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Parshas Lech L'Cha/Vayeira - In the Footsteps of our Forefather               15 Cheshvan 5782

10/21/2021 03:51:27 PM

Oct21

Hotels, cars and flight all fall under the category of travel.  There is an on-going battle between the consumer and the service provider. Every provider wants our business, but the customer wants to pay as little as possible. There are many perks and benefits for members and frequent users which accompany repetitive business. I, for one, am always trying to figure out the best deals and often try to calculate which options to choose from. One of the many choices presented to someone wishing to rent a car  is the gas category. The three gas options are: A) refuel yourself and return the car with a full tank of gas; B) prepay for a full tank of gas (at local prices), regardless of how many gallons of gas remain in the tank at the time the car is returned; C) return the car with less than a full tank of gas and get charged for a full tank of gas at a rate that could be three times the price of the local gas station.

Obviously, no one would choose option C at the outset, but sometimes things do not go as planned and there is no choice. Typically, I choose option A,  refilling the tank myself so the car is returned with a full tank.  But the combination of increased pressure of travel time and my aging is becoming more of a factor. I have become more discerning in certain situations. Generally speaking, if I am returning a car to an airport or to a location that I am familiar with and know exactly where to fill up prior to returning the car,  I will choose to do so. Recently, I returned a car to a location that I had never been to previously.  Knowing this in advance, I chose option B, prepaying for a full tank of gas, eliminating the worry of where I might find a gas station in an area I did not know. In addition, I returned the car very early in the morning and did not need any extra headaches or concerns, especially from my wife.

Pre-paying for the full tank of gas is obviously a convenience, and in life we pay for convenience. Nevertheless, I try to get my money’s worth by returning the car with the least amount of gas possible. This requires some mathematics in calculating how many more miles I will need to travel and how many miles per gallon this vehicle gets, resulting in how many gallons of gas to purchase just prior to returning the rental. On my last trip I felt added pressure from my passenger that I filled up a bit too much (for fear of having to stop again for more gas) and had about thirty-four miles to go until empty, meaning I put in about one extra gallon. For me, this is a thrill and a challenge, while my passenger views it as unnecessary stress that can be avoided by spending more.

In the small picture of life, many of us have travel stories and challenges, but in the greater picture we all go through challenges as we travel the road of life. Life is a journey that comes with curves, turns, potholes, wrong turns, poor directions, and the need to navigate through it all in the best, most practical, and beneficial manner.

 From the moment we are born, the gas tank is full until we run out of gas as we come to our final resting place. During our lives we continuously re-fill the tank until the gas station closes. The book of Bereishis, also known as Sefer HaAvos the book of our fathers (Genesis) lays the groundwork for the future of the Jewish people. This is highlighted by what Chaza”l say: "מעשה אבות סימן לבנים"  “the actions of the forefathers are a sign for the children”. The process of traveling through life and facing the tests and tribulations of living our lives is clearly seen by the life of Avraham Avinu. Although Avraham is mentioned in five parshios, the main part of his life is described in Lech Lecha and Vayeira. Avraham’s life is strung together, linked by the major, famous ten tests beginning in Lech Lecha and ending in Vayeira.

The Torah in last week’s Parsha Lech Lecha states in Bereishis 12:1 "ויאמר ה' אל אברם לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך אל הארץ אשר אראך"  “God said to Abram, ‘Go away from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you”. The Torah in this week’s Parshas Vayeira states in Bereishis 22:2 "ויאמר קח נא את בנך את יחידך אשר אהבת את יצחק ולך לך אל ארץ המוריה, והעלהו שם לעולה על אחד ההרים אשר אמר אליך"   “Take your son, the only one you love -Isaac - and Go Away to the Moriah area,. Bring him as an all-burned offering on one of the mountains that I will designate to you”. Rabbeinu Bachya, on the words Lech Lecha in Vayeira,explains there were ten tests upon which Avraham was tested. Avraham was found to be complete and wholesome in all of them. The first test was the command to leave his birthplace;  the last was the Akeida. Pirkei Avos 5:3 also states, ‘With ten tests Avraham was tested and he stood in all of them’. Nevertheless, we find that the last test was the greatest and most challenging of all. One reason is clear: the first test came along with a guarantee that it will be for your good and benefit. The last, in stark contrast, was to sacrifice his only son. A second reason is the mere fact that Avraham was running away from bad; in the last one he was on the way to do something good. A final thought on the matter is that the words Lech Lecha do not need to be taken literally in the physical sense of going from point A to point B. Rather, the Lech Lecha is a spiritual journey leaving the Avoda Zarah, the idol worship in his birthplace, traveling to a holy place, namely Har Hamoriah. One can deduce the leaving from the first Lech Lecha indicated by the very next letter Mem, which connotes from and going away, while the second place, indicated by the word El, means to someplace great.

Life is not just about getting from one place to the next. We should look at our lives and travel a route that combines all three explanations. As we grow closer to Hashem, the tests grow correspondingly more difficult and challenging. Hashem does not need to test the wicked and those who are distant from Him. He tests those who are closest to Him. Secondly, we know the difference between good and evil. Throughout all the challenges of life, we should only choose goodness, leaving the bad. Finally, our travels through life should take us to spiritual matters that not only will give us the fuel and energy for this world, but will take us on our final destination in the World to Come.  

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Wed, December 8 2021 4 Teves 5782