Lech Lecha | לך לך | “Go forth “” – On hearing the still voice of our Most Ancient one of Israel
– for your own sake, go away from here and rectify your soul, advancing your [spiritual] level.
-As in the words Say to Wisdom, thou art my sister , He saw the Divine Presence, the Shechina
The third reading from the book of Genesis is named Lech Lecha (לך לך). Lech-Lecha, Lekh-Lekha, or Lech-L’cha (לֶךְ-לְךָ leḵ-ləḵā – Hebrew for “go!” or “leave!”, literally “go for you” – the fifth and sixth words in the Parashah) is the third weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah). And It means “go forth.” The first verse says, “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth (lech lecha לך לך) from your country.’
“Adonai said to Abram, “Go forth [lech lecha] from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you … and I will bless you.” -Genesis 12:1–2
- Abram, Sarai, and Lot go to Canaan. ( Genesis 12:1-9 )
- Famine takes them to Egypt, where Abram identifies Sarai as his sister in order to save his life. ( Genesis 12:10-20 )
- Lot is taken captive and Abram rescues him. ( Genesis 13:1-14:24 )
- Abram has a son ( Ishmael ) with his Egyptian maidservant, Hagar. ( Genesis 16:1-16)
- G-d establishes a covenant with Abram and the sign of this covenant is circumcision on the eighth day following a male baby’s birth. ( Genesis 17:1-27)
Abraham : a new name and a clear destiny:
THERE ARE SEVEN BLESSINGS THAT APPEAR IN THIS PASSAGE ( Gen 12 : 1 -4). One, “And I will make of you a great nation”; two, “and I will bless you”; three, “and make your name great”; four, “and you shall be a blessing”; five, “And I will bless them that bless you”; six, “and curse him that curses you”; and seven, “and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.” And after he received these seven blessings, it is written, “So Abram departed, as Hashem had spoken to him.” THIS MEANS THAT HE WENT down to the world, as he was commanded to do.
By trusting, Avraham obeyed, after being called to go out, to a place which G-d would give him as a possession; indeed, he went out without knowing where he was going. By trusting, he lived as a temporary resident in the Land of the promise, as if it were not his, staying in tents with Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov, who were to receive what was promised along with him. For he was looking forward to the city with permanent foundations, of which the architect and builder is G-d. By trusting, he received potency to father a child, even when he was past the age for it, as was Sarah herself; because he regarded the One who had made the promise as trustworthy. Therefore this one man, who was virtually dead, fathered descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky,and as countless as the grains of the sand on the seashore. All these people kept on trusting until they died, without receiving what had been promised. They had only seen it and welcomed it from a distance, while acknowledging that they were aliens and temporary residents on the earth. For people who speak this way make it clear that they are looking for a fatherland. – Hebrews 11:8-14
The words “lech lecha” translated literally mean “Go to you”. Rabbi Elazar said: “lech lecha” means: “for your own sake, go away from here and rectify your soul, advancing your [spiritual] level.”
Zohar explains that every righteous person in This World has two souls; one soul in This World, and another soul in the higher spiritual worlds above. These are really different levels of the soul – the main part of the soul remains above, in the higher worlds and a mere radiance of reflection thereof is clothed in the physical body in This World.
And thus we find that G-d calls many tzadiks by their name twice – “Abraham, Abraham”, “Jacob, Jacob”, “Moses, Moses”, “Shmuel, Shmuel”, etc. in order to draw the soul down from above into the radiance of the soul below. At this point, Abraham was thus initiated into the journey of revealing the root of his soul as it is above – below in This World. –Zohar I, 78b
To understand the soul of the Israelites we’ll go back to Abraham. He had the covenant with G-d and his soul was changed when G-d added the letter ה H to his name. From Abram he became Abraham. His wife, Sarah, was barren and G-d changed her soul too by changing her name from Sarai שרי to Sara שרה.
Avraham Name: Most simply, the change from Avram to Avraham involves the addition of one letter: ה, the “h” sound. (We pronounce the name of this letter as heh or hei.) Sarai’s name is also changed this week, in a similar way: the י at the end of the name Sarai is changed to the ה at the end of Sarah.
Why did G-d add The letter Heh To Abraham’s Name, Rather Than any other Letter? This Was So That all parts Of Man’s body should be worthy Of Life in the World To Come, which is likened to the Sea. To the extent That we Can express it, The Structure was Completed in Abraham. It Is Written (Genesis 9:6), “For In The Form Of G-d, He Made The Man.” The Numerical Value Of Abraham Is 248, The Number Of Parts in Man’s Body.
The letter ה is one of our ways of denoting G-d. ה’ means HaShem, “The Name,” e.g. the Holy One of Blessing. Some sources in our tradition read the added ה as a symbol of G-d’s presence. Avram becomes Avraham; Sarai becomes Sarah; in both cases, the added letter signifies G-d. Other sources relate the letter ה to breath (certainly that is how the letter sounds when vocalized), and — remembering that G-d breathed the breath of life into the first human only a few weeks ago in our narrative — see the added ה as a sign of divine spirit.
An interesting note: the Torah tells us that G-d said to Avram “Your name shall be Avraham,” but of Sarai G-d says “her name is Sarah.” Not “shall be,” but already is. We read in Talmud: Rabbi Huna said, quoting Rabbi Acha: The letter yud which was removed from Sarai’s name was divided into two letters; one hei was added to Abram and the other to Sarah.” (Talmud Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 2:6)
Remember that in Hebrew, numbers and letters are the same thing. The letter י equals the number 10; the letter ה equals the number 5. According to this reading, the 10 in Sarai’s name was removed and broken into two 5s, two הs; one ה was attached to each name.
Zohar teaches that the ה — meaning 5 — represents the 5 books of Moses, e.g. the Torah. As a prooftext, the Zohar offers a creative re-reading of Genesis 2:4: “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created [in Hebrew, “beheibaram”] in the day that the Lord G-d made the earth and the heavens.” He made them with [the letter] hei /ה.
The Zohar deconstructs the word “beheibaram” (“when they were created”) into b’ (which means “with”) hei (“the letter ה”) baram (“they were created.”) The simple surface meaning of “when they were created” is re-interpreted into “The heavens and the earth were created with ה.” Remember that the letter ה, which can also mean 5, represents Torah — so this teaches us that (in the Zohar’s opinion) the whole of creation was created by means of the Torah. That’s what Avram and Sarai inherited at this moment of blessing and name change: they inherited Torah, which in a deep mystical sense is the blueprint for all of creation.
When G-d gave Abraham his new name, changing it from Abram to Abraham, He was telling him about his role as a father of nations. It’s a role intimately connected with the purpose of the human being in the tikkun of creation.
Wisdom, thou art my sister:
And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, “What is this that you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, She is my sister? I might have taken her for my wife. Now therefore behold your wife, take her, and go your way.” And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, he and his wife and all that he had. And Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the Negev. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. -Genesis 12:17-20,13:1-2
The Zohar explains this relationship: Rabbi Isaac said: “Woe to the sinners of the world who do not know and do not observe the work of the Holy One, blessed be He, nor do they reflect that all which takes place in the world is from G-d, who knows from the outset what will be at the end, as it is written, declaring the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). He looks ahead and lays a train now for developments in the distant future. Thus, had not Sarai been taken to Pharaoh, he would not have been plagued, and it was his castigation which caused the subsequent castigation of the Egyptians. The word ‘great’ is applied here to the plagues inflicted on Pharaoh and also to the signs and wonders which G-d showed upon Egypt(Deut. 6:22), to indicate that here, as there, were ten plagues, and that just as G-d performed wonders for Israel by night, so He performed wonders for Sarai by night.” (Zohar Bereshith, Page 82a)
The Zohar explains that when Abraham looked at Sarah and observed her beauty, he saw far more than merely a beautiful woman – he saw the Divine Presence, the Shechina
Another explanation is that Abram said so because he saw with her the Shechina. It was on this account that Abram made bold to say subsequently, “She is my sister”, with a double meaning: one the literal, the other figurative, as in the words Say to Wisdom, thou art my sister (Proverbs 7:4)
Rabbi Yesa said: “Abram knew that all the Egyptians were full of lewdness. It may therefore seem surprising that he was not apprehensive for his wife and that he did not turn back without entering the country. But the truth is that he saw with her the Shechina and was therefore confident. That it may be well with me for thy sake: these words were addressed to the Shechina, as if to say: ‘that G-d may entreat me well for thy sake.’ And that my soul may live because of thee because through this (the Shechina) man ascends and becomes privileged to enter on the path of life.” (Zohar, Bereishit, Page 81b-82a)
Rabbi Abba ben Kahana said: “Sarah went down to Egypt and guarded herself against immorality, and all the women guarded themselves in her merit. Joseph went down to Egypt and guarded himself against immorality, and all the men guarded themselves in his merit.” Rabbi Pinchas said in the name of Rabbi Hiyya: “This avoidance of immorality was itself sufficient merit to procure the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.” (Midrash Rabbah – The Song of Songs 4:25)
All the twelve tribes of people represented by their forefather Abraham on the one hand and Most High on the other hand – unites them forever into an indivisible oneness, As the Zohar says, “Israel, Torah and Most High are all one.”
“Go Forth” to Make Torah Disciples:
“Go Forth” to Teach( i.e Torah of Mashiach/ Soul Torah) all Nations…..
– Matthew 28:19–20
Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua (his disciple) Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets, the prophets to the men of the Great Assembly. The Men of the Great Assembly said three things, ‘Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence for the Torah.” (Avot 1:1, 2)
It was expressed as a Son to Father relationship. In Rabbinic literature, the Torah sage is the Father and his disciples are called his family, hence terms like Beit Hillel “The House of Hillel.” The collected words of the Torah Masters are called “Sayings of the Fathers.” The sages say that your Teacher is to be accorded higher honor than your birth father, because your birth father brought you into this world, but your teacher brings you into the next world. (Bava Metsi’a 2:11)
For in the Messiah I became your father through the Good News… – I Corinthians 4 : 15
One of the Sages from the Mishnah is quoted as this, “May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.” Rabbis are passionate and animated. They would spend their days taking their disciples around teaching them, and as they traveled from place to place, they would literally kick up a cloud of dust. And because the disciples were following the Rabbi, at the end of the day, they would actually be covered in the dust their Rabbi kicked up.
The idea was that if you followed behind your rabbi on the dusty roads, you would get covered in his dust. Meaning, you were following his so closely to be so much like him that you are glorified to be covered with the dust he left behind. That is how close a disciple wanted to be to his rabbi.
This is from Mishnah,known as Pikrei Avot, “the sayings of the fathers.” Yose b. Yo’ezer (a man) of Zeredah, and Yose b. Yohanan [a man] of Jerusalem received [the oral tradition] from them. Yose. b. Yo’ezer used to say: “Let your house be a house of meeting for the sages cover yourself with the dust of their feet, and drink in their words with thirst.” Mishnah 4
When the rabbi believed that you were call by HaShem to be his talmid (student), He would say, “Lech Acharai – Come, follow me.” And you would leave your family. You would leave your family compound. You would leave your village. You would leave the local synagogue where you had been studying. You would leave everything and you would follow that rabbi. You would become a talmid, a disciple, a student. You would give your life to being exactly like that rabbi. And you would follow him everywhere.
Now, with all this in mind, look at Matthew 4:18. As Yeshua was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Shimon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. Then let’s look at the rest of the conversation: Mattityahu (Matthew) 4:19-20. “Come, follow Me,” Yeshua said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.
These men just dropped everything and followed Him at a few words from this Rabbi. They drop what they are doing and they follow the Rabbi. Then we read a bit later: Mattityahu 4:21-22. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, Yacob son of Zebedee and his brother Yochanan. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Yeshua called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.
Why did Yeshua choose these men? Because He believed they could become like Him. Yeshua said: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. “A disciple doesn’t just want to know what the rabbi knows. A disciple wants to be like the rabbi and wants to learn to do what the rabbi does.”
“Every disciple fully trained will be like his teacher.” -Luke 6:40
TORAH IN FLESH: Every disciple, when he is fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke6:40). This does not apply just to the tzaddikim but to every individual. All of one’s doings should reflect the light and the ideals found within the Torah (Seder Hadorot Hechadash, pg.45 [21a]). Many Hasid’s call this, becoming a living and breathing Torah (Likutey Diburim, vol 2, 492 – R. Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch)
Attachment to the tzaddik is a most significant principle. It helps man ascend on the ladder of piety and holiness to his preordained goal of attachment to G-d. It offers man concrete means to remain forever aware of ultimate reality, of his ultimate nature and purpose in life.
Yeshua, being the heavenly Tzaddik, represents the goal of the Torah for us. He is also considered as “The Living Torah” as a hidden light of Most High and it is represented in the letters of Torah as a foundation of life
Rabbi Shaul writings: For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness for eveyone who trusts.” – Romans 10:4
The tzaddik is a physician of the soul, providing both preventative and therapeutic medicine for man’s soul (Hilchot De’ot 2:1; Shemonah Perakim, ch.3).
For you used to be like sheep gone astray, but now you have turned to the Shepherd, and Overseer of your souls. -1 Peter 2:25
For the true tzaddik is an altogether holy personality, the personification of “Let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven” (Avot 2:17). He personifies the ideal of “Know Him in all your ways” (Pro.3:6): “da’eihu (know Him) is a word signifying attachment,” (TIkuney Zohar 69:99a; Likutey Amarim, sect.236; Or Torah, sect.369) attachment to G-d and for the sake of G-d, “in all your actions – even the physical ones,” such as eating, sleeping, engaging in business, and so forth (Tzava’at Harivash, sect.94; Keter Shem Tov, sect.282; Or Torah, sect.252. See Hilchot De’ot 3:3. Cf. Tzava’at Harivash).
The great tzaddikim don’t just study the Torah, they are themselves a living Torah. And so this too is man’s purpose, in all one’s doings, everything thought, motion, speech and act, must reflect and personify the Torah (Seder Hadorot Hechadash, p.45 [21a]).
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, too, said of his master, the Maggid of Mezhirech: elsewhere own learns to master the Torah, i.e., how one is to study Torah; in Mezhirech, however, one leans to let the Torah master you, i.e., how the Torah teaches man to become a Torah himself (Likutey Diburim, vol.II, p.492).
The true tzaddik helps man achieve this goal, for he is a Torah made flesh. He is essentially a guide, mentor, and teacher. He is a soul-doctor and a role-model who helps and inspires his followers and ignites their souls with the fire of reverence and love for G-d. He unites their souls with the soul of the Torah, and thus with G-d.
….try to imitate me, even as I myself try to imitate the Messiah – I Corinthians 11 : 1
Yeshua wants to be your rabbi. He wants to be your teacher, your master. He wants you to be His disciple, His student, His talmid. He is calling you today, “Lech Acharai – Come, follow Me.”
The most important thing is not how much you can memorize and it’s not about how much you know but it’s all about who you follow. You can be like the rabbi. Became a Torah man like him!
Our Rabbi said: “Do not think that I have come to loosen Torah or the prophets, I have not come to loosen but to fulfill. For truly I say to you that until heaven and earth pass away not one Yud or one stroke will pass from Torah until everything happens. All who loosen, therefore, from one of these small commandments and teach thus to the sons of man, will be called little in the Kingdom of Heaven, but all who do and teach this will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” -Mattityahu 5:17-19
Our Rabbi said: Mattityahu 28:19, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations,… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” i. e teaching the Torah of Mashiach ( Its about the concept of divine mandate of Mashiach ben Yosef . ( Read Deuteronomy 30 and Tehillim / Psalm 67 )
We recommend you to take Torah living as taking “baby steps” for those seeking to enter a more observant life or another way “one mitzvah (good deed) leads to another”.
The tzaddik’s disciples and followers must realize this responsibility (Or Torah, sect.455).
Matthew 1 : 1 – 17
Matthew 28 : 19
This weekly parsha portion, “Lech Lechah,” marks the beginning of Abraham’s travels from a pagan land to the Land of Israel. The journey of the Israel people begins with Abraham, whose own story begins with a physical and spiritual journey.
The Midrash says that this verse is hinting at Avraham. Listen refers to Avraham who listened to the voice of Hashem who said, “Lech Lecha.! Go!” Behold also refers to Avraham who saw the Divine Presence when Hashem appeared to him.
“Listen daughter and behold, incline your ear and forget your people and your father’s house.” -Psalms 45:11
Notice that the verse says, “Hear daughter and behold. . .”. It reflects Avraham’s experience. He heard, he acted, (the word daughter which separates between hear and behold), then he saw the Divine Presence.
In our Torah portion, G-d first makes a covenant with Abraham in which he gives him the Land of Israel and the second covenant is the covenant of circumcision.
The Covenant of the Pieces:
In ancient times, a common method of making a covenant was to cut animals into pieces, and for both partners in the covenant to walk between them. In the first covenant, called the “Covenant of the Pieces,” Abraham walks through the pieces of animals that he has cut, together with a Divinely dispatched torch. This covenant was G-d’s promise to Abraham to give the Land of Israel to him and his descendants.
The Covenant of Circumcision:
In the second covenant, G-d commands Abraham to circumcise himself and all his male descendants. Our sages explain that the covenant of circumcision is the pact in which G-d chooses the Jewish body to become unique in its holiness.When G-d made this covenant with Abraham, he changed his name from Avram to Avraham and his wife, Sarai’s name to Sarah. Both Abraham and Sarah entered the covenant of circumcision simultaneously.
The Covenant of the Pieces:
Lech Lecha describe’s the Covenant between the Parts (ברית בין הבתרים), the Covenant of the Pieces, when G-d entered into eternal covenant with Abraham (at the time called Abram).
It was said by the prominent Hassidic rabbi, Lubavitcher Rebbe, that Lech Lecha (“Go, to you”)–“…are the most important words ever spoken in history. With these words, G-d set Abraham on the course that would reverse the process of degeneration that humanity had been locked into ever since the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a course that would eventually lead it to the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
G-d tells Abraham: I need you to leave your comfort zone. I need you to make efforts to come to me. I need you to make changes in your life. And without a second thought, Abraham follows — so much so, that the Torah records Abraham as describing himself as “Walking before G-d!” -Genesis 24:40
“I will establish My covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your G-d and the G-d of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their G-d.” -Genesis 17:7–8
“Now Hashem said to Abram, Get you out (lit. ‘go for you’)…” According to Rabbi Elazar, the phrase “Go for you,” means “for yourself.”
The secret BEHIND THE WORDS “Get you out” is that the Holy One, blessed be He, inspired Abraham with the spirit of wisdom. He knew how to judge the spirits (also winds) of the civilized world. He observed them, weighed them in the scales, and knew how to connect them to the powers entrusted to govern the inhabited places on earth.
Zohar writings: “Get you, out of your country…” (Beresheet 12:1). Rabbi Aba opened the discussion with this verse and to explain the reason why Abraham merited that the Holy One, blessed be He, would say this to him rather than to any other person of his time. “Hearken to me, you stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness” (Yeshayah 46:12), MEANS how hard are the hearts of the wicked, who see the paths and the ways of Torah, yet do not observe them. THE PATHS ARE THE INTERNAL ASPECTS; THE WAYS ARE THE EXTERNAL ASPECTS. And the hearts of the wicked are stout, as they do not repent and turn back to their Master. THIS IS THE REASON WHY they are called stout-hearted. The verse, “that are far from righteousness,” MEANS THAT they keep themselves far from Torah; this is why they remain “far from righteousness.”
Come and behold, Abraham indeed succeeded in his desire to get closer to the Holy One, blessed be He. As it is written, “You love righteousness and hate wickedness” (Tehilim 45:8). Because he loved righteousness and hated wickedness, he therefore came closer to righteousness. Therefore, it is written, “Abraham my beloved” (Yeshayah 41:8). Why IS HE “my beloved?” Because it has been said about him, “You love righteousness.” This is the love toward the Holy One, blessed be He, whom Abraham loved more than anyone else of his generation, who were “stout-hearted” and “far from righteousness”.
This is what spiritual growth is all about — leaving our comfort zone, to be closer to G-d.
“To you [Isaac] and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.” (Genesis 26:3)
“I am the Lord, the G-d of your father Abraham and the G-d of Isaac. I will give you [Jacob] and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and … all peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.” (Genesis 28:13–14)
“Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” –Genesis 13:17
“I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” -Joshua 1:3
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen- Hebrews 11:1
And I will bless you: with money (Genesis Rabbah 39:11). and [you shall] be a blessing: The blessings are entrusted into your hand. Until now, they were in My hand; I blessed Adam and Noah. From now on, you may bless whomever you wish. (Gen. Rabbah) (ad loc.). Another explanation: “And I will make you into a great nation”: This is [the basis] of saying the G-d of Abraham. “And I will bless you”: This is [the basis] of saying the G-d of Isaac. “And I will aggrandize your name”: This is [the basis] of saying the G-d of Jacob [in the initial benediction of the Silent Prayer.] You might think that [the first benediction of the Silent Prayer] should be concluded [by mentioning] them all. Therefore, Scripture states: and [you shall] be a blessing with you they will conclude, and not with them. [i.e., The closing of the blessing is the shield of Abraham, and not the shield of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.] [from Pes. 117b] shall be blessed in you: There are many aggadoth, but this is its simple meaning: A man says to his son, May you be like Abraham. And so is every instance of [the words] “shall be blessed with you” in Scripture. And the following [text] proves this (below 48:20):“With you, Israel shall bless, saying: May G-d make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh.” – [from Sifrei, Naso 18]
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in This Time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and LANDS, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life – Mark 10 : 30
Covenant of circumcision:
In the “Covenant of the Pieces,” the word “covenant” appears only once. The essence of this covenant is singular and its pointing to the oneness of the Land of Israel.
The “covenant numbers are:
1 (Land covenant) ; 3 (Torah) ;7 (Noah) ;13 (circumcision)
In the Covenant of Circumcision, the word “covenant” appears thirteen times. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for “one,” echad, is 13. However, 13 is the full expression of 1.
On the third day after Abraham circumcised himself, the lord appeared to him ( gen 18:1 ) as he sat in the door of his tent. After that, the shekhinah spoke from his throat and gods presence remined with him. Prior to his circumcision, abraham’s prophetic experience was purely visionary but now the voice of prophecy issued forth from his lips and he enjoyed a measure of the holy spirit, for the voice of G-d was revealed in his speech.
R.Isaac opened his discourse:”Make for me an altar of earth etc.” ( Exodus 20:21).R.Isaac said:If I[i.e.,G-d] appear to the one who builds an altar for my name’s sake and bless him,how much more so with respect Abraham who has circumcised himself for my name’s sake.[It is thus written] “And Lord appeared him etc.”
This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.” -Genesis 17:10–11
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, G‑d appeared to Abram.” (Gen. 17:1) This verse needs examination, for it presents several difficulties. Had the Holy One not revealed Himself to Abraham until now? Did G‑d reveal Himself to him only when Abraham reached this age? It is written [previously], “G‑d spoke to Abram” (Gen. 12:1) “G‑d said to Abram,” (Gen. 13:14) “And He said to Abram, ‘Know for sure…’ (Gen. 15:13)[and so on]! [Moreover] now a specific age is mentioned in connection with which the verse states that G‑d appeared to Abram [implying that only when Abram was ninety-nine years old, did G‑d appear to him…]
…Now He appeared to him because He wished to reveal the crown of holiness [circumcision], and the Holy One wanted to produce holy seed [Isaac] from him. Although holiness does not dwell upon a person while he is uncircumcised, now that he was ninety-nine years old, and would soon produce holy offspring, G‑d wanted Abram himself to be holy, prior to producing holy offspring. (Zohar I, 95a)
Abram threw himself upon his face and G‑d spoke with him saying, “As for Me, this is My covenant with you” (Gen. 17:3-4)From this we understand that until he was circumcised he would prostrate himself when G‑d spoke to him. But after he was circumcised he stood upon his feet and was not afraid. (See also Pirkei d’Rabbi Elazar 29.) [Moreover, it was precisely at this point that Abraham’s circumcision took place, for immediately after he threw himself upon his face it states,] “As for Me, this is My covenant with you…” [When he arose] he found himself already circumcised. (Zohar I, 96b)
Naming During the Brit Milah:
in the book of Brit Chadashah (New Testament) that the Yeshua our Messiah ( i.e tribe of Judah) was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Law of Moses.
“On the eighth day, when it was time for His brit milah, He was given the name Yeshua , which is what the angel had called Him before his conception.” -Luke 2:21
BeReiShIT [meaning “In the beginning” (Gen. 1:1)can be rearranged to form the words BRIT AiSh [meaning “covenant of fire”], the sign upon which both the higher and lower worlds exist [as the verse states, “If not for My covenant of circumcision, I would not have established day and night and the laws of heaven and earth.” (Jeremiah 33:25)] Alternatively, the “covenant of fire” will protect him from the fires of Purgatory. (Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 22; Tikun 3)
When a person guards the covenant, regarding the son that the Holy One will give him, the verse states, “And G‑d caused to sprout from the ground every tree that was pleasing to the sight…” (Gen. 2:9) for he will merit [to understand] the secrets of the Torah. (Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 53)
Therefore concerning creation it is written, “These are the products of the heaven and the earth when they were created (in Hebrew, BHaBaRAM)”. (Gen. 2:4) The word “BHaBaRAM” has the identical letters as “B’ABRaHaM”, meaning “with Abraham”, for in his merit the world was sustained. (See Shabbat 137b, Zohar I, 91b)
…man who is worthy and guards this holy covenant…is called a tzadik. And he is called this from head to toe [i.e., he is a tzadik in every sense, not just in terms of guarding his brit. This is because the covenant includes all of the limbs of his body, anyone who guards the holy covenant it is as if he fulfills the entire holy Torah, for the covenant of circumcision is equal to all of Torah. (ZoharI,162a, 197a)
Only those who guard the covenant of circumcision are called “holy”. – Zohar Chadash, Vayeshev in Sitrei Torah.
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 35b:………… R. Jose replied: ‘The blood was of two kinds, that of circumcision and that of the Passover lamb, the former symbolizing mercy and the latter justice.’ ‘Not so,’ rejoined R. Judah. ‘It is even as we have been taught, that the Holy One made the blood a symbol of mercy, as if there were white in it, and therefore it says: “And when I passed by thee and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee: In thy blood live” (Ezek. XVI, 6). To this end was the door smeared with blood in three places, viz. on two sides and in the middle.’ R. Hezekiah, however, held that two kinds of blood appeared on the doors to represent the two “crowns” which were manifested at that moment in the regions above. R. Jose maintained that it was one crown consisting of two sides blended, viz. mercy and justice. Said R. Abba: ‘In how many ways does the Holy One show His lovingkindness to His people! A man builds a house; says the Holy One to him: “Write My Name and put it upon thy door (mezuzah), and thou wilt sit inside thy house and I will sit outside thy door and protect thee!” And here, in connection with the Passover, He says: “You inscribe on your doors the sign of the mystery of My Faith and I shall protect you from the outside!” They inscribed the likeness of the Holy Name in the form of the letter He’. As the Holy Name was then turned from Mercy to Judgement, chastisement came into (God’s) view at that time. Everything was turned into red, as a symbol of vengeance on Israel’s enemy. Esoterically speaking, it is fitting to show below the colour corresponding to the state above, whether mercy or judgement. And as it was then even so shall it be in the future, as it says: “Who is this that cometh from Edom (=Rome), with dyed garments from Bozra?” (Isa. LXIII, I); for He will clothe Himself entirely in judgement to avenge His people.’
When the Jewish People do not keep the covenant of circumcision, the nations of the world dominate them. (Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 13)
And, at the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord left the land of Egypt -Exodus 12:40
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 39b : And why was the slaughter performed in the evening? Because that is the time when judgement predominates above and below, and also because it was at this time (“between the evenings”) that Israel’s exiles were foretold to Abraham, as it is written: “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham, and lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him” (Gen. xv, I 2). “Horror” signifies one supernal “crown” which represents Egypt; “darkness” is a second such, representing Babylon; and “great” refers to the Edomite (Roman) exile, which was to be the hardest of all. Thus it is seen that the Israelites did not go out of Egypt until all the supernal powers and principalities which were Israel’s enemies had been brought to nought; but when these things had come to pass the people were freed from their domination and brought under the holy and heavenly sway of the Holy One, blessed be He, and were joined to Him and to Him alone, as it is written: “For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt” (Lev. xxv, 55).
Haftarat Lech Lecha – ‘Go Out’ – Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Our haftarah portion opens in Isaiah 40:27 with a word of encouragement to those who are tired, to those who are weary. This week’s reading from the Prophets draws from this understanding. It is time for those who say that they “believe” to “lech lecha” – to go out… to cross over… to leave idolatry behind. There is only the Holy One, blessed is He.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from HaShem, and my just claim is passed over by my G-d”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting G-d, HaShem, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on HaShem shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. -Isaiah 40:27-31
Keep silence before Me, O coastlands, and let the people renew their strength! Let them come near, then let them speak; let us come near together for judgment. Who raised up one from the east? Who in righteousness called him to His feet? Who gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings?
Who gave them as the dust to his sword, as driven stubble to his bow? Who pursued them, and passed safely by the way that he had not gone with his feet? Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, HaShem, am the First; and with the Last I am He. The coastlands saw it and feared, the ends of the earth were afraid; they drew near and came. Everyone helped his neighbor, and said to his brother, “Be of good courage!” So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith; he who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil, saying, “It is ready for the soldering.” Then he fastened it with pegs, that it might not totter. -Isaiah 41:1-7
“But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, “You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away.” -Isaiah 41:8-9
HaShem’s words of encouragement to us are the same to Abraham, whom He loved: “Al tira” [fear not] –Genesis 15:1.
Al tira [Fear not], for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your G-d. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
For I, HaShem your G-d, will hold your right hand, saying to you, “Al tira [Fear not], I will help you. Al tira [Fear not], you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you,” says HaShem and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
UNIVERSAL TORAH: LECH LECHA –By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
Torah Reading: Gen. 12.1-17.27. Haftara Isaiah 40.27-41.16.
No spiritual seeker can fail to be thrilled by the challenge in G-d’s words to Abraham with which this parshah begins: “Go to YOUR SELF.”. G-d’s challenge to Abraham is His challenge to every one of us: to go on the journey of destiny in search of the ultimate Source of the self and the soul. For G-d is the source and goal of all things.
All Abraham’s descendants, the Children of Israel, and all the proselytes who have taken shelter under the wings of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) are justly proud of the founder of our faith and our nation. Abraham, “father of a multitude of nations”, is revered not only in Judaism but also in Christianity and Islam, and evidence of his imprint on the culture and collective consciousness of mankind may be found in the religions of places as far afield as India, Japan and South America.
The Torah teaches us about the attributes of G-d by telling us stories of the outstanding Tzaddikim of all time, who emulated His ways. Study of the parshiyos recounting the lives of the founding fathers and mothers helps us attach ourselves to the very roots of our souls and to inculcate in ourselves the qualities through which we can come to know G-d. The Torah dwells more on the story of Abraham than of any of the earlier Tzaddikim (such as Adam and Noah) because the qualities embodied in Abraham, and particularly his CHESSED (expansive loving kindness) are the very key to finding G-d.
An originator and creative genius unique in human history, Abraham entered the world in the year 1948 after the creation (1812 B.C.E.), following twenty generations in which mankind had degenerated further and further into decadence. The Children of Adam had strayed far from the glorious role of benevolent kingship envisaged for Adam as ruler over creation and from Noah’s New World vision of harmony among his three sons, each in their proper place. The world had fallen under the violent tyranny of Nimrod, son of Kush, firstborn of Ham. Ham was supposed to be the slave ministering to his brothers Shem and Yapheth. But the slave had rebelled: Nimrod had “stolen Adam’s clothes” for himself, and was making himself into a world ruler who was determined to impose idolatry by force.
The popular image of Abraham as a placid, smiling white-haired Sheik amidst his tents and camels belies much of his very essence. From earliest childhood and throughout his life, Abraham was a revolutionary and a rebel against the complex, sophisticated yet often barbaric culture of the ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and Canaanites among whom he traveled extensively. Priests, mathematicians, astronomers, logicians and philosophers were to be found in plenty, but none of them could satisfy Abraham’s unquenchable passion to discover the mystery of G-d’s unity. The Midrash states that, without a teacher, Abraham’s own kidneys flowed with inspiration and understanding, bringing him to supreme heights of attachment to the ultimate powers of creation. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his very life to sanctify the Name of G-d. His methods and teachings are inscribed in his Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), the earliest known text of the Kabbalah.
The rectification of slavery
Abraham was unable to keep G-d for himself: he had to give Him to the whole world. By the time we meet Abraham when our parshah of LECH LECHA opens, he is already 75 years old. By the time he received G-d’s prophesy to go on his journey of destiny — which was to bring him eventually to the spot where Adam was formed, the place of the future House of Prayer for all the Nations — Abraham was already well established. He was travelling with his wife, his orphaned nephew, their possessions, and a company of “souls they had made” during their sojourn in Haran. Who were these souls?
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov tells us that when Abraham would come to a town, he would stand up in the town square and start calling everyone to come and listen to him. He would ask them what was the point of squandering their lives on the pursuit of worldly vanity, telling them to think about the purpose of life in this world — to find G-d. Abraham set the young people on fire with his revolutionary ideas, and they would come running after him.
The Midrash states that Abraham’s chief slave, Eliezer, was none other than the son of Nimrod, who had cast Abraham into the fiery furnace in Ur Kasdim. When Abraham escaped, Eliezer was so overwhelmed by the miracle that he abandoned his defeated father and became Abraham’s slave and chief convert. Another prominent figure who was willing to become Abraham’s slave for the sake of having a connection with this charismatic man was Hagar, daughter of Pharaoh.
Both Eliezer and Hagar were descended from Ham, the son of Noah, who aroused his father’s ire when he saw his nakedness and was cursed to be slave to his brothers. Abraham’s journey to the land of Canaan (Ham’s son) was in fulfilment of Noah’s blessing to Shem that G-d would “dwell in the tents of Shem”, who would be served by Canaan. The Canaanite slave had rebelled: the Canaanites were occupying the land destined for the descendants of Shem. Abraham’s mission was to return to the source — the land from whose earth Adam’s body was formed — and to settle in the Land of Canaan.
The society that Abraham’s descendants were to build there was to be one in which the concept of slavery was to be transmuted. The details of the Covenant of Sinai begin with the laws regulating slavery (Exodus ch. 21). In the power-crazy world of Nimrod, the slave was the lowest of the low, one held captive in the physical power of others. Historically, slaves have been subjected to every kind of abuse, physical and psychological. In contrast, the Siniatic Covenant gives the slave his dignity. Even the Canaanite slave must keep many of the commandments, including circumcision (as we find at the end of our parshah.) In due course the Canaanite slave may even be freed and become a member of the assembly of the Children of Israel.
Abraham rectified the concept of slavery by turning it into a way of understanding our relationship with G-d. Abraham was the first to call himself “Your servant” (Gen. 18:3). In his humility, Abraham knew that before G-d he was but “dust and ashes”. Adam was created to be free and to rule the world, but he abused his freedom and fell slave to his lusts. Man pays the price of his sins by serving — man has to work. Those who are slaves to other men may pay a bitter price for their sins, but those who are willing to serve G-d become free. The more they serve G-d, the more they are freed from servitude to the cycle of lust, sin and degradation. Through serving G-d, man reaches his greatest heights — and once again he becomes His beloved son.
By the time we meet Abraham in our parshah, he was already the epitome of humility, and he was therefore capable of becoming a master. Abraham rectified the concept of slavery by having slaves like Eliezer and Hagar, who were capable of serving their master in his mission of bringing G-d to all the world. In this way the power of Ham becomes harnessed in the service of the G-d of Shem. In order to completely rectify the concept of slavery, Abraham’s own descendants, the Children of Israel, also had to descend to the level of slaves in Egypt until they were freed by G-d in order to serve Him (see in our parshah Genesis 15:13-14).
Very shortly after Abraham entered Canaan, famine forced him to go down to Egypt in the archetypal pattern of descent and ascent that would be repeated by his descendants. Egypt was the land of Ham’s second son, and accordingly it was a place of rampant immorality, as exemplified in the story of the capture of Sarah by Pharaoh’s officers. Things were only set right again when Sarah was released and Pharaoh’s daughter Hagar became her maidservant.
Conflict and conflict management
Abraham was childless, and it flew in the face of nature that an old man like him could have children. Yet his mission in Canaan was to take possession of the land that was occupied by the descendants of Ham, who had been cursed, and to settle it with his own descendants, the Children of Shem, who had been blessed. Having no children of his own, Abraham had taken in his orphaned nephew Lot.
As the man of CHESSED — kindness — Abraham displays his love of peace in his dealings with his nephew Lot, as when he suggests that since they are both expanding, they should avoid conflict by going their separate ways. However, Abraham’s love of peace does not prevent him from going to war when the necessity arises, as when Lot was captured by the Four Kings and Abraham went out in hot pursuit.
In geopolitical terms, the war of the Four Kings against the Five (Genesis ch. 14) was a war for control over the blessed strip of land on the East Coast of the Mediterranean that is G-d’s chosen, Promised Land. “Amraphel King of Shin’ar” is Nimrod — Ham’s grandson and Abraham’s implacable adversary. Ham is fighting Shem. What spurs Abraham into action is the capture of Lot — a mortal threat to Lot’s destined progeny, including Ruth the Moabite, grandmother of Mashiach. Abraham rouses his followers — those he has educated — namely Eliezer, Nimrod’s own son, the rectified slave (Genesis 14:14, see Rashi there), and miraculously rescues Lot. In this way Noah’s prophesy is fulfilled and Eliezer, the descendant of Ham, serves Abraham, descendant of Shem, in helping pave the way to Mashiach.
Hagar and Yishmael
In many places in the story of Abraham, he is depicted as praying to G-d — because prayer is one of the main pillars in the path of service of G-d which Abraham established. The simple, direct language of Abraham’s prayers are a lesson for all, Israelites and gentiles alike, in how to approach G-d with words.
Faith in the power of prayer is the message of the name that Hagar gave to Abraham’s son, Yishmael — “G-d will hear”. Yishmael’s service is the service of prayer. It is an historical fact that Yishmael and his descendants brought knowledge of the G-d of Abraham and the service of prayer to many parts of the world, including many of the Children of Ham. As noted earlier, Hagar herself was a descendant of Ham. In this way, the families of the earth are being prepared for the House of Prayer for All Nations, when “Yapheth will dwell in the tents of Shem and Canaan will be servant to them”.
“.which G-d created to DO” (Genesis 2:3): Man was created incomplete in order that he should acquire merit through DOING, serving G-d by completing and perfecting himself. The form of the male ADAM is incomplete as long as the crown of the organ of creation remains covered by the impure ORLAH, the foreskin, a pleasure-center that keeps those from whom it has not been removed uncontrollably attached to the material. The genitals are vital to the whole body and whole person (cf. Deut. 25:12) and the presence of the ORLAH influences the person’s mind and outlook, preventing him from becoming being perfectly attached to G-d.
It is said that Abraham agonized long when he began to understand that circumcision was to be the sign of his bond to G-d and the mark of his slave-like attachment to the Master of the Universe. Abraham feared that by cutting his flesh in this way, he would be setting himself apart from the rest of humanity, making it more difficult to bring them to the knowledge of the True G-d. In the end, however, Abraham accepted G-d’s commandment, because the purity which the circumcision bestowed upon him him enabled him to serve as Priest of all mankind in bringing man to G-d. The sign of G-d’s Covenant with Abraham is inscribed upon the very organ with which we procreate, signifying that the foundation of the Covenant is that we submit our powers of procreation to G-d’s service.
The commandment of circumcision is not one of the universal commandments of the Torah, but rather the exclusive mark and sign of the Children of Israel. The descendants of Yishmael consider themselves bound by the commandment of circumcision, but they do not perform the P’RIYAH (peeling of the membrane) as practiced by the descendants of Jacob.
Christianity presents itself as a “new stage” in the revelation that began with Abraham, in which the original covenant or “old testament” with Abraham and his biological descendants, marked by the circumcision, was “superseded” by a “new covenant” or “new testament” with all humanity which did not require circumcision. It was the abandonment of circumcision that put the seal on Christianity’s break with the Torah of Moses, which states that “an uncircumcised male who will not circumcise the flesh of his forskin, that soul will be cut off from her people, he has broken My covenant” (Genesis 17:14).
Nothing can change these words, for “G-d is not a man that He should lie or the son of man that He should change His mind. He spoke — will He not do it? He pronounced — will He not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19). “For I am G-d, I have not changed.” (Malachi 3:6). “Go and let us ascend to the Mountain of G-d, to the House of the G-d of Jacob.” (Isaiah 2:3).
Shabbat Shalom! – Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
May we hear the call of “Lech lecha,” hearing G-d’s desire that we bring our lives and our will into partnership with the holy divine. May we know when to trust the sacred voice within, and may our journey bring us peace. Amein !
We will see that the children of Israel return to Most High and Torah of Mashiach, And will hug in the Holy Land, and by obeying and listening the “VOICE of Most Ancient Holy One of Israel”, will bring offerings in a righteous way on the holy mountain and also bring the Ark of the covenant with pure heart in the right place ( i.e In Har HaBayit, on the foundation Stone) .
We will Welcome the son of David on Mount Zion, Jerusalem.
[ Ha Khadosh Baruch Hu – Baruch HaBa B’Shem Adonai ] – Gaddi, President, BeitYaaqov International.
Gaddi – President