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Tuesday, Mar-Cheshvan 6, 5782 / October 12, 2021


This week's Parsha, Lech Lecha, G-d commands Abraham, at the age of seventy five, to leave his homeland where he lived for so many years and from his birthplace and go to, “the land which I will show you.” G-d promised Abraham, “And I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great and you will be a blessing.”


As mentioned yesterday, the Mishna (Pirkei Avot, chapter 5) says, "Our forefather Abraham was tested with 10 tests, and he withstood them all - to show the degree of our forefather Abraham's love for G-d."  Withstanding all these tests ultimately brought about G-d's blessings for Abraham and his wife, Sarah.


Someone once asked Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh, son of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, to teach him how to become a Tzadik (righteous person). 


Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh replied: "There were once two very wealthy people in a town. One had inherited his wealth from his father, while the other one became wealthy by his own hard work.   Someone asked the first one to teach him how to become rich.  'I don't know how,' he answered.   'I inherited all my wealth.   Go to the one who earned his wealth.   He can teach you.'"


"The same is with me," said Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh.  "Whatever I have, I inherited from my father.  Go to a righteous person who didn't grow up in a holy environment. He can teach you how to become righteous!"


This Parsha teaches us that, just like with Abraham and Sarah, the obstacles that we encounter in life are tests from G-d. Abraham and Sarah, who lived 400 years before the giving of the Torah, had to find G-d on their own. But, we, their descendants, have the Torah and have inherited from them their special strength and ability, thus making our tests, easier to overcome


Man’s footsteps are set from G-d,” say our sages.  Rabbi Shimshon Wertheimer was a scholar and a successful businessman in the city of Vienna, Austria. Once, as he was walking in the street, he met the Austrian king. The king knew Rabbi Shimshon.


“Shimshon, where are you going?” the king asked.


“I’m not sure,” he replied.  The king became angry, and Rabbi Shimshon was imprisoned.


After a few days, the king called for Rabbi Shimshon.  “Shimshon,” he said, “I know you are a very smart person.  Why did you do such a silly thing as to lie to me and say you’re not sure where you’re going?”


My dear king,” he replied. “Had you asked me where I intend to go, I would have told you that I intend to go to my place of business.  But you asked me, ‘Where are you going?’ How can a person know for sure where they’re going? You see for yourself, I intended to go to my business and ended up in prison!”