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THOUGHTS ON PARASHAT LECH LECHA BY TINA SON

Rabbi Sacks z”l described his ‘life changing thought’ from last week’s parashat by comparing the words used to describe the creation of man in Bereishit with those used in Noach when man was being ‘created anew’ through Noach and his sons. In Bereishit, HaShem says “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every moving thing that moves upon the earth”, thus stressing man’s dominance. Whereas after the flood, the words used are “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed for in the image of G.. He made man ”. Rabbi Sacks deduces from this that whilst Bereishit describes man’s power, Noach places moral limits on this power and makes us consider other people as also having been made in the image of HaShem, so that instead of fearing or, chas v’shalom, hating those who are different to us, we instead see the spark of G.. in them and treat them accordingly.

In Lech Lecha we see how Avraham is the living embodiment of this way of seeing other people. In explaining the passuk “and the souls they had acquired in Haran” our sages say that “Abraham would invite people into his home, give them to eat and to drink, show them love, and bring them close to G‑d, convert them and bring them under the wings of the Divine Presence”. By seeing that all people, whatever their past, are made in HaShem’s image, Avraham was able to draw them close and show them the truth through kindness. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe said “Abraham had a vision of humanity which convinced him that every positive deed, word or thought does have value, no matter how superficial or hypocritical it might seem to a less discerning eye. When Abraham looked at his guests, he did not see pagans and idolaters; he saw creatures of G‑d, men and women who had been created in the divine image and who possessed a potential, inherent to the very essence of their being, to recognize their Creator and serve His will.”

Parashat Noach also introduced the idea of ‘brit’, with this being repeated seven times compared to the word ‘tov’ in Bereishit. Rabbi Sacks writes that this too reinforces the importance of how we treat others as “when we call something good, we are speaking about how it is in itself. But when we speak of covenant, we are talking about relationships. A covenant is a moral bond between persons.” And of course, in Lech Lecha we learn about the multi-faceted brit between Hashem and the Jewish people:

“On that day, the Lord formed a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your seed I have given this land, from the river of Egypt until the great river, the Euphrates river” … “And I will place My covenant between Me and between you, and I will multiply you very greatly.” … “As for Me, behold My covenant is with you, and you shall become the father of a multitude of nations” .. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings will emerge from you.”

With brit mila being the ultimate expression of this unbreakable covenant.

One thing that we possibly should learn from this is, that to be worthy of our covenant with HaShem, we need to be more aware of our relationships with others, seeing HaShem’s image in all people, treating them with respect and even love to bring them closer to HaShem, thereby truly being a light unto the nations.

Shabbat shalom

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