The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5:3) says, "Avraham Avinu z"l was tested with ten tests. He stood firm through all of them to show how great was the love of Avraham Avinu z"l." Tosafos Yom Tov explains that the Mishna is referring to the love that Hashem had for Avraham Avinu. Hashem had great love for him because he withstood all of the tests. The tests brought Avraham Avinu closer to Hashem.
Children . . .
Sometimes things are difficult for us. We do not get what we want. We have to do things that are unpleasant. We should view all of this as a test from Hashem. Hashem tests us because He loves and wants us to grow closer to Him. Are we going to pass the test and get closer to Hashem? We certainly are!
Nimrod declared to the world that he was god and should be worshiped. Avraham Avinu refused to worship a false god. Nimrod attempted to kill Avraham Avinu by throwing him into a fiery furnace. Hashem Himself extinguishing the fire and Avraham emerged untouched. Think about that test. Avraham Avinu faced what appeared to be certain death by burning, rather than worship Nimrod.
Avraham passed the first test, Boruch Hashem. Now he can take it easy, right? Wrong. Hashem told him, "Lech lecha," leave your homeland, your birthplace, and your family to go settle in a strange land. That was a very difficult test. In those days people traveled by horse and wagon. It was very slow and dangerous. Bandits frequented the roads. The new land was a strange place and Avraham would have to establish himself again. There was no long distance communication, and Avraham would most likely never see or hear from his family again. A very difficult test. Yet he went. He passed test number two.
What happened when he arrived in the land of Canaan? Famine. What should he do? There was no food to eat. How can he live in the land promised to him by Hashem without food? He cannot. Hashem tells him to go to Egypt. Egypt? A land steeped in immorality. That is where Hashem wants him to go? It cannot be. This test is difficult to believe. Yet, he went again. Test number three.
What happened when Avraham got to Egypt? The king took his beautiful wife, Sarah from him. Avraham had to say that Sarah was his sister to avoid being killed by the king. This is what he came to Egypt for? To lose his wife? How can he withstand this test? Shouldn't he turn around and leave Egypt? No, Hashem said to go to Egypt and that is where he is going. Hashem will guard Avraham and his wife. Test number four.
Lot, Avraham's nephew was living in Sdom. Four very powerful kings conquered Sdom and Lot was taken captive. We know what can terrible things can happen to captives taken in war. Avraham must save Lot. But wait! Against who is he single handedly fighting? Against four kings and their armies who were so powerful that they were able to defeat five kings. This appears to be a battle that he cannot win. He goes to save his nephew Lot. He is victorious. Test number five.
Children . . .
Imagine that you are playing outside and Imma calls you to come in to the house for dinner. You do not want to eat dinner. You want to stay outside and play. Here is your test. Are you going to listen to Imma and pass the test?
Let us give another example. A girl at school pulls your hair. You want to do the same to her. After all, she deserves it. She did it to you. Are you going to pull her hair? That is wrong. The Torah forbids taking revenge. Let us think of proper ways to handle this. How about explaining to her nicely that she hurt you. Perhaps tell the teacher what happened. Maybe you should not react at all and just walk away. That is your test. Let us all be like Avraham Avinu and pass the test.
Here is a third example. You are at a kiddush where there is candy and cake. It sure looks yummy. Are you going to push and shove for the candy, pushing adults out of the way, or even crawling on the floor? That surely is not the right way to behave. Or are you going to behave properly like a mensch and wait patiently for your turn. What happens if you do not get a piece of candy? Is that so terrible? Imma's delicious Shabbos food is better than any candy.
If we ever feel the tests are too difficult, let us take a moment to contemplate Avraham Avinu's tests. He faced death, exile, and poverty to follow Hashem's word. His example should give us strength to overcome our trials. Let us all be like Avraham Avinu and pass the tests that Hashem gives us.
Enjoy your Shabbos Table!
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