspring be considered yours" Gen. 21:8. Isaac, not Ishmael!) will be given the land "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."
So much going on!
Now something to think about:
The Torah states, "And he (Avraham) trusted in G-d, and G-d reckoned it to him as righteousness" (Gen. 15:6)
Why was Avraham's trust in G-d considered to be righteousness? If G-d spoke to any of us, would we not have an unshakable faith? We do not have faith that there is a moon or that two plus two equals four. That which we see or understand does not require an act of faith.
The answer was given by Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitz, who cited the Talmud that on a person's Judgment Day he will be asked, "Did you transact in faith?" This is usually understood as asking whether one transacted business honestly.
But there is a deeper meaning says Rabbi Mordechai: When a person transacts in business, he negotiates and tries in every way to maximize his profit. He does not settle for a meager gain. This is what one will be asked on Judgment Day: "Did you transact in faith?" i.e., did you do everything possible to maximize your faith, or did you just accept whatever you were given?
What do we do to maximize our faith? That will be part of the discussion this week at Shul.
We will meet on Friday the 19th at 7:15pm for services and then on Shabbat (Saturday) at 10am for our Midrash or study session. Everyone is welcome to attend either or both.
See you in Shul!