The six thousand years of this world's existence can be broken down
into three eras, each 2000 years long. The advent of Avraham's proclamation of monotheism
heralded the middle two thousand years of Torah. Since the time of Noach there had existed
individuals who believed in one G-d and studied Torah despite their pagan
surroundings, but not until Avraham was there an all out campaign to teach the public
about monotheism. As Hashem says about Avraham : "Because I know him that he will
teach ....." Sarah shared her husband's mission in life (as we mentioned in Parshat
Noach) and converted the women to monotheism while Avraham converted the men. Rashi learns
this fact from the word "asu" (XII,5) meaning they made, referring to the
converts both Avraham and Sarah made.
These converts were not Jews, but believers in monotheism, and
according to one opinion, their souls come back to this earth in the bodies of all the
righteous converts throughout the generations. But Avraham himself was chosen to be the
father of the Jewish nation specifically and this needed special preparation. Avraham had
to be completely cut off from any form of idol worship of his predecessors. Hashem
commanded him to physically leave his land for even the atmosphere was steeped with
idolatry and he could not flourish there. (One cannot live in an impure place and remain
untainted. There is an actual detrimental element in the very air and those with
heightened spiritual awareness can perceive it. Conversely, the holiness of a holy place
is a force that one should remain in close proximity to.) Avraham had to leave his
relatives and kindred with their foreign pagan mentality. And lastly, Avraham had
to leave his father's house and all the emotional attachments he had formed. The
break with idolatry was complete so that the Jewish nation could start in purity as a
completely new entity. Yitzchak, the second patriarch, was born by miraculous means only
after Avraham left his country of origin. Sarah was barren and when she bore Yitzchak in
the Land of Canaan it was impossible to say that he had any attachment or roots in the
pagan homeland of his father because even the possibility of his existence at that
time was an impossibility.
Avraham and Sarah traveled with their household and their nephew Lot.
The verse (XII 6) relates that the Canaanites were then in the land. There was a
famine, Avraham went to Egypt for a while and came back to Canaan with great wealth. Lot
too was very wealthy and there began an argument between the shepherds of both parties.
The verse then states (XIII 7) that the Canaanites and the Perizzites were then dwelling
in the land. The Chasam Sofer notes that the latter expression indicates that the Canaanites
were much more firmly entrenched in the land after the quarrel began. He says that when
there is no peace between the Jews, then the non-Jews have a much firmer foothold in our
land. Perhaps we can use this information with wisdom regarding the situation now in
Israel and renew our commitment to loving all our fellow Jews. May Hashem send Moshiach to
redeem us very soon.
Avraham suggested that he and Lot part in order to avoid further
quarrels, and Lot chose to go toward the fertile plain near Sdom. This land was naturally
well-watered like the Garden of Eden (surrounded by four rivers) and the land of Egypt
(watered by the Nile). (See XIII 10). The Chasam Sofer explains that Hashem made these
three areas naturally fertile so that prayer would be unnecessary for those people living
there. Eden was a perfect place and lacked nothing. Egypt and Sdom were such immoral
places that Hashem didn't even desire their prayers and gave them all their needs from the
outset. Lot turned to Sdom where his needs would be easily met and he would have no need
for prayer to Hashem. Avraham, however, chose to go to Chevron, a much harder place to
cultivate, in order that he should pray and come close to Hashem in the process of
overcoming his difficulties. Every challenge sent us is in reality an opportunity from
Hashem to pray to Him and come closer to Him as a result.
Thank you Hashem!
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