Parshat Lech Lecha 5777: Avraham Avinu’s Aliyah and Our Times Compelling the Jews’ En-Masse Return Home to Eretz Yisrael

Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Lech Lecha is sponsored by Yirmi and Rochelle Gold and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort to all Olim who now live in Eretz Yisrael. To the Gold family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

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Moshe Burt
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Parshat Lech Lecha 5777: Avraham Avinu’s Aliyah and Our Times Compelling the Jews’ En-Masse Return Home to Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Each year, for a number of years now, this author has said over a line on the first night of Succot, as Avraham Avinu is the first day’s Ushpizin (the one for whom the day in the Succah is dedicated). This brief line is a parody on a line from the classic weekly Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In comedy hour of the late sixties and early seventies:

And now, the man without whom the Jews wouldn’t be the Jews without the Jew, Avraham Avinu!

We learn that Avraham Avinu derived, on his own, the existence of The Supreme Creator and King. We may surmise that he heard a cerebral Divine message.

We learn that Avraham Avinu went on to have great influence on the people of the world and to amass great wealth. But he could have spared himself the years of suffering in prison, as well as the incident in the fiery furnace, had he simply followed his father’s directions, watched over the business, been quiet about A Divine Creator and not shown impudence to king Nimrod. No earthly superior stood forcing or ordering Avraham Avinu to destroy avodah zora and to promote HaKadosh Borchu. But, to repeat that parody from the Laugh-In line: “The Man without whom the Jews wouldn’t be the Jews without the Jew — Avraham Avinu.”

Avraham Avinu’s recognition, acknowledgement of, and Ahavat (love of) Hashem was self-learned, self-directed — coming from within himself.

In past vorts on Parshat Breish’t, this author has spoken of our current finite state, and that in this state, what we do here on earth is critical, for when we are no longer here, our Mitzvot, our kindnesses that we do, because they are needed, whether for family or for the Kehal — they live on, attached to the collective memory of the do’er by his/her friends, family, the Kehal and beyond. Avraham Avinu’s extraordinary chinuch efforts in post-Migdal Bavel (Tower of Babel) times to bring awareness and intellectualization of Hashem — The Creator of the universe, of man and of all things stand as his remembrance, his legacy for all time.

Midrashim tell how Avraham Avinu deduced at an early age that Hashem was the Creator and Ruler of the world. He tried worshiping the earth, the rain, the sun, the moon, etc. but deduced that not one of these forces regulated the world and that:

There must be a higher intelligence directing them [the various forces].

“I have not seen Him,” said Avram, “but I can understand that only a mighty and merciful G-d could have created the… world around me, and only his superior intelligence is able to keep it going. To Him will I bow.” (The Midrash Says, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, Sefer Breish’it, Parsha Noach, page 118.)

It’s interesting that Torah, after tracing the generations of the lineage of Shem, grandson of No’ach, records in the next to the last posuk of Parshat No’ach:

“Terach took Avram, his son and Lot, the son of Haran, his grandson and Sarai, his daughter-in-law; the wife of Avram, his son, and went forth with them from Ur Kasdim, to the land of Cana’an. But when they came to Charan, they stayed there.” (translation rendered by Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the New Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 11, posuk 31, page 285)

This posuk would seem to cast an added dimension to our tradition regarding Hashem speaking to Avraham in our Parsha’s opening posuk:

“Go… for yourself [‘Lech Lecha Mei’Artzecha’], from your country [Ur Kasdim], from your birthplace and from the house of your father, to the land I Will Show you.” ((translation rendered by Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the New Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 12, posuk 1, page 286)

One could also ask; if their leaving Ur Kasdim somewhat coincided with Hashem’s call to Avraham to leave his father’s house to go to the land which Hashem Designates, and whether their leaving was related to the event of Avraham’s brother Haran’s death in King Nimrod’s burning pit after Avraham survived the pit?

R’ Hirsch cites Perek 11, posukim 28-29 and comments (page 285):

“Haran died before the countenance of [before, or in front of] Terach, his father, in the land of his birth, in Ur Kasdim.”(Posuk 28)

“Avram and Nachor took themselves wives. The name of Avram’s wife was Sarai; the name of Nachor’s wife was Milkah, daughter of Haran, the father of Milkah and the father of Yishkah.” (Posuk 29)

As the Ramban has… demonstrated on posuk 28, the birthplace of Terach, Avraham and Nachor was not Ur Kasdim, but Aram. Only Haran was born in Ur Kasdim, which was the land of his birth. In all likelihood, Haran also lived in Ur Kasdim, and married there…. Add to this the tradition of our Sages that Sarai and Yishkah are identical, we come to the conclusion that Sarai and Lot were born to Haran and Ur Kasdim was their birthplace.

The story of the migration of Terach’s family… apparently reflects the reaction of the people of Aram to this… event [presumably the events at King Nimrod’s burning pit]. No one knew that Hashem Said to Avram: “Lech Lecha [‘Go… for yourself’]”. The assumption was: “that they migrated for unpleasant family reasons.”

Terach and the other members of the family changed their minds in mid-course, and did not follow through to go to Cana’an. They got as far as Charan, and settled there. Avram, however, left his father’s home, he alone heeding Hashem’s call.

The sefer “Torah Gems”, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg provides a succinct commentary on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 12, posuk 1 — “Go for yourself…”:

…Whoever moves to Eretz Yisrael ascends spirituality. The Jewish soul cannot find its true place except in Eretz Yisrael, for “the eyes of the Lord, your G’d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posuk 12 [translation as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 995 Parshat Eikev], as cited from Olelot Ephraim)

This word to Jews in Chutz LAretz: just as Avraham Avinu came to recognize, on his own, the existence of The Supreme Creator and King and heard a Voice calling for him to leave the land of his birth, of his family; masses of Jews should have similarly heard the same voice calling to them to return home — “Return again, return again, return to the land of your soul….”

After all, not in nearly 2,000 years has Aliyah been so doable, so within reach, soo spiritual an option.

Yet masses Jews have remained, have hung around in the countries of their birth: in the UK where the Islamic population grows by leaps and bounds and poses a dire threat to long-established law, or in France where the third largest political party seeks, while outlawing burkas, to outlaw kippot and force Jews to eat chazier (pig) out of “fairness” to Islamics, etc. Or in the United States, where things will become untenable for American Jews who will be blamed and scape-goated no matter who wins the presidential election. It seems to this author that because masses of Jews stayed put in their respective birthplaces, in their fathers’ lands when they could have comfortably reached for spirituality in Eretz Yisrael, Aliyah will now become a compelling necessity borne out of terror, lawlessness, oppression, persecution and possible Jewish blood-letting and loss of life in those lands, including the United States.

And so, as we leyn from Parshat Lech Lecha, we bear witness to a great “Kiddush Hashem” in the personage of Jonathan Pollard — Yehonaton ben Malka. Our prayers for his true freedom, for his aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, are constantly on our lips and in our hearts.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of two years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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