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Parashas Lech Lecha (Torah Tidbits from the Orthodox Union)

Parshas Lech Lecha (and Vayeira and part of Chaya Sarah) is not JUST an inside look at
Avraham Avinu’s diary. We are not supposed to read what happened in his life, and that’s
it. There is an interesting 14-year gap in Avraham’s life recorded in next week’s sedra. The
Torah tells us that Avraham was 86 years old when Yishmael was born. The very next
pasuk tells us that he was 99 years old. Are you curious about what happened to Avraham
and Sarah when they were 90 and 80 years old respectively? We don’t know. Neither the
Torah nor any other of our sources tells us because it doesn’t make any difference to us
what happened to them then. The Torah tells us only that which is to be instructive to us in
our lives as Jews. The Torah tells us about G-d’s command to Avraham to circumcise
himself because Bris Milah is incumbent upon us, and because we are to be inspired by the
Torah’s words to the high dedication and commitment towards that mitzvah and all of Torah
that was part of Avraham Avinu’s life.

We learn such beautiful lessons from Avraham and Sara – about hospitality, about chesed,
about prayer …

WHAT ABOUT ERETZ YISRAEL? What lesson do we – should we – learn about the
importance, the significance, the centrality of Eretz Yisrael to Jewish Life? Can a Torah reading-Torah-observant Jew read about G-d’s sending Avraham to the land “He will show
him”, about G-d’s repeated promises of the Land to Avraham’s descendants, of the blessings
that are associated with Avraham’s going to the Land, and NOT get the point? Hear the
message. Understand what G-d is telling each of us.

G-d says to Avraham and to each and every one of us, his children, that the Land of Israel
is ours forever. Then He says it again and again and again. How come some Jews don’t
listen to what G-d says? (I’m not talking about those who don’t listen to a lot of other things
that G-d says. I’m talking about people who listen when He talks about Shabbos and
Kashrus, and most other things, but somehow seem to have selective hearing.)
G-d told Avraham to go to the Land. That he would be blessed there. Why are there Jews,
otherwise observant and religious, who don’t think that G-d was also talking to them? (And
again, I’m not talking about Jews who don’t come on Aliyah for a variety of reasons, both solid
and less so. I’m talking about those who have removed Aliyah from their religious agendas
and from their hearts.)

It might be naive to think that our problems in Israel and the world will go away if and when
more and more Jews make Aliyah, but what’s wrong with naive? We’ve got two major
challenges: Increase Torah study, observance and commitment among all of the Jewish
People, wherever they are; and bring the Jewish People back to Eretz Yisrael. We are no
longer in required Galut. It is no longer impossible (was it ever?) or even too difficult to live in
Eretz Yisrael. A Jew who commits himself to Torah and to living in Eretz Yisrael becomes a
true heir and descendant of Avraham Avinu.

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