This is the weekly Dvar Torah thread, feel free to share your divrei Torah here.
This week’s official Dvar Torah is: Lech-Lecha
This week’s parsha begins with the following verse:
And the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. (Genesis 12:1)
I personally feel that this verse is still very much relevant today, and we can view it through the lens of doing teshuvah and having faith that HaShem will provide. While a few weeks have passed since the high holy days, it is never too early/late to do teshuvah. That is, teshuvah does not need to be a 40-day affair that once has passed gets put into the back of our minds until Elul starts again next year and we begin to hear the shofar daily again.
There are many Jews that were not raised in a home where Torah serves as a blueprint for everything and is all encompassing to the most minute of details. Likewise, there are those that were brought up in homes that purport to espouse Torah values—and claim to live them—but yet engage regularly in lashon hara, poor middos, and focus more on the external of appearing frum to “keep up with the Cohens,” rather than embrace HaShem’s eternal Torah; this can cause some to go off the derech because they see outright hypocracy on a day-to-day basis in their communities. Moreover, there exists a large spectrum of observance amongst Klal Yisroel, and observance cannot easily be seen as dichotomous. That is, none of us have had a perfect upbringing nor follow HaShem’s comandments perfectly, and thus we must depart our “father’s house” to serve HaShem as he wants us to according to the Torah.
So, then the obvious question might be “How then do we depart from our birthplace and our father’s house” with the previous statements in mind? The answer is actually quite simple: do more mitzvot. Just as the midrash states that Avram smashed the idols to lay the foundations of monotheism—the main source of income for his father’s house was the idols—and thus lived a life professing the oneness of HaShem with his tent open to all, so too should we figuratively smash our superficial idols in this world and seek to serve HaShem by following the Torah with our heart completely and sincerely by building our own tents. There will be hiccups along the way to be sure, and there will always more that we can do, but over all we can set about getting ourselves back on the derech.
The ending of the verse “to land that I will show you.” can be viewed as having faith that HaShem will provide.
While we will never know what our mission from HaShem is in this world, we do know one thing for sure: HaShem wants us to follow his eternal and divine Torah as given to us in perfection at Mt. Sinai. Through mitzvot we become not only closer to HaShem, but also to each other. That tattooed guy in flip-flop sandals (a.k.a. thongs for any Aussies reading this), shorts, and a t-shirt in shul with a kippa on his head and tefillin wrapped around his arm? Show him some compassion, and don’t be so quick to chastise him for not dressing in a certain way at shul. After all, he might have been the minyan man that permitted mourners to say Kaddish, or heaven forbid he is there saying Kaddish. Just as Avram was given ten tests according to the Mishna, so too are we given tests in our day-to-day lives, and these tests can serve as an opportunity to perform another mitzvah which then leads to opportunities to perform more mitzvot.
We should seek to show love for fellow Jews, no matter how difficult it may be (political opinions other than our own, external appearances, they go to THAT shul, they wear THAT type of kippa, etc.). It is through this compassion that HaShem will show us the land we are to obtain through redemption, and we can grow closer together embracing the diverse practices that we all have but are yet united through our forefathers.
This week’s parsha concludes with Abram (later becoming Abraham) circumcising himself and thirteen years later having a child named Issac through his wife Sarai (who becomes Sarah). Here is where two of our daily prayers originate, Shacharis and Mincha. We see here that all of Klal Yisroel descend directly from of our forefathers regardless of their status: frum-from-birth, baal teshuva, or convert. We are all one big, and sometimes not-so, happy family. Moreover, we all daven at least twice a day because of Avraham and Issac.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov told the story of “The Sophisticate and the Simpleton.” May we all strive to love HaShem and have a worldly outlook as the simpleton did. For he put all of his faith in HaShem even when he struggled financially. All of his meals were simple and plain, but yet tasted as a feast fit for a King to him when he consumed them. He always knew that HaShem provided and through this knowledge he remained happy; moreover, he even opened his home up to the sophisticate just as Avraham did his tent to others.
With “The Shabbat Project” coming up on the 15/16th of November 2019, perhaps consider opening your home up to a fellow yid (regardless of affiliation) that has not experienced the beauty that is Shabbos. By doing so we are all performing a mitzvah: some will be experiencing a true Shabbos for potentially the first time, and some will be sharing the beauty of Shabbos with others. There is much that we can learn from each other in these shared experiences no matter how different our backgrounds are: a jew is a jew is a jew.
May you, and those dear to you, have a Good Shabbos!