Friday, November 03, 2006

This week's Parsha: Lech Lecha

From Breslow's World, Chassidic Pearls, by Rabbi Lazer Brody ...

....Our forefather Avraham's (Abraham) life is a saga of one continuous struggle with never-ending tests of faith. Hashem commands him to leave his homeland and to make the difficult journey to the promised but unknown land of Canaan. Shortly after his arrival in Canaan – the future Land of Israel - Avraham finds himself in the midst of a severe famine. He has no choice but to pack up and search for food and water elsewhere.

The famine is only the fourth in the series of Avraham's ten severe tests of faith (according to Rashi). One might ask, "Why must Hashem test Avraham's faith ten times? Why are the tests so difficult, from persecution and skirting with death in a fiery furnace to the Akeida, when he was asked to ritually sacrifice his only son? Doesn't Hashem know that Avraham's faith is steadfast?

Hashem knows exactly how Avraham will react – with perfect, simple, innocent, and unblemished faith. The tests are not for Hashem's benefit, but for Avraham's benefit.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains (Likutei Moharan I:66.4) that the obstacles that a person encounters in life are designed to enhance that person's desire. For that reason, before a person makes a significant accomplishment ... the person is tested with a series of obstacles. ...[which] fuel the desire to reach the goal. Consequently, the obstacles are the agents that extract a person's very best efforts in making spiritual gain, since the obstacles fuel the desire.

....The Gemara teaches that three things are obtained by trials and tribulations – The Land of Israel, Torah, and the World to Come. The deeds of fathers pave the ways for sons. Since our forefather Avraham had to work so hard to obtain the Holy Covenant with Hashem and the promise of Torah and Eretz Yisroel for his offspring, his desire and yearning were enhanced a thousand-fold.

Hashem showed Avraham that faith and Eretz Yisroel don't come easy. The trials and tribulations only fueled Avraham's desire

...May Hashem give us the burning desire for holiness that will help us overcome all the obstacles that stand in the way of Torah and Eretz Yisroel, amen.

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