Parshat Lech Lecha 5779: The New Societal Code and Avraham Avinu’s Aliyah and Chassadim

Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Lech Lecha is sponsored by Yirmi and Rochelle Gold and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicated this vort for for Hatzlocha for Rabbi and Rebbetzin Malinowitz and their family. 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.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3


Parshat Lech Lecha 5779: The New Societal Code and Avraham Avinu’s Aliyah and Chassadim

by Moshe Burt

As Parshat No’ach segues into our Parshat Lech Lecha, a paradigm shift in societal mores` occurs. Rabbi Shmuel Goldin discusses this shift in his sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text” (Sefer Breish’t, Parshat No’ach, pages 51-53):

…A universal moral code for the world is laid out by Hashem. This code, referred to in rabbinic literature as Sheva Mitzvot B’nai No’ach (the seven mitzvot of the children of No’ach), or the No’achide code, is derived from a passage found…[near] the end of… [Parshat] No’ach and consists of seven basic commandments. (referencing Sefer Breish’t, Perek 9, posukim 2-6) Taken together, these commandments form a moral blueprint for all civilizations.

The seven No’achide laws are the following; do not steal, do not kill, do not eat the limb of a living animal, do not commit acts of sexual immorality, do not practice idolatry, do not blaspheme Hashem, and establish courts of law.

…The No’achide code can be seen in the rabbinic tradition that Midrashically roots these laws in the commandment concerning the Tree of Knowledge [Eitz Hadas] of Good and Evil,the very first commandment given by Hashem to man. According to the Rabbis, Hashem would not have created the human race without simultaneously producing a moral code of behavior.

Once commanded, these laws remain in force for the… [nations]… even after Hashem chooses the nation of the Jews. Hashem’s relationship with all of humanity is clearly eternal and His expectation of moral behavior from all never diminishes.

At the dawn of history of the Jews, Hashem delivers a clear and sobering message to Avraham and his descendants: I do not relate to you alone and, therefore, your fate will be determined not only by your own merit but by the legitimate right of other nations as well. You will not return to this land until its inhabitants have become so corrupt that they deserve to be expelled. Until that time, their rights to the land will trump yours.

Even if Am Yisrael has to pay the price, Hashem will not overlook the rights of others.

All peoples and nations potentially have independent value and validity in the eyes of Hashem, The retention of that value will depend upon their own moral behavior.

In context with this new moral code, we learn that Avraham Avinu derived, on his own, the existence of The Supreme Creator and King and the emulation of His Ways. We may surmise that he heard a cerebral Divine message.

The opening posuk of our Parshat Lech Lecha reads:

“Hashem said to Avram, ‘Go for yourself from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (As rendered to English in “The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary” on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 12, posuk 1)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 36-37), cites Sefer Mimayanos Hanetzach on the above posuk regarding the importance of Chessed:

Rabbi Nachum of Tzer-noble devoted much time and effort to redeeming Jews who were imprisoned by anti-semitic regimes. He traveled from place to place gathering funds to make the necessary payments to free those imprisoned. Once when he was in Zhitomer, some people fabricated a libel against him and he was put into prison.

A righteous person came to him in prison and said to him, “Our forefather Avraham was outstanding in his kindness to wayfarers. He took in people who were traveling and expended great efforts to make his guests comfortable…. The Almighty told him to travel away from his father’s home, his birthplace, and his land. Only now when he personally experiences being a stranger in a foreign place will he know first hand what it is like. This will give him a greater appreciation of what he can do to help his guests.”

“Similarly with you,” the righteous visitor told him. “You are completely devoted to freeing prisoners. From Heaven they are giving you the chance to experience what it is like to be held captive by enemies of our people. This will give you a deep appreciation of the necessity of doing all that you can to free other people in the future with all possible speed.”

R’ Pliskin brings this analogy to emphasize how one’s own often difficult circumstances can bring about a special degree of sensitivity toward difficult circumstances of others.

This author cites the above story and analogy to emphasize his exposure to the great degree of Hachnasot Orchim and other aspects of chessed existing among Torah Jewry, both here in Israel, particularly in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and among those back in Philadelphia, in the “Old Country.” The instances and stories are far too numerous to cite in this or any vort.

But just a few: the expertly orchestrated Pesach Seders, the legendary Hachnosat Orchim family in Jerusalem where anyone and everyone is perpetually invited for Shabbos meals and where one hundred people in that small flat is called a “slow Shabbos”; the family who opened their home to this author to sit Shiva for a parent because his apartment was too small and inconvenient for minyanim; the neighbors who helped this author, in a few instances, to get to a medical emergency room; or driven to the hospital for surgery, the sofer who repaired a few old Sifrei Torah gratus out of sensitivity for a great need for Mekomot Torah in Eretz Yisrael. The list could go on and on… without end.

A special gene exists in us because it all started with Succot’s first day’ 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 aptly describes :

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

The Mitzvot and Chassadim of Avraham Avinu stand for all time as a paradigm of emulation of the Ways of Hashem for all of us to live up to.

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 and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that 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 four 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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!!!

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.