Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Chukas (Numbers 19-22)
Lech Lecha (Genesis 12-17)
15:1 The word of G-D came to Avram (Abraham) in a vision of the night after these matters (occurred) saying, "Fear not Avram (for) I am a shield for you. Your reward is very great."
Rashi writes that this encounter occurred after Avraham's miraculous victory over the four evil kings.
He writes that Avraham thought that his merits were used by the heavenly court to justify these miracles. He was concerned that this consumed them entirely, causing him to not receive any reward in the next world.
This is puzzling.
This verse says that he still has great reward. It implies that Avraham did indeed sustain a loss.
While it must have given some comfort to know that a positive balance remained, a loss is still a loss. Why should he sustain a loss for trying to save his nephew? Why was this recorded in the Torah and what message can we derive for ourselves?
The following came to mind.
Compensation is measured by amount, frequency, and duration of payment.
Life in the next world is forever, so even a relatively small and infrequent amount will add up to very great rewards.
While duration has no limit, there may be a limit at which the amount and frequency of compensation begins to lose significance.
For example, picture having reasonable living and spending habits. Should your income continuously double, you may accumulate so much money that you would never be able to keep up with spending it for your needs and wants.
Wouldn't that be nice?
And once you go beyond that point, you would not feel any pinch if you sustained a loss, as long as you remain above the mark.
We are all creations and finite beings, including Avraham. And no matter how great a transformation we will undergo in the next world, we will always be constrained by the limitation being a finite being.
Perhaps this verse is saying that Avraham's reward in the next world was so great that he wouldn't even feel the reduction in his merits. It was well worth losing something whose loss would not be felt so that he could save his nephew from destruction.
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