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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table

Parshas Lech Lecha

Go To Yourself

"Lech lecha" (Bereshis 12:1). The word "lech" means go. Hashem commanded Avraham Avinu to leave his native land. The meforshim explain why the word "lecha" was inserted here. The Noam Elimelech zt"l translates "lech lecha" to mean "go to yourself". How can a person go to himself? He is always with himself. The Torah is referring to your deeper self. Who you really are. A person has many middos (character traits). They can be used for the good, to serve Hashem, or the opposite. We have been given free will to choose how to use our middos. When we use them for good, we purify ourselves. Hashem rewards us by opening up the wells of wisdom and understanding to us. This is the explanation of "go to yourself". Always look at your true, pure self. Keep yourself on the straight path, not allowing the bad middos to filter in.

Kinderlach . . .

Every Jew was born with a beautiful pure neshama (soul). It is our job to keep it pure. Just like a new clean white shirt. No one wants to see it get dirty. No one wants to see their soul become soiled with bad middos. Keep your souls clean, kinderlach. Look deep inside to the real, pure you. "Lech lecha."

Our Inheritance

"Abba, can you help me with my homework?"

"Sure Shloimie."

"The teacher asked us to give examples of the greatness of Avraham Avinu." "That is a very good question, Shloimie. First of all, Avraham Avinu was very smart." "In what way, Abba?" "He looked at the world and figured out that Hashem created everything. Not only that, he figured out all of the mitzvos of the Torah. He looked at his arm, and realized that he must put on tefillin every day. He looked at a tree and deduced that he could not eat its fruit the first three years. He understood from his own seichel (sense) that it is forbidden to cook and eat meat and milk together." "That is truly amazing." "Not only that, Shloimie, he did this at a time when everyone was worshipping idols." "He was a real pioneer, Abba." "Exactly, Shloimie. His pursuit of truth was not just theoretical, however. He was prepared to sacrifice his life for the truth. Therefore, Hashem put him, to the test. Avraham Avinu was given the choice: death by fire, or idol worship. He chose to be thrown into the fiery furnace." "What courage! What principles!" "He was the ancestor of our nation. Now he was ready for his second test, 'lech lecha'. Leave your home, Avraham. Leave your wealth and your accomplishments behind to be a stranger in a strange land." "That must have been so difficult, Abba." "It was Shloimie. Avraham loved Hashem, and would do anything for Him. As soon as he arrived in the Land of Israel, a famine broke out. He could not survive there. Could it be that he must now leave the Land that Hashem had promised to him?" "Did Avraham question Hashem's promise, Abba?" "Not at all, Shloimie. He went down to Mitzraim. Sara, his wife was taken away from him to be a wife to Paroh." "That is terrible! Avraham must have felt wronged." "Avraham did not question Hashem's ways, rather prayed to Him for help. Paroh was struck with a plague and realized that he must return Sara to her husband." "Perhaps now Avraham could settle down to a quieter life, Abba." "Not exactly, Shloimie. The world had just emerged from its first world war. The four most powerful kings in the world had attacked five kings and defeated them. They took Avraham's nephew Lot as one of their captives. Avraham now set out to free Lot from this world superpower." "Wasn't that dangerous, Abba." "Anyone else would have been afraid for his life, but Avraham trusted in Hashem. He was on his way to do the mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim (freeing captives) and sheluchei mitzvah ainan nizakin (those engaged in a mitzvah are protected from harm)." "What happened to him Abba?" "He was not harmed." "Wow. Did he have any more tests, Abba?" "Six more, Shloimie. He was shown the future of the Jewish people during the Bris Ben HaBesarim. He saw all of the exiles and troubles that would befall them. He did not question Hashem's ways. His next test occurred when he was 99 years old. He underwent bris-milah." "Isn't that dangerous for someone of his age?" "It is dangerous at any age, Shloimie. Still, Avraham Avinu showed no fear, and was the mohel for himself and his entire household. His next test occurred when he was traveling through the Negev. Avimelech took his wife Sarah just as Paroh took her. Again, Avraham did not question Hashem's ways, rather prayed to Him for assistance. Hashem appeared to Avimelech during a dream, telling him that Sara was Avraham's wife." "Hashem saved him again." "Yes, Shloimie, but now came his hardest tests. Avraham had to send Hagar and his son Yishmael our of his home." "To send away his own son must have been heartbreaking." "Undoubtedly, Shloimie, but the next test was even harder. Hashem commanded Avraham to sacrifice his son Yitzchak on an altar." "Did Avraham listen to Hashem?" "Surely. He got up early in the morning to do this mitzvah." "Abba, I don't understand. You said that Avraham Avinu was smart enough to figure out the whole Torah." "That is correct, Shloimie." "Then he must have known that human sacrifice is wrong. How could he get up early to go sacrifice his own son?" "Because he knew that Hashem is smarter than we are. When He tells us to do something, it is 100% correct, even if it does not make sense to us. That was the greatness of Avraham Avinu. He never 'second guessed' Hashem."

Kinderlach . . .

We are all descendants of Avraham Avinu. He followed Hashem's word to the letter, even under the most difficult circumstances. Hashem sent him ten tests, and he passed every one of them. They involved putting his own life, as well as the lives of others in danger. Hashem continues to test us in our daily lives. It is not always easy for us to perform His mitzvos. We can overcome the difficulties, kinderlach. It is in our genes. We inherited it from our great-great-grandfather, Avraham Avinu.

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